Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Henry E. Montgomery House - 115 East 30th Street

In 1859 Henry E. Montgomery and his family lived at No. 115 East 30th Street, one of a row of identical brownstone-fronted homes built a few years earlier.  Designed in the up-to-date Anglo-Italianate style, their owners did not have to navigate the high stone stoops so popular at the time.  Arched openings in the rusticated base contrasted with the elliptically arched windows of the upper floors.  Cast metal cornices with prominent arched pediments crowned the design.

Montgomery had been the rector the Church of the Incarnation on Madison Avenue at 35th Street since 1855.  he and his wife, the former Margaret Augusta Lynch, had three children, Sophia Elizabeth, Elizabeth Philips and John Howard Lynch.  John enrolled in New York City College in 1866.

Henry E. Montgomery, D. D. from a portrait by Julian Story, History of the Parish of the Incarnation, 1852-1912 (copyright expired

The New York Herald described Montgomery as "a small man, of very nervous temperament, an earnest Sunday school worker, and a vigorous preacher."  The writer's description of his oratory skills was only slightly complimentary.  "The Doctor's sermons are remarkable only for their simplicity and earnestness and practical application.  So simple, indeed, are they, that a little child may hear and understand them."

The Montgomery family remained in the house until May 1869 when it was sold to Dr. Joseph Worster.  On June 12 the Evening Telegram reported that although Dr. Worster's family "will spend part of the summer at Richfield Springs," the doctor would mostly remain in the city to attend to his patients.  

Worster had practiced medicine since around 1825 on 9th Street near Broadway.  The article explained "Many of Dr. Worster's patients being up town he has found his new and beautiful residence, 115 East Thirtieth street, a very convenient location."

Worster and his wife, Mary, had three daughters and a son, Dr. Willard Parker Worster, who practiced with his father.  Worster specialized in gynecology and obstetrics and, like almost all private physicians at the time, he and Willard practiced from the home.

In 1870 Flora McDonald came for treatment of a disorder.  The delicate, veiled terms used by the press to describe her condition suggest that she was experiencing problems caused by an abortion.  Embarrassed, she hid the facts from Worster.   When she died, rumors circulated that it was he who had performed the procedure that led to her death.

On November 21, 1870 newspapers across the city published an open letter signed by eight physicians.  They said that Worster's name "has been unjustly and with so much apparently malignity, connected with the death of the unfortunate woman Flora McDonald" and asserted that they were "fully convinced that the death was the result of causes in operation before she came into Dr. Worster's hands for treatment; that she concealed from him the fact that any serious trouble had existed--indeed, denied it when asked the question by the Doctor; and during her illness, the fatal result of which is not uncommon, she was skillfully, kindly and scientifically treated by him."

While her husband tended to his patients, Mary Worster involved herself in charitable causes.  Her favorite seems to have been the New-York Infant Asylum and annually she worked to organize the charity ball held at the Academy of Music.

In July 1877 Joseph Worster fell ill.  His condition worsened to pneumonia and he died in the 30th Street house on August 7 at the age of 75.  His funeral, which The New York Times said was "largely attended," was held in the rear parlor on the afternoon of August 11.  The article said that for hours before the service "the house was thronged with a continuous stream of visitors, most of them old friends and patients of the deceased."

Within four years No. 115 was home to Dr. Glover Crane Arnold.  Born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1849, he was brought to New York as a child.  Arnold, who came from a long line of doctors going back to his great-grandfather, was graduated from Bellevue Hospital Medical College in 1873.  He married Emily Spier, daughter of Superior Court Judge Gilbert M. Spier, in 1879.  The couple had three daughters.  

Arnold took on a case shrouded in mystery in the spring of 1895.  On Monday April 15 Deputy Chief Clerk Delamater of the Police Department brought Walter Hale to Arnold's office for treatment of various wounds.  The patient was an engineer from Massachusetts who had arrived in New York on his way to St. Paul, Minnesota two days earlier.

Having had his baggage transferred from the Grand Central Depot to the Pennsylvania Railroad Depot, he directed a cabbie to take him to the Debrosses Street Ferry.  The next thing he could remember is that he woke up in a place "which from his description must have been Koster & Bial's in Twenty-third street," said the New York Press.  It was now Saturday--twelve hours having elapsed since he hailed the cab.

"Hale claims to be a temperance man and says he has never been under the influence of liquor in his life, and cannot in any way account for his loss of memory...He remembers coming to himself in a concert hall and finding a crowd of men and women surrounding him.  His hat was gone, and when he put his hand to his head he found that he was bleeding from a deep scalp wound."  

When Hale saw the blood on his hand, he fainted.  The next time he regained consciousness he was in a bed "in a questionable resort."  The New York Press reported "He had never, so he says, been in a place of this character before, and did not know how he got there."  It was now Monday afternoon.

"When he searched his pockets he found that his money, some $125, and two watches he carried were gone."  The cash loss alone would amount to nearly $4,000 today.  Hale, "when he was sufficiently recovered," went to Police Headquarters where he told his wild story.

Dr. Arnold told reporters that "he has been unable to obtain any more information from Hale" than he gave the police.  The man's injuries, he said, were not serious.  The following day Hale's overcoat was found hanging in a closet in a saloon on Third Avenue.  The case went cold after that.

On the afternoon of January 6, 1900 Emily hosted a reception to introduced daughter Emily Julia to society.  

The house as it appeared around 1940 looked little different from today.  via the NYC Dept. of Records & Information Services
Within a few years Glover Arnold began experiencing symptoms of Bright's Disease, a kidney condition known today as chronic nephritis.  He died in the 30th Street house on November 29, 1906.  The Year Book of the Medical Association of the Great City of New York announced "He was buried with Masonic honors, an imposing ritual being celebrated at Greenwood Cemetery after the church service at Trinity Chapel."

Five months later, on April 2, 1907 Emily Julia married Glenn William White in the Church of the Transfiguration.  Her mother eventually moved to No. 10 West 53rd Street where she died in 1922.

Perhaps because of its narrow proportions, No. 115 was never converted to apartments.  In 1961 a renovation resulted in an office in the basement with two duplex residences above.

photographs by the author

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