A look at Brooklyn, then and now.
I love finding new postcards and photographs of old Brooklyn. It can be quite the mystery to try to figure out where some places that no longer exist once were, especially when there are no exact addresses. Apparently, in the press and on people’s lips, certain places just WERE, and everyone knew where that was, there was no need for a silly exact address!
Take this restaurant, called Edgett’s. I hadn’t seen this one before. It was, according to the caption, on Fulton and Flatbush, but that’s a big corner. Where? From the drawing, you can see vague buildings on either side of the restaurant, so we know that Edgett’s was not on the corner. So where it and what was was it?
I did a bit of research, but didn’t find much. The most vital clue I got was that Edgett’s was across the street from the Majestic Theatre. Great! The Majestic, which is now the BAM Harvey Theater, is on Fulton Street between Rockwell Place and Ashland Place, a block or so from Flatbush. If Edgett’s was indeed just across the street, it was somewhere along this parking lot block, as seen in 2011.
Edgett’s may have been the baby of one James W. Edgett, a wealthy investor, insurance executive and theater lover. Mr. Edgett is mentioned often in the Brooklyn Eagle during the 1890s, as quite the theater buff and amateur actor and player. He was a member of several theater clubs, performed in local amateur productions, and sat on several committees for those clubs. He and his wife participated in popular euchre clubs, too, and were quite active in their social lives.
Perhaps he felt the calling to run a fancy establishment in the heart of Brooklyn’s theater district to cater to his friends, as well as the famous actors and musicians who played in the many theaters and auditoriums in the area. A “Sardi’s” for Brooklyn, as it were. The restaurant was very elegant, and looks like a theater itself. In fact, it looks very much like the Majestic, with similar lines and materials. The restaurant operated at least through the first decade of the 20th century.
Brooklyn’s theater district slowly disappeared. The opulent theaters went from grand productions to vaudeville, to burlesque to motion pictures. The industry changed, and so did the city. A place like Edgett’s would not last during the more working class years to come. I don’t know when it was torn down, but it was long ago. It’s a miracle the Strand, the Majestic , and even BAM didn’t follow it into the rubble. Thank goodness they are still with us, and are still in use again, part of a new and revived Brooklyn Cultural District. GMAP