A stroll through the Slope: Putting the guidebook to the test

Women welcome: The stately Montauk Club, on Eighth Avenue at Lincoln Place in Park Slope, was a men’s-only social club when it opened nearly 130 years ago.
Photo by Gregory P. Mango

This guidebook gave me a run for my money!

As a runner, I delight in routine, and I’ve circled Prospect Park so many times that I could probably run it with my eyes closed. But this week, with Adrienne Onofri’s book “Walking Brooklyn” in hand, I set out — with eyes wide open — to follow her Park Slope tour and to discover parts of the neighborhood I’ve run right past.

I began at Grand Army Plaza, and strolled down Lincoln Place, where I encountered the stately Montauk Club (25 Eighth Ave. at Lincoln Place) commanding the corner in its Venetian Gothic glory. Somehow, my daily runs never brought me by the nearly 130-year-old social club, and I was amazed to discover both its architecture and its history as one of the first social clubs to allow women to enter.

I continued on to Sixth Avenue, and encountered another unexpected burst of Slope splendor. The stained glass windows of St. Augustine Church (116 Sixth Ave. at Sterling Place) glimmered in the summer’s early evening light, and its spires, towers, and stonework made me feel like I was in a 19th century European city.

On Seventh Avenue, I sauntered past the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music (58 Seventh Ave. at Lincoln Place), where youngsters hung out on the stoop while their pals inside practiced piano, putting a skip in my steps through the Slope.

Onofri mentions the Park Slope Food Coop (782 Union St. between Sixth and Seventh avenues) in passing, and I also had to pass it by — only members allowed! But after being barred from the artisanal grocery, I got a dose of free serenity by stumbling upon Polhemus Place (between Carroll Street and Garfield Place), a quiet side street that I instantly decided would become part of my regular running route.

Just a few blocks later, I ended my walk where my runs often begin: inside of Prospect Park — this time at Litchfield Villa (95 Prospect Park West between Fourth and Fifth streets), a 19th century mansion whose history I had always pondered while jogging by.

But the most surprising discovery I made on my stroll was the delight I found in breaking my routine, slowing to a walk, and taking in the Slope with fresh eyes.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.

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