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Donna Scott, 53Current Owner, Financial Analyst, AIG
Michael Scott, 57Current Owner, Hairstylist
Miles Scott, 16Son of Current Owners Who Lives in the House With His Younger Brother, Justin, 14
Donna: I’m originally from Jamaica, but I’ve lived here more than 30 years. I came here in 1980. When we came, we lived in Park Slope.
Michael: I came in ’72 from Barbados.
Donna: We moved into the house exactly 15 years ago. We weren’t looking to spend more than $200,000 at that time. And then an article came out in the New York Times one Sunday that talked about Bed-Stuy being the last place where you could get affordable brownstones. Before I got married, my sister and I had looked to purchase a house in Bed-Stuy, but we didn’t think it was safe for us as single women. I was in school at the time, coming home late at night. So that Monday, we didn’t go to work. We packed up my oldest son, who was a baby at the time, and drove every single block.
Michael: We really started from Gates. You pass over there in the summer, and you see people hanging out.
Donna: We started at Bedford, and we drove all the way down to Howard, I think, and we wrote down every single house we saw for sale. In the car, I was dialing numbers. And we found this on that Monday. A lot of the houses that were renovated were too expensive for us. When we called this price seemed affordable — $205,000.
Michael: We had a three-bedroom apartment in my dad’s house in Brownsville. We could see the block was changing, a lot of guys was hanging outside, they were starting to get a couple of gangs. We moved at just the right time.
Donna: I also remember when we came and spoke to the homeowner, the block had a lot of pride. They cared about who they sold to, they were asking us all these questions. Because my husband’s a hairstylist, they were asking us Is he going to be doing work from home? because they didn’t want people coming in and opening a business — interviewing us to see if we were a good fit. And that was one of the things I liked, because I said they’re not just going to let anyone come. We had young children at the time, so for us, that was important, to be someplace where we felt that our children would be safe and had kind of family feel.
Michael: It needed a whole lot of work, though.
Donna: A ton-load of work. Our parents thought we had lost our minds, his dad especially, like we bought garbage. I think Michael really kind of just went along because I was so gung ho about it.
Miles: We played on the block growing up. That’s one thing that will stick with me: I was the only kid on the block with a helmet.
Donna: They laughed at you?
Michael: And they couldn’t ride on the street, just on the sidewalk.
Miles: You’re just like older than a lot of kids who are riding on the street, but riding on the sidewalk. So that was not fun. But most of the kids down the block have always been cool with us.
Donna: When we first moved here, I tried to take them to the park a few times. I just never felt safe. I remember we went to the park by Boys and Girls High once with my little son. He accidentally pushed a kid. At that age, toddlers, they’re kind of clumsy and knock each other over. The parents in that park, and the way they behaved — I was like, Oh, no. I’m not coming over here by myself. I thought I was going to get beat up. I really did. That experience kind of shook me.
When we moved here, we never had a single choice for delivery. We could only order Chinese. Now they drop menus off here — Japanese, Thai, Italian — and it’s like, “You’ll really deliver here?” That’s the first thing I noticed.
I would never sell. Never, never. I would hope I never find myself in the position where I have to sell. The children grew up here. It’s a beautiful home. Why would you want to leave if you’re comfortable, you feel safe, have good neighbors? And you know that if you sell, you will probably never own another house in Bed-Stuy. I wouldn’t want to ever sell. They say that there are no guarantees in life, but my kids have told us already that when we’re gone, they want to be here, too.