HISTORY OF BROOKLYN. 905
twenty-seven. The reading rooms and chess rooms, as well as the lectures and classes in languages, have been well attended, and the Williamsburgh Debating Association, formed in connection with the library, in October, 1869, has been an entire success. President, Sylvester M. Beard; librarians, Alfred S. Collins, G. W. Frost, 1869-70.
The Catholic Library Association has been for several years established in the Washington Building, corner of Court and Joralemon streets, and has sustained a library, reading rooms and several courses of lectures, etc.
Probably the first theatrical entertainment ever afforded to the people of Brooklyn, was that given by George Frederick Handel (George Handel Hill) about 1824-1825, at Mrs. Chesters hotel, or coffee-house, on the easterly side of Front, near James street.' Hill, afterwards famous as Yankee Hill, wag at this time barely fifteen years of age. Having graduated from the Park theatre of New York, with success, as a supe, he undertook on his own account, a series of entertainments, in imitation of the great Mathews, in which were blended songs, recitations, and dances, among which the new and popular Indian war dance figured conspicuously. Whatever the pecuniary results of his enterprise here, it probably possessed more than ordi. nary merit, as it secured him an offer from the manager of a traveling company, which he accepted. Hill was always a favorite in, Brooklyn, ever attracting the best people of the place.
The next actor who is definitely ascertained to have played in Brooklyn, was a colored comedian, John Hewlett, who gave an entertainment at Duflons Military Garden, located on the site of the present County Court House. Hewlett was a native of Rockaway, L. I., where he was born about the beginning of the century. When a boy he removed to the city of New York, where he indulged a liking for theatrical amusements by frequenting the galleries1, provided for persons of color, in the several theatres. It was doubtless also the fascination of the foot-lights that prompted him to seek the service of some of their most successful heroes. He obtained employment as a servant with those great actors, Cooper and Cooke. Seeing them in their private solitary rehearsals, as well as in their public perform-
1 The Exchange Coffee House, as it was called, one of the most popular resorts of the place, had a long room, in which balls were frequently had, and where public meetings were sometimes held.