By 1981 Prospect Hall was almost entirely closed off, with barrels
spread throughout the building catching rainwater, while a restaurant
operation barely held on in the old beer hall on the ground floor.
The building faced a deep gash made by the construction of Prospect
Expressway in the 1950s, it was far from traditional Brooklyn centers
and activity, and its future seemed grim. In that year Michael and
Alice Halkias, fresh from several real estate projects, bought the
structure, optimistically renamed it Grand Prospect Hall and gradually
reopened the rest of the building. After almost two decades and
"millions of dollars," Mr. Halkias said, the work, mostly
seat-of-the-pants preservation, is 90 percent finished.
In retaining the ballroom, Mr. Halkias did not care about the original
paint color and made no effort to uncover them. "There's certain colors
I like, vaudeville, happy colors--they come into my head," he said.
What he calls "Halkias colors" tend to gold and bright pastels of green
So each piece of fruit in the hundred-odd swags and on the 300 feet of
ceiling molding is in a different shade, framed by ivory and,
especially, gold. He did not bother with complicated sketches or
plans--"I would just be down on the floor, shouting up to the painter,"
Mr. Halkias said.
The original exterior brick was cream-colored with mottled gray
streaks, typical of the period, but Mr. Halkias thought it looked
dirty. "We chemically cleaned it five or six times--maybe we burned
it--but we finally gave up," he said. Last fall he simply painted the
brick tan, white and gold.
Throughout their tenure, Mr. and Mrs. Halkias have been looking for
architectural elements and artwork to replace what was lost. "We went
crazy looking for paintings," Mrs. Halkias said, but then one day Mr.
Halkias was talking about the building with a stranger in a bank line
in Bay Ridge--and the stranger mentioned he had bought the
Bavarian-style murals that had been removed from the beer hall years
earlier. The Halkiases bought them back.
They have worked with artists like Franciszek Kulon, who copies old
masterworks--Mr. Kulon did Gainsborough's "Blue Boy" in one day. Copies
of works by Watteau, Renoir, Ingres and other artists glisten on the
walls of Grand Prospect Hall. On the office bookshelf "Nightclub
Tactics Today" shares space with "Renoir: His Life, Art and
Much of the restoration work is
done by an in-house staff that ranges in number from 30 up to 90 in the
On a busy week there are 20 events. The total capacity is 8,000. Grand
Prospect hall has a dozen areas for parties, and several areas are
often in use simultaneously. On a recent evening a party filled the
ballroom, while in the beer hall, the groom at a wedding bent down to
pull his wife"s garter off with his teeth, as relatives and friends
laughed and shouted.
The Halkiases also attract concerts, office parties and corporate
events and are angling to position Grand Prospect Hall as one of
Brooklyn's major historic sites. "When we started, it was a big white
elephant with big ears that had to learn new tricks," Mr. Halkias said.
"Now we attract people from Rome, Paris, all over." One possible
strategy is to enlarge their sizable ballroom-dancing following and, in
the couple's words, make the hall "the Roseland of Brooklyn."
Doctrinaire preservationists might cringe over some of the changes, but
over two decades the Halkiases' energy and distinctive vision have
reclaimed Prospect Hall.
This year they expect to add a 40- by 100-foot greenhouse to the roof
garden and replace some façade sculptures missing for 50 years.
Mr. Halkias said that in retrospect he should have paid more attention
to the bathrooms, but that he plans to remedy the situation. At a
recent meeting he surprised his wife by announcing that he had ordered
something they admired on a recent trip to France--20 gold-leaf toilet
NEW YORK TIMES 1/1/2001
The Metro Section
"Palatial Ballroom Evokes Memories of a Bygone Era: Lovingly
Restored Monument To City Dance-Hall Traditio
By DIANE CARDWELL
Upstairs in the white, French
Renaissance-style building looming over
the Prospect Expressway in Brooklyn on a recent midweek afternoon,
Michael Halkias was showing off the grand ballroom of his catering
hall. He pointed out the dolphins, bananas and acanthus
flowers nesting in the intricate plasterwork, now painted Miami Beach
melon, turquoise and yellow with gold-leaf highlights. He
explained the importance of the perfectly aligned boards in the
octagonal wood floor, because ballroom dancers need to follow their
pattern. And he lingered on the gilded lion heads encircling
the ceiling dome that arches over the 10,000-square- foot space.
“I call this an atmospheric theater,” said Mr. Halkias, a real estate
developer originally from Pittsburgh. “The gardens outside
have been brought inside to entice a visitor to come in and not go out
To wander through this room – or almost any other part of the
century-old Grand Prospect Hall at 263 Prospect Avenue in Brooklyn – is
to be transported to a bygone era of dressing up and stepping out, of
speak-easies and swank, of a time when the city was filled with spots
to Lindy Hop or tango through the dawn of New Year’s Day.
Once, before the juggernaut of television and movies, when bourgeois
social life centered around dining, theater, sporting events and, of
course, dancing, most respectable neighborhoods would have at least one
elaborate building with rooms that could be rented for all of these
functions. “Once upon a time, a lot more of the city’s real estate was
available for people to use to create some sort of public life for
themselves,” said Marci Reaven, a director of the urban preservationist
group Place Matters, a joint project of the Municipal Art Society and
City Lore, a cultural organization.
Uptown, there were the storied dance halls of the Jazz Age, like the
Rockland Palace, Alhambra and the Savoy, where Harlem’s elite could
stomp in the New Year to the smooth strains of Fletcher Henderson’s
orchestra. Downtown, at the Palladium or the Arcadia, revelers could
take in the American and Latin swing. And in the Bronx there
was the Hunts Point Palace, a multiroom, multifunction hall that
rivaled the most glamorous nightspots in the city and became a venue
for mambo legends like Tito Puente.
So last night, about 100 couples upheld the tradition of whirling the
night away, sustained by filet mignon, lobster tails and free-flowing
cocktails for $175 a pop. “People are dying for places like
this,” Mr. Halkias said. “On New Year’s Eve last year I did
a party for Russians and Polish people and they had a heck of a good
time doing the ballroom dancing and the modern stuff.”
When Mr. Halkias and his wife, Alice, bought the building, then called
Prospect Hall, in 1981, they were mindful of its past and wanted to
restore it to its former glory – and then some. Since then,
they have poured millions into making it a premier social and
entertainment center. “I had a feeling for grand space and I
saw this dilapidated structure and followed the challenge to let it be
what it used to be and even better,” Mr. Halkias said. “I’m
just a nutjob. If I were normal, I wouldn’t have done this.”
And the grand ballroom in Brooklyn stands nearly alone. Few
such establishments in the city have dodged the wrecking ball over the
decades, and those that remain have fallen into disrepair or have been
renovated beyond recognition. The Renaissance Ballroom in
Harlem, once home to dances as well as basketball games and wedding
receptions, stands unused and faces an uncertain future. The
Park Palace and Park Plaza in East Harlem, considered the cradle of
Latin dance, is now La Hermosa Christian Church. And the
Hunts Point Palace, stripped of its original façade, is now an
office building. Of course there is still the Roseland Ballroom in
Midtown Manhattan, now an event and concert space, but it resides in a
renovated ice rink, not its original location. And many of
the other surviving dance halls were not exactly ballrooms to begin
with. Irving Plaza near Gramercy Park, which now holds
concerts and, on Sunday nights, swing dancing, was a theater hollowed
out of four town houses in the 1920’s. And the Amazura
Ballroom in Queens, featuring live music and boxing, is the old Jamaica
Arena, originally built for prize fights. But as far as the people who
spend their time thinking about these things can say, only the Grand
Prospect Hall essentially remains itself. “The Grand
Prospect Hall has just been lucky,” said Cezar Del Valle, a theater
When Prospect Hall was first built in 1892 by the developer John Kolle,
it was a typical Victorian amusement palace for what Mr. Halkias calls
the “gold coast society of Park Slope in Brooklyn.” It
burned down in 1900, and Mr. Kolle rebuilt it three years later on an
even grander scale. When it reopened, it had a beer hall,
meeting and lodge rooms, bowling alleys, bars, a shooting range, a roof
garden, and, at its center, the enormous dance hall.
Through the first half of the century, Prospect Hall was a center for
civic life as well as leisure activities. In 1908, William
Jennings Bryan made a campaign stop there, and in 1914 the Women’s
Suffrage Party began its national campaign. Local
organizations, including a singing group and a gun club, kept offices
there. The hall even housed a motion picture company until
But the great attraction of the hall was always its ballroom, used for
dancing, movies, vaudeville, boxing and cabaret. Al Capone
attended regularly. In the 1930’s, Mr. Del Valle said, there
were Works Progress Administration theater productions and, throughout
the swing era, dances every Saturday night.
“That was the big place – like the Roseland for Brooklyn,” said Theresa
Russo, 77, who grew up in South Brooklyn and remembers attending a
masquerade ball at Prospect Hall with her parents when she was about
5. When she was old enough, she would go regularly to dance
the waltz or the Peabody (a fast fox trot). Her husband,
Anthony, 79, popped the question in the oak room downstairs in 1948,
and the couple held their wedding reception for 900 in the grand
Jean Fiore, 71, who met her husband, Louis, at the hall in 1948
said: “That was the big hall with the big bands where
everybody went. Sunday night, you’d go to a movie or a
dance, and Saturday night you’d go to a movie or a
dance. You were always out socializing with the same basic
group of people.” Mr. Fiore, 78, added: “We mostly went out
in Brooklyn because back then there were enough places to go.”
By the 1950’s, though, as television and the movies began to rival
dancing as mass entertainment, Prospect Hall was in
decline. The expressway had walled off the area and the
residents began moving to the suburbs.
Still, the White Eagle Society, a national organization for Polish
immigrants, which bought the building in 1940 and used it as a
community center, continued to hold dances and concerts through the
1970’s, even as the building and the neighborhood
deteriorated. When the Halkiases bought it in 1981, renaming
it the Grand Prospect Hall, rain leaked through the roof and chunks of
plaster were missing. “It was a sad sight,” Mr. Halkias
said. Since then, the couple has poured several million dollars – they
will not say exactly how much – into a kind of on-the-fly restoration,
recreating molding in a basement workshop, installing reproductions of
old master paintings and salvaging fixtures like crystal chandeliers
from other halls that have closed.
It may not be by the book, but preservationists and historians say that
part of the importance of saving buildings like Grand Prospect Hall is
that, like the fossil record, they hold physical evidence of the public
lives they have housed. “In a way, it shows how democratic a
place was,” said David M. Carp, a music archivist and amateur
historian. “You see how many ethnic groups have used a
place. I don’t know if you see that anymore.”
At the Grand Prospect, for example, in the original beer hall on the
first floor, which will open as a restaurant by the end of this month,
figures painted on the tiger-oak-paneled walls stand in mute testimony
to its German heritage: a blond maiden serving beer; Theodore Roosevelt
depicted, disrespectfully, with his bottom facing forward in protest
against the president’s policies toward Germany.
These days, the hall survives on a steady diet of weddings, corporate
events and mass media productions. It has appeared in movies
(“The Cotton Club”, “Prizzi’s Honor”), music videos by Foxy Brown, Eve
and Anthrax and television commercials. The Halkiases are
also trying to capitalize on the resurgence of ballroom dancing,
holding two competitions a year, as well as a number of other events.
Those who have danced there say it is unique in the
city. “It really hits you when you have a space as big as
the Grand Prospect,” said Yang Chen, 36, a lawyer who is vice president
of the Manhattan Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association and has competed
at the hall. “It’s a space that inspires you to live up to
its grandeur. It does something to your performance,
especially because it is so over-the-top.”
Mrs. Fiore, who celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary at the hall
last month, said she was stunned to see how elaborate it had become
since 1948. “It was a big dance hall then – nothing fancy,”
she said. Her husband recalled, “They had a bar where you could go if
you didn’t want to dance and have a drink, you know, and then you’d get
up enough nerve to ask someone to dance.”
On the night Mr. Fiore saw his future wife, wearing a clingy, green
tissue-faille dress, he managed to find that nerve. Mrs.
Fiore remembered, “You said I fit into your arms so nice.”
Of the dance hall, Mr. Fiore said: “There’s nothing like that
anymore. I guess as we’ve progressed with our lives, we’re
really lost something.”
PARK SLOPE COURIER, 12/9/2002
"HOLLYWOOD DINES ON BROOKLYN LOCALES:
BOUROUGH RESTAURANTS FEATURED ON THE BIG SCREEN"
Look familiar? You may never have dined in the majestic ballroom of the
Grand Prospect Hall. You may never have peered across the East River
from a window seat at the River Care…and yet.
No it’s not déjà vu, and you’re not having a
transcendental premonition. You actually have seen these locales before
– on the big screen.
Over the years, Brooklyn has provided Hollywood studios and independent
filmmakers with a look – or make that the look. It’s a look, a feel, a
texture that simply can not be duplicated with some prefab construction
on a Los Angeles back lot. It’s style, it’s character, it’s keepin’ it
real – and it abounds among Brooklyn’s dining establishments.
Recently, some new editions have been added to the Brooklyn restaurant
film archives. Lily’s on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge was the backdrop for
the independent film "Eurotrash." The cast and crew of "Eurotrash" - a
film about five young European con-artists who rip off American
tourists in a sick and twisted game – spent an October day in the Bay
Ridge restaurant shooting. Those scenes, from a feature length script,
will be used to make a promotional film to raise funds for a full
feature. With some artifacts here, and some drapes there, Lily’s was
transformed into an Eastern European café to shoot several
Martin Bradley, founder of Lily’s and Bay Ridge resident, is a
co-producer and the art director for "Eurotrash." Bradley’s
co-producers include sister Laura Morand Baily and brother-in-law David
Baily of Park Slope, making "Eurotrash" a family affair. Additional
scenes from the film were also shot in the alley adjacent to the Salty
Dog, a Bay Ridge bar and restaurant a few blocks north of Lily’s on
Also this fall, Sandra Bullock and Huge Grant wined, dined and did
their lines at the River Café, while filming "Two Weeks Notice."
River Café General Manager Scott Stamford said the cast and crew
spent an entire day filming, and at the end of the shoot all had a
chance to enjoy the River Café’s cuisine – known and loved
throughout the city.
"A lot of them who weren’t from here hadn’t heard of us and they really
loved the food," said Stamford. "Now we continue to get calls from them
for reservations when they’re in New York." "Two Weeks Notice" was the
last film shot at the River Café, but not the only. Scenes from
"Splash" and "Terms of Endearment" were also shot at the river front
restaurant under the Brooklyn Bridge.
And while the River Café and Lily’s are the latest Brooklyn
bistros to make it to the big screen, many proceeded them.
This summer Woody Allen and crew spent several days along Emmons Avenue
in Sheepshead Bay, using Pip’s Comedy Club and Mario and Luigi’s as
backdrops for his spring 2003 release, tentatively titled "Anything
Else." At Mario & Luigi’s Allen shot scenes on the restaurant’s
outdoor patio. The Allen pic was not the first filmed at the Emmons
Avenue Italian eatery. About two years ago scenes from "The Dummy," an
independent film starring Adrian Brodie, who also appeared in "The
Summer of Sam," was also shot at Mario & Luigi’s.
While Mario and Luigi’s has hosted a couple of shoots, The Grand
Prospect Hall in Park Slope is a regular stop for Hollywood producers.
Over the past two decades the Grand Prospect Hall has played host to
such high-profile releases as "The Cotton Club," "Prizzi’s Honor, "The
Royal Tenenbaums," and "Last Exit to Brooklyn."
Grand Prospect Hall owner Michael Halkias characterized these on-site
shoots as "hectic" and said he was amazed at how often and how much
cast and crew ate.
"When they filmed the ‘Cotton Club’ there were about 300 to 500 people
here for about 15 days," Halkias said. "And they ate all day, and lots
of sweets. They were always munching on something," he recalled
And what are the movie stars really like? Jack Nicholson, Gene Hackman,
Angelica Houston, Gwyneth Paltrow and Richard Gere have all appeared in
films shot at the Grand Prospect Hall. Halkias, for one, has especially
fond memories of "Cotton Club" star Gregory Hines. "He was a really
down to earth guy;" Halkias said. "He was a great mixer, talked to
anyone and took a lot of pictures with everyone here."
While Grand Prospect Hall and the River Café might be Brooklyn’s
movie location kings, there are plenty of other Brooklyn restaurants
which have had major and cameo roles on the big screen including
Junior’s on the Flatbush Avenue Extension and Brooklyn’s famous land
marked restaurant Gage & Toliner on Fulton Street.
BRIDGE MAGAZINE, September/October 1999
"SPLENDOR IN THE GRAND"
By Lois Sakany
on a hot summer afternoon, guests are just beginning to arrive at The
Grand Prospect Hall for a wedding ceremony and reception. Two
trumpeters stand in full uniform on either side of the entrance and
announce each of the 350 guests as they pass into the foyer where the
cream-colored walls are festooned with gold-leafed molding and
The guests quickly spread out to the first
floor's Chopin and Viennese Rooms to wait for the festivities to begin.
Garlands of vividly painted plaster flowers and fruit border the pink
and white walls. Full-scale oil paintings, done in the manner of
Watteau, Reynolds and Gainsborough (there's even a copy of "Blue Boy")
hang on the wall. The richly molded ceiling is painted pink and sea
green, and pink velvet swags across the mirrored arches. Some of the
wedding guests wander next door into the Queen's room, a more intimate
setting, much like an antechamber to the palace's throne room. Tiny
square tables draped in pale pink cloth surround four faux-marbled
columns. The enormous crystal chandelier reflects a serene, sea-colored
light from the turquoise green walls. In each of the three rooms,
buffet tables are loaded with polished brass serving plates laden with
hot and cold hors d'oeuvres. When it comes time for the ceremony,
everyone heads up the grand staircase--a fairy-tale confection of
marble and gold-leaf, sparkling with what seems like a thousand lights
from the chandeliers. Six violinists serenade the guests as they ascend
to the Skylight Room where the young couple will be married in a
traditional Jewish ceremony. Between two enormous silver chandeliers
hanging from the white tin ceiling, the long skylight casts a pearly
radiance over the ceremony.
On one side of the Skylight Room, glass doors open onto a lovely
balcony full of trees and flowers. On the opposite side, five
oak-framed doorways lead into the Grand Ballroom. Beneath the ceiling's
magnificent central dome, within the horseshoe arena of the oval dance
floor, before the old vaudeville stage where "WELCOME" is exuberantly
scripted on an enormous medallion on the proscenium arch, and between
the two tiers of baroquely decorated and painted balconies, the wedding
guests will dance and feast until the wee hours of the morning.
Comments Michael Halkias, owner of The Grand Prospect Hall, "These
people are in seventh heaven. They jump and dance and hop and they are
very happy. They relive their teen years."
On another day, a more studious crowd of about 30 gathers in the Oak
Room to attend a slide show and lecture on the history of movie
theaters in Brooklyn. Both the Oak Room and the lounge next door are
paneled in beautifully restored tiger oak. The rooms used to serve as a
tavern and beer hall and are furnished with the original heavy oak
tables and bentwood chairs; the old service bells are still on the
walls above the tables. Wonderful cartoon figures painted on the
paneling (and discovered when the wood was stripped of its black paint)
lend a sense of old mischief to the room. There's even a tart political
comment from the rooms' bygone days among them--Teddy Roosevelt with
his rump painted to face forward. Above the paneling--and original to
the room--are paintings depicting Bavarian scenes, such as a comely
maiden spilling out of her peasant blouse while hoisting beer steins
and a wealthy family hunting a buck.
The guest lecturer, theater historian Cezar Del Valle, begins the
program with a brief history on The Grand Prospect Hall. Halkias, who
became the building's third owner, when he and his wife Alice Halkias
purchased it in 1981, occasionally breaks in to expand on a point or to
rib Del Valle for lingering too long over unsavory portions of the
building's history. When, for example, Del Valle mentions that the
original Prospect Hall, which was built and owned by the German-born
developer John Kolle in 1892, burned down in 1900, Halkias jokes, "He
keeps talking about the fire. Always the fire. This fire was more than
100 years ago."
The fire in many ways is what makes the hall what it is today. Kolle
chose to rebuild a much grander hall and hired Ulrich Huberty, a noted
architect who also designed the Prospect Park Picnic House, to design
the French Renaissance-style building that stands on Prospect Avenue
between Fifth and Sixth avenues today. When it was built, Prospect Hall
was the tallest building in Brooklyn. It was also the first in Brooklyn
to have electricity. A large crowd gathered to watch the first flick of
the light switch.
In the early part of the century, the hall served as a lively town
center that offered not only entertainment, but a place to meet and get
word of current events. A visitor to the hall might attend a play one
night and a wedding reception the next. In addition to the hall's
complex of meeting, dining and entertainment rooms, there was a bowling
alley in the basement and a shooting range. The dances that took place
there on a weekly basis usually sold out.
A variety of organizations and clubs held office space in the hall,
including The Brooklyn Quartet Club and The Brooklyn Rifle Club. In
1908, it was home to the Crescent Motion Picture Company, which was run
by a member of the Kolle family. There was even a Masonic Lodge (The
Seven Times Wise Lodge) housed in a room on the top floor in what is
now called the Grandview Room, yet another lavishly appointed space
with a sweeping view of Manhattan and the bay. "If you lived in
Brooklyn, and you belonged to a club or an organization, you met
there," says Del Valle.
The hall was also a mandatory stop for candidates running for office
who would speak to the crowd from the ballroom's stage. In 1908,
according to Del Valle, the crowd of 1,200 that turned out to hear
presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan speak overflowed on to
the street where they managed to temporarily shut down traffic on Fifth
Avenue. Political rallies took place there as well. In 1908, a mass
meeting of more than 3,500 came to demand a subway on Fourth Avenue
and, in 1914, The Women's Suffrage Party chose the hall to kick off
their national campaign.
"Even as late as 1929, The Brooklyn Eagle called it one of the
borough's principle sources of amusement," says Del Valle. Prospect
Hall stayed in the Kolle family until it was sold in 1940 to a Polish
organization called The White Eagle Society. "By this time," comments
Del Valle, "The hall was starting to get drab and its great years were
nearing their end."
The Depression pushed the hall into further decline that was
exacerbated in the '50s when many of the neighborhood?s longtime
residents and hall regulars fled Brooklyn for the suburbs. Insult was
added to injury when the Prospect Expressway was plunked down literally
across the street from the hall. Built under the direction of
controversial city planner Robert Moses, the expressway effectively
sliced the neighborhood in two, limiting, to this day, both foot
traffic and the potential for cohesive development.
During the '60s and '70s, in order to cover basic costs, the buildings?
owners began selling off bits and pieces of the hall. According to Del
Valle, "The Daily News reported an offer of $1,200 for a mural in the
main ladies powder room."
After Del Valle finished his lecture, Halkias takes everyone on a tour.
It's as if a proud parent with a flair for showmanship has suddenly
taken center stage. Halkias speaks of the hall in glowing terms, his
arms sweeping the air as he points out his favorite features. The hall
has come a long way since the day Halkias and his wife Alice made the
decision to purchase it. Since then, the two of them have devoted
themselves to restoring (some would say surpassing) the grandeur of the
hall's glory days, renaming it The Grand Prospect Hall in the process.
After a brief glimpse at Halkias' own rich background, it becomes clear
why he not only felt an immediate affinity with the hall, but was able
to direct it restoration with such ebullient flair. Born in Pittsburgh
in 1938, at the age of three, he was, as he puts it "exported to Greece
with my father." With the arrival of German troops, he fled in the
middle of the night with his father, who was a member of the
Resistance. Halkias remembers, "He stuck me on his back, and we went up
the mountains and across the bay to Turkey."
Eventually Halkias ended up living in Syria with a family that included
16 to 18 children. When the war ended, he returned to Greece where he
lived with his father until he was 18. In 1956, he returned to the
United States and was reunited with his mother and sister for the first
time in 16 years. From that point on, Halkias lived by what he
describes as the American immigrant philosophy, "You have to improve
yourself, to always push for a few steps above."
By the time Halkias was 20, he had learned enough English to pass a
high school equivalency test and gain admission to Holy Cross College
in Boston. "In the summer, I worked as a painter," says Halkias, "I
painted bridges, hotels, department stores. I became a superstar
painter. At the same time, I learned about plumbing and electrical
Not long after finishing school, Halkias moved to New York where he
first worked for a Greek newspaper. Soon, he switched to a better
paying position at a travel agency where he eventually met his wife.
The couple married in 1966 and started their own travel business,
eventually expanding to three agencies. At the same time, Halkias
published a Greek newspaper, ran an employment agency and hosted a
weekly Greek radio program. "My environment taught me speed," says
Halkias, "My mother is the same way, a demon business lady."
In the mid-'70s, the Halkiases added real estate to their list of
enterprises, and that led them to Prospect Hall. "A friend mentioned
the hall to us in 1981 and we came to see it," Alice recalls. On their
first visit, the agent showing them the building would not allow them
past the main staircase. Determined, they returned a second time.
Halkias recalls the utter joy he felt upon walking up the hall's
staircase and entering the Grand Ballroom.
"It was an overwhelming experience. I was jumping up and down yelling,
'I have to buy this building!'"? And while Alice thought he was joking,
Mr. Halkias knew he had "all the skills that I needed to put the
building together. I was artistic and knew how I could make the hall
While a series of books could be written on the couple's backbreaking
restoration effort, Halkias is clearly not interested in dwelling on
the subject. When, for example, he tells his tour group about stripping
layers of black paint on the walls and bar in the Oak Room, one is not
struck by the difficulty of such an undertaking, but the delight
Halkias felt upon discovering the small cartoons under the black paint.
Halkias also spent countless hours tracking down original items that
had been sold off in the hall's gloomier days. One day, while standing
in a bank line, he began a discussion with the man in front of him who,
as it turned out, had bought the Oak Room's murals. Halkias quickly
arranged to buy them back and returned them to their original places.
What he couldn't restore or buy, he simply commissioned. Leading the
tour up the marble staircase, Halkias points out the murals on either
side. He hired Russian-born artist Vladimir Poutchkov to portray a
lively ballroom scene. Poutchkov scattered among the dancers the faces
of Halkias' friends and family, as well as his ex-secretary, Luciano
Pavarotti and Hillary Clinton.
Upon entering the ballroom, which sits at the top of the staircase, the
tour group is awed. In addition to the sheer size of the room--it is 45
feet high, 70 feet wide and 125 feet long--the ceiling moldings and
plaster fretwork of carved fruits, flowers and dramatic faces
decorating the double balconies are painstakingly painted in a spectrum
of bright colors. When Halkias momentarily steps out of the room,
guests begin to murmur among themselves. And while one woman declares
the room "tacky city," when Halkias returns and the room swells with
waltz music, she amends her criticism, "Though obviously he adores this
place and it's very contagious."
Later, in his office Halkias brushes off critics who view the
gold-leafing and bright color schemes that permeate the hall as over
the top or inauthentic. From a shelf full of books on art and
architecture, he pulls out one on the history of the motion picture
industry and turns to a chapter on movie palaces. He points out a
passage in the book which explains that the halls built during the same
period as The Grand Prospect Hall were designed to be "atmospheric
theaters" where patrons came not only for entertainment, but for the
sheer enjoyment of their grand environment. "Many people thought I was
a stupid immigrant when they saw the colors, but they later came to see
that there was another side. The Grand Ballroom," he says "is an
atmospheric theater designed to make people want to come inside and
As a testament to the Halkias? efforts, the hall was added to the
National Register of Historic Places last April. But the hall's
historical significance was recognized earlier when, in 1983, Borough
President Howard golden proclaimed March 10 as the annual Grand
Prospect Hall Day in Brooklyn. In presenting the proclamation, Golden
stated, "One of my dreams of a convention center in Brooklyn has come
to life at The Grand Prospect Hall, Brooklyn's Victorian Palace," Just
last year, Golden again presented Halkias with a Brooklyn History Award
for his work in preserving the borough's past.
And while the hall may not pull the same crowds it did as the turn of
the century, there continues to be a steady stream of weddings,
anniversaries, corporate events and office parties, sometimes all
celebrating simultaneously in the building's many rooms. A new addition
this year is an outdoor garden, complete with a magnificent waterfall
and pool leading to a secluded terrace. As in its past, The Grand
Prospect Hall, which has a total capacity of 8,000, continues to
reflect the diversity of the borough in which it is located. Halkias
proudly ticks off the endless list of nationalities that have used the
hall. Movie-making has also returned to the hall. Prizzi's Honor, The
Cotton Club and Foxy Brown's latest video were filmed in the ballroom
and Oak Room.
Later this month, in a trip down memory lane, the hall will host an
anniversary party for Theresa and Anthony Russo, who held both their
engagement and wedding parties in the hall 50 years ago.
"We had 900 people in the ballroom," says Anthony Russo. In contrast to
the lavish affairs hosted in the hall today, large weddings like theirs
were often dubbed "football weddings," he says, because "all the
sandwiches were in one place and family members would wrap them up and
throw them across the room to each other."
In addition to his own parties, Russo estimates that he and his wife
have attended at least a dozen wedding parties at the hall for friends
and family members. On returning for the first time in years, Russo
comments, "Just walking through those doors brought back a lot of
"THE GRAND PROSPECT HALL: IMPECCABLE WEDDING LOCALE, AND MUCH, MUCH
By Helen Klein
step through the portal of The Grand Prospect Hall is to edge backward
in time, to a gilded age when romance flourished, elegance was de
rigueur, and grace and graciousness, hand in hand, gave form to
everyday living and made special occasions events to be savored.
One of Brooklyn's true classics, The Grand Prospect Hall (263 Prospect
Avenue; 788-0777) celebrates the glamour of times gone by while
catering to the needs of its clientele in the most up-to-date fashion.
With its curving staircase, its gilded cherubs, its impeccably restored
floral reliefs, the building, which was built in 1892 as a German opera
house, has long been a favorite of brides-to-be, who dream of
fairy-tale weddings in the hall's balconied Grand Ballroom, which can
accommodate up to 2,000 guests, or in the venerable structure's more
intimate spaces: such as the Grandview Room, whose expanse of windows
frames a breathtaking view of New York Harbor and the Manhattan
skyline, or the pastel-hued Chopin Room.
As magical a place as The Grand Prospect Hall already is, general
manager Michael Halkias is constantly at work, creating new
environments to enhance the building.
Newest of all is the balustraded Plaza with its expansive
gazebo--easily turned into a wedding chapel--at one end. Coming soon is
a greenhouse addition to the Plaza, which will turn this stunning
outdoor terrace into a space for all seasons.
"The Plaza," emphasized Halkias, "offers a unique classical setting
amongst trees, flowers and fancy plants. Up till now, people looking
for this sort of facility had to go to Long Island. Guests would have a
long trip, and could even get lost and miss part of the event. By
creating this outside space in Prospect Hall, we are resolving, to a
degree, the problems of people seeking spaces too far outside Brooklyn."
And, Prospect Hall's culinary offerings are as diverse as the people
who make up its clientele. Brooklyn is the quintessential melting pot,
noted Halkias, and the chefs at Prospect Hall are adept at preparing
not only classical French and Italian cuisine, but the cuisines of
virtually every ethnic group living in Brooklyn—from Russian to
Caribbean, Oriental to Polish to Arab. "We can meet any gourmet type of
need that our clients may have," added Halkias.
However, Halkias stressed, The Grand Prospect Hall, whose clientele
comes from all five boroughs, is far more than a classic Brooklyn
wedding spot. It is an ideal location for corporate events and
fund-raisers, whose organizers have a wide range of rooms from which to
choose, from the Grand Ballroom to the distinguished wood-paneled Oak
Room, to the Speakeasy, with its long wooden bar.
"This is a very large facility, centrally located," he emphasized,
"with an upscale look and spectacular grounds." However, he added,
until the opening of the Marriott Renaissance Hotel some months back,
it was the only facility of its kind in Brooklyn.
"The Marriott is a welcome addition to the hospitality industry in
Brooklyn," Halkias stated, adding that he considered the opening of the
hotel, "an opportunity for further developing the borough's hospitality
industry, which has been so seriously neglected by so many people for
so many years."
"All the major fund-raisers used to go to the major hotels in
Manhattan," Halkias continued. "Now, the Marriott will be a strong ally
to Prospect Hall and other Brooklyn businesses, creating a stronger
marketplace. People's consciousness of the Brooklyn marketplace has
risen. As more people understand that Brooklyn is its own marketplace,
and has to be supported, more money will be spent in Brooklyn.
Noting, "We work closely with the New York City Convention and Visitors
Bureau and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce," Halkias emphasized, "This
is not just a fancy wedding place. We serve the needs of the corporate
In addition, Halkias noted that the Grand Prospect Hall, which has been
the setting for numerous movies, including Prizzi's Honor and The
Cotton Club, as well as videos and commercials, is host, at least four
times a year, to amateur and professional ballroom dancing competitions.
"There has been a resurgence of interest in close dancing," he
remarked. "People have become more romantic, and are looking for the
opportunity to dance together.
"This is very important for the entire city," said Halkias. "We bring
in people from all over. There's a lot of excitement and sentiment that
goes on around this activity of ours. Prospect Hall has become
NEW YORK NEWSDAY,
"BROOKLYN DIARY: VENERABLE LANDMARK CELEBRATES CENTENNIAL"
By Merle English
The anecdotes could well be clues for a game of
When opera aficionado Al Capone was living in Brooklyn, he reportedly
enjoyed operettas in its gilded opera house.
And it was during an altercation in its great hall that Capone
reputedly received the facial wound that earned him the nickname of
The source of these bits of Brooklyn lore is The Grand Prospect Hall
located at 263 Prospect Avenue in Windsor Terrace.
The venerable establishment--known for its sumptuous French-Renaissance
décor, two-tiered Victorian ballroom with a domed ceiling and
full stage, banquet rooms, a grand marble staircase at the front
entrance, stained glass, oak paneling, antique furnishings, brass and
gold-leaf touches and panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and
Statue of Liberty--celebrates its centennial this year.
In its heyday in the Roaring Twenties and into the 1940s, The Grand
Prospect Hall was at the center of the borough's social and political
life. But the landmark catering and entertainment spot went into
decline in the 1970s and up to a decade ago its fortunes were
uncertain. Its elegant rooms housed flea markets and basketball courts
when real estate businessman Michael Halkias and his wife, Alice, of
Bay Ridge, saved it from the wreckers' ball.
The couple bought the building in 1982 and spent millions of dollars
restoring it to its former glory. A storehouse of Brooklyn history that
might have been lost forever was saved and has become part of the
During its history, the four-story edifice racked up a number of
firsts. When it was built, it was the tallest building in Brooklyn. It
was the first public building to be electrified. A French birdcage Otis
elevator that is still functioning was the first passenger elevator
installed in the borough.
And the Grand Prospect hall was also the first building in the state to
meet new fire codes.
Its first owner and builder, John Kolle, envisioned his edifice as "a
spectacular temple of music and amusement that would set a standard of
entertainment and elegance."
Indeed, the building became the setting for many grand occasions. The
Italian community hosted a ball there honoring opera star Enrico
Caruso. Lena Horne performed there as a teenager. In recent years the
location was the set for such films as Prizzi's Honor and Cyndi
Lauper's video True Colors. The Cotton Club was filmed in the speakeasy.
In addition to the speakeasy, the Halkiases retained other vestiges of
the landmark's glorious past when they restored the structure.
Painted-over miniature oil paintings of The Grand Prospect Hall
habituees adorn the wall of the recently restored Bavarian-style Oak
Room restaurant and supper club. A peephole remains in the door to the
speakeasy as well as a secret door to the speakeasy's men's room. Two
ticket booths with concealed entrances survive from the grand
ballroom's days as an opera house.
On a recent tour of the facility, a visitor, struck by the gleaming
wooden floors, was told they are sanded and lacquered every month.
Sterling silver candlesticks and chafing dishes catch the eye. Modern
reproductions of period paintings add Old World charm.
A busy venue for weddings, one room of the building is transformed into
a chapel for weddings.
On weekends, a 17-piece band recalls the Big Band era. Patrons can also
dance to disco music or listen to jazz.
Halkias said he decided to restore the place because "you could see
through the disaster the grandeur of the facility and the history of
Brooklyn which reminded you of the aura and elegance of the Empire
"It was a challenge for me to put it together," he said. "A crazy
challenge," he quipped.
But he added more seriously, "I wanted to restore it for the people of
Brooklyn. It was built as a convention center to serve the social and
political needs fo the people of Brooklyn and it did this all these 100
As for his plans for the future, Halkias said, "It is going to be more
active in the community."
NEWSPAPER, EARLY 1980s
BY CHRISTINE ELIOPOULOS
the sun would beat down in Brooklyn, the silk parasols would go up.
Young men in seersucker suits would accompany their lady friends on a
stroll among the shady paths of a nearby park. On their way to the
park, pairs of lovers would stop to listen to piano music drifting
through the open windows of Prospect Hall. A grand building with a
façade of sculptured pediments, Doric columns, and stained
glass, Prospect Hall was the area's exclusive center for arts and
entertainment. Young couples would stand by the iron gates and watch
the elite of Brooklyn step down from their buggies and walk through the
elaborate glass doors.
The socialites would gather in the
entranceway to exchange how-do-you-dos and pleasantries about the
afternoon's scheduled amusements--a piano recital and poetry reading in
the Chopin Room for the Ladies and bowling and billiards for the
gentlemen. As they chatted, sunlight would pass through the crystal
ornaments of the large chandelier and create bands of color on the
velveteen wallpaper. Gowns would rustle as each lady, her gloved hand
placed on the mahogany handrail, would walk up the marble steps. The
ladies would watch their reflections and wonder if their noses needed
powdering or if their lips were red enough. Later on, they would meet
their paramours in the garden for some tea and a ride on the Ferris
Almost 90 years later, Prospect Hall is once again animated with the
flicker of lights, the sound of waltz music from the Grand Ballroom,
and cheerful conversation as visitors enjoy smokey souchong tea and
pastries in the hall's restaurant, the Oak Room.
Owner Michael Halkias, and his team of painters, carpenters and
refinishing experts have restored Prospect Hall's 12 banquet and
dancing halls to their original beauty.
For art lovers, a tour of Prospect Hall is like discovering the
Pharoah's room of hidden treasures. One revels in the building's rococo
and art deco architecture, the frescoes, stained glass windows, Tiffany
lamps, and the art nouveau brass chandeliers.
"The grandeur is here," said Halkias. "This is a lost part of Victorian
Brooklyn that we have brought back for all to enjoy. Perhaps this
project will signal the turnaround of Brooklyn."
Built in 1892 as Brooklyn?s convention center, Prospect Hall was also
the favorite meeting place of Brooklyn charity and school-related
organizations. The building was destroyed by fire in 1900, but was
rebuilt the same years according to the original specifications.
THE BROOKLYN DAILY
"NEW PROSPECT HALL: AN ARCHITECTURAL ADDITION TO SOUTH BROOKLYN THAT
WILL RIVAL AMUSEMENT HALLS IN THE CITY"
is to have another handsome music hall. When Prospect Hall, the place
made famous by the number of political conventions held there, is
rebuilt on Fifteenth Street, near Fifth Avenue, it will be one of the
finest halls of amusement that the city has ever known and will be
unique inasmuch as it will not only contain a handsome theater and
music hall, but will have accommodation for nearly every form of
amusement that can be contained in one building, as well as an open air
garden next to it with an electric tower and Ferris wheel, etc. There
will be the only roof garden in Brooklyn, the highest in the whole city
owing to the altitude of the locality and the height of the structure
Prospect Hall was burned down some time ago, and John Kolle
made up his mind that when he rebuilt it he would see to it that South
Brooklyn had a temple of music and amusement that would be a credit to
the locality. Ulrich J. Huberty received the award among several
competing architects, and Senator Joseph Wagner received the contract
for building, equipping, etc. A first-class vaudeville show will be
given in the main theater during the winter and continued on the roof
garden in the summer. No money will be spared to make this structure
the finest as well as the safest of its kind in the city. It will be
the first to be erected under the new and stringent building laws.
The size of the building will be 75 feet front by 215 feet deep and
four stories high. The style of architecture, both exterior and
interior, is modern French Renaissance. The material of the exterior
will be white brick, with Indiana limestone trimmings. The basement
will be equipped with ten bowling alleys, a billiard room, laundry and
kitchen. The boilers, engines and electric dynamos will be placed
outside of the building under the sidewalk.
The first floor is to be occupied by restaurant club room, "alt
Deutsch" bier stube, bar room, women's parlor and a large banquet hall,
which will be about 68 feet by 80 feet in size, and which will be
absolutely free and clear of columns. This is made possible by spanning
the banquet hall with large plate girders which support the ballroom
above. One of the main features of the first floor, in fact of the
entire building, will be the fine central entrance, which well be 18
feet wide and have a grand staircase of marble leading up to the second
floor loggias at the ball room entrance. These loggias will be enhanced
with royal Irish green marble columns and beautifully decorated
cornices and ceilings.
The second floor in the front part of the building is said to be
occupied by a café, loggias, cloakrooms and a handsome parlor,
which will be elegantly furnished and decorated. The third floor in the
front part of the building is said to be occupied by three large and
handsome reception rooms, parlors, and cloak rooms, which will be used
for small receptions, etc. The fourth floor in front is to be occupied
by two lodge rooms with auxiliary ante and preparation rooms. These
lodge rooms are to be equipped in first-class style and will be richly
decorated. Access to the lodge rooms on the fourth floor will be by
means of large electric elevator and separate staircase, which will
also lead to the main floor of the ballroom and to the balcony and
gallery. In addition to the central entrance mentioned, there will be
separate entrances on each side of the building, one leading to
elevators, hall and lodge rooms and the other leading to the ball room
and annex hall.
The ball room will occupy the entire rear of the building and will be
located on the second floor. It will be 68 feet by 125 feet in size,
the largest in the city. The ceiling, which will be 40 feet above the
floor, is to be enriched by a large electrical dome 35 feet in
diameter. Besides this, there will be two smaller domes and handsome
coved cornices. There will also be a balcony and gallery, which will
extend along both sides and across the rear, supported by highly
polished royal Irish green marble columns and gilded capitals. The
balcony will be divided into 26 boxes, in addition to which there will
be four large proscenium boxes.
Both balcony and gallery are planned in the shape of a horseshoe, and
as special attention and a great amount of study has been devoted to
acoustic qualities and sight lines, it is expected that the room will
very nearly perfect in this respect. There will be large marble
staircases on each side of the ball room leading up to the balcony and
The building is among the first of its kind in the greater city to be
built under the new law and will therefore be absolutely fireproof and
have a great number of exits. The ball room alone, including balcony
and gallery, will have 19 exits, 15 of which will be for fire purpose
only, opening out onto large covered balcony and stair fire escapes,
which will lead directly out onto the street through ten feet wide open
corridors on each side of the building. In addition there will be many
fire exits in the front part of the building, leading from lodge rooms,
reception rooms, etc.
Special attention will be paid to the decoration of the ballroom and it
is expected that the balcony and gallery fronts, also the proscenium
arch, all of which will be of composition material, will compare
favorably as to artistic merit with any in the city. In the rear of the
ball room there will be a perfectly equipped stage with fly galleries,
rigging loft and all other auxiliaries of a modern stage, also six
commodious dressing rooms, all of which will be fireproof. There will
be distinct fire exits for the stage. The building will be protected
against fire by a sprinkling system, besides which there will be casks,
buckets, ladders, hooks and axes in various parts of the building.
The heating and ventiliating of the building will be on the most
approved lines and the lighting of the entire building will be most
brilliant and especially will this be the case in the ball room, where
an endless variety of effects are to be provided.
The fact that there will be 2,000 sixteen candle power electric in the
building gives some idea of the brilliant effect which will be
attained. Contracts call for the completion of the building by February
1, 1902. Work is now progressing and is well underway. The cost of the
building without equipment, will be $150,000.
Mr. Huberty, the architect, is at present constructing the new $80,000
crematory in the Borough of Queens, also the new building for the
United National Bank at 42nd Street and Broadway.
THE BROOKLYN DAILY
"PROSPECT HALL DEDICATED: NEW AND GORGEOUS PLACE OF ENTERTAINMENT
ERECTED UNDER THEATER BUILDING LAWS, FORMALLY OPENED"
new Prospect Hall, Prospect Avenue near Fifth Avenue, was formally
opened last evening with a reception and ball given by the proprietors
John Kolle and his son, William Kolle. The present structure occupies
the site of the old hall, which was destroyed by fire in the early
morning of December 11, 1897. The flames in the ruins were hardly
extinguished before Mr. Kolle set to work making arrangements for the
construction of a modern, fireproof building, which would eclipse all
other buildings of its kind in the city. Today the hall is completed in
all its beauty and security and stands as a monument to his enterprise.
The hall is 75 feet wide and 215 feet deep. The exterior, which is
designed in the style of the modern French Renaissance, is constructed
of light gray brick and Indiana limestone trimmings. It has a handsome
cornice with large pediment over the center, which is enriched with
pretty sculptural decoration, the models of which were so large that it
required ten tons of modeling clay to form them.
Prospect Hall is
the first hall building in Greater New York to be erected under the new
theater building laws and complies with all the requirements as to
large and numerous exits, exit courts, etc. In the basement are the
boilers, electric generation plant, refrigerating plant, steam and gas
engines and elevator machinery. On the first floor there is a large
central entrance with marble and ornamental iron staircase leading to
the ball room. The restaurant and the sitting room occupy the front of
the building on the second floor. The banquet hall is said to be large
enough to accommodate at least a thousand diners. The ballroom is
decorated throughout with applied relief ornament, and in addition to
beauty the matter of safety has been exceptionally well provided for,
as there are no less than 20 distinct exits, all leading to the street
or exit courts. The columns supporting the balcony and gallery are of
polished Mycenaean marble. There is an ornamental dome in the center of
the ceiling, with hundreds of electric lights, and the balcony fronts
are completed with decorated plaster. The capacity of the hall is 3,000
Last night the hall was specially decorated with many colored flags and
long streamers of evergreens were swung along the side of the balcony
form one box to another. The stage was banked with palms and immense
ferns, while one of the prettiest drop curtains, showing an exterior
view, was used to make the scene a literal palm garden. In the center
of these decorations a well known orchestra played excellent dance
music for Mr. Kolle?s guests. The first number on the dance order was,
as usual, a grand march, which was led by Mr. and Mrs. John Kolle,
followed by Mr. and Mrs. William Kolle. A German singing society
rendered selections during the evening and an excellent vaudeville
performance was also arranged. Dancing was continued until a late hour
and then supper was served in the banquet hall. There were a great many
friends and patrons of Mr. Kolle present.
THE BROOKLYN DAILY
"COTTON SNOW MAN SET AFIRE AT PROSPECT HALL BALL"
panic was nearly averted last night at Prospect Hall, owing to the
timely arrival of patrolman Chris Donnelly and special officer Dan
O?Connor. The occasion was the semi-annual masquerade ball of the Bay
Ridge Athletic Club. The costume of one of the merrymakers became
ignited. In the excitement following several women fainted, many gowns
were badly torn and several persons were trampled upon in the mad rush
to leave the room.
George Stimson, 19 years old, of 99 Bay 34th
Street, was one of those who attended the ball. He came in the costume
of a snowman, draped from head to foot in rolls of loose cotton. Prizes
were awarded to those wearing unique, fancy and comic costumes. Stimson
was awarded the prize for the unique costume. Just as he was about to
receive the prize, a shaving set, from the president, someone in the
gallery struck a match. A spark from the match ignited Stimson?s
costume and he was quickly a mass of flames.
Officers Donnelly and O?Connor at once rushed to the man?s assistance
and with the help of several members of the club succeeded in
extinguishing the flames. Stimson was badly burned about the face and
hands and had to be treated by an ambulance surgeon from the Seney
Hospital. John Corbett, 17 years old, of 229 Forty-fifth St. was also
badly burned about both hands. The two men were removed to their homes
in an ambulance.
When the blaze started there were cries of fire and women and girls
from all parts of the hall rushed for the main exit from the hall. Many
were knocked down and trampled upon. Others lost their headgear and
portions of their costumes. For a time, it looked as though a panic was
imminent. There were fully 400 persons on the floor at the time.
Officers from the Forty-fourth precinct were called and quieted the
people. They also prevented a man from turning in an alarm of fire.
When it was discovered that Stimson had not been seriously burned the
dancers returned to the hall and continued their dance with their
enthusiasm only slightly diminished as a result.
Prospect Hall is the largest hall in the city. Some of the dancers and
spectators were great alarmed lest the hall itself should catch fire.
The hall is said to be fireproof.
A short time ago a similar accident took place in Manhattan during a
ball. It occurred in much the same way.
THE BROOKLYN CITIZEN,
"A POPULAR HALL: PROPRIETOR KOLLE LOOKS OUT FOR HIS PATRONS COMFORT"
Prospect Hall is the mecca of all up-to-date society folks of South
Brooklyn goes without saying, but a word as to the cause of its
popularity may not be amiss in the height of this busiest social season
in its history.
Although the hall with its spaciousness and
excellent appointments is sufficient for those desiring to add
lavishness and finish to their entertainments, these attractions would
be perceptibly diminished were it not for the genial, solicitous and
helpful personality of the proprietor, D. Kolle, who may always be
found in close proximity to various committees in charge of the
affairs, anxious and eager to add whatever may be needed for the
completeness and enjoyment of the occasions.
During the entire length of the busy social season, Mr. Kolle and his
corps of able assistants by whom every courtesy is extended to the
visitors, may be found night after night, busying themselves about the
various details incumbent upon the management of so large and popular
Democrats, Republicans, Progressives, church, fraternal, and social
organizations receive alike the same kindly attention and deferential
consideration from the genial proprietor, which has gained for him a
universal popularity equaled by few men in the district.
This hall itself, with its magnificent appointments, up-to-date
equipment, inviting grillroom, finished in quaint Dutch style, and its
central location makes it by far the most prominent public hall in the
Everything conducive to pleasure is encompassed within its walls:
escellent dancing floors, the best music obtainable, its Sunday night
receptions and strict adherence to its rule of high-class attendance
only. It is within easy access of trolley and elevated lines and
operates a system of taxicabs and coach calls.
A casual observation of its many attractions provides the reason for
its unceasing and constantly increasing popularity.
THE BROOKLYN EAGLE,
"SOUTH BROOKLYN NOTES: TO ENTERTAIN CHILDREN"
Last evening was 'Twelth Assembly District Night" at the celebration in
Prospect Hall for the benefit of The Prospect Park Zoo. Headed by
Executive Member Timothy E. Griffin, of the Twelfth Assembly District
Club and Alois Keogh, president of the club, the members turned out in
great numbers to attend the affair. The Republicans of the district
under the command of John T. Rafferty and former Congressman William M.
Calder also turned out in force with the result that the second night's
performance of the entertainment so far was the best attended. The
members of the party were met at the hall by County Clerk Charles S.
Devoy and Senator William J. Heffernan.
So many persons wanted to get into the hall last night that the doors
were thrown wide open by the committee to the public. No tickets were
required. The fine minstrel show by the Devoy Minstrels was repeated.
This afternoon there will be an entertainment for the benefit of the
children. In the yard of the hall there will be an exhibition of a
large number of the Zoo animals. According to the plans of the
committee the exhibition will consist of elephants, bears, trained dogs
In the evening the minstrel show will be given again. The committee has
big hopes of securing more than enough money for the big Zoo.
"OLD PROSPECT HALL, SCENE OF MANY A HISTORIC EVENT"
Hall, known to practically every South Brooklyn and Bay Ridge resident
through the balls, dances and rallies staged there by most of the local
social and political organizations, is host to many memories of
stirring political events and dazzling social affairs.
the brave outbursts of applause that greeted the oratory of men like
William Jennings Bryan, Charles E. Hughes and Roald Amundsen in bygone
days must still ring through the great ballroom occasionally after the
dancers of some local club or organization have deserted the hall which
rears its proud four-story front on Prospect Avenue near Fifth Avenue.
Rousing political rallies have been held here. A great throng jammed
the hall when Charles E. Hughes, then Governor of this State, made an
address here. It was more than 25 years ago that William Jennings
Bryan, "the Great Commoner," crowded Prospect Hall to hear the
silver-voiced orator make a political speech.
Patrick J. McCarren,, old warhorse of the turbulent politics of three
decades ago, held a great rally here in the heyday of his leadership of
Kings County Democracy. Many others, long since dead heard the applause
of the crowd from the platform of Prospect Hall.
Henry Stimson, later Governor General Stimson of the Philippines
Islands, headed the speakers at a great rally held here in behalf of
his candidacy for the Governorship of the New York more than 20 years
Prominent men who have since appeared at Prospect Hall included former
governor Alfred E. Smith, Mayor Gaynor and Mayor John Purroy Mitchel,
who spoke at a political rally here not many months before his death at
a Texas flying field.
One of the greatest gatherings of Scandinavians ever held in Greater
New York took place when Raoul Amundsen just returned from his
expedition to the Northwest Passage, told of his exploration. That was
more than 30 years ago, before the explorer, who lost his life in the
Arctic, has made his famous discovery of the South Pole.
The present hall is not the first Prospect Hall built on that site. The
original Prospect Hall, built in 1892, was burned in 1900 and the
present structure was put up in 1902.
Early in 1880, a group of political and social leaders foremost in
activities of a public nature felt the need of some large hall in South
Brooklyn to accommodate their growing needs. They went to John A.
Kolle, father of the present owner of Prospect Hall, and interested him
in a project to build a large hall where social gatherings could be
held with all the facilities then on hand. In 1890, Mr. Kolle bought
the property on Prospect Avenue, then one of the most frequented
streets in that section.
In 1891 ground was broken and on Thanksgiving Day 1892, the hall opened
to the public with a reception and play. The building was then hardly
complete but the Edison Electric Company succeeded in installing the
first electric light system to be had in a Brooklyn hall.
The event of switching on the lights was witnessed by a very large
crowd of people. The affairs held in that hall included banquets,
weddings and theatrical performances.
But the life of the building was a short one. For on the night of Dec.
11, 1900, bristling with cold and snow, it was destroyed by a fire a
few hours after an affair was held. So John Kolle?s dream, as he called
it, was wiped out in one night.
Again the same group of societies and leaders called upon Kolle and
asked him to rebuild his hall. Courage and forethought prompted him to
accede to popular demand and he set out to build a new structure, the
present one, now in the hands of his son, William Kolle.
THE BROOKLYN EAGLE,
"SPELLBINDERS, LARGE AND SMALL, ONCE HELD SWAY IN HISTORIC HALL"
the presidential campaign just around the corner, attention of
old-timers turns to Prospect Hall, a South Brooklyn landmark for nearly
40 years in which many a Presidential candidate and candidates for
lesser office have held their audiences spellbound.
who recall the night in an early part of the century when William
Jennings Bryan addressed an enthusiastic crowd there—a crowd so large
that the policemen were stationed a close intervals throughout the
aisles. Governor Hughes, now Chief Justice Hughes of the Supreme Court
also has spoken in the hall and long before the South Pole was
discovered the famous explorer Roald Amundsen lectured there. Senator
Patrick McCarren, a power in Brooklyn politics in the early 1900s has
held his audiences in his grasp in that hall and there have been
numerous other spellbinders who have held forth from the rostrum in
that historic place.
It was way back in 1880 that a group of political and social leaders
foremost in activities of a public nature felt the need of some large
hall in South Brooklyn to accommodate their growing needs. They went to
John A. Kolle, father of the present owner of Prospect Hall and
interested him in a project to build a large hall where social
gatherings could be held with all the facilities then on hand. In 1890
Mr. Kolle bought the property on Prospect Avenue, then one of the most
frequented streets in that section.
In 1891 ground was broken and on Thanksgiving Day 1892, the hall opened
to the public with a reception and play. The building was then hardly
completed, but the Edison Electric Company succeeded in installing the
first electric light system to be had in a Brooklyn hall.
The event of switching on the lights was witnessed by a very large
crowd of people. The affairs held in that hall included banquets,
weddings and theatrical performances.
But the life of the building was a short one, for on the night of Dec.
11, 1900, bristling with cold and snow, it was destroyed by a fire a
few hours after an affair was held. So John Kolle's dream, as he called
it, was wiped out in one night.
Again the same group of societies and leaders called upon Kolle and
asked him to rebuild his hall. Courage and forethought prompted him to
accede to popular demand and he set out to build a new structure, the
present one now in the hands of his son, William Kolle.
The present building is a fireproof structure. It was completed in 1902.
THE HOME REPORTER AND SUNSET NEWS
“Prospect Hall Is Back (And We Mean BACK!)
BY DAN RICHARDS
Michael Halkias talks about the comeback of Prospect Hall as “the
turn-around point of Brooklyn.”
Somehow, when he says that, it doesn’t ring false. Maybe the setting
has something to do with it. He is looking up at the 45-foot high
ceiling of a French Renaissance ballroom with a seating capacity near
2,500. Overhead is the freshly refinished brass support frame of a
15-foot diameter crystal chandelier; nearby two “smaller” 12-foot
companion chandeliers will soon be installed.
The two levels of horseshoe balconies have been fully refinished with
gold leaf paint costing $70 a gallon. The elaborate decorative plaster
on the ceiling has been restored and repainted. Adjoining the ballroom
is a catering kitchen which could, Halkias says, “comfortably wine and
dine” some 1,500 people on the ballroom floor, its adjoining dining
room, and first balcony, which can be outfitted with tables. And that’s
only the ballroom…
The word “breathtaking” is often misused; in this case it’s not. The
scale of the place is what is so striking – now that the restoration is
nearly complete, it’s hard to believe the place was, well, here since
1902. But not to Halkias.
“Let’s not forget that Prospect Hall was built to be the convention
center of Brooklyn,” says Halkias, the sort of Brooklyn chauvinist who
will only say “city of Brooklyn” and never “borough of Brooklyn.” “Over
the years, changes in economic and social conditions brought about –
what shall we call it? – a forgetfulness. This place was just
So far, Halkias says, the response of business, government, and
institutions such as hospitals has been highly enthusiastic to the idea
of a “new” convention center. In fact, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
is planning to hold a trade show in the hall on Jan. 18 expected to
draw some 350 people.
However the hall got an earlier “tryout” when the New Year was ushered
in with two bands and 20! – Count ‘em! – 20! Brazilian Mardi Gras
One of those bands was the Prospect Hall Big Band Sound, the “in-house”
orchestra which Halkias says will be performing at regular Friday
evening ballroom dances.
On a somewhat less vast-although no less ambitious-scale, is Prospect
Hall’s regular restaurant, the Oak Room. The bar-lounge area is
immediately adjacent to the front lobby, and will lure the visitor with
comfortable armchairs and sofas. Halkias says that he got the idea from
the Algonquin Hotel, whose “club room” lounge impressed him with its
The Oak Room’s medieval style has been carefully restored. Original
brass chandeliers, found caked and blackened with eight decades worth
of grime in one of the hall’s many crannies, were painstakingly
polished to their original luster. Reproductions were fashioned to
replace missing elements such as stained glass, bevel glass, etched
glass, woodwork, and stone balustrades. It takes careful scrutiny-and
some good guesswork-to tell the original elements from the
Because man does not live by oak paneling alone, Halkias hired Eric
Bunch, a graduate of the Culinary Arts Institute who has been a chef at
the Waldorf-Astoria and several top restaurants, to create the Oak
Room’s continental cuisine. Bunch, very serious about his work, insists
on personally going to market to select produce, meats and seafood for
his dishes. “Without top quality ingredients, you cannot produce a top
quality dish,” he says. “I don’t believe in taking any shortcuts
whatsoever.” Bunch does not consider his style “nouvelle cuisine,”
although he believes in such elements as new combinations of flavors in
spicing, sauces and garnishes.
“Everyone will come to Prospect Hall because it’s a beautiful place –
but how will I get them to come back?” Halkias says. “We’ll do that
with service, and good food.”
In addition to the ballroom and restaurant, Prospect Hall includes
private rooms small enough for parties of about 50, up to the Chopin
Room, which can handle about 400. There is an on-site parking lot for
For the future, Halkias is looking forward to employing the
ballroom-the last remaining vaudeville-type hall in New York City-for
performing arts such as ballet, opera, and symphonic and choral music.
“Prospect Hall restored back to opulent & elegant palace”
BY KENNETH BROWN
In the days when millionaires and billionaires built palaces along
Fifth Avenue and the rich vied with each other to see who could build
the most splendid buildings in New York, Prospect Hall in Brooklyn was
a role model for all to follow.
For nearly half a century after it was completed in 1892, Prospect Hall
was the epitome of elegance and beauty. Built as a convention center,
the place had a capacity for nearly 6000 people and an equally large
capacity for causing gasps and ahhs from its visitors.
In 1940, when money no longer flowed like water, the fabulous Prospect
Hall began a steady decline into oblivion, used first as a meeting hall
for local community groups then for an array of events that ranged from
boxing matching to flea markets.
The building was now only as good as the amount of people it could
hold. No one cared about the magnificent wood carvings, the marble
detailing, the ornate craftsmanship so evident in every nook and cranny
of the premises. No one, that is, except Bay Ridge real estate
developer Michael Halkias. “I love art and here was a prime example of
the beauty of another age, a landmark that was not being given its due.
I wanted to bring Prospect Hall back into the limelight that it shared
with no other establishment a few decades ago,” Halkias explains.
Restoring Prospect Hall was no easy task, but $2 million worth of
renovations made all the difference and today a visitor to the place
feels as if time has once again been turned back to the turn of the
century and the graciousness and poshness of another age restored once
On March 10, 1983 Prospect Hall celebrated its 20-th century grand
opening, with more than 1500 prominent New Yorkers sharing the honors
at a huge banquet and party.
The historical significance, architectural beauty and uniqueness of the
establishment surrounds the visitor. There is a 12-lane bowling alley
tucked away on one floor. The Hall was the first theatrical space in
the city to be built under city building codes, and the first public
building in the city ever, to be wired for electricity. There is a
tremendous outdoor café area with its own forest of maple trees
and the only remaining vaudeville stage in existence.
The Grand Ballroom, with its 45-foot high ceiling and capacity for
3,000 people, is the only surviving Victorian ballroom in the city.
There are eleven other totally refurbished party rooms that seat
between 25 and 450 people. In all, the premises can accommodate over
Detail is everywhere -the four mahogany bars, oak walls and furniture,
stained glass, museum quality murals, gas light era brass fixtures,
And it all is available for you for turning that special day into an
Totally new, too, is one of the borough’s newest and what might be most
sophisticated dining spot – The Oak Room – open for lunch, afternoon
tea, dinner, supper and Sunday brunch. Dine in a palace as chamber
music fills the air.
For more information on planning a catered affair at Prospect Hall, or
for information on the restaurant, please call Prospect Hall, located
at 263 Prospect Avenue, at 788-0777.
REPORTER AND SUNSET NEWS 10/7/83
BY SARA OTEY
PROSPECT HALL will be the scene of a number of Brooklyn happenings, the
first being a fund-raiser for Sen. JOE MONTALTO, coming up Friday,
October 14. A little later, the Lambda Independent Democrats will honor
several people, including STEVE DI BRIENCZA, at an affair held at the
Prospect Hall’s Oak Room restaurant was the setting Friday night wehn
BISHOP FRANCIS MUGAVERO celebrated his 15th year s a head of the
Brooklyn Diocese, and his 43rd years as a priest.
Joining the festivities where Diocesan officials JAMES KING, CELSUS
COLLINI, GERALD LANGALIER, WILLIAM FLOOD, JOSEHPH MARTUSCIELLO, DOUBLAS
BROWN, and JOHN WALKER.
REPORTER AND SUNSET NEWS 8/19/83
BY SARA OTEY
SEEING STARS: Proud owner of Prospect Hall MIKE HALKIAS tells us that
movie heartthrob RICHARD GERE will be shooting a film at the palatial
hall on Prospect Avenue this month. The movie, The Cotton Club, is
directed by FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA. The wedding scene and other scenes
will be filmed in the hall’s Grand Ballroom, Speakeasy Room, and
restaurant, The Oak Room, where singer ALAN DALE dined just recently.
REPORTER AND SUNSET NEWS 3/2/84
BY SARA OTEY
A VERY SPECIAL INTERNATIONAL NIGHT AT PROSPECT HALL: would be an
understatement when you consider that 13 members of the Russian Summer
Olympic team were present Saturday night during a dinner sponsored by
the Metropolitan Athletic Congress.
And upstairs, in another of the Hall’s splendid rooms, a gathering for
a Lebanese association was holding forth , according to Sunset Park
civic activist SELMA COYNE, who saw all.
She says there were plenty of New York’s Finest nearby, but not for the
Selma, who makes travel arrangements for U.S. Olympic track and field
team members, said the dinner at Prospect Hall was an awards night for
athletes, and the Russians were guests of the MAC.
Prospect Hall owner Michael Halkias is Greek, the hall has Polish
roots, and so…..
THE PROSPECT PRESS
“Gov. Carey Brings his Anti-IRA Crusade to Prospect Hall
BY ALAN BREZNICK
Former Governor Hugh Carey came home to the South Slope in mid March,
asking Brooklynites to join him in his new crusade for peace between
the warring Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. In a
rambling, wide-ranging speech at Prospect Hall, Carey said others
should pick up the cause because “it will bring peace” and help “stop
the carnage” in that troubled country.
Looking relaxed and well-rested in a dark, conservative jacket, with
his hair a jet black, Carey defended his decision not to march in the
annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade three days earlier. Without mentioning
him by name, he criticized Mayor Koch for letting the parade get
“hijacked by the wrong people” and argued that “in history, the
politics of death have never beaten the politics of life.”
The former Park Slope and Windsor Terrace congressman also blasted the
Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its numerous American supporters,
including, he said, many Brooklynites. He said he wants to “rip off the
shroud of respectability” that the IRA and its support group enjoy and
show how they are “tied into other terrorist groups.”
Carey noted that about the same number of people have been killed in
recent years in Northern Ireland as are currently sitting on death row
in American jails. “I don’t want a death row in my home country,” he
said. That’s what Northern Ireland is now.”
Carey made his remarks while accepting a humanitarian award from the
Brooklyn chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union, mostly for his
strong stands in favor of abortion and against capital punishment
during his eight years as governor. He said he intends to spend much of
the next year speaking to similar groups about peace in Northern
Ireland so that the 1984 St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be “a peace
During his speech, Carey also touched on some of the major issues of
his years in the governor’s mansion, including abortion, the death
penalty, the de-institutionalization of mental hospital patients,
overcrowded prisons and health care. He said he feels “so freed and
completely liberated by not being governor” and will devote his
remaining years to “gaining a livelihood and going after peace.”
“I couldn’t feel better about coming home, “ Carey concluded. “If this
is retirement, well, it’s a hell of a lot better than being in Albany.”
He received a polite standing ovation from the 60 to 70 people in the
THE BROOKLYN GRAPHIC
“Prospect Hall Offers Free Tours”
Prospect Hall, the elegant Victorian edifice at 263 Prospect Avenue, is
pleased to announce a daily series of tours through its splendid,
historic and architecturally unique interior.
Five tours, free-of-charge, every hour on the hour from 2 P.M. to 6
P.M. each day, will offer visitors an exceptional perspective of a
byproduct of the era that created the Brooklyn Bridge, with the same
attention to architectural detail and beauty of form and function.
Once one of the major cultural attractions of the city of Brooklyn,
Prospect Hall is once again in the forefront of national attention as
the Convention Center of Brooklyn. Initially opened in 1982 as a
convention center, Prospect Hall has served a variety of functions
throughout its colorful history. The Victorian Grand Ballroom, once a
German Opera House can accommodate 1,000 to 2,500 people. The facility
also served as a place of entertainment for the beautiful, powerful and
elite of several generations of Brooklynites.
Today, 90 year old Prospect Hall whose 12 ballrooms can hold more than
5,000 guests, has resumed its original capacity as Brooklyn’s
Convention Center. Recently, renovated and restored by owner Michael
Halkias, it boasts of magnificent wood carvings, marble detailing and
ornate craftsmanship. The four mahogany bars, oak walls, and carved
furniture, as well as the original stained glass, murals, frescoes and
gaslight era brass fixtures lend a distinctive atmosphere of grace and
The daily tours can be complemented with lunch, served from 11:30 A.M.
to 3 P.M. or dinner from 5 P.M. to 10 P.M., or afternoon tea from 3
P.M. to 5 P.M. at Prospect Hall’s restaurant, The Oak Room. A two-story
high dining room done in Bavarian motif, the restaurant features French
Continental/Provencial cuisine with French tableside service. The
Afternoon Tea menu provides a leisurely respite from the tension of the
day. A variety of teas, toasts, pastries, cakes, and finger sandwiches
are available. Diners at every meal will feel like a welcome guest and
will be fortified by food prepared from the freshest ingredients and
transported into an era of grandeur.
Prospect Hall, Brooklyn’s Victorian Palace, brings Manhattan’s
sophistication to Brooklyn without the exorbitant prices. Valet parking
is available, free-of-charge.
Prospect Hall, at 263 Prospect Avenue, between 5th and 6th Avenues,
just off the Prospect expressway in Brooklyn, is easily accessible by
car or public transportation.
For additional information, call 788-0777.
“Prospect Hall’s big break in the movies”
BY ROBERT FLEMING
Brooklyn became Tinseltown yesterday when veteran director John Huston
and Oscar winning actor Jack Nicholson filmed a scene for a new movie
called “Prizzi’s Honor.”
The setting was Prospect Hall’s Victorian Grand Ballroom in Park Slope,
where a wedding reception scene was being shot for the movie. The film,
a comedy about a New York mobster, is based on the novel by Richard
The 78-year-old Huston – clad in a brown leisure suit, a paperback copy
of a Jean Rhys novel resting on his lap – relaxed in his director’s
chair in a corner of the ballroom during a break.
“I wanted to do this film because it was completely different from my
last film ‘Under the Volcano,’” Huston said. “I admire Condon very much
and have read him faithfully for years. There is an outlandish quality
about his work that I love.”
The movie also stars Kathleen Turner and Angelica Huston, daughter of
the director. The film is Nicholson’s first major feature filmed in New
York and his first outing since his Academy Award-winning performance
in “Terms of Endearment.”
In the deep, rich voice that is his trademark, Huston commented on his
choice of Nicholson for the lead role: “Jack seemed ideal for the part
because he is such a wonderful character. He was the first person we
thought of, no one else. The role required someone who could be
sympathetic, but that the same time, a real torpedo.”
Nicholson – wearing a white shirt with tissue tucked around the collar
and suspenders holding up his dress trousers – talked and joked with
the other actors and the crew. “Nicholson is very much the same on
camera and off,” said actor John Romano. “He’s very relaxed, always in
control. He cracks jokes to relieve the tension when things get
The shooting at 91-year-old Prospect Hall has its management quite
pleased. “Huston fell in love with the hall when he saw it, “ said hall
official Rosemarie Barbato. The room’s top-hat décor also set
the tone for another movie, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Cotton Club,” which
will be released this winter.
Ten other Brooklyn locations will be used in the making of “Prizzi’s
Honor” according to Stewart Fink, the film’s publicist. He said their
addresses are being withheld for purposes of “crowd control.” Last
week, the crew shot interior scenes at St. Ann’s Church in Downtown
“CITY BEAT: Russian kids revitalizing dance”
BY BILL BELL
Victoria Kutikova was looking down on the ballroom floor from her place
in the balcony of the Grand Prospect Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn,
marveling at the scene.
Six couples were dancing the cha-cha. They were competing for ribbons
at the eight annual Manhattan Amateur Classic dance championships.
And the oldest dancer on the floor was 8.
“See?” said Kutikova. “They are all Russian.”
And so they were – and so were all but exactly four of the 252
contestants in the age 6-to-18 category.
Virtually unnoticed, Russian kids are taking over the New York ballroom
“It’s more than that,” says Clive Phillips, a dance instructor and
judge. “They are going to save ballroom dancing in New York.”
The championships, organized by the Greater New York chapter of the
U.S. Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association, lasted all day Saturday and
yesterday and drew hundreds of competitive amateur adult dancers from
as far as Vermont and Virginia.
But it was the youngsters who sent out the clearest signal of a change
in the old dance guard.
One by one, their names were called to accept first-place prizes - Ilya
Naoumov and Liza Satarov, Maxim Tkachenko and Zhanna Kogan, Vladimir
Mazin and Karina Sodolersksaya, Artur Dudin and Jarlin Dikunsky, and
Mark Dyu, a winner in seven categories with two partners, Karina
Gorodkin and Daniella Schchigol.
“Ballroom dancing is their Little League,” says Steve Malanga,
secretary of the Greater New York chapter, “and when they’re older,
it’s their Babe Ruth League.”
Apparently so, because Russian youngsters swept all the prizes in the
9-to-12, 12-to-15 and 16-to-18 categories.
Kutikova wasn’t surprised. “In Russia,” she said, “the children start
at age 7, learning the cha-cha, the rhumba, the slow waltz and the fox
trot. By 10, they know 10 dances.”
This is because Moscow, and most other East European governments,
promote and finance ballroom dancing, which is regarded as a highly
But the Russian connection in New York wasn’t established until about
six years ago with the arrival of Victor Kanevsky, a celebrated Russian
ballroom teacher. When he saw how many Russian families lived in
Brooklyn, he opened a studio there. He now owns three.
Kutikova, a one-time choreographer in Russia and a New Yorker for about
16 months, teaches in one of them. “There are students of other
nationalities,” she says, “but mostly they are Russian.”
Janine D’Andrea, the president of the Greater New York chapter, puts
its membership at 300, but says a large majority is non-Russian. That,
she expects, will change as the Russian kids grow up.
Adding to continuted interest is a decision by the International
Olympic Committee to recognize ballroom dancing as a sport – and it is,
as much as synchronized swimming and ice dancing. It is likely to
become a full-fledged medal sport within a decade.
Proud parents shouted encouragement - in Russian - and taped
performers. Youngsters practiced in corners and hallways until their
numbers were called. Teachers gave students last-minute tips and
Among the competitors was Kutikova’s son Yuriy, 15. “I worry about all
the students except him,” she said. “He always does his best.”
Yuriy’s twin sister, Yulia, danced until about three months ago, when
she suddenly lost interest. “I was so upset,” Kutikova said, “but at
least she came to see Yuriy.”
And, sure enough, as he swept onto the floor, Yulia pushed to the front
of the crowd, shouted a greeting and aimed her video camera.
“A hitch in their wedding plans”
BY KRISTI BERNER
When Yankee fans Jennifer Aguirre and Harry Genzale chose their wedding
date, they had no idea their beloved Bronx Bombers would be hosting the
first game of the Subway Series the same night.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Genzale, 28, said yesterday speaking by cell
phone en route to the couple’s reception after exchanging vows at Our
Lady Star of the Sea Church on Staten Island.
“What luck!” he moaned. “But the wedding was already planned, so what
are you going to do?”
Their postnuptial celebration at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn’s Park
Slope ran inning for inning with last night’s contest.
So wedding guests, 160 in all, took turns checking up on their favorite
team, leaving the dance floor in the Chopin Room to peek at the
big-screen TV in the manager’s office.
The TV was set up to accommodate an important guest; the bridegroom’s
father, also named Harry Genzale.
“He has to know the score every five minutes,” said his new
daughter-in-law. “We did it just for him.”
Jane Genzale, the bridegroom’s mother, said her husband and three
children are all avid Yankee fans.
“We are happy it’s game one…and not the last game,” she said.
Aguirre had little use for baseball until she started dating Genzale
eight years ago, after they were introduced by a mutual friend.
“I started getting into baseball when he took me to the games,” she
“Now I like Tino Martinez, because he’s very good looking and a great
The 27-year-old physical therapist and her stockbroker husband are
leaving tomorrow to honeymoon in the south of Spain.
They seem resigned to the fact that the World Series may not be
available on the TV at their beach resort hotel.
“Maybe I’ll read it in the paper the next day,” the bridegroom said,
laughing. “In Spanish.”
“Caribbeat: Benefit dance set by Belize Society”
BY JARED McCALLISTER
The Citizens of Belize Society will host a fund-raising dance Saturday
evening at Brooklyn’s Prospect Hall convention center.
Dance organizer Dennis Flowers said that he expects more than 1,000 to
attend the affair. AN 11-member band, coming up from Belize for the
occasion, will play Caribbean and Latin music. Belize’s ambassador to
the United States, Robert Leslie, is expected to attend.
Money raised from the event will go to help victims of a recent major
fire in the Central American country’s capital city, Belize City.
Admission for the affair is $15.
The dance will be held at Prospect Hall, 263 Prospect Ave., between
Fifth and Sixth Aves., beginning at 11 p.m. For information, call
“Dining spots love Mothers (Day) best of all”
BY WALTER KANER
…RECOMMENDED: Prospect Hall in Brooklyn is more than a
restaurant-catering facility – it’s an experience. Enterint this
90-year-old facility is like turning back time to yesteryear elegance
and grandeur. Originally launched as Brooklyn’s convential hall, it
later became Polish Hall, then German Hall, and, after a $2 million
refurbishing reopened in mid-March.
In addition to its ground floor Oak Room Restaurant and cocktail
lounge, it offers 11 upstairs catering rooms including a huge,
spectacular, 3,000 capacity Victorian-styled ballroom with 45-foot
high, gilded and crved plaster ceiling, double-tiered horseshoe
balconies and a large stage for shows. In all, the sprawling facility
seats some 6,000 persons. For diners, its chief attraction is the Oak
Room, a European-styled, twostory high dining room with original
oak-paneled walls topped with murals, along with stained glass windows
and gaslight-era brass chandeliers. The room is spacious, elegant, with
a regal like setting. Because of its size, high ceiling and tile floors
the room lacks intimacy, minor points in view of its other qualities.
The menu is chiefly French, but also offers Italian and American
dishes. Items are a la carte and a complete dinner should run aout $20
to $25. Prices are in the moderate range considering the food quality,
elegant setting and the French-styled, table-side preparation of some
The food is very good, attractively presented, and the young waiters
are pleasant, courteous and attentive.
Prospect Hall is located at 263 Prospect Ave. in the Park Slope section
of Brooklyn. Declidedly different in setting, and well worth a visit.
GARDENS/COBBLE HILL NEWSPAPER, 4/21/84
"Notes from Nino"
BY NINO PANTANO
...Prospect Hall was host to "The Best of BACA", a traditional
gathering of the Brooklyn Arts and Cultural Association on Friday,
April 13. It was also a special evening honoring Charlene Victor,
BACA's founder. Hundreds of letters of admiration were compiled by her
friends and supporters according to Chuck Richenthal, who coordinated
The evening began with a dinner in the elegant Oak Room, and then moved
into the spacious downstairs ballroom where the guests were treated to
the music of the dynamic "Realism Streetdancers," whose style, dress
and dancing are a combination of Michael Jackson and breakdancing.
Afterwards, Charles Laemmle of Abraham and Straus, presided over an
auction of everything from fans to sculpture. Artwork auctioned
included works by Richard Waller, Sara Fox, Charles Viera, Lou Storey,
Russel Drish, Great Fundersen, Doris Lanier, Barry Cohen and Dina
Helal. Next came dancing to the "ESP Band" with Rick Mascarinas while
exotic fashions by Orneyce Prince were shown by models who posed as
living statues. Horse racing films were also a popular attraction of
the evening. Actor Vincent Gardenia toasted the resplendent Charlene as
did many of her friends including our Borough's first lady and champion
of the arts, Aileen Golden, Marion Scotto (Special Events-Boro Hall),
Con Ed's Ben Glascoe and wife Gloria, BUG's Alan Smith, A&S
Francesco Cantarella, Board Chairman of BACA (and owner of Le Parc
Gormer), Jack Koven, parade organizer dashing Al Calabro, LIU's Dr.
Gary Marotta and wife Joan, artist Fernand Barbor and wife Claudine,
plus State Senator Montalto, Congressman Schumer, Councilman Sam
Hurwitz, and our own Ellen and Lenny Manusco. Scores of others wished
Charlene, Chuck and BACA continued success at Michael and Alice
Halkias' Victorian Prospect Hall - a hall once again at the fore of our
boro's gala happenings!