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06/16/17 4:30pm
AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO The interior of Shelter Island’s Union Chapel.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO The interior of Shelter Island’s Union Chapel.

A good rule of thumb is never to sit across the table from someone called “Honest John” when he’s dealing cards.

But John French, a 19th century builder who did extensive work in Brooklyn — including the Brooklyn Academy of Music — came by his nickname, well, honestly. He was known by his contemporaries for “mixing mortar with conscience,” according to an article in the Republican Watchman of 1876. (more…)