Inside Writer John Dermot Woods’s Prospect Heights Brownstone


When invited to a writer’s house, expectations are often low. Even the most basic awareness for spacial design seems just out of reach. Crooked Ikea desks and long-suffering futons persevere in dark corners. Dusty stacks of books encircle a living room, leaving guests with the vague feeling of being under some kind of literary siege.

So it is a relief to be invited to John Dermot Woods and Ginny Woods’s home, the top three stories of a brownstone in Prospect Heights, which is filled with light and clean lines and enough whimsical touches to be reminded that creative people live there.

At a recent after-party John hosted following Amelia Gray‘s reading at Unnamable Books, many guests (who certainly expected the usual beer and cramped apartment you end up in after a reading) were visibly shocked when they entered the elegant living room and were handed drinks in actual glasses.

“These people have their shit together,” someone said.

John, an accomplished writer, cartoonist and an English professor at Nassau Community College, and the author of The Complete Collection of People, Places and Things, moved into the historic 1860s brownstone with his wife Ginny in 2009, but it wasn’t until last year that they finally got the design just right.

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  1. In 1997 and 1998, my husband, who was then my boyfriend, and I shared the top two floors of this brownstone with the friend who had rented the other bedroom on the second storey, when the neighborhood was considerably more down-at heel than today. It is good to see some antebellum features of the house, viz. the pocket shutters, preserved.