As readers of Lost City and my week's worth of guest-blogging on this site may have noticed, old buildings of unknown provenance and ambiguous identity don't sit well with me. So I thought it would only be fitting to close out my Curbed Carroll Gardens coverage with a frustrated look at the Luso-American Cultural Center at 619 Henry Street.
This confounding, romantic and ancient building sits on Henry right at the east end of Rapelye Street. It has secrets and it ain't about to give 'em up. The walk outside the entrance is all old bluestone. Long grass grows between the cracks. There's a sign on the door encouraging you to ring the bell, but no one answers. The woman who lives next door said that, though she's been there for 40 years or more, she's not clear what goes on in that building except that occasionally people from parts unknown arrive and have parties.
I little digging revealed the structure, which looks like a former church, was indeed once a house of worship. It was built in 1872 at St. Paul's Lutheran Church. My guess is it was a Norwegian congregation, since the neighborhood was full of Norwegians back then and Vikings' sons tend to be Lutheran.
However, Luso-American, of course, means Portuguese-American (the above sign is half American flag, half Portuguese), so there was a handoff there somewhere. That's strange, since the Portuguese are not a people associated with Carroll Gardens, as far as I know. The Cultural Center has a phone number, but two messages elicited no callback.
The only other thing I could find about the Luso-American Cultural Central was this peculiar internet video of the "Rancho Infantil - Malhao." It depicts children doing some ethnic dancing in a bucolic setting and claims to a be a video of LACC activity.
Somehow, that little film only shrouds the Henry Street building in a further layer of mystery.