Behold the former PLG residence of one Cornelius “Corneel” Vanderbilt, the hapless, epileptic second son of the celebrated railway czar of the same name. The shot was taken in 1909, 27 years after his death.
Predictably, the seizure-prone scion was considered distastefully infirm by his old man and he was banished to this relatively modest structure at 610 Flatbush at the corner of Chester Court to contemplate his failures.
For a family that was setting new standards in New York City square footage and ostentation, ‘Neel’s ostensibly handsome home was considered nothing more than a passable hovel.
Addled by a gambling habit and a penchant for catastrophic business failures, Vanderbilt’s father disowned Corneel and all but purged him from his will. After a string of abortive careers and unpaid loans, this old school PLG resident committed suicide in 1882 at the age of 53 while living in Connecticut.
The increasingly neglected homestead was leased out to a series of businesses after its owner’s demise. At one point, in the twenties, the old house was hacked into an unsightly multi-purpose office building that included a gas station, a trucking company, and Peter Collins Builders. Look closely at this picture from 1923 and you’ll see one of those Tudor homes on Chester Court around the corner.
Here is that pictured home today, at the far left.
Neil’s sad old cabin was eventually demolished in roughly 1925 when the four-story buildings we see today were erected. The site of Vanderbilt’s sombre redoubt is now home to several businesses familiar to us all – including the inimitable Dr. Cuts. Here is the corner as we currently perceive it.
Next time you amble past this stretch and have your mandatory glance inside the bustling snip shop, give a quick thought to poor old Corneel. He lived there once.