People often finds strange things in their backyards. It just isn't often that a short-lived 240-square-foot chapel is one of them. In the photo above, check out that little brick structure, half-obscured by a tree, way down the driveway of the historic Ryder-Van Cleef House on Village Road North in southern Brooklyn's Gravesend neighborhood . The Gravesend Gazette did a little digging into its history, and figured out that a divinity student, William George Luger, who lived on the block with his family, built the 12-foot by 12-foot shed of worship using "discarded brick and cobblestone scrounged up from vacant lots in the neighborhood. He furnished it with benches and imitation stained glass windows, and even managed to squeeze in an organ (probably a reed organ). Between June 1944 and Christmas 1945, the incipient Reverend Luger preached on Sundays to a congregation as large as 17 members in his tiny chapel."
After Luger became all official and ordained (at the ripe old age of 18), he got a real job in another church and moved away from Village Road North. The Brooklyn Eagle, which dubbed him Reverend 12x12, penned a virtual eulogy to the quaint community space; Luger is quoted as having "a feeling of nostalgia for the little chapel where the 'pastorate' afforded him 'good practice.'...'I would have liked to stay,' he said the other day. 'I could be independent there and do as I liked.'"
That's what it looks like today: roofless, windowless, and empty?the four benches where congregants used to crowd long gone. Only an tiny extant altar tells of its quirky history.
· Gravesend's Little Chapel That Could [Gravesend Gazette]
· Field Trip: Gravesend [Urban Omnibus]
· All Gravesend coverage [Curbed]