Couples Remember Grand Prospect Hall

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The Grand Prospect Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn, has hosted plenty of weddings because 1903, when it was rebuilt next a hearth in 1900 that ruined the unique structure erected in 1892. But for some of the couples who celebrated marriages at the Victorian-style banquet corridor, which grew its name with long-functioning Tv set advertisements, their recollections are now bittersweet.

The corridor shut in March 2020 mainly because of the pandemic. It was afterwards sold after its then co-proprietor Michael Halkias, who ran the venue with his spouse Alice Halkias, died that May perhaps from troubles of Covid.

The building’s new owner, Angelo Rigas, a contractor, intends to demolish it. The city’s Structures Office issued demolition permits for the site on Nov. 3, public documents demonstrate, weeks following a formal ask for for evaluation with the Landmarks Preservation Fee was denied in September.

Invoice Farrell, a agent for Rigas, explained there is presently no timeline in location for the demolition, but verified that the developing will be demolished. The allow to knock down the structure expires in May possibly 2022, but could be renewed to extend the expiration day, a representative for the Buildings Department stated.

Speaking to 5 partners who had been married or held receptions at Grand Prospect Hall, some lamented about the thought of never ever getting equipped to see it or show it to their kids. But all mentioned the venue and its quite a few ornate information will continue being intact in their memories.

The couple weren’t certain the place to have their wedding day reception in Brooklyn, planned for April 24, 1954. Mr. Drobnicki’s father, Ignatius, made available what proved to be an apt suggestion: “Why not Grand Prospect Hall? It’s great,” Ms. Drobnicki, 92, recalled her father-in-law declaring. (Her spouse died in 2010.)

Ignatius, a Polish immigrant, was familiar with the hall: His two older sons, Bruno and Stanley, experienced their wedding receptions there in 1945, in accordance to Ms. Drobnicki and her son, John.

And as the owner of Emerson Bakery, which stood at Emerson Position and DeKalb Avenue in Clinton Hill for much more than two decades, Ignatius routinely manufactured cakes for other regional Polish partners who acquired married at Grand Prospect Hall, extra Ms. Drobnicki, who life in Queens.

When she and her husband-to-be manufactured their very first check out to the corridor, “it just felt like residence,” she stated.

The pair married in a Catholic ceremony at St. John the Baptist church in Bedford-Stuyvesant before heading to Grand Prospect Hall with 159 guests, according to Ms. Drobnicki.

Dessert, built by Ignatius, was amongst the evening’s highlights: “The cake, of course, was mouth watering, mainly because Pop manufactured it,” Ms. Drobnicki claimed.

Of the venue, she extra, “I did not think it was ornate at all. I just assumed it was homey.”

Its likely destruction, Ms. Drobnicki explained, is “just incredibly unfortunate simply because it was constantly such a excellent put for folks to keep in mind their wedding day working day.”

The pitch that the Fraggettas gained from Mr. Halkias was different from the ones they bought at the other venues they experienced frequented.

He regaled the few with tales of the storied building’s historical past as an opera dwelling and a speakeasy whose Prohibition-period patrons provided Al Capone.

As Ms. Fraggetta, 41, put it: “It was not the cookie-cutter marriage hall like we were utilised to likely to.”

When they ascended the staircase that guide to the grand ballroom, which boasted balconies and 45-foot-superior ceilings, “there was a massive ‘wow aspect,’” Mr. Fraggetta, 44, reported. “It appeared like some thing out of a history e book.”

Lots of of the 250 company at their Nov. 7, 2008, marriage reception experienced similar reactions, he extra. “A lot of people today commented that when you see the Grand Prospect Hall from the road, it does not seem like a lot,” he stated. But stepping inside of “made that wow variable that considerably much more intensive.”

The Fraggettas now dwell in Rockville, Md., but return to New York commonly to take a look at family. They have been hoping their a few little ones would a person working day have the exact same knowledge when they ultimately visited.

“From the outside the house, it’s a darkish cement constructing — so they’re like, ‘Oh, you men got married there?’” Ms. Fraggetta mentioned.

The Collados grew up in two unique states — she in Pennsylvania, he in New York — but both mentioned they recall the common commercials for Grand Prospect Hall enjoying on their televisions.

Initial filmed in 1986, the commercials featured Mr. Halkias and Ms. Halkias talking above orchestral audio from the hall’s staircase and, in some, presenting a promise to “make your desires appear correct.” In the yrs they aired, the adverts have been spoofed on “Saturday Evening Live” and highlighted in a “Jimmy Kimmel Live” skit.

Mr. Collado, 31, and Ms. Collado, 34, never considered they would have their wedding there she called the commercials “cheesy.”

But when she frequented the corridor — the previous put on her checklist — she located it “stunning.”

“As quickly as you walk in, you’re greeted with this gold and white staircase,” Ms. Collado said.

The couple had 200 guests at their wedding day reception on April 11, 2015, which adopted a ceremony at St. Matthias Church in Ridgewood, Queens, where by they now live. The food items served at the hall, pierogi with paella and empanadas, glad the two households, they stated. (She is Polish, he is Latino.)

“It shouldn’t be demolished given the historical past,” Mr. Collado reported.

“The architecture is beyond they have a full yard with a very little waterfall, it was attractive,” Ms. Collado extra. “The working day I read that it was likely to potentially be demolished, I identified as Rafael. I explained, ‘It’s unfortunate.’”

Rising up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Mr. Melidoneas knew from a younger age that his spouse and children had a distinctive link to, as he place it, the person who appeared on Television marketing his banquet corridor in Park Slope.

Mr. Halkias experienced served his grandparents get hold of their American citizenship soon after they to start with arrived in Brooklyn from Greece in the 1960s, reported Mr. Melidoneas, 37.

When the time arrived for him and Ms. Melidoneas to system their marriage ceremony, they were being both amazed to master that, in contrast to the administration of other venues they visited, the Halkiases would allow for them to light-weight a small, contained fireplace inside of the corridor as a element of their Hindu ceremony. (Ms. Melidoneas is Hindu and Mr. Melidoneas is Greek Orthodox.)

The tradition, identified as saat phere, necessitates the bride and groom to encircle a fireplace seven periods, sharing vows with each lap. “Other venues were being not a admirer,” mentioned Ms. Melidoneas, 33. “It was kind of like, ‘Do it outside the house or do not do it at all.’”

The couple were being married at Grand Prospect Hall Oct. 20, 2012, with some 150 to 200 friends in attendance.

They now dwell in Miami, but on a September excursion to pay a visit to Mr. Melidoneas’s loved ones in Brooklyn, they drove by the setting up, as they often do when they’re in the location.

“It was all boarded up,” Mr. Melidoneas stated. “It was sad to see that.”

When Ms. Morgan, 37, acquired engaged to the Rev. Morgan in 2008, she required to have “the very best marriage ceremony people ever attended.”

Portion of her prepare was to evoke the opulence of the 1920s at the reception, with a “The Fantastic Gatsby” theme.

The Rev. Morgan, 39, proposed they look at Grand Prospect Hall. Ms. Morgan experienced “never read of it,” she said, irrespective of residing only a few blocks absent at the time, on 3rd Avenue and 15th Road, and expanding up in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

But when she observed the grand ballroom on a visit, she cried tears of contentment, she claimed. “This is specifically what I required,” Ms. Morgan recalled wondering.

Booking the ballroom — which could accommodate up to 1,700 folks — generally expected extra than the 175 visitors the few had on their record. But the Halkiases let them use it for their July 17, 2009, wedding ceremony reception anyway, the few explained.

The Morgans, who stay in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, now like to point out the setting up to their 3-calendar year-old son when they drive by.

“The reminiscences are there, and I’m grateful we have the recollections,” the Rev. Morgan explained.

But he was upset that the recollections are possibly all they have still left. “It’s like a piece of us is going with it,” he stated.