Posts Tagged ‘Rhinelander Sugar House’

The last remnant of a Revolutionary War prison

April 2, 2012

At the eastern end of Duane Street behind One Police Plaza hides a little-known relic of war and suffering.

It’s a window from the Rhinelander Sugar House prison—originally built in 1763 as a warehouse to store sugar and molasses shipped from the West Indies.

During the war, British soldiers supposedly used the sugar house as a makeshift jail to house 600 men—a fraction of the thousands of American POWs captured.

It was one of three sugar houses-turned-prisons where patriots died of hunger and disease—and the one 19th century locals swore was haunted.

The Rhinelander Sugar house hung on in disrepair until 1892. A window was salvaged and made part of the structure that replaced it, called the Rhinelander Building.

When that building bit the dust in 1968 to make room for a new Brooklyn Bridge approach, the window was once again saved and turned into a grim monument.

[Above illustration: an 1857 sketch of the sugar house and businessman William Rhinelander’s home next to it, from the NYPL digital collection]