Friday, November 27, 2015

The Henry Miller's Theatre -- No. 124 West 43rd Street

photograph by the author

By the first decade of the 20th century, actor Henry Miller was not only a leading man, but a successful theatrical manager.  Miller could not have overlooked the trend of stage stars like Maxine Elliot, John Wallack and Edward Harrigan erecting and operating their own theaters.

from the collection of the New York Public Library

Backed by the wealthy socialite and philanthropist Elizabeth Milbank Anderson, Miller laid plans for a Times Square theater around 1913 when the old brownstone home of Sarah M. Moore at No. 124 West 43rd Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue, became available.  It was an unexpected move for Anderson—she was more well-known for her activism and financial support of public health, women’s education, and African-American education.

Felix Isman first purchased the Moore house, adding to his 43rd Street holdings that now stretched from No. 124 through 130.  His intention was to erect “a large theatrical enterprise, which later, however, failed to develop,” explained the Real Estate Record & Builders’ Guide in 1916.

Instead, in December that year Elizabeth Milbank Anderson purchased the plots, then leased the property to Henry Miller “for twenty one years with renewal privileges.”  The Record & Guide reported “a new theatre will be erected in West 43d street by Henry Miller for the presentation of his own plays.”   It added “The amount involved in the sale, lease and the erection of the new building will approximate $1,000,000.”

Miller assembled what was a team, of sorts, of architects.  On January 6, 1918 The Sun reported “The architects are Paul R. Allen, in association with Henry Creighton Ingalls and F. Burrall Hoffman, who, jointly or individually, were responsible for the Century, Winthrop Ames’s Little Theatre and the Globe Theatre.”  Almost equally important in the designing process was Miller, himself.  “Many of Mr. Miller’s ideas as to what a theatre ought to be, gained in his years of experience in his profession, are embodied in the theatre,” said The Sun.

The rapid-fire construction of theaters in the Times Square area had, by now, jaded reporters.  On January 6, 1918, as the building neared completion, the New-York Tribune wrote “New York is no longer surprised at the opening of a new theater, and none will interest the theatergoer more than Henry Miller’s Theatre in West Forty-third Street.”  The newspaper held out hope that this one would stand out.  “The actor manager’s prominence in his profession holds out the promise that his theatre, which has been constructed under his direction and embodies many of his ideas, will be something rather out of the ordinary.”

photo by Wurts Bros. from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York

The Sun agreed.  That same day it opined “Many theatres have been opened in New York in the last few years and several are at present under construction.  The novelty has almost worn off, still there is something about Henry Miller’s Theatre that makes it different from many others.”

The architects turned to the recently popular neo-Georgian style of architecture.  The stately red brick façade trimmed in white stone recalled Colonial architecture with its elegant many-paned arched openings, shallow pilasters with ornate capitals, and massive classical stone urns set deeply within story-tall niches.

The interior followed suit; “Adam in design,” with a color scheme of “old ivory and antique gold.”  The auditorium was capable of seating 1,000 and the double balcony suggested a modern motion picture palace rather than a legitimate theater.   With a good-hearted jab at audience members who customarily strained to see what others were wearing or with whom they arrived, it was announced that all 200 patrons sitting in the balconies “will be able to see the stage even if they do not get a good view of the rest of the audience.”

A massive crystal chandelier illuminated the lavish auditorium, which featured two balconies -- from the collection of the New York Public Library

The Henry Miller’s Theatre opened on the night of April 1, 1918 with Louis Evan Shipman’s The Fountain of Youth.  Critics applauded the new venue.  The Sun reported “There are ample taste and comfort, convenience and illusion of the various departments of the Henry Miller Theatre, so there is no deficiency to be noted there.”

Critic Heywood Broun agreed (although he would have chosen a different curtain).  “It is an excellent thing for New York that Henry Miller should have his own theatre, for he is a good actor and a conscientious one.  His theatre, the Henry Miller, is a delight, if you don’t mind the curtain too much.  The smoking room is certainly the finest in town.”

Broun panned the show, however.  “Louis Evan Shipman has endeavored to create an atmosphere of mellow gayety.  Instead, he gains the effect of a middle-aged Methodist minister making his first address to the young men of the Boys’ Club down in the church gymnasium.”

The New York Times agreed regarding the new auditorium; while being a bit kinder about the play itself.  “At the opening of Henry Miller’s Theatre last night good taste was lapped in luxury as seldom before.  Every detail of the new house is studied with intelligent regard to comfort of the body and repose of the eye.”  The critic said of The Fountain of Youth “the little comedy of the evening is slight indeed.”

The luxurious interiors included a "sitting room" (above) -- from the collection of the New York Public Library

Almost immediately following the theater’s opening, a blind man began peddling his pencils on the sidewalk outside.  Henry Miller had compassion for Joseph Hahn and The New York Times, years later, mentioned that “Frequently overzealous patrolmen have attempted to chase the blind man from his post, but on every occasion Mr. Miller had gone to his aid and got back Han’s theatre stand for him.”

Elizabeth Milbank Anderson died in 1921 leaving an estate of about $7 million, most of which was left to charity.  The land under the Henry Miller’s Theatre was sold by the estate in March 1922 for about $570,000.  The change in property ownership was not noticed by theater-goers; for now it simply meant that Henry Miller’s rent checks were payable to a different landlord.

Miller starred in most of the plays produced here, and managed to book some of the most recognized names in the American theater.   The matinee performance of Romeo and Juliet on April 19, 1923 marked Jane Cowl’s 100th performance as Juliet.  The actress was presented with a reproduction of the 1623 edition of Shakespeare’s play in the possession of the Duke of Devonshire.  She donated all the proceeds of the following Monday’s performance to establish a memorial to Sarah Bernhardt.

Helen Hayes appeared the following year in Quarantine.  Norman-Bel Geddes designed the impressive sets.  As expected, her performance was stellar.  The New York Times reported on December 16, 1924 “Helen Hayes at Henry Miller’s Theatre last night appeared to hold most of her audience in her hand and to tie them into rosy and ingenious love knots whenever she liked.”

On Monday evening, April 5, 1926 Henry Miller prepared to open in a new play here, A Stranger in the House, He was still suffering from a cold he had contracted in Baltimore; but according to The New York Times later, “He did not regard it as serious enough to prevent him from appearing the opening night and went to the theatre about 6 o’clock.”

Shortly after arriving, the actor became ill and his doctor, Edward Cussler, was called.  Miller was taken to this apartment at No. 101 West 57th Street and opening night went on without him.  The following morning he was taken to New York Hospital, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia in the right lung.  At around 11:15 on the night of April 9 he died.

Miller’s funeral was originally schedule to take place in the Church of the Transfiguration, known as “The Little Church Around the Corner,” or “The Actor’s Church,” on Monday April 12.   The services were moved to Tuesday; a change that one mourner missed.

Joseph Hahn, the blind pencil vendor, sat for an hour in the church until someone realized the situation and informed him of the postponement of the funeral.  After nearly two decades, Hahn still operated his little stand in front of the theater.

Ironically, when the hundreds of prominent men and women from the theatrical profession filed into the church the following morning, a policeman barred Joseph Hahn.   The poor blind man's threadbare clothing stood out among the well-dressed crowd.  But, as Henry Miller had done so many times, a friend came to Hahn’s rescue and escorted him into the church.  Among the celebrity mourners were George M. Cohan, Channing Pollock, Amelia Bingham, Ina Claire, Otis Skinner, David Belasco, John Drew and A. L. Erlanger.

While many Broadway theaters suffered heavily during the Great Depression, Henry Miller’s Theatre kept on with respected plays and headlining actors.  Among those who played here were Leslie Howard, Lillian Gish, Douglas Fairbanks, and Ruth Chatterton.  Nevertheless, on June 20, 1931 management announced that “the best seats” had been reduced from $3.85 to $3.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Donald Cook and Barry Nelson appeared in The Moon is Blue, which ran from 1951 through 1953.  photo by Vandamm from the collection of The Museum of the City of New York

In the early 1960s the theater was still presenting big names.  On May 13, 1964 Josephine Baker opened her 24-run show.  The day after that performance ended, Helen Hayes, now 64 years old, returned to the Henry Miller in The White House, co-starring James Daly.  Later that year Arnold Scaasi opened in P.S. I Love You; and in November it was announced that Auntie Mame would open on February 10, 1965.

Two days after the opening of Auntie Mame, 80-year old Gilbert Miller confirmed reports that the Henry Miller’s Theatre was for sale.    On April 20, 1966 The New York Times reported that it had been sold to H. William Fitelson, a lawyer, for $625,000.

Legitimate theater soon gave way to art movies.  But the deteriorating condition of West 43rd Street took its toll.   By the 1970s the former Henry Miller’s Theatre (it was renamed a few times, including the Park-Miller and the Avon-at-the-Hudson Theater), had become a seedy pornographic movie venue.

Howard Stein closed down the movie theater in 1977, gutted the auditorium in a $2 million conversion, and reopened it in June 1978 as Xenon, a disco that rivaled Studio 54.  When that club closed, it was resurrected as Shout in the late 1980s, and Club Expo in the ‘90s.

Conditions were encapsulated in a single sentence in The New York Times in 1996: “Neighbors complain that rowdy teen-agers frequent Club Expo, a nightclub at 124 West 43d Street, where a 23-year-old patron was stabbed to death with a broken bottle in April.”

It appeared that the beleaguered theater was breathing new life when a stage revival of Cabaret opened in 1998 following the closure of Club Expo.  A remodeling of the interior reflected the war-time Germany sets.  The theater was renamed the Kit Kat Klub, echoing the Cabaret theme.  The last play produced in Henry Miller’s 1918 auditorium was Urinetown, which opened in 2001.

The theater was closed and demolished 2004 for construction of the 55-story Bank of America Tower facing Bryant Park.  The façade was preserved as the face of a new 1,055 seat theater within the new building.  It was named the Stephen Sondheim Theater in 2010 on the composer-lyricist’s 80th birthday.

photograph by the author
While facadism—the practice of preserving only the façade of a historic building while demolishing the rest—is routinely decried by preservation purists; at least the elegant neo-Georgian front survives despite the lamentable cost.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The 1905 Wareham Apts -- No. 231 Lexington Avenue

At the turn of the last century massive apartment buildings dripping with French-style ornamentation rose throughout the city—many on the Upper West Side.  The expansive apartments—some including up to 15 rooms—were outfitted much like private homes.  The era of 20th century apartment living had arrived not with a bang, but with an explosion.

For the past two decades architect James E. Ware had busied himself with uptown commissions, designing mansions, rowhouses and other buildings like his monumental 12th Regiment Armory.  But in May 1904 Ware looked to the Murray Hill neighborhood to design and erect an apartment building without the middle man developer.

On May 7 the Real Estate Record & Builders’ Guide reported that James E. Ware & Sons were making plans for a six-story “flat building” for the Ware Realty Co.   Exactly one week later, the journal noted that the two old structures at Nos. 231 and 233 Lexington Avenue were in the process of being demolished.

Unlike the lavish apartment buildings rising along Upper Broadway, Ware’s more modest structure would target the professional upper middle class.   Completed within the year, the building was an interesting marriage of two currently-popular architectural styles.

The five upper stories, clad in red brick, were accented by neo-Federal window treatments—quoined surrounds at the outer openings; and splayed lintels and layered keystones.  Ware then splashed the façade with Beaux Arts elements—a stone balcony above the entrance supported by festooned brackets, and unexpected scrolled keystones with dripping carved garlands above four of the outer windows.  The openings along the side received deep, angled metal bays filled with handsome leaded glass.  These not only added a third dimension to the façade; but caught wafting summer breezes.

Delicate leaded glass filled the oriel windows. The scrolled keystone of the opening below was an architectural surprise.

The Ware family congratulated itself on the new $40,000 apartment building, complete with elevator, by naming it The Wareham.  There were three apartments per floor in the building, and potential residents could choose from three, four or five rooms with rents ranging from $600 to $900 per year.  The rent on the most expensive apartment would equal just over $2,000 a month in 2015.

An advertisement in the New-York Tribune on August 13, 1905 called attention to The Wareham, a “new apartment house.”  The ad’s description of the apartments as “housekeeping,” distinguished them from “non-housekeeping” apartments which had no kitchens.  Those more upscale, or sometimes bachelor, apartment houses provided common dining rooms in the building for the residents.  The advertisement boasted that The Wareham had “everything modern.”

New-York Tribune, October 22, 1911 (copyright expired)
As intended, The Wareham filled with financially comfortable professionals.  Among the first was pharmacist Charles Neal Leigh and his family.  He had earned his pharmaceutical degree in 1896 with a thesis entitled “The Model Drug Clerk.”

The Leigh family had several pets in the Wareham; but one in particular caused a stir in January 1907.    On Thursday January 3, a kitten strayed from the apartment.  When it was still missing on Saturday, Charles Leigh placed an advertisement in a newspaper offering a $5 reward “for a tortoiseshell long haired kitten.”

But on Sunday morning when he opened his newspaper he was shocked to see that a typo resulted in his reward being $500.  The Sun reported “Several reporters went to see Mr. Leigh about it.  He refused to answer questions but wanted to know who in thunder could believe that any cat was worth $500.”

The tangled, involved story did not stop there.  The elevator men volunteered more information to the reporters.  The Leighs also had owned a fox terrier but “One of the men said that when the kitten disappeared the dog, which was much attached to the tabby (or tablet), fell ill from grief, or something, and died.”  Another elevator man deemed it canine suicide.

A female employee of The Wareham chimed in, saying that the terrier was simply ill and that its death, “which occurred in the bathtub of the Leigh apartments, was due to an overdose of medicine administered by Mr. Leigh.”   The elevator men then said that the Leighs’ West Indian maid, “was a much affected over the double bereavement as her mistress and cried much.”

Temporarily, news reports were more focused on the dead dog, Jim, than on the lost kitten.  The Sun reported “The gossip of the Wareham was that the dog…was treated with more consideration than most children.  He wore a coat of Persian lamb’s wool and little boots to keep his feet dry and warm in inclement weather.”

But Charles Neal Leigh and the building staff soon had more important things to deal with than how the press reported on the pampered, deceased terrier.   The first of the young boys seeking $500 arrived at the apartment house only a few hours after the newspaper hit the streets.

He brought along a cat in a bag.  “It was a long haired cat that looked as if it had seen better days and many of them,” said The Sun.  “It was about as far from kittenhood as it could get and be alive.”  The janitor sent the boy away and the cat was let out of the bag.

Not far behind were two other boys, each with a cat in a bag which they insisted was the missing feline. Once again the janitor ousted them; although these boys complained that they should at least receive car fare for their trouble.  “They also released the creatures at the door.”

Almost before the janitor could close the door two elderly women appeared, each with a cat.  “They tried to convince the janitor that the cats were the missing one, but the janitor declared that the Leigh kitten was not twins and that he guessed they would have to take the cats away again.”  The spinsters did so, but not before protesting that if they could just show the cats to the Leighs they would no doubt accept them “for consolation.”

The disgruntled women remarked that anyone who could afford to pay $500 for a missing cat surely ought to be able to pay $100 for “the fine specimens they had.”

Lexington Avenue soon had what was deemed by one newspaper “the cat line.”  A Wareham employee was stationed at the door to keep the line moving along.   By nightfall the neighborhood was filled with a cat population released by young boys hoping to reap a windfall.  The Sun noted “No boy took his cat away with him, and the Sunday night concert in the neighborhood was unusually strong.”

Another respected resident was Dr. Charles H. Duncan, who came from a family of physicians.  His grandfather and two of his uncles were doctors.  Duncan’s professional career was astonishingly broad.  Before he moved into The Wareham he had been Mechanical Engineer of the Illinois Steel Company; a co-founder of the Volunteer Hospital; and was now an Attending Surgeon and Genito-Urinary Specialist in the Volunteer Hospital of New York City.

Dr. Charles H. Duncan -- Autotherapy, 1918 (copyright expired)

He was most noted, however, for developing Autotherapy, a rather remarkable precursor to the modern day inoculation process developed by Pasteur.  Duncan’s approach to “curing disease with its own poison” involved removing bacteria from a patient and developing a vaccine to be used only in that patient.  “Similar bacteria taken from another patient may be useless,” he explained.

In 1924 The Wareham underwent “alterations.”  The arcane documentation for the work is unspecific; however surviving interiors suggest that some apartments received a 1920s update.

Tragedy struck The Wareham on February 9, 1926 when Mildred Russell, who was working as the elevator operator, accidentally fell down the shaft.  She died instantly of a fractured skull.

The horrible accident led to a bizarre court battle that dragged on for years.  Mildred’s father received $5,000 in Workmen’s Compensation benefits and $750 from the owners of the building, the 231 Lexington Avenue Corporation.  But he was not satisfied and filed three suits against the building and two employees.

The owners’ defense was surprising.  They simply declared they had no idea who Mildred Russell was, and she was not employed by them.   It appeared that the building superintendent had made a side agreement with her.  The president of the corporation proclaimed “I never hired the girl, and never told him to hire the girl.  I didn’t need anybody.  In fact, I never wanted any help.  The house was run very nicely without help.”

A far happier incident occurred on February 16, 1939 when resident Elsie Compton’s automobile headed across the Henry Hudson Bridge just after noon.  At the wheel was Mary Kindrick, “a salesgirl.”  The women were gleefully surprised when the car was stopped on the opposite side of the span by the New York City Parkway Authority.   Elsie’s vehicle was the 18 millionth car to cross the bridge and she was awarded a 50-trip book of toll tickets.

As the Lexington Avenue blocks changed drastically throughout the rest of the century, The Wareham apartments did not.  Today there are still three apartments per floor, other than the top floor where duplexes extend to a penthouse level.   And James E. Ware’s handsome building survives as a reminder of a time when upper middle-class families filled the gap between tenements and lavish flats.

photographs by the author

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Childs Restaurant Bldg -- No. 377 Fifth Avenue

The upper floor appear to have lost their ornamentation while, in fact, they are intact as designed.
In 1898 Prominent Families of New York commented on New York’s “many famous merchants in the closing years of the last and the first half of the present century.”  The tome opined “…it is not too much to say that foremost among the most energetic and enterprising of them were those who were of the intelligent and thrifty Scottish race.”

One of those Scottish-born businessmen was Adam Norrie who arrived in New York in 1820.  Norrie joined the already-successful firm of Boorman & Johnston and amassed a substantial fortune.  He was known not only for his brilliance in business; but for his generous philanthropies. 

In 1853 Norrie’s only son, Gordon, constructed a stately brownstone mansion at No. 377 Fifth Avenue.  The exclusive tone of the block was evidenced by his next-door neighbor at No. 379—Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt.  Gordon and his wife, the former “Miss Lanfear of New Orleans,” had three daughters and two sons.   In the 1880s sons A. Lanfear Norrie and Adam Gordon Norrie were both attending Columbia College.   One by one the children would marry—each wedding a socially prominent event—leaving their parents alone in the Fifth Avenue mansion with their servants.

The first decade of the 20th century saw the Norrie’s neighborhood drastically changed.  Two blocks to the south the Astor mansions had been replaced with the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.  Just steps away from the Norrie mansion the massive B. Altman & Co. department store stood at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 35th Street.

But unlike most of his neighbors, Gordon Norrie stayed in his vintage brownstone.   Then, on the afternoon of November 8, 1909, he died at the family’s summer home in New London, Connecticut.  Ten days later it was announced that he had left “the jewelry, paintings, statuary, books and other contents of his town house at 337 Fifth avenue to his wife, as well as the country home and its contents at New London.”

In 1908 the Norrie house (third from the corner) was still a private home, despite the changing neighborhood.  from the collection of the New York Public Library
Before long Norrie’s widow left the house and it was gently converted for business purposes.  When the shop of Crocker, “Mourning Specialty House,” next door at No. 375 was damaged by fire in 1917, the firm moved into No. 377.  The specialized store sold mourning apparel and related accessories—so important in the Edwardian era.

Throughout the next two years the “basement store” and the upper floors would be leased to various small businesses, including the Duryea War Relief office in 1919.  That year on August 19 Nina Larrey Duryea wrote to the Editor of the New York Times pleading that thousands of children in Lille, France, “are in a grave physical condition.”  Calling them, “maimed and depleted,” she explained that the Duryea group sought to send them to the country, “where they could live in tents set up in the big open fields and receive medicinal treatment.”  The letter urged readers to send cash to the 377 Fifth Avenue office so “these innocent little ones, who suffered for four years in a way that no American child has ever suffered, may be saved for the future of France.”

Before long the Duryea War Relief office would have to find other accommodations.   Two months earlier, on June 25, 1919, gossip circulated that Emily L. Norrie had sold the former family home.  “According to one rumor a large retail concern has bought the building and intends to alter the structure for its exclusive occupancy,” reported The Sun.

Finally the hearsay was put to rest when on October 19, 1919 The New York Times reported that “The old Norrie residence at 377 Fifth Avenue, one of the landmarks of the section, was sold yesterday.”  The Childs Restaurant Company had paid $450,000 for the property as a site of another restaurant in its extensive chain.  On the same day The Sun reported “The Childs company will erect a modern business building for its exclusive use on the plot.  The building is expected to be six of seven stories high.”

Rather than erect a new building, the firm commissioned the architectural firm of Severance & Van Alen to convert the brownstone mansion into a modern commercial building.  Completed within 10 months, the limestone-faced restaurant and office building revealed no hint of its former life.

When this shot was taken in 1920, Fruhauf Brothers was the only upper tenant.  Architectural Record January 1921 (copyright expired)
The Childs Restaurant chain was as well known for its architecture as for its food.  William Van Alen (best remembered for his designing of the Chrysler Building) designed at least two structures for Childs.  The completed No. 377 was so restrained in its ornamentation that it appeared nearly unfinished.  There was no cornice and the tall base was severely planar.  A sixth floor opening was ornamented with a broken pediment and urn (echoing the two classic urns perched on the spartan parapet) and a French-styled Juliet balcony.  Only the spandrels of the second floor, with delicate festoons, were ornamented.

The double-height base featured a broad show window with an handsome pseudo-fanlight.  Architectural Record January 1921 (copyright expired)
The first tenant of the upper floors was Fruhauf Brothers & Co., a clothing manufacturer, which took the fifth floor.  Henry Fruhauf was highly involved in local politics and interested in police work.  Later, in July 1925, he would be appointed “Special Deputy Commissioner” by Police Commissioner Enright.

The New York Times explained on July 19 that “He has been connected with the Police Department for the last three years as Honorary Captain and Honorary Inspector.  The position of Special Deputy Commissioner bestows most of the privileges of a Commissioner, but carries no salary.”

Fruhauf’s name would be in the newspapers for another reason that year when he organized the “Five Cent Fare Club.”   When Mayor John F. Hyland opposed a proposed hike in public transportation fares, the clothing merchant jumped into action.   His “club” was actually a petition.  He started with the names of his own employees, and by August 1925 had accumulated over 12,600 signatures.

He explained his motivation to reporters saying that “with the continuance of a five-cent fare, enabling his employes to get out of the congested sections of the city to where they could live comfortably, he would have no difficulty in getting labor.”

Childs remained in the first floor space for decades.  The country’s entrance into World War II created changes in the lifestyles of Americans.  Commodities like sugar, silk and gasoline were no longer as easily available.    In 1942 the Government put a freeze on tin and, as a result, alloys became scarce in the private sector.

On April 1, 1942 The New York Times reported that “Silver is taking the place of white metal in costume jewelry, it became evident yesterday." The alloy consisted of 90 per cent tin.  The restriction caused the closing of tenant Leo Glass & Co.

The jewelry firm announced that it was shutting down for the duration of the war.  “We are retiring because we cannot get any of the types of metals which we are accustomed to sell, including brass and white meal, which form the foundation of our business,” said Leo Glass, president.  He added “it was patriotic not even to attempt to manufacture novelties and costume jewelry of raw materials which are essential to the manufacture of defense products.”

The Childs Company sold the building in 1945, moving its restaurant out after a quarter of a century.  Throughout the remainder of the century the building saw a wide variety of tenants, many from the novelty and accessory industries.  In the 1940s the Newark Glove Company, the showrooms of the Amber and Filflex Foundations, and the Valjean Pearl Corp showrooms were in the building.

The 1950s saw No. 377 home to Handbag Fashions, and to Majestic Specialties, Inc., manufacturers of “handbag frames, compacts and parts.”  And in 1966 Sportsmen’s Affiliates, Inc., offered life insurance for professional athletes in their 4th floor offices.

The block of Fifth Avenue, once home to millionaires, still reflects the Edwardian changes.

Severance & Van Alen’s elegant street level façade has been replaced with an uninteresting modern storefront.  Where Fifth Avenue shoppers and businessmen stopped for lunch in the 1920s, tourists now pick through cheap t-shirts and souvenirs.  The upper floors, however, remain essentially intact since the brownstone façade of Gordon Norrie’s home was stripped off and replaced with limestone.

photographs by the author