Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Winsor McCay House

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.


  1. what an embarrassment, not only for being Winsor McCay's house but because how society treats its best traditional architecture, is just so terrible to look how old and beautiful neighborhoods disappear, covered up by the most horrible buildings you could imagine. It drives me nuts what they're doing to Santiago, in Chile, and to so many cities in the world. It doesn't really makes sense to me.

  2. and its amazing how even being Winsor McCay's house its destined to disappear anyway.

  3. Makes me sad thinking of the neighborhood my mom grew up in near downtown that is either teetering on a rebirth, or a swift kick back into the slums given the circumstances at play. McCay's house needs to be remembered unless it's been erased forever.

  4. "it now houses 8 families of hispanic descent"!!?? WTF. Bill I didn't know you were a closet racist.What does their ethnicity have to do with anything??
    "as we entered the front door the spanish families hurriedly scattered to their respective apartments in fear." You're lucky they didn't shoot your ass for tresspassing!

  5. Since when does mentioning they were hispanic make him racist? He was merely describing the scene.

    "You're lucky they didn't shoot your ass for tresspassing!" Now *that* sounds like a racist stereotype to me.


    In Fall 2010 (Autumn 2010) the 5th International Fest of Contemporary animation & media-art LINOLEUM will take place in Moscow.

    Purposes of the Fest

    The purposes of the Fest are:

    - encouragement and stimulation of creative activity of animators and media-artists;

    - popularization of contemporary animation in Russia.

    This year the project LINOLEUM announces the selection of works for competitive participation in the 5th Fest on for the first time, which is entitled “FULL RECOVERY”.

    Nominations of the Fest

    The Festival Jury will select four principal nominees during the Fest.

    The winner will be awarded to the Grand-Prix of the Fest which is $5000 (USD).

    People’s choice award will go to the work that will get most of the viewers’ voices.

    The works on the short-list as well as those recommended by the Jury will be included into the collection DVD, released by the project LINOLEUM.

    The total prize fund of the Festival is $10000 (USD).

    The Fest will be held with the support of «Michael Tsarev Art Projects».

    Selection of Works

    The selection of works for the participation in the Fest will be carried out by the Organizing Committee and the Jury.

    According to the selection results the names of the authors as well as the titles of their works will be published on the official Fest website in the category \Fest\Participants’10.

    Conditions of Selection

    The number of works presented by one participant is unlimited. The works are accepted without any strict thematic limitation, but under the common title “FULL RECOVERY”.

    Requirements to the Works

    Basic requirements of Organizing Committee to the competitive works are:

    - creation period of the work is the years 2009-2010;

    - animation portion must be no less then 30%;

    - concise description of the work;

    - subtitles in English or Russian (if the works are presented in other languages);

    - photos of the director and the production designer, screenshots (of high definition) on a CD (for the catalogue and press-release);

    - only the works that haven’t participated in other contests and fests in the Russian Federation can be accepted.

    Contact information of the author or studio (short résumé) is obligatory. All the works sent to the Fest are not commented on or returned. The organizers are obligated to reserve confidentiality and the author’s rights of the Fest’s competitors.

    Contracts will be signed with all the authors and studios, whose works will be selected for the participation in the Fest.

    The reception of works for the Fest will be held till September 1, 2010.

    The Organizing Committee will inform the producers (directors) about the results of the selection till September 15, 2010.

    Technical Requirements

    - the works are accepted in the DVD format (with the exception of mp4);

    - the length of the work is not regulated;

    The possibility of acceptance of works on the film 16mm or 35mm is to be discussed with the Organizing Committee.

    How to Send

    The DVD copies of works should be sent not later than on August 30, 2010.

    The address is: «Animation Community»; postbox 67, Moscow, 115682.

    For any information about the competition and Fest please apply to the organizing committee of the Fest:

    Olga Martynenko (martynenko@linoleumfestival.ru)

    The exact date of the Fest will be published on the website of the project LINOLEUM www.linoleumfestival.ru.

    We are looking forward to getting your works!

  7. The house was sold, and unfortunately refashioned into unrecognizablity.