reasons to love new york

The Party House of Bed-Stuy

Joe Kerwin hosting a Halloween party. Photo: Christopher Petrus

In June, it was mud wrestling in the backyard — onlookers cheered La Loca as she wrestled Bang Girl down to the ground in a sludge-filled inflatable pool. Before that, in February, 300 people had huddled on the coldest night of the year for Ion Pack podcaster and musician Curtis Pawley’s house show. Recently, on a Sunday in mid-October, a Serbian gamelan group played their metallophones for a crowd of city planners, medical students, photographers, architects, artists, and models in the parlor room.

The Hancock is a landmarked ten-bedroom Victorian mansion in Bedford-Stuyvesant. It was built for a water-meter magnate; by the time Claudia Moran made a $7,500 down payment on the house in 1986, it was an uninhabitable ruin. In 2018, it was purchased for $6,275,000 — the most expensive sale for a single-family home in the history of Bed-Stuy. The buyer, a Georgian hotelier, splits his time between Tbilisi and New York and made it a home for a group of rotating Georgian artists and family members, who live there rent free — his wife, Nini Nebieridze, and their two children among them.

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“There’s all of this shock and surprise that we don’t charge people to live there,” Nebieridze says. “But in Georgia, no one pays rent. We don’t have this ‘roommate’ thing. Our friends are struggling artists — why would we make them pay money they don’t have?”

The family fell in love with the place in 2016 after living in Soho for a few months. Soho felt false: “Like living in a magazine,” Nebieridze says. Moran’s only stipulation when she sold the house was that the Hancock remain as is — not broken up, not razed by developers or renovated. “People always say, ‘Oh, you live in a mansion,’ like it’s fancy,” Nebieridze says, “but we only had one working gas stove.”

Gocha Chkadua, affectionately known as the Hancock handyman, moved into a sprawling bedroom on the second floor. His room filled up with a meadow of his tropical-flower plastic sculptures in Sprite-bottle green and Tide-detergent orange.

Elene Makharashvili has the room next door. She moved to New York in 2016: “I came here for a three-week-long modeling job and never left,” she says. While Chkadua makes sure that the drafty house remains heated in the winter months, Makharashvili is in charge of curating the social calendar. She’s vague in her ambitions for the space and avoids words like events and programming.

The mansion, which dates to 1887. Photo: Courtesy of the Hancock

Over the past year, Makharashvili and Nebieridze have been making a concerted effort to create more of a cohesive — dare we say it — brand out of the Hancock. Their Instagram has become a catalogue of curated party photos and portraits of scenesters. Bands including Porches, Bar Italia, and Pretty Sick have found an audience there. In May, the roving dining series known as Lev, run by Loren Abramovitch and Daniel Soskolne, shifted operations into its basement — ushering in a new subset of scene-y expats.

Melody English, a musician, has performed with a band at the Hancock and remembers her first invitation: “We drank wine by the fire and fell asleep, each in our own bed. When we woke up, they had prepared a beautiful meal for us.” English, who’s from Idaho, says, “The people who run the house remind me of that small-town hospitality and a communal feeling that I’ve been missing in New York.” English has since spent many nights there, even though her apartment is only ten minutes away: “I should probably stop doing that soon.”

At a recent Lev dinner — a fundraiser for Israeli and Palestinian farmers — a small group gathered outside to protest, a first for the Hancock. There have been other complaints. On a recent Sunday evening, the police showed up — “but they were confused,” says Nebieridze, “because the music was so low.” According to Nebieridze, the officers laughed out loud while reading the complaint to the room.

“The magic of the place lives in the fact that it doesn’t feel like the Doritos stage at some festival,” Pawley says. “There’s a truly collaborative thing going on there — a spirit of people coming together for the sake of, well, art.”

  1. Melody English with members of the band Voyeur and others in November.

    Photo: Alec Saint Martin

  2. The front hallway during the Hancock’s first party in February.

    Photo: Sasha Frumin

  3. Nini Nebieridze.

    Photo: Michka Bengio

  4. Mud wrestling in the backyard in June.

    Photo: Matt Weinberger

  5. Guests at the Shtick NYC Summer Shabbat Party.

    Photo: Sasha Frumin

  6. Elene Makharashvili and Curtis Everett Pawley.

    Photo: Christopher Petrus

  7. Jack Powers performing in July.

    Photo: Courtesy of the Hancock

  8. Kevin Carpet and some Hancock regulars.

    Photo: Sasha Frumin

  9. Elene and Nini in the Hancock bathroom.

    Photo: Nini Nebieridze

  10. Nebieridze’s kids on the stoop.

    Photo: Nini Nebieridze

  11. The Israeli chefs that operate out of the basement.

    Photo: Nini Nebieridze

  12. Nebieridze in her bedroom.

    Photo: Nini Nebieridze

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The Hancock Is the Party House of Bed-Stuy