The honors — complete with a retrospective exhibition — came during the Willowtown Association’s spring fair at Joralemon Street and Willow Place on May 15, where coordinators Ben Bankson and Linda De Rosa hailed the couple for the pioneering spirit reflected in its many architectural projects which blended the new with the old while keeping intact the nature and scale of their communities.
Visitors enjoyed food by Willowtown’s outstanding Iris Cafe and music by Johnny Shepherd and Billy Swing, and kids frolicked on the Jumpy Castle ride.
The younger set also checked out the pony rides, games and races — with medals awarded at the end of the day. An added new feature this year was “It’s My Park Day” at the Palmetto Playground at State Street and Columbia Place where vollies planted flowers and shrubs.
Willowtown — a magnet for television and Tinseltown which has been featured in Woody Allen’s “Bullets Over Broadway,” Spike Lee’s “25th Hour” and “The Forgotten,” starring Julianne Moore — clearly inspires the best in its visionaries, and the Merzes take their rightful place in its history alongside Alfred T. White (1846-1921), the civil engineer, builder and urban visionary responsible for the construction of the Riverside Apartments between Columbia Place and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, south of Joralemon Street.
White was Brooklyn’s commissioner of City Works during the Schieren administration, and donated his entire salary for two years — $12,000 — to the city. Schieren’s successor, Mayor Frederick Wurster, lauded White as “worthy to be emulated by city officials everywhere.”
No doubt, Mayor Wurster would be proud of the Merzes!