It all started with a homework assignment from my Aunt/God mother at the Kelly Family Reunion in October. She wanted a photo of Fred Goat.
I remember Fred Goat from my childhood. We lived in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn during the 1960’s, just down the street from my maternal grandmother’s house. Nana, as we called her, often hosted major holiday and family dinners at her house. After those dinners, my father would usually end up driving my great-uncle and a cousin, both bachelors, home to the brownstone that they lived in on Dean Street in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn. My mother called the two of them “the Dukes of Dean Street”. On the return trip, after we had dropped off the Dukes, we would wish Fred Goat a good night.
I really don’t know how the tradition started. I know that my mother’s sisters would say good night to him when their father would drive them home from Dean Street in the 1940’s and 50’s. Fred was always at the corner of Dean Street and 3rd Avenue. Day or night, year after year he would be standing silent vigil. “Fred Goat” was the logo of The Fred Goat Company. It adorned the top of the turret of the building that once was home to the Federal Brewing Company . The Fred Goat Company took over the building in 1914 and began manufacturing and repairing machinery.
You would think that a landmark such as Fred Goat would be a an easy find on the “Google Machine”. Alas, no photo of the old goat has revealed itself to me on the internet. So I had to do some detective work. No easy feat from here in southern Virginia.
The turret of the building was on the corner of 3rd Ave. I found a letter in the real estate section of the NY Times on Oct 18, 2012 to Christopher Gray asking for information on the building. It was written by the same aunt who had tasked me to find Fred. I found the owner of the company’s obituary in the online archive of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Archives from Feb 7, 1939 and confirmed the information on the building. I next went to the NYC Department of Taxation website. Between 1939 and 1941, and again in the mid-1980s, the city photographed every house and building in the five boroughs. I ordered a photo of the building from the 1940 collection. It arrived on 18 November 2016.
As luck would have it, the angle of the photo does not allow a look at the logo on the turret seen in the photo just to the left and above the street light.
The ad from the Brooklyn Eagle shows the logo that was at the top of the turret on the corner of Dean Street and 3rd Avenue. But a photo of the tower with “Fred” still eludes me.
The building has gone through a lot of changes since the 1960’s. The top of the turret has been removed, Fred was painted over. The eight story section of the building shown in the first illustration has had several floors removed.
The search will continue. I will try to track down the descendants of Mr. Fred Goat, you know, his kids ( I couldn’t resist). Perhaps one of them has the photo I seek. Maybe someone reading this will have it and drop me a line. I may have to go up to Brooklyn to see if I can find any other architectural archives for the City or in the Brooklyn Public Library. Somewhere out there is a photograph of the turret at the corner of Dean Street and 3rd Avenue with Fred Goat overlooking the traffic below. Someday, I will be able to say “Good Night” to Fred Goat once more.
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