Brigitte Freed

Resident at Westbeth in the 1970s and 1980s

We felt like pioneers, refugees and children coming to the chosen land, coming from Amsterdam, Holland, after living there for thirteen years. We moved into our duplex, our daughter Susannah living upstairs, and we, Leonard and Brigitte, living downstairs. In the beautiful darkroom in the basement, I printed Leonard’s photos and developed his films. We made many friends. Susannah met all the Westbeth children. What a dream because she was a single child for us.

After my darkroom period came my fashion period: bicycle trips to Parsons School of Design and eventually a move to the garment center. There was an evening of young designers sponsored by old timers. It was an evening for each to tell his or her heart’s desire, what would be after fashion for them.

I saw a house in the country. One year to the day I had that house earned, and I still live in it after forty years. The apartment changed from the duplex to a one-bedroom with a view of the Empire State Building. It was a real necessity for Leonard to get to his office on foot, till he passed away in 2006. He traveled the world and traveled between Manhattan and the Hudson Highlands, whenever it was convenient for him. I had a wonderful place to stay when visiting New York City.

My third career was as a real-estate broker, selling houses to my city friends; I gave it up before Leonard’s death. My fourth career is working with Leonard’s photo archive. The Westbeth photos he took in 1970—they are a pleasure to look at for me and Susannah. She lives in the studio in the garden. Glorious days again!

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