Williams Avenue

I assume Williams Avenue was named after James L. Williams (1813-1868), a prominent Flatbush farmer who owned a great deal of land in this area and maintained a splendid residence that was eventually converted into Trinity Hospital.

James L. Williams residence
This image was taken from "Good Old East New York" and the map on the right shows the original location, at the intersection of Williams, Fulton and East New York Avenue. Eventually the house would be moved west, facing down Williams Avenue and opened as Trinity Hospital We have a page devoted to the hospital here. The hospital lasted into the 1930's but was cleared for roadways leading to the Interboro.
William Ave. M.E. Church
Maker: Unk Dated: 1907 Status: Own (RG)
This church, located at 60 Williams Avenue just south of Atlantic, was constructed in 1869. The congregation merged into the Andrews Methodist congregation in 1923 and in 1929 a CO was issued to the Congregation Talmud Torah Chodosh. The synagogue sold the property in 1966 and the building was demolished. In 1968 the city opened a brick 5-story welfare office at the location. In 2002, the building was purchased and repurposed as the Trey Whitfield School, a private elementary school. The school, which had been previously using other quarters, opened in 2004.
When Daniel Mauro sent this 1950 photo of 55 Williams, I had to ask him about the synagogue, and he responded with a great story; "You're right, I lived directly across the street from a synagogue and a small two-story school for Jewish studies directly attached to the synagogue. The school was eventually converted into a catering place called Israel Manor that held weddings etcetera. The synagogue remained through the sixties as I recall. When they didn't have enough members show up for services on Saturdays they used to ring my bell and ask my mother if I could attend to make a quorum. We were died-in-the-wool Catholics but since my name was Daniel it was okay with them. At first I tied four corners of a handkerchief and put it on my head for a yarmulke but later they gave me a real one." Pictured are - Carol(?) Mazzucca Marion Kuhn, Danny Mauro, Rosemary Mauro, Mark Leavitt, Paula Leavitt, Anthony Mauro, Peggy Kuhn.
Williams Avenue Methodist history
Mark Deutchman attended the Synagogue and shared his recollections, one of which was that the cornerstone may have been dated 1889, not 1869. However I have done some research and this February 13, 1888 article suggests the building was in fact constructed in 1869. Mark noted that there were plaques inside the synagogue dating the congregation to the early 1920s. Mark believes the school (later catering hall) was built in 1929, after the church was acquired. Mark theorized that the only the revenue from the catering hall allowed the synagogue to survive into the 1960s with such a small congregation.
P.S. 63
The original P.S. 63, pictured on the left, was located at Hinsdale Street between Liberty and Glenmore. The center portion was built in 1878 with additions in 1900 and 1906. The "new" P.S. 63 on the right was built back to back to the old, facing Williams Avenue, in 1926. The old building became an annex to Thomas Jefferson High School. I do not have a date on demolition. The view is north in that shot. My mother attended P.S. 63.
P.S. 63, 1938
This is a first grade shot of my mother and some classmates. If it appears they are on the roof, it is because they are. With the old school still standing behind it, there was no playground space at street level. My mother recalls the fences were high enough for the older boys to play punchball without losing the ball. Robert Pagillo recalls playing punchball on the roof. Here's a nice followup - the girl on the far right of the photo is Barbara Cardino - and she contacted me, and spoke to my mother for the first time in over 60 years!
The city declared the building 'surplus' in 1980, I'm not sure when it last operated as a school. It was opened as a homeless shelter in 1981, and is still owned by the Board of Health today.
Here's a slice of life from a bygone era. It's a rather ordinary shot, looking north up Williams Avenue from Pitkin in 1941. On the corner building, however reads a sign; "Storage- $5 Live, $2 Dead". I suppose its some form of poultry storage, have fun guessing.
"Subway Al" Zelazo provided this image of his mother Shanie Friedman standing in front of 564 Williams Ave. in the 1940s. On the right, his Aunt Nettie on a pony on Williams Ave.
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"Subway Al" Zelazo also provided this image of his parents in 1953 on their wedding day in front of 564 Williams Ave. Al adds; " They are leaving 564 Williams Ave for their wedding at the Broadway Central Hotel on May 16, 1953. My father tells me that among the relatives in attendance was Walter Winchell (a distant cousin). Supposedly Shmulke Bernstein was the caterer."
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I was tipped off that Irving Berlin had a sister who committed suicide in Eat New York, and I found the 1935 article confirming the story- she jumped off the roof of 591 Williams Ave. So I asked "Subway Al" if his parents (and the neighborhood) knew about that story and he confirmed it was common knowledge back then.
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Demetrius Pestun supplied this shot of the former Beth Hamedrash Hagadol of ENY. Located at 611 Williams, Joann Montgomery tracked down the tax photo. Now the Christ Apostolic Church Mosem, it was sold in 1970.

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Demetrius Pestun also supplied this image, further south down at 699 Williams. It was the United Sephardim of Brooklyn. Demetrius advises it was the main temple for the Sephardic population in the area. Now the Lambert Chapel of the Holy Church, they took possession in 1970.
Supreme Theatre, 1941
This poor tax photo image shows the Supreme, which was located at 530 Livonia Avenue under the el. Opened in 1921, the Supreme closed in 1956 and the building has since been demolished.