Southern Brooklyn

McCay House Renovation Nears Completion, Price Tag At $1.4 Million


Looks like the Hell House has been granted salvation.

Since November of 2010, contractors have been renovating the spacious white-colored house where legendary animator Winsor McCay once resided, and now the property owner said the project is almost complete – and has a price tag nearly six times the amount he paid.

Isaac Itah, of EEI Properties, stated that a few details need to be wrapped up, which should take about two or three weeks.

The house at 1811 Voohries Avenue garnered the name “Hell House” in February 2010, after disgruntled residents of the Single Room Occupancy building spray painted “Welcome to Hell” and “Bedbugs Paradise” across its front.

Though rundown, the building, with its stately white columns and original stained glass that hearkens back to its 100-plus-year-old roots as a getaway for the rich and famous, was a staple of local imagination. Itah has kept the columns, but gutted the interior, removed the stained glass and redid the facade with beige brick.

According to Itah, the makeover is getting rave reviews from neighbors.

“The neighbors and anybody else who passes by thanks me for fixing the house,” said Itah.

Also, the home is no longer set as an SRO, which, in the past, prevented it from being torn down and converted into condos. Itah obtained a new certificate of occupancy classifying the building as a two-family house. The price tag on the house is currently set at $1.4 million, nearly six times the mere $250,000 he paid for the house in May 2010.

“A lot of people are calling about the house,” said Itah.

Sheepshead Bites, with the help of local historian Joseph Ditta, was the first to uncover the colorful past behind the building: one of the neighborhood’s most notable residents lived there.

Winsor McCay, the famous cartoonist whose work set the standard for Walt Disney, lived in the house during the early 1900s. His most notable work was Little Nemo in Slumberland. After renting a room here for some time, McCay fell in love with the neighborhood and purchased a home in the area that has since been torn down. He passed away in 1934 and was buried at the Cemetery of the Evergreens.

Check out our previous coverage of the houses’ history.

Comment policy


  1. I think the house actually looks okay, it just doesn’t belong in this neighborhood.  Why would someone pay 7 figures to live in the middle of a constant traffic jam where you can hear the train crackling one block away.  Makes no sense Mugsy.

  2. The seller will make a nice profit on this.  Obviously he won’t get 1.4M but even at half that he will make out nicely.  250K to buy plus lets say another 250K to renovate, so even if he sells for 700K that’s an estimated 200K in the pocket not counting fees and such.  My guess is that it will sell for over 700K since that;s the price of a 3 bedroom condo these days.

  3. I think the house is aesthetically unappealing. They should have replaced the white clapboards with new ones. That brick work simply does not work with the white columns and white peaked overhang. 

  4. They took a house with potential and junked it. Had they kept the original design and used decent material they could have recreated it and perhaps had something to sell worth close to 1M. But this is hardly worth even 700K.

  5. They are striving for profit not historic preservation.  Some Russian or Buharian will buy this up, I doubt that they will care too much about how it looked like 70 years ago.

  6. We have an example here of why Sheepshead Bay will never compete with neighborhoods in northern Brooklyn.

    This would be junk if it had been built this way. It wasn’t. And its neighbor, built at the same time, will eventually suffer the same fate.

    It’s unfortunate that there is a market for such trash.

    At least neighborhoods like Prospect Park South can’t be destroyed, and the realtors in that area use its historicity and aesthetics as selling points.

  7. I don’t disagree with you.  There is very little sense of community here. Plus the people here who have money are all about instant gratifications instead of long term vision.

  8. And yet many of the people buying these houses are educated, and certainly they have been exposed to architecture that is aesthetic pleasing and would meet their expectations for space and amenities.

    Even on the simplest level this reconstruction fails. This house had beautiful stained glass windows that were 130 years old. Traditionally such elements were selling points. Here they were removed. Were they hideously aged? Quite the contrary.

    I have noticed how houses on East 18th Street between Jerome Avenue and Voorhies are being subjected to the same process, though not so elaborately. I do wonder whether the attention being given to this house resulted in this extreme “restoration”. That possible irony isn’t all that surprising.

  9. It looks nice on the outside.  What about the inside?  Will a $1.5 million house sell in Sheepshead Bay? I have doubts that it will. 

  10. Why are you saying it is trash?  I’m curious, I haven’t seen the house since before the construction started. 

  11. Site is buggy again so I am forced to reply to your last post here.

    The phenomena is actually easy to explain.  Most of the people who are buying expansive houses in our area are Russian immigrants.  They might be educated but many of them also spent the better part of their lives in poverty either in Russia or as newcomers here. Unlike hipsters of North Brooklyn who grew up in relative wealth, Russians with money still have an economic inferiority complex.  So, where a hipster might prefer greenery and a historic look  for his brownstone, Russians want a huge house with a pool they will never use so everyone can clearly see how wealthy they are.  Simple evolution of a people who rose rapidly in their economic level.  What you will find interesting is that the wealthy Russians whose families  came here during the revolution in the 1910s are nothing like the Russians of sheepshead Bay and more like the hipsters of Park Slope or the aristocracy or the Upper East Side. 

  12. You are correct.  Although the bricks do not look bad by themselves, they are totally out of place with the white columns.  A restoration would have been in much better taste.

  13. The hipsters really don’t do very much to increase the aesthetic. They show a lack of maturity which is required when one takes on the responsibility of owning a nice house. Rather, one has to consider the people who have bought houses in places like Victorian Flatbush. They are educated, they have the means of restoring the houses they buy to something resembling their original design, and as many have children they are committed to staying in the area over the long term. They have over generations sought to protect the unique nature of the area.

    Many of the brownstone owners are not hipsters either. Many of them came to areas of Brooklyn such as Park Slope and Carroll Gardens when they losing their indigenous populations in the 60s through 80s. Economically speaking they were not quite as well off as the residents of Victorian Flatbush. But they were resourceful, and stayed despite what was a relatively high crime rate while restoring their neighborhoods. Eventually these areas started to become infused with professionals and others of higher income.

    The hipster phenomenon started in Williamsburg in the late 80s. Originally these were artistic types that were being squeezed out of neighborhoods in Manhattan where they traditionally lived. There was a time when one could find an apartment on West 3rd Street in Greenwich for the equivalent of an average half week’s salary. Or less than that even. But that was in the days of the hippies. I’m not sure whether Williamsburg was ever quite that cheap, though it might have been. But I knew people who moved there at that time and it was hardly a place one would want to live. The street violence was worse than Hollywood could create. But enough people stayed and eventually the neighborhood was exploited by real estate types who saw this as the next great opportunity.

    Nowadays numerous psuedo-hipsters have given the word a bad name. Like everything else popularization leads to decay.

    It would have been interesting if Russian immigrants had come in live in places like Williamsburg instead of southern Brooklyn. As the neighborhood identity of places like Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach was eroding due to a aging population and a paucity of young people (most people of my generation moved off to other places in search of available houses–nothing was for sale in the early 80s) the process of influence just wasn’t there. So the various immigrants in this area developed their American identities as a linear progression from their native ones. Of course, in about about 20 years the homogenizing will be more accentuated.

  14. Isn’t it strange how the masons kept the brown bricks aligned at the base of the house creating a stripe? Apparently, they gave up pretty early on. Good thing you can’t see the house from very far while driving. That brick pattern could cause traffic accidents.

  15. Yes your right what a disaster that was a beautiful piece of stain glass. They don’t make them like that today.
    Thanks Lisanne

  16. how anybody can complain knowing what it looked like last year is crazy,it was an eyesore,you wanna use bricks?use bricks man…i dont care,fix that crap fast,and i believe the stained glass was shattered,could be wrong on that one.What about the other run down house next door?Is that still a crack den or whatever 

  17. It was an eyesore because Voorhies Avenue should have never been zoned for SROs. That it was is merely proof that Kruger is only one of a long line of crooks. This house survived 130 years, Because we do not respect history, this house, and the sister immediately to the west are of merely a handful of houses in Sheepshead Bay that predate 1900.

    As for the stained glass windows, do these look shattered to you?

    There are professionals who know how to handle 100+ year old stained glass.

    Any idiot can decide that his piece of crap restoration is worth 1.4 million. Now he has to find the bigger idiot to buy it.

  18. I noticed the house now has a driveway and didn’t before. Are they allowed to just build a driveway there?

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