Friday, December 28, 2012

The Wm. Barnard House -- No. 38 East 68th Street

photo by Alice Lum
In the 1870s, as the Upper East Side saw rapid development, real estate developer Robert McCafferty teamed up with architect Richard W. Buckley.   The pair bought up lot after lot and erected rows of brownstone, neo-Grec residences for middle class families.

When they had completed a row of six brownstone-clad homes stretching from No. 801 to 811 Madison Avenue at the corner of 68th Street, the Real Estate Record and Guide took notice.  It called Buckley a “rising young architect.”

The close working relationship was no doubt strengthened by McCafferty’s marriage to Mary C. Buckley.

In 1879 McCafferty and Buckley built a row of four houses on East 68th Street—Nos. 32 through 38.  It would be several years before the city’s millionaires would start erecting grand marble and limestone palaces along Fifth Avenue and the surrounding blocks.   McCafferty’s new brownstone homes were comfortable, but at 16 feet wide were not ostentatious.   The following year the developer and architect would make their partnership formal by establishing “McCafferty & Buckley.”

In 1887 William H. Barnard purchased No. 38.   Barnard was already a millionaire with a silk importing business and was a leader in the salt industry.    He was Treasurer of the International Salt Companies of New York and New Jersey, and of the Detroit Rock Salt Company, and held directorships in at least a dozen corporations.  An avid sailor, he was a member of the Atlantic Yacht Club and had memberships in the Players, the New York Athletic, the Ardsley and Union League Clubs.

Before 1901 the Barnard house (far right) was an unexceptional brownstone-clad rowhouse; unlike its newly renovated neighbor, the John Crimmons mansion -- photo from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York
Six years later a daughter, Lillian Bell, was born to William and Lillie Barnard in the house.  As the neighborhood slowly filled with mansions the Barnard house was seldom the scene of notable social events.   Although Barnard showed thoroughbred horses alongside owners with names like Gould, Mackay and Stokes, his flamboyant and sometimes scandalous behavior was perhaps the reason.

By the turn of the century the block was changing.  John D. Crimmins had already transformed the two brownstones next door at Nos. 40 and 42 into a single lavish mansion.Then in 1901 Dr. Edward Kellogg Dunham purchased the house directly across the street at No. 35.  Dunham and his wife Mary demolished the old brownstone which was quite similar to Barnard’s, and erected a French townhouse designed by Carrere & Hastings.   The Barnards joined the trend and commissioned architect William Baumgarten to remodel their home.

Before the end of the year the brownstone front had been replaced by a delicate limestone fa├žade.   Baumgarten eschewed the overblown scrolls and garlands with dripping fruits and flowers found on so many other contemporary Beaux Arts designs.  Instead the bowed lower three floors were ornamented with nearly lace-like carving and a wall of intricate leaded glass windows at the second floor, protected by a deep stone framing.

Carved cherubs decorate the bowed facade above intricate leaded windows -- photo by Alice Lum
While the renovations on the house were being done, William H. Barnard was making headlines by being arrested for speeding—driving fifteen miles per hour--on August 29, 1901.   The Evening World noted that “Mr. Barnard owns and drives one of those big French machines popularly known as ‘red devils.’”

Barnard frustrated bicycle policeman Edward Dobson by “persistently racing through the roads above Central Park in his automobile.”    The officer complained that the millionaire had raced his car “every night for weeks past, unheeding all shouts to ‘slow down.’”   Dobson was determined to get his man.

The newspaper reported “At 7 o’clock last evening, said Dobson, he was warned of the approach of the ‘red devil’ by its snorting, roaring racket as he stood by his wheel at Ninety-eighth street and Fifth avenue.  He quickly mounted his wheel and prepared to do or die in an effort to capture the mobe.”  Although he ordered Barnard to stop, the car whizzed by and the bicycle cop took chase.

Luckily for the policeman, a downhill grade in the park gave him the speed to catch up with the car.  He arrested Barnard who, according to Dobson, “roundly abused him.”

The arrest would pale in comparison with the scandal Barnard managed to get himself into three years later.    In 1904 Viola Livingston, a teen-aged widow, placed a personal ad in the newspapers:

“A young lady, aged eighteen, considered exceptionally attractive and talented, hopes this will reach the eyes of someone who will assist her in fitting herself for a theatrical career.”

The ad indeed caught the eye of William H. Barnard.   He wrote to the girl offering his services and suggesting a meeting at the Hotel Grenoble on March 29.  He signed his letter “William T. Carroll.”  The couple met and had dinner, during which the millionaire confessed he had given a false name.  His real name, he said, was W. H. Bailey.   He offered a carriage ride through Central Park to further discuss his help in her stage career.

The Evening World later reported “She accepted the invitation and declares that, against her protests and entreaties, he compelled her to remain with him in a closed carriage for a long time.”   The girl told that she “was only half conscious when she was finally permitted to return to her hotel.”

Her indignation was apparently not enough to prevent her from joining Barnard at his country estate in Aiken, South Carolina.   “When Mr. Barnard answered my letter and called at the Grenoble to see me he appeared to be such a perfect gentleman and was so frank about his wife and daughter that he won my confidence.  I was determined to make a success on the stage, although such a course was opposed by my aunt and grandmother.  I had read how wealthy New York men and women had helped other girls to make a career, and I hoped that I would be equally fortunate in finding a friend.”

It would seem that Barnard was hoping to find a friend as well.  However he ended up giving the girl money to return to New York.  According to his lawyer, Barnard became convinced that “she was not the worthy person he thought she might have been and he decided not to advance her aid in her desire to achieve a career on the stage.”

Viola Livingston sued Barnard for $25,000—about half a million dollars today.  “I finally came to the conclusion that I had been wronged and ignored and that my only redress lay through the courts.”  Barnard insisted that he was the party being wronged.  “This woman has been trying to get money from me for some time.  I intend to fight the case to the finish.” 

The scandal was no doubt devastating to Lillie Barnard and her daughter.

Deep shells adorn the openings that flank the severe classical entrance with its elegant French grilled doors -- photo by Alice Lum
Young Lillian Bell Barnard, however, apparently inherited many of her father’s reckless ways.  On March 21, 1909 the 16-year old was arrested on Riverside Drive for speeding along at over twelve miles per hour with her chauffeur in the passenger seat.  The feisty teen refused to admit she had exceeded the speed limit and refused to let the motorcycle cop, Officer McIntyre, ride in her car to the police station.

The policeman rode alongside the car with his hand on the dashboard until he lost control and the car ran over his motorcycle.  He then got into the car.  But the chauffeur “let the machine out a couple of notches, and he, too, was placed under arrested for speeding,” reported the New York Tribune.

While the Barnard family was enduring public embarrassments, a young educator and physician was making his mark in the Midwest.  Edward A. Rumely was born in La Port, Indiana in 1882.  He entered Notre Dame University at the age of 16, spent a year at Oxford University and another at Heidelberg University in Germany.   He earned his medical degree magna cum laude at Freiburg University in 1906.

Rumely founded the Interlaken School in Rolling Prairie, Indiana based on the German Landerziehungsheim model.  It engaged the students in the outdoors as well as the classroom.  He was politically active and aware; and as Europe became embroiled in World War I he was distressed by the obvious pro-English slant of American journalists.

In 1915 Edward Rumely moved to New York City to become editor-in-chief and publisher of the New York Evening Mail.  He intended to present unbiased reporting of the war, advocate social and industrial reorganization and protest the British blockade of Germany. 

William Barnard had sold the house on 68th Street in 1912 to move north to Riverside Drive. Rumely moved into the house with his wife, educator Fanny Scott.   If William Barnard had brought notoriety to the address, Rumely would far outdo him.   As the United States was drawn into the war, governmental eyes turned to the pro-German publisher. 

In July 1918 Attorney General Morton E. Lewis began investigating Louis N. Hammerling, president of the American Association of Foreign Language Newspapers “who was known to be the handler of German propaganda as far back as 1915,” according to the New-York Tribune.   He was under scrutiny because of his association with Edward Rumely.   The Tribune noted that Rumely was “used as a ‘dummy’ by Count von Bernstrorff and Dr. Heinrich Albert, in the purchase of “The Evening Mail.”

In Hammerling’s testimony, he placed the blame on Dr. Rumely.  He told the investigators that Rumely paid him with 205 $1,000 bills “and that Rumely brought Dr. Heinrich Albert, one of Germany’s spy chiefs, to his home, 38 East Sixty-eighth Street, for the bills, showing the expenditure of these sums,” said the Tribune.  Hammerling testified that through Rumely’s urging, he got the majority of the 800 editors of the foreign-language newspapers to carry German propaganda ads.

It got worse for Dr. Rumely.   Attorney General Morton E. Lewis wrote in 1918 “Edward A. Rumely was for years the secret paid agent of the German Government.  He acquired The Evening Mail of New York with money furnished by that Government.  He conducted that newspaper in the interest of Germany.  He made under oath false reports respecting the true ownership of the paper.  He is now under indictment for perjury, pending the probable formulation of other charges.  He is now at large, under bail of $35,000 in the form of Liberty bonds furnished by an unnamed person.”

One of Rumely’s closest friends, inventor Henry Ford, traveled to Washington D. C. to vouch for the publisher.   The tangle of charges would persist for years until they were finally dropped after the war.

While Rumely was “at large” the house at No. 38 East 68th Street underwent rapid-fire changes in ownership steeped in irony.    The house had come under the ownership of Louis Hammerling, of all people, who sold it in June 1917 to Judge Martin J. Manton.  The judge sold it within a month to Thomas Bodger, who represented William H. Barnard.   Barnard sold his former residence in February 1918, just seven months later to Andrew Connick and Max Marx. 

The new buyers sold the property back to Barnard who resold it once again in May 1919.

Throughout the 20th century as the elegant private homes on the Upper East Side were divided into apartments or simply razed for modern residential buildings, the narrow and dignified house remained a single family home.  Today it is still a private residence, little changed since the tumultuous days when its owners kept the address in the newspapers.


  1. Do you know if the McCafferty and Buckley Brownstones stretched to Park Avenue, with two or so demolished for the Harold Pratt house, or was the Pratt house erected on virgin land?

    And I truly sympathize with Viola Livingston. I innocently put the following quest on my Manhunt profile: "Strapping young man, considered exceptionally attractive and 'talented' seeks generous older gent to asssit with theatrical ambitions". I was horrifies, absolutely horrified at the improper responses I recieved.

  2. What fun to discover this post when I was reminiscing of a home I once lived in 1978- 1980.