Saturday, April 2, 2022

The Charles Downer Hazen House - 42 East 75th Street


The original window treatment can be seen in the upper floors of the house to the right.

In 1881 the architectural firm of Thom & Wilson designed a row of four 19-foot wide, high-stooped brownstone houses at 38 through 44 East 75th Street for developer Terence Farley.  Completed the following year, the four-story dwellings were designed in the neo-Grec style, with prominent cornices above the openings and bracketed, cast metal terminal cornices.

The Seligman family moved into 42 East 75th Street.  Philip Seligman was a partner in Seligman Brothers & Co., makers of men's suits; and Joseph C. Seligman made his living as a clerk.  Their residency would be relatively short lived, and in 1886 Nathaniel Harsh moved in.

On the morning of September 11 that year Harsh was walking along East 76th Street with "a valuable little terrier in his arms," as reported by The New York Times.  He caught the attention of three corrupt dog catchers--John Kennedy, Joseph Walker, and John Hughes.  They were, it seems, paid according to the number of strays they rounded up.  And so, they set their sights on Harsh's dog.

When the dog catchers attempted to snatch the dog away, "He clung to the animal and was roughly handled," said the newspaper.  "The tussle attracted a large crowd."  Harsh steadfastly held on to his pet until a police officer arrived and arrested the dog catchers.  Harsh told a reporter he had had "a similar adventure with dog catchers" a year earlier.

The Harsh family's tenancy was even shorter than the Seligmans'.  By 1888 it was home to wealthy bachelor Jackson Goldman.  A grain dealer, he was a member of the New York Produce Exchange.  

Among Goldman's domestic staff in 1891 was Hannah Hynes.  She was a waitress, the 19th century term for a higher-level maid who served in the dining room and parlor.  She came to the rescue of another servant girl in August that year.

Kate Williamson, who worked in the Presbyterian Hospital, was walking along Madison Avenue near 75th Street when she was accosted by Thomas Lawson.  The Press said, "She repulsed him, when he attempted to grasp her by the throat, and she ran away."  But Lawson followed and, in a panic, she ran into the basement of 42 East 75th Street.

Recognizing Kate's peril, Hannah, whom The Press said, "is stalwart and bold," quickly armed herself with an umbrella and rushed to Kate's defense.  "Hannah laid the umbrella over Lawson's head and jabbed him with the point of it until he ran off, the two women following him and uttering the cries for help that attracted the policeman," said the article.  Lawson turned out to be a serial assaulter.  As Kate and Hannah told their story in the station house, fully a dozen other women appeared to file complaints.

On the evening of April 19, 1893, Jackson Goldman was married to Marion Mayer in the drawing room of her father's home on East 56th Street.  Soon afterward Goldman sold the East 75th Street house to Joseph C. Hatie and his wife, the former Amanda Hobson Heyl.  Hatie was president of the Mutual Fire Insurance Co.

Long-term owners finally came in 1896 when Leopold and Leonora B. Rossbach purchased 42 East 75th Street.  Rossbach was the principal in J. H. Rossbach & Brothers, dealers in "hides, leather and goatskins."  The couple had four children, H. Harry, Walter S., Lawrence B. and Helen R. Rossbach.

In 1900 the Rossbachs hired architect E. Lowenbein to make renovations to the house.  They were apparently minor, interior updates, costing about $16,000 in today's money.  The architect was called back three years later to do additional updates, also minor.

Wealthy Jewish families, not welcomed in resorts like Bar Harbor or Newport, created their own summer destination in the area around Long Branch and Elberon, New Jersey.  On April 1, 1909 the New-York Tribune reported, "Leopold Rossbach has bought the summer home of Colonel R. C. Clowry, president of the Western Union Telegraph Company, situated at Elberon, N. J., at the corner of Lincoln and Elberon avenues."

In 1916 the Rossbachs moved to 9 East 88th Street.  They leased the 75th Street house to Charles Downer Hazen and his wife, Sarah Duryea.  Born in Barnet, Vermont on March 17, 1868, Hazen came from an old New England family.  His first ancestors arrived in Massachusetts in the 17th century.  After graduating from Dartmouth College, he studied at Johns Hopkins University, and in Europe.  He was teaching history at Smith College in June 1901 when he married Susan, a 1896 graduate of the school.

The Hazens had moved to New York City in 1915, a year before leasing the Rossbach house.  He had been offered a position at Columbia University.  While living here he would write prodigiously.  Among the 15 academic works published after 1917 were Fifty Years of Europe, 1870-1919; French Revolution and Napoleon; Modern European History; Contemporary American Opinion of The French Revolution; and The Letters of William Roscoe Thayer.

Leopold Rossbach died at the age of 65 on March 5, 1918.  He left an estate valued at around $49 million in today's money.  The following year, in February, Leonora Rossbach sold 42 East 75th Street to the Hazens.

Somewhat surprisingly, Charles and Sarah soon leased the house to Edward Robbins Wharton.  Living with him was his unmarried sister, Nancy.  Wharton was the divorced husband of socialite and author Edith Wharton.  Edward and Nancy summered at Pine Acre, the estate purchased by their mother, Nancy C. Wharton, in 1892.

Interestingly, society journalists followed the movements of the Whartons separately.  On September 23, 1920, for instance, The Evening Telegram noted, "Miss Nancy C. Wharton, who spent the summer in Lenox, Mass., will be at No. 42 East Seventy-fifth street for the winter."  

Edward Robbins Wharton (original source unknown)

It was, perhaps, at the instigation of the Whartons that in 1923 the Hazens hired architect James E. Casale to modernize the 75th Street house.  The neo-Grec elements of the upper floors were shaved off, the stoop removed, and the entrance lowered to the former basement level.  Casale transformed the two lower floors with romantic neo-Gothic details and leaded glass French windows at the second floor.

On February 8, 1928 Edward Robbins Wharton died at 42 East 75th Street at the age of 78.  On February 11 The New York Times reported, "The will of Edward Robbins Wharton of 42 East Seventy-fifth Street, New York City, divorced husband of Edith Wharton, the novelist, was filed here this afternoon."  Among his bequests were two months' pay for his domestic staff, and "expenses from New York to Lenox for the burial."

Charles and Sarah Hazen moved back to 42 East 75th Street.  Charles died on September 18, 1941 at the age of 73.  Sarah sold the house now long afterward and in 1945 it was converted to apartments.  There were now a duplex in the basement and first floors, one apartment and a furnished room each on the second and third, and one apartment on the fourth floor.

The configuration lasted until 1988 when a doctor's office was installed in the ground floor, and the upper section was converted to two duplex residences.

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

1 comment:

  1. Also, The First Wives Club was filmed here as Diane Keaton’s apartment, and Mariah Carey lived here following her divorce from Tommy Mottola. Her apartment here was featured in InStyle Magazine for her 1998 issue.