In 1880 real estate developer Patrick McQuade completed a group of Italianate style houses on the south side of East 75th Street, between Third and Lexington Avenues. Faced in brownstone, the 16-foot-wide, high-stooped homes rose three stories above an English basement.
On November 21, 1881, McQuade sold 178 East 75th Street to William A. Keeler for $13,000--about $355,000 in 2023 terms. It was the first in a short series of rapid turnovers of the property. Keeler sold it to Robert H. Racey in May 1885, who sold it to Dr. Sallo Callmann two years later. Callmann paid $13,250 for the house, slightly more than Keeler had paid in 1881. However, as pointed out by the Record & Guide on February 12, 1887, the sale included the "gas fixtures, mirrors, &c."
Dr. Callmann was born in Germany in 1832. He studied medicine in his homeland, and immediately opened his office upon arriving in New York in 1864. In addition to his medical practice, he opened the Kleindeustchland Lodge in the Lower East Side for German immigrants. He and his wife had three sons, at least two of whom, William and Carl, lived with them in the East 75th Street house.
On November 23, 1888 Callmann attended to his patients and, according to The New York Times, "appeared in good health." The newspaper said, "He was busy in his office at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. A little later he was found dead in his chair." The article presumed his death was "probably of apoplexy," or a stroke. His funeral was held in the house three days later.
Within the year William Callmann became highly involved in the formation of a Naval Reserve. With its proposed headquarters in New York City, the reserve would have branches in seaport towns. Callmann informed the readers of The Sun, "Its members are to be boys from the ages of 14 to 17," and explained, "The object of the reserve is to instruct its members in the use of modern weapons of naval warfare so as to be of use to our country in times of need."
Carl Callmann sold 178 East 75th Street to Louis Rosenberg on August 1, 1892 for $14,500. Living with him and his wife were their sons, Isaac and Lawrence. Rosenberg operated a pawn shop at 386 Eighth Avenue.
On the night of April 13, 1897, Rosenberg discovered a baby in the areaway in front of the house. The New York Herald said he "gave the child to a policeman, who took it to Bellevue Hospital." Abandoned infants were often left by indigent mothers, but this one, estimated to be about a year old, was different. The article said:
The little girl was much better dressed than the ordinary foundling. She wore a comfortable cloak of white flannel, trimmed with fur; a fine white lawn dress and white underclothing, all new. It was well nourished and bore every evidence of careful attention.
The first hint of shady dealings in the Rosenberg pawn shop came on March 27, 1898. The Sun reported on the arrest of Wally O'Conner, "a notorious bank thief," and Ella Reynolds for a burglary of silk from the Wanamaker Department Store in Philadelphia. The article said, "They were caught this evening shipping the stolen silk over the Reading Railway to L. Rosenberg, 178 East Seventy-fifth street, New York."
Rosenberg seems to have explained his way out of that situation. The following year, however, he had a more difficult time of it. A gang of thieves was apprehended in the robberies of John Hoerley's shoe factory in Brooklyn, and stores in Brooklyn and Newark, New Jersey. The haul of shoes, apparel, umbrellas and other goods was valued at the equivalent of more than $760,000 in today's money. Under intense questioning, one of the gang members pointed his finger at Rosenberg.
Detectives raided the Eighth Avenue pawn shop and found a wealth of stolen goods. The Sun said, "Two truckloads of prints, shears and shoes taken from Rosenberg's place were held at Police Headquarters." Police knocked at the door of 178 East 75th Street and arrested Rosenberg who was charged with having acted as a "fence for the thieves." Rosenberg insisted "he got [the items] at auction, and showed receipts for some of the goods," said the article.
It seems that once again Rosenberg wriggled out of the charges. But the pawnbroker's name would appear in the newspapers for the wrong reasons again in 1905. On December 6, The New York Times wrote that Louis Rosenberg had appeared in the Tombs Court the previous afternoon "to explain how he came into possession of a lot of magnificent pearls." They were part of a $75,000 jewel heist in Paris nine months earlier. The article noted, "The pearls found in possession of Rosenberg are estimated by the police to be worth $15,000."
Once again, Rosenberg had an explanation. When a reporter visited the East 75th Street house that evening, Rosenberg stressed, "I came into the possession of the pearls. There was nothing illegitimate about the affair, and it will have to be proved to my satisfaction that they are really the property of Glottauer-Freres before I will part with them." He said he had purchased them from a woman who "wore fashionable clothes, and there was nothing about her to arouse my suspicions."
At the time of this latest problem, Rosenberg was in the process of selling his house. It was purchased by C. Folhmer who quickly made substantial renovations.
Three years earlier the houses at 168 through 176 East 75th Street had been converted to "automobile stables." Now Folhmer followed suit. The stoop of 178 East 75th Street was removed, a garage bay installed, and the cornice replaced with an Arts & Crafts style parapet.
The upper floors became home to Albert E. Stacy and his wife by 1913. He was the secretary and director of the Peck-Larter Amusement Co., the offices of which were now located in the ground floor. Involved in the firm with him were Charles Widmer and Cyrus L. Scofield.
Peck-Larter Amusement Co. provided games and booths for carnivals and such. The Billboard, April 11, 1914 (copyright expired)
In 1915 the building was purchased by millionaire Paul Warburg of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. as his private garage. The banker and his family lived at 17 East 80th Street. Following his death in 1932, The Daily News of Tarrytown, New York mentioned, "Mr. Warburg owned the property at 178 East 75th Street, New York City, valued at $40,000."
The estate of Warburg's widow, Nina, sold the private garage in 1946 to the City Investing Company. By 1952 it had become the home and studio of sculptor Jane Wasey.
Born in Chicago in 1912, Wasey began her arts studies in Paris at the Academy Julian at the age of 17. She became assistant to sculptor Paul Landowski and would work with him on the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.
Wasey was a founder of the Sculptors Guild. She executed her human and (mainly) animal sculptures in both abstract and realistic styles. By 1964, when the artist purchased the 186-acre Cat Cay island in the Bahamas, she also had a studio in East Hampton, Long Island.
Listed with her at 178 East 75th Street was her widowed mother, Rae Gager Wasey. She died on March 20, 1968 at the age of 86. Jane Wasey moved permanently to Lincolnville, Maine by the early 1970s. She died there in November 1992 at the age of 80. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the William A. Farnsworth Art Museum of Rockland, Maine.
In 1978 a renovation to 178 East 75th Street was completed that resulted in a fine arts studio and garage on the ground floor and a single family home above. A veneer of red brick was applied and a fifth floor added (which copied the 1906 parapet). Large bulbous nubs created architectural talking points, as did the fearsome looking gargoyles that hover above the ground floor entrances.
photographs by Ted Leather
many thanks to Ted Leather for suggesting this post
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