|photo by Lida Drummond|
When Samuel Milligan purchased a section of the former Sir Peter Warren farm in 1799, Greenwich Village was a rural hamlet. But beginning in 1828 the population rapidly increased, caused greatly by the influx of New Yorkers fleeing the yellow fever epidemic. Around 1848 Milligan began construction of ten working class houses on a short cul-de-sac branching off of Amos Street (later West 10th). Not coincidentally, his surveyor, Aaron Darwin Patchin, was also his son-in-law--the husband of Isabella Milligan. The dead-end parcel was given the name Patchin Place.
The brick-faced homes were three bays wide and rose three stories. Simple stone lintels crowned the openings and, other than a straightforward transom above the narrow doorways, there was no attempt made at ornamentation.
As an interesting side note, the marriage of Aaron and Isabella Patchin would end pitifully. Aaron died on December 5, 1861 deemed by the courts "a lunatic," and Isabella would appear in court for several years afterward defending claims against the debts he incurred, just one of which amounted to $10,887.02--three quarters of a million dollars in today's money.
No. 1 Patchin Place started out as a private house, home to the Layman family. John Layman was a mason and Thomas E. Layman made his living as a sash maker.
But within two years the little house was crammed with roomers. Among the residents in 1852 were the families of policeman Ralph Blakelock; Daniel Carpenter, a bookkeeper; shipjoiner William Cartan; carpenter John Slater; and Thomas Steel, an engineer.
Ralph Blakelock and his family remained at least through 1854. His son, Ralph Albert Blakelock, who was just seven years old that year, would become a noted landscape artist. (Interestingly, while city directories listed the senior Blakelock as "police," his son's biographers would later routinely call him a physician.)
|Ralph Albert Blakelock spent his early years in No. 1 Patchin Place. original source unknown|
At around 6:30 on the evening of November 23 the family was sitting around the dining room table. The New York Evening Post said "the family of Mr. Smith, at No. 1 Patchin place, was taking tea." That may have been a polite embellishment and the family was more likely sitting down to dinner.
The room was lit by a lamp fueled with camphene, a popular but highly volatile mixture of turpentine and alcohol which produced a bright light. Mrs. Smith held their 4-year old child on her lap. The Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer reported that the child "pulled the table-cloth, causing the lamp to upset, and scattering the burning fluid in all directions." The Evening Post wrote "Mrs. Smith's clothing immediately took fire, and before the flames could be extinguished she was burned in a shocking manner."
|A simple two-paned overlight graces the narrow doorway of No. 1. photo via streeteasy.com|
A notable exception to men who worked as laborers was Robert W. Butler, who lived in the house in 1879. An actor and theater manager, he was most likely the first resident involved in the arts.
Typical of the tenants was Georgia Smith who was looking for a job in 1889. Her advertisement on April 17 read "Dishwasher--Young American girl wants position as dishwasher or general worker in restaurant."
|Children of residents pose around the turn of the last century. photo by Jessie Tarbox Beals from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York|
Suddenly, according to Reynolds, "some dirt was thrown at them. It scattered over their clothes, and also fell on Warren and Collier." Warren turned and accused Anderson of having thrown the ashes. He denied it and, after heated words, a fight broke out. The young printer was pummeled. When Warren and Collier walked off Anderson was unresponsive on the pavement. Reynolds carried him to a drugstore on the corner and an ambulance was called. By the time it arrived, the man was dead. Warren was arrested and charged with murder.
By the turn of the century Greenwich Village had become Manhattan's Bohemia--home to artists, musicians, writers and poets. The gradual change was reflected in the tenant list of No. 1 Patchin Place. Among the residents in 1909 were two unmarried women, Elizabeth Irwin and Mary Hopkins. They dedicated much of their time to work with the New York City Children's Hospital and School on Randall's Island.
Elizabeth B. Westwood lived in the house at around the same time. A 1903 graduate of Smith College, she was a short story writer and her financial and social status contrasted starkly with her 19th century predecessors at the address. A member of the Women's University Club, the Gamut Club, and the Lyceum Club of London, she had a summer home in New Fairfield, Connecticut. The feisty author was as well a member of the Woman Suffrage Party. She was still living in the Patchin Place house when she died at the age of 35 on July 26, 1915.
|When photographed in 1915, Patchin Place was open to the public until 1929. from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York|
|Louise Bryant would looked much as she did in this portrait, painted by John Henry Trullinger in 1913, when she lived in No. 1 Patchin Place. from the Oregon Encyclopedia|
|John Silas Reed was hiding out from authorities during his stay here. original source unknown|
It was perhaps the increasingly affluent status of the tenants of Patchin Place that resulted in its being gated-off in 1929. What had once been a rather common off-shoot of West 10th Street now bore the appearance of an exclusive enclave.
In 1965 No. 1 Patchin Place received a renovation that resulted in an apartment on the first floor and a duplex above it. The first-floor apartment was used as the headquarters of the newly-formed commercial radio production company, No Soap Radio, Ltd., in 1971. A journalist who visited the office in November 1971 said it "is equipped with a shaggy rug, chrome and velvet rocking chairs, a fireplace, and a poster portrait of (we think) Clara Bow."
The ground floor space was officially converted to an office in 1975. In 1993 Dr. Shelly Menolascino, a psychiatrist and acupuncturist, opened her office here. Writing in The New York Times in 2003 David Koeppel noted "Most patients seem to appreciate the privacy of the mews; no doormen, receptionists, or uncomfortable elevator rides with strangers."
|photo by Beyond My Ken|
many thanks to Lida Drummond for prompting this post