Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The 1895 John F. Slattery House - 317 West 80th Street

The oriel was originally crowned with lacy iron cresting and its transoms filled with colorful stained glass.

Developer Bernard S. Levy was prolific on the Upper West Side in the last decades of the 19th century.  He created long rows of residences as well as several "flat," or apartment buildings.  In 1894 he started on another project--a row of six houses on West 80th Street, just steps from elegant Riverside Drive.

Given the upscale neighborhood--filled with spacious mansions--Levy's decision to squeeze six homes onto plots is a bit surprising.   While other developers may have filled the parcel with four 25-foot wide mansions, Levy's six were 16- and 18-feet wide.

But what the homes lacked in width they made up for in architectural charisma.  Architect Charles Israels designed them in the Gothic Revival style.  Their rough-cut stone bases upheld three floors of beige Roman brick.  Israels configured them in an A-B-A-A-B-A pattern, the A models boasting angled oriels at the second floor and sharp gables at the fourth.  All the houses were replete with stained glass that filled the transoms and announced the street number above the doorway.

317 West 80th Street is at the far left of the row.

Bernard Levy offered the houses for $24,500 to $26,000--the higher price equal to about $807,000 today.  A brochure described:

On the low stoop entrance plan, with dining room, butler's pantry and kitchen on the same floor.  Two bathrooms, exposed plumbing, parlors in red mahogany, dining rooms quarter oak, second story oak, third and fourth stories ash, 17 rooms in each house.

The western-most house, 317 West 80th Street, was slightly different from the other A models in that it had three windows on the third floor, rather than two.  It was sold to John F. and Mary Burke Slattery in June 1895.  

The Slatterys had a daughter, Gertrude.  In 1896 a second, Florence Louise, was born.  Sadly, just two months before Florence's third birthday, she died.  Her funeral was held in the drawing room on July 14, 1899.  John and Mary would eventually have two sons, John J. and Patrick Joseph.

At the time of Florence's death, Joseph M. Price and his wife, Miriam Sutro Price, were temporarily sharing the house with the Slatterys.  Price was president of the Improved Mailing Case Company and was highly involved in politics.  The couple had been married in 1894.  Of the four adult residents of 317 West 80th Street, it was Miriam who would steal the media spotlight.

Miriam was the daughter of Bernard and Pauline Josephthal Sutro.  Her brothers had founded the New York Stock Exchange concern Sutro Brothers & Co.  She had graduated from Hunter College and now threw herself into civic issues.

She was one of four managers of The Outdoor Recreation League, for instance.  It sought to relieve the need for playgrounds on the Upper West Side.  On April 19, 1899, The Evening Post reported, "Between Sixtieth and Sixty-ninth Streets, west of Columbus Avenue, is a densely peopled district swarming with children, whose only playground on the stifling summer days is the dangerous, dirty street."  

Miriam Sutro Price and her colleagues envisioned a modern playground for the Upper West Side.  New York Herald, May 7, 1899 (copyright expired)

Central Park was too far away and the playing of games was disallowed in Riverside Park.  Miriam Sutro Price and her colleagues hoped that residents would contribute to the $1,000 cost of establishing a new playground.

Miriam would go on to sit on the executive committee of the National Board of Review of the Motion Picture Industry, serve as president of the Public Education Association, sit on the board of the Manhattan Trade School for Girls, and be a trustee of the Society for Ethical Culture.

The Prices appear to have lived with the Slatterys for only a year.   John, Mary and Gertrude enjoyed the diversions of New York's well-to-do.  On June 20, 1904, for instance, The Buffalo Enquirer noted, "Mrs. John F. Slattery and Miss Gertrude Slattery of New York spent Sunday at the Iroquois."

John F. Slattery died on March 21, 1906.  Following his funeral in the 80th Street house, a solemn mass of requiem was offered at the Church of the Holy Trinity on 82nd Street near Amsterdam Avenue.

Mary soon leased the house to the wealthy Bedell Parkers.  On November 11, 1906 The New York Times announced, "Mr. and Mrs. Bedell Parker, formerly of Bretton Hall, Broadway and Eighty-sixth Street, are permanently established in their new home, 317 West Eightieth Street."  Born in Georgia, Parker was a member of Parker & Finn, "makers of neckwear, underwear, &c."

Cassandra (known as Sannie) O. Gaines Parker was born in Georgetown, Kentucky to an old American family.  A Daughter of the American Revolution, she traced her roots to Henry Clagett, born in 1730.  She routinely appeared in the society columns.

Only weeks after the Parkers moved in, on December 9, 1906, The New York Times reported "During the coming week, Mr. and Mrs. Bedell Parker of 317 West Eightieth Street will have for their guest Miss Mary Brent Smith, from Miss Mason's School, The Castle, in Tarrytown."  Mary was the daughter of Hoke Smith, Governor of Georgia.

The Parkers, who maintained a summer home in Lake Placid, New York, and country estate in Virginia, involved themselves in the Southern social circles in New York City.  On March 17, 1907, for instance, The New York Times reported, "Cards have been sent out for a large post-Lenten reception to be given in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bedell Parker, 317 West Eightieth Street.  About 500 have been invited, most of whom are officers and members of the Georgia Society, of which Mr. Parker is president."  The First Lady of Georgia, Mrs. Hoke Smith, assisted Sannie in receiving.

The Parkers seem to have been constantly entertaining or traveling.  On April 10, 1908 The Sun announced, "Mrs. Bedell Parker of 317 West Eightieth street will give a bridge on Thursday," and on April 3, 1910 The New York Times reported, "Mr. and Mrs. Bedell Parker and family of 317 West Eightieth Street, have gone to their country home, Wheatland, in Virginia, for a fortnight."

By 1913 Mary Slattery had moved back into the West 80th Street house.  On May 25 that year John J. Slattery's engagement to Agnes Daly was announced.  Five years later, as America was engaged in World War I, Patrick Joseph Slattery was commissioned by the War Department as a second lieutenant in the "non-flying section" of the Signal Reserve Corps.  

At the time Mary was advertising furnished rooms, essentially operating her long-time home as a boarding house.   She remained until January 1923 when she sold the house to Victor Hawkins.  The Irish-born widow moved to Larchmont, New York where she died in 1942, having outlived all her children.

The Hawkins family's summer home was on Long Island, where Victor was treasurer of the Monmouth Beach Club.  The Hawkins's daughter, Virginia, was married to Prescott Richardson Andrews eight years after they moved in, on June 4, 1931.

The Hawkins family left 317 West 80th Street by 1937.  Perhaps because of its narrow proportions, it was never renovated into apartments.  A significant renovation was initiated in 2012.  It may have been at this time that the stained glass was removed as part of the installation of replacement windows.

photographs by the author
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  1. I have a trunk that I believe may have belonged to Mary Slattery. Might anyone know how I would determine if there are any living family members?

    1. My great grandfather was married to Mary's daughter Hannah until her unexpected death. They lived here with Mary in the early '20s