Saturday, April 30, 2022

The William H. Newschafer House - 227 East 31st Street


In 1857 attorney William H. Newschafer lived in the newly built house at 139 East 31st Street (renumbered 227 in 1868).  One of four identical 17-foot-wide homes, it was designed in the emerging Ango-Italianate style.  Short stone stoops led to the single-doored entrances.  The eye-catching cast iron lintels of the second floor windows set the design apart.  Their frothy French-inspired brackets and keystones reflected the domestic tastes of the 1850's.  Newschafer would be the first of a long string of occupants through the decades.  

By 1863 John F. Kellers, a grocer, lived here, followed the next year by Captain William H. Russell, a seaman.  In July 1865, The New York Times published a list of the notable "illuminations," or decorations, for Independence Day.  The 31st Street neighbors apparently got together to make their block especially patriotic and seven homes were chosen by the police department for listing.  Among them was the residence of "Capt. Russell, No. 139 East Thirty-first street."

By the late 1860's, Charles K. Hyde and his family lived in the house.  He was an inspector for the Department of Buildings.  The Hydes would remain until 1872 when they leased it, and then advertised it for sale in 1873.  The ad mentioned, "ten rooms; all modern improvements."

William H. Fisher, the proprietor of an eatinghouse, purchased 227 East 31st Street, and would remain at least through 1879.  By the early 1890's it was home to Margaret Meredith, whose son, Edward, had been sent to Sing Sing prison on December 20, 1888 for shooting Phil Daly, known by the press as "the gambler king."

Edward J. Meredith had "received a classical education, is an excellent bookkeeper, and one of the most expert penmen in the country," said to The New York Journal.  His clerical abilities were valuable in the prison office, but the warden discovered that he was taking detailed, and potentially damaging notes.  The New York Times expounded, "while in Sing Sing Meredith was a bookkeeper in Warden Brown's office, and soon after he had made some reflections on the management of the office he was sent to the State Asylum for the Insane at Matteawan."  Meredith arrived at the asylum on September 11, 1891.

Margaret "made strenuous efforts to secure his release from the asylum, declaring that he is not insane," wrote The New York Times on August 9, 1893, "and she finally secured the writ of habeas corpus."  Judge Barnard in the Poughkeepsie Supreme Court had deemed her son sane.

With "his mother promising to look after him," according to The Sun, Meredith was released October 18, 1894 at the expiration of his term.  At the time of his release the superintendent of the asylum, Dr. Allison, was not in total agreement with Judge Barnard's ruling:

We do not concede that he is not insane, nor that he is cured of his hallucination; but his mother and his friends seem positive that if he is given a chance he will lead a new life.  His mania is not dangerous in any event.

Edward returned to 227 East 31st Street and two months later his sanity would be weighed one more time.  On December 24 a commission was assembled to rejudge his mental stability.  The Sun reported, "It was said that the purpose of the commission is to care for his property, which is worth $5,000."  That property was in the form of an exposé book about Sing Sing--his compiled notes that he had somehow carefully guarded and spirited out with him.  

Meredith leaked portions of his manuscript that appeared in an article in The New York Times in November 1894.  In it he said he that when had found a deficiency of over $80,000 in the prison accounts, the warden told him to "fix the books."  It was when he refused, according to Meredith, that "he was persecuted by the prison officials, who conspired to have him removed to the Matteawan Asylum."  

Prison officials were quick to respond to the serious allegations.  Principal Keeper Connaughton called the accusations "pure inventions," and Warden O. V. Sage insisted, "The books show a good, clean record."

Things did not turn out well for Edward Meredith.  His book, for one thing, was not published.  Then, on February 9, 1897, the New York Journal reported, "The man who was arrested Sunday night for attempting to blackmail ex-Corporation Counsel Almet F. Jenks of Brooklyn, is the same man who once shot Phil Daly, the noted sporting man."  The article noted, "When arrested the prisoner said that his name was Edward J. Russell.  But to Mr. Daly, the New York police, to the officials of Sing Sing Prison and to the authorities at Matteawan Insane Asylum he was always known as Edward Meredith."

The New York Journal, February 9, 1897 (copyright expired)

Meredith was convicted of blackmail and sentenced to ten years hard labor at Sing Sing.  In November 1904, the New York Attorney General, John Cunneen, wrote that Meredith, aka Russell, "is still an insane convict and properly confined in the Dannemora State Hospital for Insane Convicts."

By then the East 31st Street house was being operated as a rooming house, home to hard-working Swedish immigrants.  On January 28, 1897, an advertisement in The New York Times read, "Gardener, &c.--By young Swede as gardener on gentleman's place; understands good care of horses; many years' experience; best references.  Gardener, 227 East 31st St."  And on April 19, 1899, another position-wanted ad read, "Nurse and Valet for insane or sick gentleman; experience and reference good.  Hundgren (Swede)."  That year another Swedish resident named Lindstrom sought work as "Second or Third Man to family or clubhouse."  (The second and third men assisted the butler in his duties.)

Charles E. Coan took a room in the house following the end of World War I.  He was enraged and humiliated when he found that his name was included on the War Department's list of draft deserters.  The administrative error was straightened out on August 31, 1921 when Secretary of War Weeks announced that his military records and those of two other "deserters" had been found.  Charles E. Coan, who served in the army during the war, had been listed as Ernest Coan.

The exact nature of the relationship between two roomers, Joseph Bonsiglio and Mrs. Mary Reed, in 1938 is unclear, but in any case it was not good.  On September 19 Bonsiglio was walking along East 23rd Street at 2:30 in the morning when, according to him, he "felt a sting and found he had been wounded."  He had been shot in the back.

Minutes later, according to the New York Post, "an excited taxicab driver" hailed two policeman in their patrol car, saying "I just saw a woman shoot a guy up the street."  The cruiser drove up Third Avenue and saw Mary Reed.  "As they stopped to question her she reached for a pistol which she was holding under her left arm, but the policemen disarmed her."  Despite having shot Bonsiglio in the back, at the station house Mary professed self defense.  "I had to shoot him or I would have been in the morgue myself," she said.

The house was painted barn red in the early 2000's.  photo via

The house continued to be operated as a rooming house until 1968 when a renovation was completed that resulted in a duplex in the basement and first floor, and one apartment each on the upper stories.  Then, in 2008, it was reconverted to a single family house.

photographs by the author
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Friday, April 29, 2022

The Charles and Lydia Hickox House - 53 East 75th Street


On August 26, 1881 Margaret and Francis Crawford purchased two vacant plots on East 75th Street, just west of Park Avenue.  The Real Estate Record & Guide noted they intended to erect "new buildings."  A month later architect John G. Prague filed plans for two "four-story brown stone dwellings."  They were completed the following summer.

Thomas Henry Hall and his wife, the former Marie Louise Chanfrau, purchased 53 East 75th Street in September 1882.  The couple paid $42,000 for the residence, or around $1.1 million in today's money.

The couple had three children, Joseph, Pierre, and Adelaide.  Hall was the principal in Thomas H. Hall Tobacco, the cigarette factory of which was on East 37th Street.  His brand "Between the Acts," came with trade cards featuring popular actors and actresses, similar to the baseball cards in bubble gum that appeared in the 20th century.

The front and reverse of one a "Between the Acts" trade card.  from the collection of The Library of Trinity College Dublin

The Halls were visible in society, Marie Louise's name appearing in society columns regularly.  On December 30, 1887, for instance, The Evening World noted, "Mrs. T. H. Hall, of 53 East Seventy-fifth street, will entertain a number of friends on the evening of Jan. 3."  

The Hall's summer home was at Great Neck, Long Island, where Thomas, who was a member of the Atlantic Yacht Club, docked his schooner, the Republic.  He and "his family party" took the Republic south January 31, 1889 to escape the winter weather.  Newspapers, kept informed by Hall, followed the progress of a voyage.  On February 17, the New-York Tribune reported that the vessel "with Thomas H. Hall and guests aboard, is at the Bermudas, bound for the West Indies."

On the same day of that article, the Hall schooner was weathering a storm--one which the society ladies had not anticipated.  Hall's notes from that day said in part:

the movement of the joiner work is slightly unpleasant to the ladies.  I am on my knees, braced up against the transom cushion to get a fairly steady position.  Some of the ladies feel inclined to return home from St. Thomas, but our run from Bermuda so far has been such as would suit any yachtsman.

Hall most likely had difficulty in persuading the women not to abandon the voyage.  The storm only worsened and the following day Hall's notes told of Captain Brown's being hurt by a lurch of the vessel.  They landed at San Jose, off St. Thomas, on February 19.  "Doctor on board here.  Captain better; no bones broken.  Will probably go to St. Croix next."

Around 1891, Thomas H. Hall began showing signs forgetfulness.  Although he was only 51 years old, the symptoms smacked of what today might be diagnosed as early dementia.  In the 1890's it was declared lunacy.  

In February 1895 Marie Louis and her children, now all grown, signed an affidavit questioning his sanity.  In the affidavit, Joseph Hall said in part that for two years his father "has been unable to remember things, and has been suffering from such a loss of memory as to render him incompetent to carry on the business."   The family wanted to sell Thomas H. Hall Tobacco and had a buyer, the American Tobacco Company, lined up.  The Sun explained, "The business is now in such a condition that it can be sold to advantage."  The Halls' application asked that Thomas be "adjudged insane" and that "Joseph Hall, his mother, Marie Louise Hall, and his brother, Pierre C. Hall, be appointed committee of his father's person and estate."

What reporters found extraordinary was that Thomas Hall seemed totally on board with the move.  On February 15, The New York Times wrote, "There is no other case on record, so far as known, where anybody, fearing he might be insane, has come into court asking for a commission in lunacy on his own account."  He told the court that he had suffered a serious illness a few years earlier.  "Since then I have gradually improved, except for my loss of memory."  While he felt himself "perfectly competent to comprehend any legal instrument," he recognized the necessity to turn his business affairs over to this family.

Thomas H. Hall died in the East 75th Street house on January 19, 1901 at the age of 59.  Living with Mary Louise were Pierre, his wife Minnie, and their 7-year old daughter, Maria Louisa.

The Hall name appeared in newspapers for the wrong reasons a year later.  On April 15, 1902 the New York Herald reported that Minnie had sued Pierre for divorce for carrying on an affair with Riena Lentine Abry.  Appearing in court to testify against Pierre was Riena herself--who apparently had been unaware he was married.  Shortly after the messy affair, Marie Louis gave up 53 East 75th Street.

It became home to Adolphus J. and Elizabeth Peyton Norton Outerbridge.  The couple had been married in October 1890.  Adolphus was associated with this his family's shipping firm, A. E. Outerbridge & Co.  The couple had a daughter, H. Gertrude, and their summer home was in Rye, New York.

In May 1916 the Outerbridges sold the house to Elizabeth A. Dortic.  The daughter of Alfred Schermerhorn, her husband, Henry Theodore Dortic, had died in 1901.  High-stooped brownstones were decidedly out of style by then, and on May 20, only days after she took title, Dortic's architect, Lewis Colt Albro, filed plans for a massive remodeling.  Costing the equivalent of $657,000 today, the overhaul included "entire new front and rear walls, partitions, elevator, interior alterations."

Unfortunately, we have no photographic evidence of the finished product.  Albro removed the stoop, and placed the entrance a few steps below the sidewalk, creating a fashionable American basement residence.

Elizabeth maintained homes in Paris, on the Champs Elysees; and in Bar Harbor.  She remained in the 75th Street house until September 1923 when she sold it to Charles Ralph and Lydia Bridge Hickox for $125,000.

As Elizabeth had done, the Hickoxes made changes.  They hired architect George E. Hornum to transform the residence into a modern, neo-Federal home that bore no resemblance to its high-stooped origins.  How much of Albro's design was utilized is unclear; although Hornum did not attempt to change the level of the entrance, which remained there the old English basement had been.

The dignified, beige brick facade featured French doors below a fanlight at the second floor, which opened onto a small balcony.  A limestone cartouche decorated the space above the third floor center window.

Hickox had received his law degree from Harvard in 1896 and joined the law firm of Convers & Kirlin in 1899.  He became a partner in 1908 when the firm was renamed Kirlin, Campbell, Hickox and Keating.  A specialist in admiralty law, he was president of the Maritime Law Association of the United States.

The couple remained in the house for 16 years, selling it to George J. and Mary Boht in 1939.  The Bohts initiated renovations which resulted in one apartment each in the basement and first floor, and furnished rooms in the upper floors.

Among the tenants in 1960 were Ted Israel and his wife.  Mrs. Israel was headed home to New York on December 16, 1960 on TWA Flight 266 from Ohio.  As the airplane descended on its approach to Idlewild Airport (today's John F. Kennedy International Airport), it collided in midair with United Airlines Flight 826.  All 134 passengers were killed.

Benno de Terey, the chief interior designer for French & Company, lived here in the early 1970's.  Before immigrating to America in 1927, he had been art historian and director of the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts.  The New York Times described him as "a specialist in post Renaissance fine arts and collector of the decorative arts of the period."

A renovation completed in 1996 resulted in one apartment in the basement, and a triplex and duplex apartment on the upper floors.  The 4,000-square-foot "tony triplex," as described by a realtor, was offered for rent in 2015 for $35,000 per month.

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Thursday, April 28, 2022

The 1842 Peter McLaughlin House - 105 West 11th Street


In 1841, William Hurray designed a long row of Greek Revival homes for builder George Youngs on the north side of West 11th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.  Before the project was completed in 1842, Peter McLaughlin had purchased 105 West 11th Street, near the Sixth Avenue end of the row.  Identical to the others, the three-story brick home sat upon a brownstone English basement.

It is unclear if, or how long, McLaughlin lived here.  By the early 1850's, however, it was home to Constant H. Brown and his wife, the former Helen Benjamin.  When the Browns moved in, Constant was listed as a clerk with the Merchants' Bank.  In 1860 he was promoted to cashier, a highly responsible position.

The couple had married in 1829 in Waterford, New York.  A son, Benjamin Constant Brown, was born the following year.  It is unclear exactly when the Browns relocated to New York City, but clearly Benjamin was grown at the time, for he remained in Waterford.  

Helen was moved by newspaper accounts of devastating fires downtown in January 1854.  The first broke out on Saturday night the 28th, around 11:30, in an iron foundry on Pearl Street.  Firefighters had been hampered by the frigid weather.  The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, "some of the firemen froze their hands, and only restored them by holding them under the hydrants.  Some of the hoses, too, froze up solid."

As they battled the inferno, at around 1 a.m. an arsonist set fire to a stable nearby at 14 Pearl Street.  With firefighters stretched thin, that fire, too, spread rapidly.  Before morning nearly the entire block where the foundry had stood was destroyed.  On the stable block, tenement buildings occupied by "a number of indigent families, many of whom lost all their effects," were also gutted.

On February 8, the New-York Daily Tribune reported, "Mrs. C. H. Brown, of No. 105 West Eleventh-st., handed to Lieut. Snodgrass, at the First Ward Police Station, a large bundle of new clothing and a sum of money, to be distributed to the sufferers by the Pearl-st. fire."  Her money was well-used.  The article said Lt. Snodgrass went to the site of the fire, where he "found thirty or forty poor families living in the dilapidated buildings.  He kindly distributed $20 among them."

Constant H. Brown died on July 28, 1860 at the age of 57.  His funeral was held in the house two days later.  Helen took in a boarder, one at a time, over the next few years.  In 1863 Addison G. Jerome, an broker on Exchange Place, lived here; and the following year another broker, John Kellogg, boarded in the house.

In 1866 Helen moved back to Waterford, New York.  An auction of all the household furnishings was held on April 16.  The sale listing gives a hint of the Browns' lavish interiors.  Suites of furniture had been custom made by Alexander Roux, one of the foremost cabinetmakers of the period.  Other items included a "rosewood Cabinet Piano," ormolu and Sevres china, "real Roman bronzes, a collection of very valuable Paintings, Italian marble Statuary by Mozier and Wilson," and "very rare and valuable Chinese Vases."

The house next became home to George E. Stone, a banker at 50 Wall Street.  His residency was relatively short.  He sold it in 1869 to Robert Abbott, a real estate operator.  Abbott apparently set up an office in the house, presumably in the library.  His real estate advertisements often used the West 11th Street address.  It was most likely Abbott who updated the house with a neo-Grec style cornice.

Abbott listed 105 West 11th Street for rent in 1875, noting "newly painted throughout; contains 15 rooms and two bathrooms; also all the modern improvements."  It was leased by Arturo Cuyas, Jr., a publisher with offices at 35 Broadway.  Living with him was his widowed mother, Philomena.  Cuyas's father, who was born in Cuba, had been the proprietor of the Barcelona Hotel on Great Jones Street, which catered to Spanish-speaking guests.

In 1879 John A. Pinard purchased the house.  He and his brother Charles, were partners in the catering firm Pinard Brothers, a favorite among high society.  Following the winter season's glittering dinner parties in Fifth Avenue mansions, the Pinard Brothers would follow their clients to Newport each summer, where their catering business continued uninterrupted.

Living with the Pinard and his wife, the former Elizabeth M. Smith, were Elizabeth's widowed mother, Margaret Cunningham Smith, and her unmarried sister, Fannie M. Smith.  While the Pinards  necessarily spent their summers in Newport, Fannie seems to have been rather independent.  The Evening Telegram noted on December 30, 1881, "Miss Fannie M. Smith, No. 105 West Eleventh street, will receive on Monday for the first time since her return from abroad."

The following year, on December 13, 1882, Margaret Cunningham Smith died.  The Pinard family moved northward to East 65th Street not long afterward, selling 105 West 11th Street to Charles J. Fagan.  Although Fagan died in the house on November 15, 1894, his family retained possession, leasing it.

By 1920 the house was being operated as a high-end boarding house.  Among its residents was Dr. Charles A. Perilli.  Born in Italy in 1885, he came to New York when a boy.  A trustee of Bellevue Hospital and a member of the advisory council of the Department of Hospitals, he was also a vice president of the Pennsylvania Exchange Bank.  The esteemed physician would remain into the 1930's.

Even more celebrated and certainly more colorful was Countess Josephine. F. de Castelvecchio, who lived here with her husband, Anthony Frabisilis, a court interpreter, by 1923.  The countess had had a fascinating, if somewhat tragic, life.  Born in 1864 in Paris, her father was the half-brother of Napoleon III and her grandfather was Louis Napoleon, King of Holland from 1806 to 1810.

A marriage was arranged with her music instructor, Francisco Palamidessi, while she was a teenager.  The New York Times wrote years later, "he squandered her fortune and at 24, with four children in her care, she was destitute.  The marriage was later annulled."  She relocated to England where actress Ellen Terry offered her roles on stage.  Using the stage name Elouina Oldcastle, her real identity was concealed from the public.

In 1900 she moved to New York City where she appeared on stage for many years and toured the country before marrying Frabisilis in 1903.   In 1932 The New York Times said, "After her retirement from the stage she lived with her husband in an apartment in West Eleventh Street, where she resumed her tutoring."

A hint at Josephine's worrisome financial conditions came in December 1923 when Merle Sumner, a columnist from The Morning Telegraph, attempted to interview her.  Sumner wrote, "The Countess was not in a story-telling mood.  Her memoirs, she announced, were for sale only."  Josephine died in December 1932 in the Metropolitan Hospital on Welfare Island.  The New York Times reported she "left an estate of less than $1,000."

Living in the West 11th Street house in 1926 with Dr. Perilli and the Frabisilis was motion picture actress Eleanor Wesselhoeft.  A character actress, she played roles of matronly women in films such as the 1931 Street Scene with Sylvia Sidney and and Beulah Bondi.

Eleanor Wesselhoeft, far right, in a scene from Street Scene.

A renovation completed in 1963 resulted in a triplex apartment in the basement through second floors, and three furnished rooms with a common kitchen on the third.   It was subsequently returned to a single family home by restauranteur Keith McNally.  He placed it on the market in 2017 for $14 million.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The 1925 Lemberger Shul - 256 East 4th Street

On April 4, 1859, August and Elizabeth Janson transferred the 24-foot-wide lot which would become 256 East 4th Street to Freiderick Bender.  The deed noted that the property "is part of the estate of Petrus Stuyvesant, deceased."  Sixty years later, in 1919, the Bender family sold the property, which now held "a four story front and rear building."  Both the structures were described as "tenements."

The neighborhood had greatly changed in those six decades.  It was now crowded with immigrant families from Hungary, Poland, Ukraine and Germany.  In 1925, the Lemberger Congregation purchased the buildings and hired architect James J. Millman to design a shul, or synagogue, on the site.  The congregation took its name from its native city, Lemberg, at the time the center of the Lwów Voivodeship of Poland.  The city is known today as Lviv, Ukraine. 

The new building was faced in red brick and trimmed in stone.  Millman's understated design relied mostly on Gothic arches over the openings.  Projecting brickwork between the second and third floors, and on either side of the central rondel above the entrance provided interest.  There were two entrances, one above a short, centered stoop, and another to the right for the women worshipers.

It is unclear whether the rondel was always bricked in, or if it originally contained a rose window.  In either case, it almost certainly displayed a Magen David, or Star of David.  Set within the parapet is a stone Decalogue, representing the tablets of Moses.

A force behind the erection of the new synagogue was the congregation's president, Leon Stand.  A Tammany assemblyman, he had been involved in Democratic politics for years.   Two of his five children were also politicians--Murray W. Stand was an alderman, and Bert Stand was secretary of the New York State Athletic Commission.  

In the fall of 1926, the Lemberger Congregation gave a Leon Stand a dinner "in appreciation of his work for the building of the new synagogue," as reported in The New York Times.  The 58-year-old fell ill soon afterward and died on October 28.  Ironically, he was never truly able to appreciate the synagogue which he was so instrumental in making a reality.

On the top floor of the building was a hall, used by the Lemberg Sech Benevolent Society.  On the evening of January 28, 1939 there were about 60 members conducting a meeting there, while on the first floor another 250 persons were witnessing the wedding of Ylonda Reiz and Moses Schwartz.  Suddenly four gunmen broke into the fourth floor meeting. The New York Times reported that they "escaped with about $300 in dues and an estimated $200 in cash and jewelry taken from men and women at the meeting."

Among those robbed was Max Rothman, who lost a watch and chain valued at about $838 by today's standards.  Two days later, he spotted two of the youths, 19 year old Matthew (known as Max) Uchansky and 20 year old Edward Usakowski, standing on the corner of Third Avenue and 13th Street.  Rothman found a policeman and had them arrested.  On March 24, 1939 the two were sentenced to serve from 10 to 30 years in prison at Dannemora, New York.

A third robber, 22 year old Benny Amatsky, was also caught and sent to Dannemora.  Oddly enough, while he pleaded guilty, The New York Times reported that he "insisted that Uchansky was not an accomplice."  When questioned by the judge, however, he refused to identify the supposed other offender.

Then, three months after being incarcerated, Amatsky wrote to District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey offering to name all parties involved in order "to have Uchansky freed."  He wrote a similar letter to Uchansky's sister, Lucy.  Assistant District Attorney Whitman Knapp went to the prison, and got the names of two accomplices--Joseph Gordon (who had been shot dead two weeks after the synagogue robbery), and Sigmund Wisnowsky, aka "Mal."  Wisnowsky was found in prison on an unrelated burglary charge.

On July 31, 1940, The New York Times reported that Wisnosky, "on the witness stand yesterday admitted he had taken part in the holdup and swore that Uchansky had not."  The misidentification of Uchansky by the witnesses, said Judge George L. Donnellan, was "an honest mistake because of Uchansky's strong resemblance to Sigmund Wisnowsky."  Now, Donnellan, the same judge who had sentenced Uchansky, set his conviction aside and freed him.

It was not the only surprising twist to the case.  On August 22, 1940, Judge Jonah J. Goldstein freed two of the convicts on suspended sentences "because they had aided in bringing about the exoneration and discharge of the wrongly accused man."  The sentences were held "in abeyance, contingent on their future good behavior," said the judge.

While the neighborhood continued to be the center of New York City's Ukrainian population, by the late 1960's it was also highly Hispanic.  Around 1970 the former synagogue building became home to the Spanish language Iglesia Bautista Emmanuel, or Emmanuel Spanish Baptist Church.

In August 1976, the church was broken into and desecrated.  The New York Times reported, "The organ was set on fire, windows broken, obscenities were spread on the walls, and the washroom was vandalized."  It was the first of a string of arsons and vandalism in neighborhood churches.

In October, the Damascus Christian Church at 289 East 4th Street was destroyed by fire, and a week later the pastor of the Eglesia El Divino Maestro, at 250 East 3rd Street, received a telephone call saying, "Your church will be next."  All three of the churches were evangelical Protestant, Hispanic congregations.  A spokesman for the Accion Civica Evangelica, a civic and social-action group, explained, "Hispanic churches are most vulnerable because they are new to the neighborhood and not fully accepted."   It is unclear if the perpetrators were caught.

Iglesia Bautista Emmanuel remains in the converted synagogue--the Christian cross in the rondel happily coexisting with the Jewish Decalogue above it.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The Umbria - 465 West End Avenue


Despite the fact that the high-toned residences on West End Avenue were only about 20 years old in the first decade of the 20th century, they were threatened by the increasingly popular concept of apartment living.  On May 7, 1910 the Real Estate Record & Guide entitled an article "Another big Apartment House for West End Avenue," and reported that Harry Schiff had purchased the "group of 3 and 4-sty dwellings on the northwest corner of West End av and 82d st."  It noted, "Mr. Schiff will erect on the site a 12-sty structure."

Because that section of West End Avenue was "under the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks," Schiff had to obtain permission to demolish the mansions and erect his building.  His concept for The Umbria apartments passed muster and approval was granted.

The following month, on July 29, architect D. Everett Waid filed plans for the "high-class elevator apartment house."  The estimated cost of construction was placed at $550,000 (around $15.5 million today).  His tripartite design incorporated a three-story limestone base decorated with motifs inspired by the Tudor and Norman periods--whimsical portrait bosses and Tudoresque floral plaques along the intermediate cornice, and rampant lions holding shields above the entrance.  

The eight-story mid-section was sparsely decorated.  Waid placed handsome stone balconettes at the fifth and tenth floors.  A prominent stone gargoyle guarded the corner of the cornice between the tenth and eleventh floors, and a pierced and pedimented parapet stood in for a terminal cornice.

An advertisement said that The Umbria was "designed on simple but dignified lines of architecture."  There were three apartments per floor, ranging from seven to twelve rooms.   Rent for a 12-room apartment cost about the equivalent of $6,500 per month in today's money.  In 1911, The World's New York Apartment House Album noted, "The rooms are of unusual size and have direct light and air.  Every apartment is as complete as a private dwelling."  The article added, "The best uniformed hall service is maintained at all hours."

The World's New York  Apartment House Album, 1911 (copyright expired)

Among the early residents was Helen L. Gillender Asinari, Marquise de San Marzano and Countess of Cartosio.  She was what was known in the late 19th century as a "penny princess"--an American heiress who married a European nobleman.  The daughter of millionaire tobacconist Eccles Gillender, she had married Robert Asinari, Count of Cartosio on October 4, 1871.  When the couple separated in 1883, Helen returned to New York City, bringing her titles with her.  (Her mother, Augusta, was so enraged at her leaving the count that she disinherited her.)

Perhaps surprisingly, Helen Asinari became involved in real estate development.  She founded the Asinari Holding Co., which erected office and apartment buildings.  The most notable structure she constructed was the 1897 Gillender Building.  

Helen was more than a mere resident of The Umbria.  She sold the Gillender Building in 1909, and purchased 465 West End Avenue.  It is very possible that it was she who gave the building its name.

Heading a corporation did not interfere with Helen's social life.  On its "Society's Calendar" for April 18, 1916, for instance, The Sun listed, "Luncheon by the Marquise de San Marzano of 465 West End avenue for Miss Elizabeth Brower Wood."

Helen's neighbors were busy entertaining, of course, as well.  Later that year, in December, Mrs. John Bates gave a reception "in honor of Dr. Mary M. Patrick, President of Constantinople College," as reported by The New York Times.  

Mrs. George Farmer Peck appeared in the society columns frequently.  Peck was the head of the hosiery firm Peck & Peck.  He and his wife announced the engagement of their daughter, Evelyn Mildred Peck, to Merle Banker Bates on November 23, 1919 at a luncheon party in New Rochelle, New York.  Something went amiss, however, and the next year, on October 10, 1920, The New York Herald reported, "Mr. and Mrs. George F. Peck of 465 West End avenue have send out invitations for the marriage of their daughter, Miss Evelyn Mildred Peck, to Mr. Wilbur Harnhan Burt."

George Farmer Peck died in their Umbria apartment on March 7, 1927.  The New York Times noted that Peck & Peck now operated sixteen stores throughout the country.  "Until Calvin Coolidge the firm had among its customers every President of the United States and his wife for twenty-five years."

The World's New York  Apartment House Album, 1911 (copyright expired)

Living in The Umbria at the time was Tammany Hall politician and insurance man John Francis Curry and his family.  He was born in Ireland on November 23, 1873.  Upon arriving in New York City his family "settled on a farm near Tenth Avenue and West Sixteenth Street," according to The New York Times.  The newspaper said, "From the time he was 7 until he was 12, John Curry milked his father's cows and delivered the milk before going to school."

By the time he moved into The Umbria, Curry had come a long way from cow milking.  He married Mary Frances McKiernan on June 14, 1906, and they had five children--four sons and a daughter.   In addition to his insurance business, he was a district leader for Tammany Hall.

On the eve of the 1929 municipal election, John Curry took the reins of Tammany Hall, and would remain its leader until April 1934.  At the time, Tammany Hall was at its height of popularity.  A year earlier Alfred E. Smith had been candidate for President, and now Mayor James J. Walker was about to be re-elected by a "resounding plurality," according to The New York Times. 

The Currys' daughter, Veronica, was married to Edmund M. McCarthy in St. Patrick's Cathedral at noon on February 25, 1930.  The New York Sun reported, "More than 1,000 invitations have been issued," and said that following the ceremony would be "a reception, wedding breakfast and breakfast dance at the Hotel Plaza.  The large ballroom and the small ballroom and the mirror room of the hotel have been reserved for the function."  The article added, "Richard, maître d'hotel at the Plaza, expects it to surpass any event there in years in splendor."

Being the only daughter of the head of Tammany Hall had its advantages.  The New York Sun reported, "Wedding gifts have been coming in such profusion to the Curry apartment at 465 West End Avenue that its rooms are practically filled with them, according to Miss McGinnis, one of Mr. Curry's secretaries.  She said that it has been impossible to open them all."

The Marquise de San Marzano died "suddenly," as worded in her obituary, in her Umbria apartment on January 12, 1932, suggesting a heart attack.  Her two children, Helen Asinari de San Marzano, and Charles Asinari de San Marzano, both of whom lived in The Umbria, shared equally in her estate of $15 million in today's money.

Six years later, in 1938, a penthouse level was added to the building.  It contained rooms for eight servants.  The concept was  quickly rethought and the following year the penthouse level was converted to two apartments.

Nathan Lindenbaum was born in Leinzut, Poland in 1901.  As the Nazi threat worsened, he fled to America with his wife, the former Ghity Amiel, and their children, in 1940.  Here Nathan founded the diamond trading firm of Lindenbaum & Berwald.  He and Ghity moved into The Umbria, where they were able to follow the horrors of World War II only through news accounts.  Lindenbaum was understandably frantic about the fates of the relatives they left behind.

In August 1946, a year after the end of the war, Nathan flew to Antwerp in hopes of locating lost relatives.  After a few fruitless weeks, he headed back home in mid-September on a Belgian airliner from Brussels, England.  As the airplane approached the Gander, Newfoundland airport in dense fog, it disappeared.

The pilot, in attempting to get below the fog, had descended too far and crashed into a thick forest.  Because of the remote location, finding the site took several days.  The tragedy is considered by many to be the first major civilian airliner crash.  Among the 27 people killed was Nathan Lindenbaum.

On September 19, newspapers began listing the names of the survivors and of the fatalities as they became known.  Ghity Lindenbaum was unable to face the possibility that her husband had perished, or even accept the fact that the airplane had crashed.  The New York Sun reported, "Mrs. Nathan Lindenbaum of 465 West End Avenue was reluctant to discuss the overdue plane but continued to hope for its safe arrival with her husband and the other passengers."

Living in The Umbria by the late 1960's was architect and urban planner Shadrach Woods.  He had begun his career in Paris in the office of Le Corbusier, working for three years on several of that architect's famous buildings, including the Unite d'Habitation in Marseilles.

In 1956 he partnered with George Candilis (also of the Le Corbusier office) and Alexis Josic to form the architectural firm of Candilis-Josic-Woods.  They designed entire towns, schools and hospitals throughout the world.   Among the books Woods wrote were Building for People, Urbanism is Everybody's Business, and What U Can Do.  He died in his apartment in The Umbria at the age of 50 in August 1973.

A renovation completed in 1991 slightly reduced the size of apartments on selected floors.  On the seventh floor there were now five apartments, and on the tenth through twelfth floors there were four.  The penthouse apartments were combined as a single unit in the remodeling.

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Monday, April 25, 2022

The Lost Gotham Inn - 298 Bowery


While the large sign on the front of the building said "Gotham," the arch over the garden entrance touts another popular name, "Bowery Saloon."  from D. T. Valentine's Manual of the Corporation of the City of New-York, 1862.  (copyright expired)

No one seemed to know exactly when the original part of 298 Bowery was erected.  In April 1878 the New-York Tribune said, "It is said to be one hundred years old, and was originally used as a farm-house."  The wooden building was two-and-a-half stories tall with a peaked roof and a double height veranda.  At some point around the turn of the 19th century, it was converted to a roadhouse.  A two-story commercial extension with a dignified rooftop balustrade was added to the front, blocking about two-thirds of the old facade.  

In 1813 the inn was operated by George McKay, and by 1822 was being run by John Mackey.  The history of the building nearly ended two years later.  The minutes of the Common Council of April 26, 1824 included the notation: "A Petition of George Warner for permission to remove a frame building No. 298 Bowery was referred to the alderman & Assistant of the 8th Ward with Powers."  For whatever reason, the petition was denied.

Instead, John Rikeman took over the tavern.  Apparently cost-conscious, he placed an advertisement in the New-York Evening Post on April 18, 1829 seeking:  "Billiard Table--Any person having a good Billiard Table to dispose of cheap, may hear of a purchaser by applying at 298 Bowery."

Owners of the roadhouse continued to come and go.  John Rikeman was succeeded by Harry B. Venn in 1831, followed by Benjamin True, then S. W. Bryham in 1836, who sold it to Edwin Parnell, in 1839.  It appears to be Parnell who named it the Bowery Cottage.  He announced his proprietorship on May 14:

Bowery Cottage, 298 Bowery--The subscriber would respectfully inform his friends and the public that, having taken the above establishment (formerly kept by Ben True), and having improved, refitted and supplied his bar with the choicest of liquors and cigars, hopes by assiduous attention to the comfort of his guest, to merit a liberal share of patronage.

                                                                             Edwin Parnell 

Around 1843 George V. Ryerson took over the operation, but his tenure would be a short-lived.  On January 12, 1844, the Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer reported that "three men pleaded guilty to the charge keeping a disorderly house."  It was the polite 19th century term for a brothel.

The inn and tavern were taken over by Henry (sometimes referred to as Harry) B. Venn in 1844.  A volunteer fireman, he was, according to Augustine E. Costello's 1887 Our Firemen: A History of the New York Fire Departments, "quite a prominent fireman."  Costello added, "No man was better known or had a larger circle of friends."

Venn, who renamed the business Gotham House, moved his family into the house proper, which was the hotel portion of the roadhouse.  He took advantage of the spacious yard.  Pleasure gardens--outdoor spaces where food and entertainment could be enjoyed in the warm weather--had been popular in New York since the 18th century.  His announcement in the New York Herald in 1846 detailed his coming attractions:

H. B. Venn, announces to his friends and the public, that his fall arrangements of musical entertainments will be resumed in the most attractive style, this evening, Tuesday, 1st September.  In order to secure the general approbation which this style of rational recreation has experienced, he has engaged the well known public favorites--Messrs. Knease, Lynch, Mrs. Sharp, Miss Bruce, &c., during the season.  Every available talent will be employed, and it is unnecessary to say that he is determined to secure from his friends that support that they have extended to him with liberality, and to promote the comfort of all who visit "Gotham."

Unlike his predecessor, Venn ran a respectable operation.  Propriety was reflected in his family life as well.  His daughter, Mary E. Venn, remained in the house into her young adult years while she taught in the Primary Department of School No. 32 on Orange Street.

Because Henry Venn was a volunteer firefighter, the Gotham House became a meeting place for firefighters, as well as other groups.   On April 30, 1854, for instance, an announcement in the New York Herald notified "The members and honorary members of Pacific Engine Company No. 28" to meet that day "at the house of H. B. Venn, 298 Bowery, to join in the funeral obsequies of the late members of the Fire Department who lost their lives at the fire in Broadway on the 25th instant."

And later that year, on November 4, a meeting of "hotel keepers and venders of liquors" meet here to "organize ourselves into a society, to be known as the 'Fifteenth Ward Liberty Vigilance Club."  The purpose of the organization was purportedly to protect "our homes, property, and our rights as freemen, against the unjust and tyrannical fanaticism of those who would rob us of the precious heritage of freedom bequeathed to us by our fathers."  Despite the noble ring to the goals, they were, in fact, window dressing on the real purpose--to support New York gubernatorial candidate Horatio Seymour.

Another important group to meet at the Gotham House (or the Gotham Inn, or the Bowery Saloon, depending on whom one was talking to), was the Gotham Base Ball Club of New York, organized in 1852 in the meeting room.  The Gotham Base Ball Club made the Gotham House its clubhouse, and it became the site of several annual conventions of the National Association of Base Ball Players.  The original president of the club was Cornelius V. Anderson, who had been the chief engineer of the Volunteer Firemen from 1837 to 1848.  According to the 2013 book, Base Ball Founders, "His portrait was prominently displayed at Henry Venn's Gotham Cottage at 298 Bowery, the ballclub's headquarters."

In 1858 Edward Bonnell, also a firefighter, took over the operation of the hotel portion.  He renovated the rooms, advertising them as "convenient, cozy and desirable as the best-furnished parlors of a Broadway hotel."

It did not take the volunteer firemen long to muster following the first shot of the Civil War on April 12, 1861.  On April 21, The New York Times announced that a regiment composed of firefighters from the Fifth Fire District, Company E, were to rendezvous at the Gotham House.

Throughout the war the tavern continued to be the meeting spot for the firefighters.  On February 3, 1863, The New York Times reported on the Fire Department's election of Chief Engineer that day.   "The members of the various fire companies will, at various carriage-houses, between the hours of 7 and 9 this evening, formally signify their preference by ballot.  The returns will be immediately carried to 'The Gotham,' No. 298 Bowery, where they will be counted by the inspectors, and the result announced about midnight."

Henry B. Venn died in March 1879 at the age of 68, having made a significant mark on the fire department and in the history of baseball.  He had retired about 14 years earlier, the Gotham House being operated by John Bolin in 1865.

The tavern was the scene of a highly-publicized murder on April 28, 1872.  At around 4:00 that morning, John Halloran was "sitting quietly" in "the Gotham drinking and gambling saloon," as worded by the New York Herald, when city marshal James Burns approached him.  Burns demanded that Halloran stand up, and as he rose, Burns shot him in the chest.  The newspaper said "There had been some ill feeling between the parties, but just previous to the shooting Halloran had not said a word to Burns nor given him any provocation whatever."

On May 7 the New York Herald announced that John Halloran had died "from the effects of the wound."  Prosecutors were now dealing with a first-degree murder case.  The trial concluded on July 11.  Burns was found to have "a dangerous and chronic unsoundness" of mind and was committed to the County Lunatic Asylum.  The Sun reported, "The prisoner and his wife were overjoyed at the escape from the dread alternative of the gallows."

The end of the line for the Gotham Inn came in the spring of 1878.  The New-York Tribune reported, "The 'Gotham Cottage' at No. 298 Bowery, is to be torn down, and a new building is to be erected in its stead...It has been used as a liquor saloon, variety theatre, and club house, and has been closed several times by the police on complaint of persons who have lost money in gambling.  In 1871 it was the scene of the killing of John O'Halloran by James Burns."

The site of the Gotham Inn was replaced a row of four-story tenements, designed by Marc Eidlitz, and the four-story American Dime Museum at the corner of Houston Street, designed by architect Charles Mettam.  Portions of the Eidlitz structures survive.

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Saturday, April 23, 2022

The John Williams Morgan House - 39 West 11th Street

The sheet metal window cornices were added to the simple, original brownstone lintels later.

Although Josiah Dodge was listed in city directories as a carter, he was far more than a wagon driver.  The designation most likely referred to his owning a successful cartage company.  Politically involved, he was on the American Republican Party's list of possible nominees for Vice President in 1843.  Dodge and his wife Abigail lived on West 11th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

In 1842, he erected a Greek Revival home on the block, at 39 West 11th Street.  Three stories tall and faced in ruddy red brick, its fine doorway included pilasters with palmetto capitals, paned sidelights, and a transom decorated with a Greek antefixe and honeysuckle details.

Dodge retained possession of the house, leasing it to well-to-do families.  He added three more homes on the block, including the one next door at 37 West 11th Street, erected six years later.  Upon his death on March 20, 1855, each of his four children, two daughters and two sons, inherited one of the income properties.

Josiah Dodge, Jr. became the owner of 39 West 11th Street.  He continued leasing the property, which by the 1870's appears to have been operated as a high-end boarding house.  Living here in 1872 was Eugene Mehl, a French chef, and by 1879 Isaac Moses, a merchant tailor was listed here.

Following Dodge's death, the house was retained by his estate, and handled by Dr. Beekman T. Burnham.  In 1896 he leased it to John H. Comer and his wife, the former Anna Evertson Phillips.  Their four-year lease came with a rental of just over $10,000 per year in today's money.

Comer was born in Liverpool, England in 1829.  He had immigrated to Boston as a young man and obtained work in the drygoods firm of Jordan, Marsh & Co.  Within a year he relocated to New York City and became the private secretary of James Fisk, Jr.  He held that position until the millionaire's murder by Edward S. Stokes in 1872.  

He and Anna had one son, William Russell Comer.  The family's summer estate was in Goshen, New York, where Comer bred Holstein-Friesian cattle.  By the time they moved into 39 West 11th Street, John was the treasurer of the National Stockyard Company of New Jersey, and secretary of the New Haven Cooper Company.  He was, as well, the senior warden of St. Ann's Church on East 11th Street.  

The Comers remained in the house past their initial term.  Anna's health had begun to fail after the turn of the century and she died on August 26,1906 at the age of 69.  Her funeral was not held in the drawing room here, as would have been expected, but in the Church of St. John the Evangelist on West 11th Street and Waverly Place.

Seven months later, in March 1907, 39 West 11th Street was leased to Judge William Henderson Wadham.  An 1896 graduate of Yale University, he was a partner in the legal firm of Baldwin, Wadham, Bacon & Fisher.  

An active Republican, he was a delegate to the Republican Convention in Chicago in 1912.  The New York Telegram reported on June 14, "While packing his grip at his home, No. 39 West Eleventh street, today he strained a tendon in his back and had to be carried to the railroad station...He was advised to stay at home, but he refused to do so saying, 'I'd go if I had to go in pieces.  I want to see President Taft renominated.'"

After more than six decades of being rented, the house was sold to the newly-elected District Attorney Edward Swann in 1916.   A graduate of Columbia Law School, he became affiliated with Tammany Hall politics and served in the United States Congress from December 1, 1902 to March 3, 1903.  A bachelor, in November 1915 he was elected to the post of New York County District Attorney.

District Attorney Edward Swann in 1917.  from the collection of the Library of Congress

Somewhat surprisingly, Swann sold the house only a year after moving in.  Three years earlier, he had purchased another home uptown, at 103 West 70th Street, which was being leased at the time.  With his tenant now gone, he opted to live there.  On September 9, 1917, The Sun reported, "Miss E. A. Foster is the new owner of the Swann dwelling.  She will occupy it as her dwelling."

The mysterious Miss Foster went only by her initials, as, apparently, did her widowed mother.  On June 9, 1918 the New-York Tribune arcanely noted, "Mrs. M. B. Foster, of Tuscaloosa, Ala, died suddenly at the residence of her daughter, 39 West 11th st."

Foster sold the house in July 1923 to John Williams Morgan.  A  1915 graduate of Princeton University, he was a member of the soap manufacturing firm of Enoch Morgan's Sons, founded by his father and uncle.  He had married Marion Haviland Burt in 1919 and the couple now had one son, George Frederick.  Sharing the house with them were John's parents, George F. and Helen De Wolf Morgan.

The Morgans' summer estate was in Greenwich Connecticut.  Their social prominence was reflected in John's exclusive club memberships, including the Princeton Club, Ardsley Club, Greenwich Country Club, and the Army and Navy Club.

George F. Morgan died on March 2, 1925, leaving his entire $8.5 million estate (about $126 million today) to Helen.  John now stepped into the position of president of Enoch Morgan's Sons.

John and Marion regularly appeared in the society columns.  On May 29, 1928, for instance, the New York Evening Post announced they "are leaving for Europe tomorrow night on the Aquitania."  Marion's luncheons and dinner parties were frequent.

She opened the house once a year for the Washington Square District Garden tour that benefited Greenwich House.  But war in Europe interrupted that routine in 1941.  When the couple were married, John had held the rank of First Lieutenant of the 103rd Field Artillery of the 26th Division American Expeditionary Forces.  Now, with a promotion to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, he was called back to service.

On September 27, 1941, The New York Sun reported, "Lieut-Col. and Mrs. John Williams Morgan have opened their house at 39 West 11th street, where Mrs. Morgan will be for the next two months.  Lieut-Col. Mortgan is serving with the 186th Field Artillery at Fort Ethan Allen, Vt."

Things returned to normal following the war.  Frederick, now married, still lived with his parents with his wife and daughter, Evelyn.  A photograph of the little girl in The New York Sun on May 14, 1946 noted, "Her grandmother, Mrs. John Williams Morgan, will open the garden to visitors on Thursday afternoon as part of an exhibition of places of interest near Washington Square." 

Shortly afterward, the family went to Vermont.  On July 11, a servant found the basement door opened.  A search of the house revealed a robbery.  Five days later, The Sun reported, "Burglars escaped with $30,000 in jewelry from the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Williams Morgan at 39 West 11th street last Thursday night, but left untouched an additional $100,000 worth of jewelry in the house, the police disclosed today."

The tantalizing mention of overlooked jewels worth more than $1.3 million in today's money caught the eye of an ex-GI, 22-year-old Joseph Antonio O'Nil Landry.  On July 31 Morgan left for his office and Marion went shopping.  Still in the house were two painters in the parlor level, doing redecorating, the maid, Esther Nielsen, and the cook, Agnes Murray.

At around 2:00 that afternoon a "neatly dress" man rang the doorbell.  The New York Times reported, "the cook opened the door just a crack--she has been cautious since the robbery a fortnight ago--and [the caller] showed her a man's wallet.  He said politely, 'I have a wallet I think belongs to Colonel Morgan.'"  

When Agnes Murray opened the door wider to look at the wallet, he drew a revolver, "slithered through the door opening and asked: 'Where are those jewels?'"  Agnes said, "They took all there was, sir, the last time."  Just then Landry noticed the painters on their ladders and forced them into a closet at gunpoint. 

Meanwhile, Esther Nielson, who was working upstairs, peered over the landing baluster, saw what was happening, and tiptoed to the roof.  "She leaned out over Eleventh Street and shrilled, 'Police, robbers, police," reported The New York Times.

Residents along the block phoned the police.  With "sirens screaming," seven patrol cars converged on the Morgan house.  Esther Nielson directed them to the rear yard where Landry had fled.  He was seen scrambling over a fence two doors away and was apprehended.  At the station house he admitted that he was looking for the remaining jewelry.  Ironically, advised The New York Times, Agnes Murray was correct.  "Apparently the original thieves got all there was."

In 1948, Frederick Morgan and two other Princeton alumni started a literary magazine, The Hudson Review, from the house.  The first volume was released on March 1.  The Princeton Alumni Weekly described it as "not only the first major literary magazine of the post-war period, but the first full-scale review started in this country since 1939."  The article noted, "Among the contributors are Robert Penn Warren, Katherine Anne Porter, Wallace Stevens, E. E. Cummings, Robert Lowell, Yvor Winters, Allen Tate, R. P. Blackmur, Lionel Trilling and Francis Fergusson."

The house was sold in July 1964.  It became home to Dr. Robert Wallace Gilmore and his wife, the former Joyce Mertz.  Gilmore was an organizer of peace and civil rights groups, like CORE (the Congress on Racial Equality), and the founder of the Global Perspectives in Education (later the American Forum), a nonprofit agency that sought to improve elementary and secondary education throughout the world.  He was, as well, a partner in the magazine subscription company, Publisher's Clearing House.

Joyce, who graduated from Swarthmore College, was equally involved in civil rights.  The New York Times called her "an active support of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." and noted that she counseled, "A. Philip Randolph, Bayard, Rustin, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Urban League."

Joyce Mertz Gilmore died of cancer in the Harkness Pavilion of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center on January 17, 1974 at the age of 44.  In memory of her love of dance, her mother, LuEsther Mertz, created The Joyce Theater on Eighth Avenue.

Gilmore later married Elizabeth Burke.  He died on June 14, 1988 at his home in Miami, Florida from Alzheimer's disease.

Unlike many of the 19th century houses along the block, 39 West 11th Street house has never been converted to apartments.

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