BY NOAH SINGER
MARINE PARK — The Hendrick I. Lott House’s annual Halloween party offered guests a rare opportunity to see the house’s interior, including rooms on its second floor, all while enjoying cocktails, food and costumes.
Currently untouched since 1989, the 300-year-old Marine Park house’s interior is in such a state of deterioration that it’s rarely open to the public. Torn and disintegrating wallpaper hangs from cracked walls, and gaps in the ceiling reveal skeletal wooden beams.
Guests at Saturday night’s party used phone flashlights to explore rooms that lacked electricity, pausing to examine uneven wooden floors, beautiful arched windows, and a crawlspace believed to have once been a stop on the underground railroad.
The gathering was hosted by community organization Friends of the Lott House, which works to oversee events that raise funding and awareness for the site. Its president, Greg Borruso, said that in addition to current free programming, he hopes eventually to begin refurbishment of the house’s interior so that school groups may tour.
“Let’s talk about slavery, let’s talk about the underground railroad, let’s talk about farming in the 1800s,” said Borruso, reflecting on the house’s historical significance.
In the meantime, guests were able to enjoy the Lott House’s current state of disrepair, which made it a perfect setting for the spine-chilling party. “Most historic houses have been completely renovated, so not everything is original,” said John Thomassen, a local coffee shop owner. “But right now, because the house is not open to the public normally, everything is as it was. I like seeing the decay. It gives [the house] an authentic, haunted appeal, for me.”
Borruso spoke about the joy of sharing the house with new people. “When you step out here, and you can’t hear the buses going by, and you get the breeze that comes off the creek, you just feel like you’re somewhere else. Just 12 to 15 feet in from the curb line, and it transports you. And people who’ve never experienced it, they don’t know what they’re missing.”
Most guests were local community members who came out to support the house financially while getting a look at its second floor. Charles Mister and Fatima Sfiligoi, a couple who recently moved to the area, said that the site is an enthralling historical attraction for neighborhood families, including their own.
“When we saw the house, it factored into buying nearby. Just because we thought, there’s all this space, maybe they’ll have events, or the kids could get involved somehow. And we have, we’ve done cleanups and stuff like that,” said Mister.
Sfiligoi chimed in. “Because you have a lot of opportunities for volunteer work here, so it’s good for the kids and it’s fun for us too,” she said.
The Friends of the Lott House’s next event will celebrate the house’s 300th anniversary and will take place on the house’s grounds. Thomas Campanella, author of 2019’s “Brooklyn: The Once and Future City” will be giving a presentation and holding a book signing. The event will be free, and the house’s breezeway will be open for viewing.