Tuesday, May 4, 2010
POSTED BY: Bill Plympton
Ever since I was a young animation fan and I saw Gertie the Dinosaur on TV, I've been a big fan of Winsor McCay. Over the years, I'd marvel at the great imagery and draftsmanship of that turn of the century genius.
I felt a certain kinship to him for a number of reasons. 1. He began his career as a print cartoonist, like myself. 2. He made every drawing in his film by himself, like myself, and 3. He used surrealism as a source of humor. Also like myself. So when I read that one of his early homes out in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn was close to being torn down, I rushed out there to see it myself. I was joined by 2 French animation fans, Xavier and Lucie, and took the subway out near Coney Island.
One problem was the address I received was wrong. The number in print was 1181 Voorhies Ave. And after seeing that there was no such address, we showed the picture of the house to a local resident and he pointed up the street 4 blocks to 1811 Voorhies Ave.
What a dump. Unfortunately the 3 storied mansion has long been abandoned so it now houses 8 families of hispanic descent. And as we entered the front door the spanish families hurriedly scattered to their respective apartments in fear. Apparently the famed animator's home is now a multifamily squatters shelter.
But you can imagine the glory that it once was back in the early 1900's. All the architectural details are still there and with a lot of work it can be restored to its former glory. But the neighborhood is changing. What used to be a nice, quiet, residential area is a bustling commercial zone with liquor stores and great chain drug stores.
As much as I hate to say this, it would be very difficult to turn it into a museum simply because it so far from Manhattan (about 1 hour). But if they could get a historic landmark designation that would be fantastic.
I created some sketches of the house when I visited, and also here's some photos. If you're out in the Coney Island area, definitely check it out. The address is 1811 Voorhies Ave, Sheepshead Bay.
at 3:47 PM