Fall of the House of Schwartau

A self-described Renaissance man wrestles with the legacy of his former Bushwick abode.

I was recently forwarded a Brownstoner article about the fight to save several historic mansions built along a stretch of Bushwick Ave. The crux of the piece was centered around the imperiled Lipsius Cook House on the corner of Myrtle Ave. First occupied by the German American beer heiress Catherina Lipsius and later the discredited explorer Frederick Cook, the home fell into disrepair in recent years. Next door, a six-story apartment building rose from the ashes of a historic KFC, dwarfing the once prominent, but now disheveled residence, whose overgrown yard was peppered with trash. Scanning the article further, I clocked another familiar address: 751 Bushwick Ave., the decrepit yet characterful mansion where I had lived for seven decrepit yet characterful years in my twenties, from about 2012 to 2018.

Before my Bushwick era, “The Mansion,” as we called it, had been profiled in the Real Estate section of the New York Times. Beyond pushing a broad claim—that “for those seeking the newest Bohemia” Bushwick was “arguably the coolest place on the planet”—the coverage e…

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