Monday, July 25, 2022

The Lost Ann Warner House - 27 East 4th Street


27 East 4th Street is at far left, next to the Seabury Tredwell mansion.  from the collection of the New York Public Library.

By the mid-1820's, streets were laid out on the former Herring Farm.  Within the eastern section, later known as the Bond Street District, opulent residences soon began rising as the city's wealthy homeowners were continually pushed further north by the incursion of commerce.  No doubt seeing the investment potential in the area, in 1825 George Warner purchased the entire blockfront of East 4th Street between Lafayette Place and the Bowery, just east of the Herring Farm property.  Unfortunately, any plans Warner might have had for developing the property ended when he died later that year.

His wife, Ann, inherited three plots on East 4th Street (her children received the other parcels).  In 1831 she built the first house on the block at 359 Fourth Street (later renumbered 373 Fourth Street, and then 27 East 4th Street).  Ann Warner's brick-faced, Federal style house vied with other elegant residences in the Bond Street neighborhood.   Its aristocratic tenor was reflected in the double-doored entrance above  the stone (possibly marble) stoop.  Its Gibbs surround and the stepped lintels of the openings were nearly identical to the George Rogers mansion on Washington Square, erected in 1828.  Like that house, it originally rose three full stories to a dormered, peaked roof.

The architectural details of the doorway and windows of the George Rogers mansion were nearly identical to the Ann Warren house.

Ann's married daughter and her family lived with her.  Son-in-law William R. Cook was born in 1795 and worked in the U.S. Customs House.  The Cooks had five children, John H., William Jr., Catherine, Kelly and Anna.  In 1853 the youngest, Anna, was 21 years old and John was working as a clerk.

Despite the family's size (plus four live-in servants), the Cooks took in boarders--a common practice even within well-to-do families.  An advertisement in the New York Herald on February 6, 1852 offered:  "Genteel Board Up Town--A few gentlemen and ladies can be accommodated with rooms and genteel board, at No. 373 Fourth street, near Lafayette place."

Ann Warner died on November 24, 1856 at the age of 81.  Her funeral was held in the parlor two days later, and she was buried in Trinity Cemetery.  At the time of her death, the house was assessed by the insurance company at $12,000--about $367,000 in today's money.

In the 1860's the Cooks sold the house to plasterer Andrew Garvey.   He was closely allied with Tammany Hall and while living here was given the commission to decorate the new Tweed Courthouse, for which he received $133,187--half of the original budget for the entire structure.  A satirical poem from 1871, "The House That Tweed Built," even mentions Garvey:

Who made it his little game
To lay on the plaster, and lay it on thick,
On the roof and the walls
And the wood and the brick

...until it was only the plaster that was holding up the courthouse.

Decades later, in 1906, The New York Times remarked, "Garvey's house at 27 East fourth Street still contains the Tweed chandeliers, which were adorned with Indian heads and other Tammany emblems."

Around 1870 Garvey sold 27 East 4th Street to John Lynch and his wife Theresa.  Born in 1820 in England, Lynch was a jeweler and diamond merchant at 723 Broadway.  He also owned a livery stable at 222 Mercer Street.  

The couple had seven children and seven servants, including a butler.  It was no doubt the dense population of the house that prompted Lynch to increase its square footage by raising the attic to a full floor.  At the same time the Federal-style stoop ironwork was replaced with cast iron Italianate versions and a geometric lintel that closely matched those of the windows was placed above the arched entrance.

In the 1870's the wives of wealthy merchants were not expected to have careers.  And so it is somewhat surprising that directories listed Theresa Lynch as a jeweler at the Broadway shop with her husband.

Years later The New York Times later remarked that like the other neighbors, "Mrs. Lynch, the diamond dealer...was unable to get acquainted with the maiden sisters who occupied the house next door."  Those women were the daughters of Seabury Tredwell, whose house sat on property originally sold by Ann Warner to Joseph Brewster in 1831.  (The last of the  Tredwell sisters, Gertrude, would die in that house in 1933, nearly a century after its construction.)

By 1876 the Lynch family had moved to 37 East 12th Street.  They retained possession of the East 4th Street house, however, leasing it to wealthy beer importer Frederick Hollender and his family.  Somewhat ironically, living with them in 1876 was Rev. John S. Hanna.

Hollender and his wife had five children.  In 1883 they purchased the house from the John Lynch, and would remain until 1890.  Hollender and his wife, too, apparently found their next door neighbors somewhat standoffish.  As had been the case for Teresa Lynch, according to The New York Times later, "he and his family never became acquainted with the occupants of No. 29."

By the time Frederick Hollender sold 27 East 4th Street the neighborhood was no longer refined.  Wealthy homeowners continued to migrate northward and their once-opulent homes were being operated as boarding or rooming houses.  Before long only the Tredwell house next door would remain a single-family home.  At the turn of the century three families and one "lodger" lived in the former Warren residence.

By 1907 the basement level was converted for business, home to Adolph Wolf's men's clothing shop.  Two years later it housed another clothing shop, Charney & Newson.  Partner Nathan Newson was charged with violating child labor laws in 1909 for "employing child under 16 years of age without Board of Health certificate."

Around 1918 the parlor level became home to the headquarters of the International Workers of the World.  A Socialist-based group, it published a pamphlet that year titled "The Truth About the I.W.W" that touted members' contributions to the war efforts.  It said in part, "Many I. W. W. unions have been loyally serving the country during the war, particularly in loading ammunition and war supplies on the docks."  The group was notorious for its use of violence in labor disputes, however the pamphlet asserted, "Violence has been much more commonly used against the I. W. W. than by it."

On May 25, 1919, the New-York Tribune reported on "one of New York's revolutionary 'newspapers," The Rebel Worker.  The article said, "It appears twice a month, chiefly in the alien quarters of the city.  It is published at 27 East Fourth street...and finds its principal source of news in press dispatches concerning the activities of the Bolsheviki abroad and at home, all sorts of revolt propaganda and the activities of the Industrial Workers of the World."  The writer noted, "'The Rebel Worker' espouses the cause of outlawism and disorder."

The Socialist newspaper was published at 27 East 4th Street. The Rebel Worker April 15, 1919 (copyright expired)

In 1919 the New York State Legislature formed the Lusk Committee to investigate individuals and organizations suspected of sedition.  With rumors of a Bolshevik uprising circulating, the committee acted.  According to Robert Dunn in his 1948 The Palmer Raids, on June 13, 1919, "at 3 P.M., Lusk's agents simultaneously invaded the Rand School of Social Science at 7 East 15th Street, the headquarters of the Socialist Party 'left wing' at 43 West 20th Street, and the I.W.W. at 27 East 4th Street."

The New-York Tribune reported, "The raiding party ended its day's work at the I. W. W. headquarters, on the first floor of a much decayed brownstone building at 27 East Fourth street."  Inside were 15 men and a woman.  "Quantities of I.W.W. literature and records of the branches that meet at headquarters were wrapped in bundles and sent out to be started to the Lusk committee's headquarters in the Prince George Hotel."  

Among the materials were books like Manifesto and Programme of the Left Wing Section; Socialist Party Local, Greater New York; and The New Social System, or the Correct Basis of Economics and Ethics.  A passage from the latter book was typical of the evidence the committee found: "Do we hold that the revolution must come by violence?...The Left Wing hopes that the proletariat will conquer its enemy, the capitalistic class, with as little bloodshed as possible."

On July 6, the New-York Tribune commented, "Before the recent raid the I. W. W. headquarters at 27 East Fourth Street had very much the appearance of a boys' club.  The chief dispensers of literature and loungers about the rather bare and dreary rooms were young men, some of them so young that they were still of school age.  Even those who were not seemed young enough, or perhaps too young, to know better."  The article said that the chief duty of the boys "was keeping the place in a receptive situation for police raids which occurred with considerable regularity."

Many of the teens had already served jail terms.  The article said they "all dressed with studious disregard for collars and conventions, probably dreading to be confused with the bourgeoisie."  The converted parlor and dining room, once richly carpeted and filled with oil paintings and mahogany or rosewood furniture, showed little trace of their patrician beginnings.  "The furniture was old and dusty," said the New-York Tribune.

An artist from the New-York Tribune sketched the parlor of 27 East 4th Street in June 1919.  (copyright expired)

The group was still in the building as late as February 1931, when it joined a protest against unemployment.  The Daily Worker, a Socialist newspaper, reported on February 25, that the Down Town Council of the Unemployed would meet at its Leonard Street offices at 11 a.m.  "From this point the jobless will march to 27 East Forth Street, and then to Cooper Square, where they will be joined by the members of the Marine Workers Industrial Union and jobless marine workers, and will march on to Union Square to take part in the demonstration."

In the early 1930's, a lunchroom occupied the former basement level.  The I. W. W. was still renting the parlor floor.  original source unknown

In 1945 the beleaguered century-old house was demolished, to be replaced by a one-story garage and repair shop owned by the Paramount Filling Stations, Inc.   Designed by Herman Kron, it survives.

The garage was photographed shortly after its completion, sitting next to the pristine Tredwell house.  Scars of the Warren residence, including a fireplace, mark the western wall.  from the collection of the New York Public Library has no authorization to reuse the content of this blog
many thanks to historian Anthony Bellov for requesting this post.


  1. Doug Floor Plan
    The doorway to today's 27 East 4th Street, that matches the doorway to the George Rogers mansion at 20 Washington Square North, also matches the Lost James Fenimore Cooper house at 6 St. Mark's Place (which matched the house across the street). Popular style.

  2. I wonder if you could order things like that out of a catalogue that long ago?

    1. There were stylebooks that contractors used, however the quality of these homes suggest that wasn't the case. And the fact that the lintels of 27 E 4th and 20 Washington Sq are virtually identical make me suspect they were the product of the same architect.