Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The Dr. James Hyslop House - 109 East 19th Street


Around 1850 the fine, brownstone-fronted house at 68 East 19th Street was completed.  (It would be renumbered 109 in 1865.)  Four stories tall and 25-feet-wide, its Anglo-Italian design was the latest in domestic architectural fashion.  Its entrance sat above a three step porch, rather than the high stone stoops seen throughout the city.  Three fully arched openings pierced the rusticated first floor, while the square-headed openings of the upper stories wore prominent lintels.  Paired foliate brackets embellished the cornice.

The house was immediately operated as a high-end boarding house, run by Henrietta E. Bushnell.  An advertisement in 1852 noted that accommodations had just become available.  "Boarding--A handsome suit of rooms, parlor and chamber communicating, has recently been vacated, at No. 68 East Nineteenth street, with the use of bath, gas, &c...The house has every modern improvement and is delightfully situated."

At the time of the ad, retired merchant Edward C. Richards had lived here for a year, as had Wolsey R. Hopkins, who was in the sugar-refining business on Broome Street.  A celebrated boarder arrived in 1853.  Artist Frederic E. Church had begun making a name for himself and, although still in his late 20's, had already exhibited at the National Academy of Design.  The artist's stay at 109 East 19th Street would be short.  He left that year for South America, a trip that would result in his magnificent The Heart of the Andes, among other works.

At the time Dr. James Hyslop lived at 22 East Broadway.  He and his wife Josephine purchased the East 19th Street house in 1857.  Interestingly, Edward C. Richards was still boarding there, and he remained with the Hyslop family through 1862.

The Hyslops had three children, Mary B., Josephine F. and Thomas.  By the time the family moved in, Mary had married into the prominent Gardiner family.  The Hyslops' place in society had been reflected in Mary's name being mentioned in an article in the Newport News on August 8, 1852 while she was still single.  It said she "is yet one of the most noted belles of the Ocean House; she is prettier than ever, receives even more attention, but is more retired than last year.  Her charms are acknowledged by all, and her popularity is equal to her merits."

Josephine would not marry.  By 1867 Thomas Hyslop, also unmarried, was an attorney.  Both continued to live with their parents.

Dr. James Hyslop died on May 18, 1870.  His funeral was not held in the drawing room, as might have been expected, but at the South Dutch Church on the corner of 21st Street and Fifth Avenue.

In 1872 Thomas, now married, moved to Lexington Avenue.  Josephine and her daughter moved out of the East 19th Street house that spring.  It was common for well-to-do families to sell everything and simply start over when they moved.  On April 18 an auction was held of the Hyslop furnishings, including a Chickering piano, "rosewood parlor suits in satin brocatel," rosewood center tables, 500 books from Dr. Hyslop's library, etc.  Notably absent from the sale were any of the artworks, suggesting that Josephine moved those to the new house.

She did not sell 109 East 19th Street, but leased it.  Her first tenants were the William Barton family.  The drawing room was the scene of the marriage of daughter Clara Barton (not to be confused with the famous nurse) to William Y. Warren on November 26, 1872.  The Evening Telegram noted:

The occasion attracted a numerous and select company of relatives and friends.  The assemblage was first class, many of our noted society leaders being present; also a number of the elite of Buffalo.  The bride was richly attired and received many costly presents.  The decorations, music and banquet were all of the first order.

Well-to-do tenants continued to lease the house, including Montague Lawrence Marks and his brother Henry H. Marks who moved in around 1878.  Born in England, both men were editors.  Montague was a well-known art critic and the founder and editor of Arts and Crafts and the publisher of Art Amateur.  

On June 18, 1886, Montague Lawrence Marks married Agnes Lazarus in London.  The bride was the daughter of the late Moses Lazarus and a sister of Sarah and Emma Lazarus.  Emma, of course, had written the poem The New Colossus three years earlier for the dedication of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

Neither Montague nor Henry would return to the East 19th Street house.  Mary H. Gardiner and Josephine F. Hyslop had inherited the property upon their mother's death.  Two weeks before Montague's wedding, the women had leased the house to Clifford and Alma L. Coddington.

The residence was soon converted to The Travelers' Home Club, organized for traveling apparel salesmen.  The club held its annual banquet and installation of officers on March 15, 1890.  The New York Times said 100 members and a number of guests were present.  In reporting on the event, however, Clothier and Furnisher magazine made a pointed dig over its reporter's not being invited.  "We wonder if there is another association of traveling men in the country who would have omitted to invite the representatives of the trade journals to their annual dinner, particularly when the clothing trade, from which this club is made, is so remarkably well represented in journalism?"

The Travelers' Home Club occupied the house until 1895 when it once again became a boarding house.  Living here that year were voice coach Julian Edward Meyer, and author and genealogist Thomas Hale Streets and his wife.

Julian Edward Meyer advertised his "treatise on the origin of a destructive element in the female voice as viewed from the register standpoint," that year.  The ad noted that the just-published book included "illustrations, diagrams and musical notes."

Both Thomas Hale Streets and his wife, the former Priscilla Walker, were authors of genealogical works.  Priscilla's book Lewis Walker of Chester Valley and His Descendants was published in 1896.  Her husband's several books include The Stout Family of Delaware, Samuel Griffin of New Castle County, The Descendants of Thomas Hale of Delaware, and David Rees of Little Creek Hundred.  The Streets would remain at the address through 1899.

After having been in the family for more nearly half a century, Mary Gardiner and Josephine Hyslop sold 109 East 19th Street in January 1903 to Albert F. Hagar for $20,000, about $635,000 by 2023 conversions.  He quickly resold it to William J. Harnisch, who then sold it to Dr. Israel P. De Faulk in July 1904.

De Faulk hired the architectural firm of Herts & Tallant to enlarge the house by adding a one-story extension to the rear.  De Faulk was a genital-urinary specialist and operated his private clinic from the residence.  

The advertisement for an assistant which he placed on December 30, 1910 was a bit peculiar: "Wanted--An elderly physician to assist specialist in private clinic; must be able to devote entire time; unmarried.  Address Ethical, 109 East 19th."  (His repeated use of the term "ethical" in his ads suggests he was a member of the Ethical Culture Society.)  An ad the following year was more expected.  "Physician wanted to assist in large private clinic; must be registered in this State.  Call 109 East 19th."

In 1917 Dr. De Faulk was again explicit in the type of applicant he needed.  "Physician wanted as an assistant in ethical G.U. clinic; single; temperate; age 30 to 40; knowledge of dermatology and genecology; excellent opportunity for the right man."

By 1925 the De Faulk clinic was gone and 109 East 19th Street was being operated as a rooming house.  It was converted to apartments in 1936, two per floor above a ground floor doctor's office.  

In 1941 the ground floor rustication and upper story detailing was intact.  via the NYC Dept of  Records and Information Services.

At some time in the second half of the 20th century the rustication of the ground floor was smoothed over and the architectural details of the upper windows were shaved off.

The first floor space was the office of Dr. Jay D. Hyman's veterinary practice in the late 1960s.  Hyman was arrested in April 1972 for spearheading what the State Attorney General's office called an "ingenious scheme" to buy up brownstones in the Gramercy Park area, oust the tenants and decontrol the properties.  Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey P. Fogelson's affidavit charged Hyman and two accomplices with an attempt to defraud the tenants of six brownstones.

Despite the unfortunate modernization of the facade, the Hysop house retains most of its 19th appearance.

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

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