Broken Angel Co-Creator Dies

reno of broken angel Arthur Wood's wife Cynthia, co-creator of the famed Broken Angel, died recently of cancer.  I don't know how I missed the story, posted on Gothamist in late January.  A note posted outside the house explains that the couple met at age 18 while ice skating at Wollman Rink, and it was love at first sight.

Things have been quiet over at the Angel in the last few years, after the fire and the code issues, and the talk of a condo conversion.

Having lost loved ones from cancer, my thoughts are with their family.

I remember being able to see the fantastical structure from my window when I first moved here, and how it took me ages to figure out what and where it was exactly.

SCH Meeting Recap

I noticed a lot more young people at last night's meeting. At first, I was psyched. But then I realized they were probably all Pratt students who were collaborating on the Broken Angel Project. 1. Clinton Hill House Tour: May 6, 2007 Lots of volunteers are needed, ranging from sponsorships to serving refreshments and house-sitting. They need 150 house sitters alone! Even if you don't volunteer, you should check this out. It's a great way to peek inside at some of the neighborhood's most intriguing homes.

2. Newcomers Welcome Pot Luck: Feb 23, 2007, 7pm

3. Composer Robert Wilson is being honored at Pratt on Tuesday, January 30. Call 718-636-3657 to RSVP.

4. 70 Lefferts Place was landmarked and saved from being demolished to make room for a 7-story condo building.

5. Atlantic Yards:* There are two cases being developed against the project: - Failure of the ESDC to: consider alternate plans, consider worst-case scenarios (terrorism), properly comment and respond to community questions (providing misleading information), produce a realistic environmental impact study - Challenge to the use of eminent domain. In order for ED to be legal, the result must have a public purpose. The lawsuit argues that the public purpose in Atl Yrds is a pretense.

6. Broken Angel: Arthur and Chris Wood spoke briefly, as did Shahn Anderson. Much of the wooden structure at the top of the building will be dismantled to meet fire codes, but will then be rebuilt per Arthur's design using steel. The design may include a revolving whale on top. The building will be turned into condos, and a community art space will be erected in the lot next door, also per Arthur's design. The expected completion of the project is a mere 12-14 months!

img_0003.JPG 7. Next Meeting: Feb. 21, 2007, Refreshments at 7 pm, meeting at 7:30, Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, 357 Clermont Ave. This will be a joint meeting of the Fort Greene Association and the Society for Clinton Hill. Topics will include Atlantic Yards status report and an update on many of the other development projects in our neighborhoods by Councilperson Letitia James and more. *The Atlantic Yards portion of the meeting took up the bulk of the time, and really went on for far too long. The attorney who spoke gave a fine presentation, but the floor was open for questions for an unacceptable amount of time, considering most of the "questions" were just rambling comments and statements. Yes, this is a very important issue that will affect our neighborhood. But such in-depth discussion should be corralled and saved for a meeting dedicated to this project alone. By the time Broken Angel came up, many people had left or become restless.

Broken Angel Update 1/15

From Chris Wood: Some good news for Broken Angel. My parents signed an agreement with Shaun Andersen, a local developer on Saturday. This agreement will remove the threat of demolition by the Department of Buildings. Our thanks to Letitia James, Brent Porter, Peter Grossman and Zerlize Goodman for their help in overseeing and mediating the agreement. Under the terms of the agreement my father will work with Shaun to redesign and develop Broken Angel as condominiums. The sale of these condominiums will pay for the work that is necessary to bring the building to code and allow my father to see his vision realized and completed. In addition a second building will be created at 8 Downing Street (the lot next door) that will become an arts space. My father chose to work with Shaun because from their previous friendship, he felt that given the current circumstances, this collaboration would offer him the best opportunity to contribute to the design of the building and keep the spirit and details of Broken Angel intact. A show of photographs and my father’s plans for the original and the re-envisioned Broken Angel are currently on display at Higgens Hall at Pratt.

This sounds like a fairly good solution to me. The building as-is is definitely unsafe inside, as far as moving around on the upper levels on ladders, etc. Seems this deal will help preserve the concept of the structure as well as provide for an arts space in the adjacent vacant lot.

Broken Angel Will Go Condo

Thanks to Brownstoner for the latest info on Broken Angel.  Looks like the precarious building top will be dismantled and the building will be converted to condos.  Thankfully, it will also accommodate artist and community space, and the conversion will take place with help from local developer Shahn Anderson.  I've never met him, but he seems like a good guy. I suppose all things considered, I'm OK with this plan.  I hope the community space will be home to some sort of gallery dedicated to the building's long history, with lots of photos of the building as it is now. More from the NYT here.

Broken Angel: WTF!

Brownstoner and Gowanus Lounge have both posted stories in the last week or so about Broken Angel potentially being on the market, despite all the movement towards preservation. angel.jpg

Looks like it's true.  Gowanus Lounge provides some in-depth info for us this morning.

Maybe the challenge to save the building is turning out to be too much for the family.  That's understandable.  But I can't help but feel really bummed and kinda pissed about this.  It smells like defeat.  Defeat and some sort of new Fedders building.  LAME! (above photo by Dana F)

Volunteering to Help the Hood

From SCH:

  • Looking for legal help with the Broken Angel on Downing Street.  Brent Porter is heading up a group of volunteers to help save the Broken Angel (building/architectural sculpture) from imminent demolition.  Architects and engineers have volunteered and are helping with plans to satisfy all city codes.  Now a real estate lawyer is needed who can volunteer some time.  Please contact Brent asap if you can help.
  • The Society for Clinton Hill (SCH) is looking for volunteers to help with the 2007 House Tour.  This is the main fundraising effort and it supports 2 years of activity since the House Tour happens on alternate years with the Fort Greene Association.  There is a great deal that needs to be done and we can really use your skills.  We need people to work on public relations, media, advertising, fundraising, house-sitting, clean-up and many other things.  It is fun and of limited duration.  The tour happens on the first Sunday in May.  If you can help, please contact House Tour Chairperson, Linda Scher at

A very cool volunteer opportunity coming up in the next CHB interview!  Stay tuned...

Broken Angel: Update from Chris Wood

Received this update from Chris today:

Update 11/28/06
The Wood family is very thankful for the support we have received in our attempt to rescue Broken Angel. However the building is far from saved and time is running out. Broken Angel is a legally built architectural sculpture, which my father would love to transform into a home for the arts. Broken Angel is viewed by thousands of people who come to see it every year. If this quirky and original structure disappears, Quincy and Downing streets will again become a forgotten corner of Brooklyn. My name is Christopher Wood; I am the son of the creators of Broken Angel. I have lived my entire life in Brooklyn. I have grown up and continue to be enmeshed in a world of art. I am a stone carver and photographer. I have restored many of New York’s cherished landmarks including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cloisters, Grace Church, the Tweed Court house, and currently the main branch of the New York City Public Library. I call on Brooklyn to support and help us restore Broken Angel. Please email or write your local politicians to show your support and help us block the demolition of Broken Angel. If you are a legal professional, we desperately need help fighting the Department of Buildings in court. Additionally those who are willing and able can purchase paintings by my father or my photographs of Broken Angel at Artez’n at 444 Atlantic Ave. Works of art for sale can also be obtained online at I guarantee that a work of art bought this holiday season will retain its value better than a Play Station 3. Please help us and show the developers who want to turn Brooklyn into another skyline of giant buildings that we will not go gently into the shadows of greed and over development. I can be contacted at
My restoration work
Thanks, Chris, for keeping us all updated.

Broken Angel Update: 11/13

broken angel From Chris Wood:

The building Broken Angel is a unique melding of art and architecture designed by my father Arthur Wood, and located in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn. The original building was bought at a city auction in 1979, and major construction was completed in 2002.  On 10/10/06 a structure at the top of Broken Angel caught fire. Thanks to the quick action of the New York City fire department no one was harmed, and only minimal damage was done to the building. Unfortunately the fire brought the attention of the department of buildings (DOB) who vacated my parents, the owners and guardians of Broken Angel. My family is currently working with the architecture firm, Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture, to bring the building to code, however we are still being threatened with demolition by the DOB. On Wednesday 11/15/06 the Brooklyn Supreme Court will begin hearings on whether the actions of the DOB are justified.  Additionally we will be selling photographs and paintings as a fundraiser at Artez’n (444 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn NY). These works of art can also be viewed and purchased on line at .We are attempting to raise funds to save the building and develop it in a way that will help the community. In selling our art work we are hoping to make Broken Angel a permanent art installation and fixture of Brooklyn. For those who are interested in viewing the building additional photos of Broken Angel can by seen at . In closing my family would like to say thank you to all of the people who have been so gracious in their offers of help. We deeply appreciate your support.


Looks like there are some photos of the building for sale for the fundraiser, which sounds to me like a great way to raise money.  Check it out.  I know I will!

Broken Angel: Update from Chris Wood

Update Broken Angel 10/29/06On 10/10/06 Broken Angel suffered minimal damage from a fire at the top of the structure. The cause of the fire is unknown and still under investigation. Broken Angel has been an active project of construction by my family beginning in 1979. Major construction was finished in 2002, and all work done thereafter has been for the purpose of maintaining the building. The fire brought the attention of the Department of Buildings (DOB), previous interactions had occurred in 1986, and 2002 with no action taken against the building. During the course of building and maintaining the structure there have been no accidents or complaints. Compared with most modern construction projects, such as the Time Warner building in NYC, this is an excellent record. It raises questions as to why large developers are allowed to continue construction when they pose a risk to the community, whereas Broken Angel, which has no history of construction problems, has been singled out as a danger. My mother and father, the legal guardians and owners of Broken Angel were threatened with eviction for 6 days. On the 7th day they were vacated by the police without a court order or engineer's report. We question the necessity and the humanity of this action. They were told that this was done for their safety; however action was taken prior to any inspection of the interior of the building by an engineer. Furthermore, we were told that the building would be demolished in 3 weeks if an architect did not submit plans to bring it to code. We have been compliant with this request. We are thankful to the firm of Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture for all of their help and support. On Thursday (10/26/06) an engineer from the DOB toured the structure, and the next day the DOB released a different story. A DOB spokesperson recently commented to the Daily News (10/27/06) that any demolition orders, if warranted will take approximately 3 months to begin.

Broken Angel: My Opinion

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IMG_8896, originally uploaded by onebadapple.

Gosh, lots has happened since Clinton Hill Landmark Broken Angel caught fire two weeks ago. First, owner Arthur Wood was dragged away in handcuffs, and now authorities are threatening to tear the whole thing down!

It seems to have created quite a divide between residents -- those who think the building is an important artistic landmark, and those who are irritated that the Woods' were shoddy in their construction years ago and are rolling their eyes at the requests by the family for private donations.

I'm kind of torn on this. I'm not a huge fan of the monetary plea, because really, they did kind of do this to themselves. If you've seen Chapelle's Block Party, you've seen how precarious the insides of the building are.

However, I love the building, and I think it represents something unique in Clinton Hill. The Woods created something special in a downtrodden area years ago when not many would have taken a chance in the area, and the building and its owners have become real fixtures in the community. I don't think I'd send them any money -- hey, who has enough to go around these days! -- but I'd certainly provide my time, in the form of an afternoon here and there doing work inside. It could be a kind of "habitat for humanity" type project. I'm sure that comment will receive some flack, but Clinton Hill is all about being a neighborhood and I think it would be wonderful if area residents chipped in to help bring the building up to code. Think about it -- it could be a big BBQ/block party!

I think the authorities have gotten a bit out of hand about it, and should be helping to come up with a solution. I'd think some sort of organization, artistic or historic, might be able to come forward with a grant?

Anyway, that's my humble opinion. I can see Broken Angel from my window, and would be sad to see it go.

Neighborhood Landmark Damaged in Fire!

Oh no!!! It looks like Broken Angel caught fire today. Thanks to all who reported, including Brooklyn Record, Brownstoner and Gothamist. It sounds like local fire departments responded quickly, and like many, I have to question the overall stability of the whole place (both pre- and post-fire). These beautiful photos from flickr user reidab:

Check out the entire photoset here.

Another flickr user, onebadapple, apparently grew up inside Broken Angel, and helped his parents transform it into a unique icon. He has a very thorough photoset of the building, including photos taken inside.

If you haven't seen Dave Chapelle's Block Party, Netflix it now! Dave takes a tour of the house with the owners, and it's really quite wacky and interesting.