Brooklyn artist Arthur Wood purchased a 4-story brick tenement building in 1979 for $2,000 in the Clinton Hill/Bed-Stuy neighborhood. He proceeded to add on to the building with his wife Cynthia over the next 27 years.
The house was a mix of pieces from various projects and Arthur had a camera obscura on the top area and a room that looked like it floated in the air. The inside was like a huge cathedral with arches and colorful “stained glass windows” that were made from the remains of bottles and glass. (I looked out my bedroom window and saw the house every morning shining in the sun from 1999-2005 – Cherie). The structure reaches 104 feet, or about 9 stories above the sidewalk and was considered by many to be a cultural landmark and example of folk art. It was used as a back drop to Dave Chapell’s Block Party video.
In November of 2006, there was a fire and the structure was declared dangerous and the city tried to kick the Woods out of the home. They defied the order and were arrested. They lived in a car outside the building over the winter while working to fix it and find financing. They found partners and were going to turn the space into condos and artists lofts, but the deal fell through. Faced with a foreclosure from Madison Realty Bank, and Cynthia being diagnosed with cancer, the Woods struggled to fight the foreclosure and get their house back. Cynthia Wood died at the age of 72.
The house was lost to a developer and completely demolished in 2014.