8. Broken Angel House
The Broken Angel House was perhaps one of the most eye-catching and bewildering urban myths in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Once located at the intersection of Downing and Quincy street, the four story building was a quirky juxtaposition of colorful glass facets, crooked arches, bizarre balconies, and irrational metal works. The Broken Angel House was most well known for its appearance in Block Party, a documentary film hosted and written by comedian Dave Chappelle, and directed by Michel Gondry.
The building was owned by self-taught artist-architect Arthur Wood and his wife, Cynthia, who bought the property in 1979 for only $2,100. Named after an unwanted cherub statue the couple found on Staten Island, the Broken Angel House was a true “work in process.” Over more than two decades, the couple turned the abandoned trolley factory into a DIY neighborhood spectacle using only materials they or their children found in dumpsters or on the streets.
Declared unsafe after a fire in 2006, and lost to a developer in 2007, the building was finally filed for foreclosure in January 2009. The building was bought by developer Alex Barret in January 2014 for $4.1 million, and was completely demolished in May the same year. Renamed as “4 Downing,” the eight-unit luxury condominium building is not any different from the neighborhood’s other new million-dollar condos.
To this day, owner Arthur Wood is fighting, albeit in vain, to get his property back.