Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The 1889 Amzi L. Camp House - 37 West 95th Street


photograph by the author

On December 22, 1888 the Real Estate Record & Guide reported that W. P. Anderson was preparing plans for "four first-class three-story" private residences to be built on the north side of 95th Street, just west of Central Park West.  "The fronts will be of Lake Superior red sandstone and Ohio greystone, carved, with Philadelphia, brick."  Three years later Walden Pell Anderson would both design and construct a row of 13 similar houses at block away, on West 94th Street.  In this case, however, the name of Henry J. Anderson, possibly a relative, was listed as developer.

The 16- and 17-foot-wide dwellings were completed within a year.  Anderson designed them in a quirky mix of Renaissance Revival and Queen Anne styles.  On September 27, 1889 the New York Herald announced that Walden P. Anderson had sold 37 West 95th Street to Amzi L. Camp "on private terms."

The parlor level of the Camps' new house was faced in planar stone with slightly projecting bands.  A single elliptically arched window sat above two ornately carved Renaissance Revival panels.  The entrance was topped with a similarly-decorated triangular pediment which overlapped an unexpected frieze of undressed stone.  Beige Roman brick faced the upper floors and the attic level took the form of a clay-tiled mansard.

A winged beast appears in the entranceway pediment and another fearsome creature lurked below the parlor window.

Camp was a partner in the provisions firm of F. Bechstein & Camp on West Street.  He and his wife, Antoinette, had three children, Antoinette L., Frederick A. and Kate Christine.

The family would not stay especially long.  In 1893 Camp purchased the three-story brick house at 556 West End Avenue and in March sold the 95th Street residence to Sarah E. Weight.

Sarah had been widowed for decades.  Her husband, Peter Dwight Weight, had died in 1847 at the age of just 23.   Moving in with her were her adult children, Robert, Christopher, Mary, Catherine, and Elizabeth.

The Weights, who were all single, seem to have lived an unusually reclusive existence.  Only three years after they moved in the first funeral was held in the house.  Robert died in December 1896.   Oddly, the family did not announce his death until the day of his funeral, to which no one was invited.

Sarah died on February 6, 1900 and her funeral, too, was held in the parlor.  It would be only a matter of weeks before the family held another funeral.  

On March 18 Catherine was struck by an electric car.  The 60-year-old died in the J. Hood Wright Hospital the following day.  Astoundingly, The New York Press reported that "money and jewelry worth $15,000 were in a handbag" she carried.  That amount would equal about $471,000 in today's money.  A family member told a reporter, "she carried her money and jewelry with her for fear of thieves."

Following Elizabeth's death in August 1903, Christopher and Mary purchased the house from their mother's estate, splitting the $15,500 cost equally.  (Interestingly, the cost of the property was almost exactly what Catherine had carried in her handbag the night she was run over.)

After his last sibling's death Christopher sold 37 West 95th Street in 1908 to the A. B. C. Realty Company.  If the Weight family had been unusually private, the following occupants were no less so.  No weddings, funerals, engagements or dinner parties at the address appear in the newspapers throughout the subsequent decades.

The Travers family lived here in the World War II years.  They offered three furnished rooms to rent in December 1942, insisting that the tenants be a "Catholic family."  (The roomers were offered kitchen privileges.)

photograph via Landmarkwest.org

After more than 130 years the house is still a single-family home.

photographs by the author
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