Location Windsor Terrace (Brooklyn)
Price $75,000 in 1984 (maintenance $600.87)
Square feet 1150
Occupants Don Morlan (American Baptist minister; director of training, Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development); Tim Martin (nurse, St. Vincent’s Hospital)
This block has all these tiny houses side-to-side except for your big brick building with the etched glass logo on the door. [Don] This is a low-density neighborhood, very old, going back to the 1800s. This is one of the largest buildings on the whole block. [Tim] The one behind us is pretty big. [Don] No, I don’t think it’s so big.
That’s a big plant. It’s bursting through the ceiling. [Tim] If you don’t like somebody, give them a piece of it—dieffenbachia. [Don] It’s poisonous, paralyzes the vocal cords.
How long have you had it? [Don] As long as we’ve been here, 17 years. [Tim] It’s our oldest plant. [Don] No, our oldest is that snake plant, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue.
All the art on the walls is so perfectly framed. [Tim] What we have is what Don brought from his family and my things that came from Europe. [Don] There’s no “You can’t say this is Danish,” it’s very eclectic. I grew up in Texas, came to New York to go to the Union Theological Seminary in 1962. [Tim] Those paintings [colorful Italian arches, boats on the water] are from when I lived in Italy, in the navy. [Don] This is the work of a Vietnamese artist I acquired. [Tim] I’ve always found it very moving. Here’s the den. [Don] Also the music room. [Tim] When Don’s son was living with us, this was his room.
Is it always so quiet in the apartment or is it just because I’m interviewing you? Wait—is that flute music I hear? [Don] Yes, a recording. And I play the flute.
Ah! I see The Advanced Flutist resting on the music stand. [Don] I play classical. [Tim] You also play some jazz. [Don] No, mostly classical. [Don] Tim and I met in Washington. [Tim] I moved up in 1981. We got an apartment around the block from here. We were getting to the point where we thought we shouldn’t pay rent. [Tim] One day I asked about this building. [Don] We never looked anywhere else. It was too perfect, one of the best housing deals in the whole city. [Tim] Five closets plus the linen closet. [Don] This was built as a middle-income HUD rental and it failed. We don’t really know why but when it was converted, most people bought into the co-op for very little. Our original owners paid $12,000 and this is the largest unit in the whole building. Having lived here for some years, we decided one of us should be on the board. The last five, I’ve been president, a mixed blessing but I’m still very proud of the building. We have a very solid policy of asset management. We have the most beautiful gardens in the area. We’ve redone the elevators, boilers, upgraded the lobby, redone the sidewalks. We finished a half-million-dollar pointing and lintel replacement project. We do not permit subletting. We do not want people to hold on just for financial gain. We view the co-op as a living community.
You run your building like a church! What’s this about buying a car just because you got a space? [Tim] When we moved in, we put our name on the list. Though we had no car. [Don] I thought, we’ll never get to the top. [Tim] Thirty-six spaces for 149 units. [Don] We’re safe. Fifteen years later, we get to the top. We bought a car because we’d be dead by the time our names came up again. Let’s say this car does not get used a lot. Would we ever sell this apartment? We could for a quarter of a million but we have no intention of selling it now or ever. Given the way things are, the only place we’re going to move to . . . [Tim] . . . are two little boxes three or four blocks away.
Greenwood Cemetery! Have you made arrangements? Not yet? Ah, the flute just trilled.