Voices of Preservation: Samuel Brooks – Mott Haven

Samuel Brooks arrived to the South Bronx from Honduras in 1974. At that time, the area was being devastated by consecutive cases of arson, by which Samuel and his family were forced out of the building they first lived in The Bronx. They had to move to 140th Street between St. Ann and Cypress in Mott Haven.

As a child, alcohol and drugs were booming outside his home, but he remained loyal to his dream of becoming a successful professional. He graduated from the South Bronx High School, then went to Stony Brook University, and subsequently joined  a leading investment banking firm on Wall Street

In 2006, Samuel bought a brownstone house in  the Mott Haven Historic District, the first historic district in The Bronx to be designated as a landmark in 1969.

“Mott Haven represents my process of belonging to an excluded community to becoming a leader in a thriving community. My mind is full of memories of my childhood, having fun with my siblings,” Samuel remembered.

Samuel transformed his home into a place for residents to gather together, and a hub for local artist to showcase their art. He is the founder of the Mott Haven Historic Association Districts (MHHDA), and the Mott Haven Decorator Show House.

MHHDA aims to uphold the historic and cultural character of Mott Haven by offering tour guides, and introducing newcomers to the history of the neighborhood.

The Mott Haven Decorator Show House provides a space for local interior designers a place to exhibit their work.

Mott Haven’s economic  revitalization has attracted developers, about which Samuel says “we need to be cautious.” Through his organization MHHDA he promotes a concept that he calls 3D (Dialogue, Don’t Dictate) among developers and investors.

In 2017, Samuel Brooks and the Mott Haven Historic Association Districts participated in the HDC’s Six to Celebrate program. His district was chosen, and granted assistance by the HDC to advance preservation initiatives.

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