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World Trade Center towers, fish, tricycle.
World Trade Center towers, fish, tricycle.

Ye Nautical Garage

Field review by the editors.

Brooklyn, New York

Located across the street from a giant Fairway supermarket, nestled between a wire supplier and an empty lot, there stands one man's architectural tribute to patriotism, brotherhood and aquatic gewgaw-ship. This is Ralph Balzano's Marvelous Memorabilia Garage and Informal Mature Men's Social Club (our overwrought name for it).

Red Hook Nautical House.
Red Hook Nautical House.

Ralph is a retired Parks Department employee and lifelong neighborhood resident with deep family roots in this until-recently-neglected corner of Brooklyn (His older brother, Sunny, owns the quirky Sunny's Bar around the corner at 253 Conover Street; that building is said to have been first operated as a tavern by a Balzano way back in the 1890's).

Ralph's tar-paper-clad building was once a rather ordinary garage, owned by his uncle. But it has gradually been transformed, and is now adorned with a mostly maritime jumble of objects: life preservers, buoys, ships' wheels, an anchor, a plastic owl, a tricycle, a spray-painted fiberglass swordfish and a handmade replica of the World Trade Center Towers.

An American flag proudly flaps in the waterfront wind and a red bench is kindly provided to rest up tied tootsies.

The eye-catching structure serves as a hangout for Ralph's buddies and as a place to store vintage cars, including a 1959 El Camino convertible. If you are lucky, the metal gate will be up when you walk by, and you can get a peek of the interior. Antiques, collectibles, and just plain personal possessions are crammed into every nook and cranny: faux-Tiffany lamps, street signs, hubcaps, puppets, bumper all contributes to the creation of a manly-yet-sensitive decorating vibe.

Door to Nautical House.

(And if 26 Reed Street puts you in a seafaring mood, pop across to Fairway and try the $9.99 lobster roll at the caf. Then sit out back and watch the Ikea water taxi go by.)

[ADB, 9-1-2010]

Ye Nautical Garage

26 Reed St., Brooklyn, NY
In Red Hook. Take the B61 bus to the stop at Van Brunt Street and Beard Street. Walk one block toward the water to Reed Street and make a right. Private property. Visible from street.
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In the region:
Pink Poop Gumby, Long Island City, NY - 6 mi.

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