The Curious Tale of Williamsburg’s Historic Abate Grotto

Sep 04, 2017 646

BY: Susan De Vries

At the intersection of Woodpoint Road and Conseylea Street in Williamsburg sits a 20th century curiosity built on a tiny plot of ground with a centuries-old significance in the history of Brooklyn. The Vito Abate grotto at 219 Woodpoint Road was built in the late 1930s as a religious shrine associated with St. Francis of Paola Church, located across the street. While the grotto isn’t particularly old, it sits at the crossroads of one of the earliest settlements in Brooklyn, Het Dorp, dating from the 1640s.

Abate was a parishioner of the church, and like many of the congregants, an Italian immigrant. Abate arrived in the U.S in the early 20th century, was quickly drafted into service in World War I and then settled in Brooklyn after the war, eventually running a small grocery with his wife Maria. He died in 1973.

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