'Brooklyn Bum' creator's Plandome Manor home lists for $2.098M

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Seventy-five years after his creator moved in, “The Brooklyn Bum” still resides in the basement of Victoria and Hank Bjorklund’s Neoclassical Colonial in Plandome Manor. The renowned sports cartoonist Willard Mullin, who became the home’s second owner in 1942 and who died in 1978, painted the Bum on the north basement wall during a house party a year after he moved in. Fellow cartoonist Bill “Foo” Holman painted Smokey Stover on the west wall.

The Bjorklund Plandome home, which is for sale
(Credit: Steve Pfost)

Mullin loved parties, says Victoria Bjorklund, who retired as a senior partner of a law firm in 2013. "He was famous for having extravagant parties," adds Victoria. She and husband Hank Bjorklund — who played for the New York Jets from 1972 to 1975, and left professional sports to attend law school — are selling the house.

Victoria Bjorklund, and her husband Hank, stand near
(Credit: Steve Pfost)

The elements wore away most of Smokey, who was painted under a window. But the Bum endured, and the Bjorklunds immediately recognized Mullin’s handiwork — Victoria’s grandfather, architect Dwight James Baum, was a big Brooklyn Dodgers fan. Victoria says she is not sure what paint he used, but suspects it was an oil paint based on the drips running off the Bum, which is a bit short of life-size at about 4 feet tall. 

Willard Mullin 1955 "Stars in His Eyes" Cartoon.
(Credit: National Baseball Hall of Fame)

The “Brooklyn Bum” cartoon — said to have been inspired by an exchange during a late ’30s cab ride from Ebbets Field — was published for more than two decades in Scripps-Howard newspapers, including the New York World Telegram & Sun. Mullin described the Bum, a scruffy, cigar-chomping man dressed in tattered clothes, as his “greatest professional delight” and a perfect foil for editorial cartoons about the Dodgers.

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The wrapping desk used Willard Mullin in the
(Credit: Steve Pfost)

The Bum’s mastermind famously availed himself of the nearby Long Island Rail Road — without boarding the train. According to Mullin’s daughter Shirley Mullin Rhodes, he would walk through a park to the Plandome train station and hand his daily cartoon to the engineer. The engineer would take it to Western Union in Penn Station, which would dispatch a messenger to the newspaper office, says a 1957 article in American Artist, excerpted in a National Cartoonists Society profile. The work desk Mullin used for wrapping his cartoons is preserved in the basement.

The Bjorklund Plandome home, which is for sale
(Credit: Steve Pfost)

Developer August L. Janssen built the Neoclassical-style home — notable for full-height front porches, Doric columns and symmetrically balanced windows — in 1916 and sold it to socialite Emma Pearson Lamprecht for $30,000, according to a Sept. 3, 1916, New York Times report. Nassau County records show that Mullin bought the home, then on less land, for $10,500. Today, the asking price is $2.098 million. The second-story porch off the master bedroom, unusual in mainstream Neoclassical design, helped researchers from the New York Landmarks Conservancy pinpoint the design origin to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and specifically the Connecticut state pavilion, says Victoria.

Victoria Bjorklund, walks past interior French doors, which
(Credit: Steve Pfost)

After buying the home in June 1992, the Bjorklunds began restorations with new wiring and the revival of oak and heart-of-pine floors. Throughout the home, 12-over-12-pane windows with handblown glass and weight-and-pulley mechanisms were restored, and custom storm windows were added. Using razor blades, workers spent two weeks scraping opaque white paint off interior French doors — a relic of World War II “blackouts,” Victoria Bjorklund says.

Victoria Bjorklund, inside the kitchen of her Plandome
(Credit: Steve Pfost)

Once-obscured high-peaked ceilings and the former maid’s quarters were incorporated into a new kitchen with granite surfaces, double wall ovens, a Dacor range and a Sub-Zero refrigerator. Custom cabinets include pullout shelves. The space has a hand-painted Kohler Artist series prep sink.

A guest bedroom suite with an original porcelain
(Credit: Victoria B. Bjorklund)

A guest bedroom suite with an original porcelain tub opens to the former service staircase, which contains the original electrical box. That and an annunciator — once used to summon servants — are among nonfunctioning features retained for their historic charm. “They wanted to take it out. I said no — let’s keep it because it’s so cool,” Victoria says of the electrical box.

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Victoria Bjorklund, and her husband Hank, in the
(Credit: Steve Pfost)

The Bjorklunds inside the entrance at the home.

A living room of the Bjorklund Plandome home,
(Credit: Steve Pfost)

The home's living room.

A fireplace in the study of the Bjorklund
(Credit: Steve Pfost)

A fireplace in the study of the Bjorklund home in Plandome Manor, which is for sale for $2.098 million.

Detail of a fireplace at the Bjorklund Plandome
(Credit: Steve Pfost)

A detail of another fireplace inside the home.

Hand painted sinks in the kitchen of the
(Credit: Steve Pfost)

Hand-painted sinks in the kitchen. 

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