Wednesday, March 9, 2022

The 1926 Windsor Arms - 61-67 West 9th Street


photo via

The four vintage houses at 61 through 67 West 9th Street, just steps from Sixth Avenue, were demolished by the real estate developer Clement M. Merowit's Merowit Construction Corporation in 1925.  The following year, on May 30, 1926, The New York Times reported on the progress of "an artistic twelve-story apartment" on the site.  "This new house," said the article, would be known as "the Windsor Arms" and would be ready for occupancy that fall.

Merowit told the reporter that he believed "where is no logical reason why a building designed for family residence, even if it is a tall apartment, cannot present certain architectural attractions."  The Windsor Arms would reflect his conviction.

The architectural firm of Sugarman & Berger drew on historic Tudor and Gothic precedents to produce a romantic façade.  The three-story base of the tripartite design featured two shades of red brick, the darker brick diapered in a diamond pattern.  The impressive two-story entrance was framed in stone under a pointed molding.  Toward the east side  a two-story, copper-clad faux oriel provided extra charm.

Many of the windows sit under square-headed drip moldings.

The architects gave the five-story mid-section texture by the use of "pulled" brick headers--short bricks that extended slightly out from the facade.  The diapering appears again at the top section, above a bracketed stone cornice, where four pointed gables provide charming asymmetry.  A two-story copper oriel adds to the overall storybook feel.

The apartments, from three to five rooms each, were intended for small, financially-comfortable families.  The New York Times noted "many will have open fireplaces."

Among the initial residents was Dr. Eugene Lyman Fisk, author and head of the Life Extension Institute.  The organization was formed in 1913 with the goal of "conservation of human life by the systematic application of modern science."  Upon its formation, the chairman of the board of directors was former President William H. Taft.  Several of the members of the "Hygiene Reference Board" were equally famous, including Dr. William J. Mayo, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, "inventor of the telephone and a deep student of eugenics," according to The New York Times, and Dr. George H. Simmons, secretary of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Fisk had written books that reflected his interest in the Institute, like his 1914 The Life Extension Institute;  How To Live: Rules for Healthful Living Based on Modern Science, published in1 1915; and his 1923 Health Building and Life Extension.

A widower, about the time Fisk moved into the Windsor Arms he was  begrudgingly thrown into the social spotlight.  One of his two daughters, Ruth Sterling Fisk, "startled society" and "enraged her father," as worked by the Standard Union, by eloping with Earl J. Holland, a New York taxi driver.  Now, in 1928, Fish was sharing his apartment with Ruth and her four-year-old child.

On January 2, 1929 the Standard Union entitled an article "Divorce Ends Society Girl's Taxi Romance," and reported that when Ruth and Oliver Alden 3d of Chicago obtained a marriage license, "many friends learned for the first time she divorced her taxi-driver husband last October."  The new husband-to-be was the son of a Chicago chain store merchant.  This wedding, said the article, "will take place Monday with Dr. Fisk's approval."

Fisk's other daughter, Marie Louise, lived in Paris with her husband Jean A. Toulemonde.  In December 1930 the couple's second son was born, and named Eugene after his grandfather.  The proud doctor sailed to Europe to visit his daughter and namesake soon afterward.  It was intended to be an extended trip, with Fisk summering on the Brittany coast.  

In July he he traveled to Germany to visit the Museum of Hygiene.  He was in Dresden on July 5, 1931, when he "died suddenly," according to newspapers, at the age of 64.  In reporting his death, the Standard Union described him as the "well known physician, surgeon and pioneer advocate of periodic health examinations."

At the time of Fisk's death, an advertisement for some apartments in the Windsor Arms touted "southern exposure, frigidaire, wood-burning fireplace."  Rents started at $1,200 per year, or about $1,890 per month in today's money.

Living in a top floor apartment by 1938 was artist Modest Stein.  Born Modest Aronstam in Russia in 1871 (he changed his surname in 1907), he had arrived in the United States an active anarchist.  His cousin was Alexander Berkman and he was close friends and a lover of Emma Goldman.  Stein had been involved in the plans for the attempted assassination of Henry Clay Frick in 1892.  But by the time he moved into the Windsor Arms, he had abandoned anarchism and turned purely to art.

Stein's wife, photographer Marcia Mishkin, had died in 1927.  Their daughter, Luba, was grown, and the artist-illustrator lived here alone.  He was by now, highly successful in creating illustrations and covers for periodicals.

Modest Stein's Picture Play cover in January 1929 featured a portrait of actor Neil Hamilton.

Every year a Greenwich Village garden tour was held for the benefit of Greenwich House, the Judson Health Center and the Little Gardens Club.  Among the attractions in 1938, according to The New York Sun, was "the penthouse terrace of Modest Stein, the artist."

Modest Stein's terrace garden.  The New York Sun, August 29, 1941

The event apparently went off well, for on August 29, 1941 The New York Sun reported it would be opened for the tour again.  Growing in a large wooden pot at the time was an espalier pear tree.  "it had more than a hundred blossoms this year," said the article.

On the afternoon of April 26, 1940 resident William O. Conway left the Windsor Arms and went uptown to the Hotel Commodore.  After checking into a room on the 21st floor, he wrote a note and left it on the dresser.  According to The New York Sun, it requested "that Dr. A. V. notified in the event of an accident."  It included Lyman's address and telephone number.  The 55-year-old then went to the window the jumped.

Living in the Windsor Arms at the time were Merwin D. "Jimmy" Maier and his wife, Joyce.  Although he was a  graduate of the Columbia University Law School and a member of the law firm of Robert Szoid, Maier was better known as a bridge player.  The New York Sun said, "Since taking up bridge in 1931, he had won virtually every major tournament in the country, including the Masters', the Eastern States and the Vanderbilt cup."

Advertising executive Robert Gillham and his wife, author Elizabeth Enright, lived in the Windsor Arms in the second half of the century.  Elizabeth was the daughter of political cartoonist Walter J. Enright and magazine illustrator Maginel Wright Barney.  She, as well, was the niece of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

An accomplished author and illustrator, Enright was a graduate of the Art Students League and studied art in Paris in 1928.  She illustrated her own children's stories, which numbered about 50.  Apparently she needed seclusion to focus on her writing, and on June 13, 1968 The Villager said "she maintained a writing 'garret' at the Dakota, 1 West 72nd Street and in summer she worked in a reconverted railroad caboose in Wainscott, L.I."

Enright's Melendy series in the 1940's was very popular with children, as was her Gone Away Lake series in the mid-1950's.  She was awarded the Newbery Award for the outstanding children's book of 1938 for her Thimble Summer.

Living here at the same time were Robert E. Garst and his wife, the former Iris Kollmorgen.  Theirs was a journalistic romance.  In 1924 Iris was hired by The New York Times as assistant to the editor in charge of letters to the editor.  Robert was working there as assistant managing editor.  Love bloomed and the couple was married in 1925.  Iris retired two years later.

Journalist Anna Petersen, The New York Times December 31, 1975

Another New York Times journalist living in the Windsor Arms was Anna Peterson.  A graduate of Vassar College, she had started with The Brooklyn Times, then joined the staff of The Associated Press.  Among the significant stories she covered while working there was the Lindbergh baby kidnapping case.  She joined The New York Times in 1937 and before her retirement three decades later she won several Publisher Awards for excellence in writing.  She died at Doctors Hospital on December 28, 1975 at the age of 76.

Sugarman & Berger's quaint English design is barely changed nearly a century after its completion.

uncredited photographs by the author has no authorization to reuse the content of this blog


  1. To bad 69 didn't use that style instead of the white brick.

  2. Nice to see building still has casement windows.

  3. Thanks for this, especially the information about Elizabeth Enright. I have several of her books, including the entire "Melendy" series and the "Gone-Away Lake" books. She also had three collections of her short stories for adults published, "The Riddle of the Fly and Other Stories," "Borrowed Summer," and "The Moment Before the Rain."

    1. And yesterday bought one of her books I didn't already have, and ordered another on line.