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Sunday, 5 December 2010

Brooklyn Deb and Baynard Rush Hall

I'm in sunny Brooklyn staying with Debs in the most beautiful wooden house, built before the Civil War a couple of doors down from where Marianne Moore lived. It's an early three story frame house, built in 1853. Walt Whitman was a carpenter round here actually, and might have had a hand in the construction. It's now a row house. It's earlier than the other brownstone houses that are so classic around here, and which were constructed after the civil war.

In this strange tenement of open hardwood staircases and Deb's wonderful art a chap called Baynard Rush Hall once died. His father was George Washington's physician. A pretty famous American family, who had an important role in persuading Washington to take up his public office (apparently). I only stay in the very best places.

Baynard Rush Hall was a writer and teacher who began the University of Indiana. He was the first owner of this house. Dixie Kline Richardson has written his biography.

Baynard had a lot of kids but they all died before him. So sad.

If Deborah had never opened the letter addressed to 'Occupant' written by Dixie, when she was investigating Baynard, and called her back, she'd never know about it. And such an interesting history. Dixie must have spent years and years researching her book. Very beautiful.

There is a lot of American history in this house and in this street. I feel very, very privileged to be staying here.


  1. Wow - Brooklyn. Have you seen the film The Squid and the Whale? (Or for that matter, any films set in Brooklyn, LOL)? I stayed in Queens once but didn't really see much of Brooklyn when a student over there. Hope you enjoy it.
    PS - Was he related to Benjamin Rush ( that name just came to me from past life of studying American history)?

  2. Yes he was, Benjamin Rush was his uncle - Jefferson's best friend who signed the Declaration of Independence

  3. Oh Jude just googled Baynard Rush Hall & Walt Whitman and this came up, had forgotten all about it.