Carroll Gardens has its fair share of quirky establishments and we’d like to add Dennett Place to the list, nestled right next to the industrial Gowanus neighborhood. It’s really more of an alley made up of two to three storey attached houses. Unlike other similar streets however, these houses are sometimes jokingly called “Hobbit Houses.” The ground level of each house has its own roughly four-foot tall miniature door.
Also somewhat eerily is the uniformity of these tiny doors, one per house. The community however is a tight-knit one where children play on the street and the families have occupied the places for many years. Yet it seems that despite our pesky door-related, no resident really knew why they had small basement doors.
From a nomenclature perspective, The New York Times, ForgottenNY and researchers from the Brooklyn Historical Society have all tried to find an explanation behind the street name. We do know that the street is part of a historically Italian-American enclave in Carroll Gardens called “Cat’s Alley,” though once again the origin of that name is unknown. Lost City speculates that argues that the street was originally named Bennett Place and its current name is the result of a simple clerical error.
As far as the doors of Dennett (Bennett?) Place go, for now they seem determined to remain exactly as they are currently, newly painted and coordinated with the houses above.
For even smaller finds, learn about why fairy doors are popping up all over New York City. See more quirky NYC facts and discoveries in our “Daily What?!” series. Submit your own via Twitter with the hashtag #DailyWhat.