Friday, April 7, 2023

The Dr. Marshall C. Pease House - 155 East 62nd Street


On September 7, 1870 an advertisement appeared in the New York Herald:

For Sale--A splendid new small three-story basement and cellar stone front House, has all the improvements, No. 155 East Sixty-second street, near Lexington avenue; prince $14,500; terms to suit.   G. Fountain, No. 153 East Sixty-second street.

G. Fountain was active in the rapidly developing Lenox Hill neighborhood.  His "small three-story basement" house had been designed by Robert Mook, who three years earlier had designed the magnificent row of marble mansions for society grande dame Mary Mason Jones on Fifth Avenue.  This project was substantially more understated.

At just 12.5-feet-wide, it was noticeably narrower that its neighbors, appearing almost dollhouse like.  The rusticated parlor floor included alternating rows of smooth and vermiculated stone--carved to appear worm-eaten.  The understated upper floors rose to a deeply overhanging bracketed cornice.

The house first became home to the Richard Heckscher, Jr. family.  Heckscher was in the coal business at 111 Broadway.  Their residency would be relatively short-lived.  On April 26, 1873 an advertisement read: "A family about to break up housekeeping will sell extra size Mirror, handsome Carpets, Oil Paintings, and Household Articles at very low prices."

Importer Abraham Wimpfheimer and his family next moved into 155 East 62nd Street.  Like all residents along the block, they had a small domestic staff.  According to help-wanted ads, the Wimpfheimers had at least a live-in cook and a chambermaid.

Despite what must have been somewhat tight living conditions, the family took in a boarder.  Living here in 1888 was a cultured young woman who advertised, "A Lady Teacher (diplomee) for French, German, music, has afternoon hours disengaged; highest references.  Address: Teacher, 155 East 62d st."

The narrow house appears scrunched in by its wider neighbors.

In 1891 Samuel Thalman "took a room" with the family, as he worded it in court testimony.  That year the well-to-do merchant got a young woman, Sarah G. Hussey, "in a family way."  After repeatedly putting off his promise of marrying her, he finally consented.  She told the court that he said, "Yes, Sadie, I think it is right, we will be married at once, but as you are a Christian, and I a Jew, we will have to be satisfied with a contract marriage."  Thalman arranged a civil ceremony.

The baby arrived on November 20, 1892.  Shockingly, Sarah was called to the office of Thalman's lawyer who attempted to "buy her off," in her words.  He told her there had been no legal marriage, and when she sued, Thalman swore he had never promised marriage and while he admitted to having been intimate, insisted their relationship was casual.  Tragically for Sarah, the judge sided with Thalman.

Not long after the affair, 155 East 62nd Street was purchased by L. C. Schoneman and his wife.  Schoneman boarded his horses and vehicle at the Mutual Club Stables at 152 West 56th Street.  Early in 1895 a coachman there named Michael Scanlon "annoyed him," as reported by The Sun.  Schoneman gruffly "told the man to go about his business."  The upbraiding seriously offended Scanlon.  

The Sun said of the coachman, "His chief failing was his love for liquor, but until Saturday night he had managed to avoid trouble by remaining at home while in his cups."  On the night of January 19, 1895, Scanlon showed up at the stable drunk and "began to vow vengeance against L. C. Schoneman."  The article continued, "The coachman became so boisterous on Saturday evening that some of the men at the stable advised him to go home and sober up.  He left about 6 o'clock still uttering threats against Mr. Schoneman."

A few hours later the night watchman was surprised to see Scanlon "staggering down the stairs" from the loft where the horses were boarded.  Sometime later he noticed one of the stalls on the second floor was open, and the bay trotting horse Great Eastern, which belonged to Samuel Levy, had been horribly mutilated.  The Sun reported, "As Scanlon had no grudge against Mr. Levy it is evident that in his drunken condition he mistook the stall occupied by Great Eastern for that which contained one of Mr. Schoneman's horses."  A warrant was issued for Scanlon's arrest and he faced a prison sentence of four years.

In the late 1890s 155 East 62nd Street was the home and office of homeopathic doctor Charles Gennerich.  He would be the first of a tradition of physicians in the residence.  He had graduated from the New York Homeopathic Medical College around 1892 and was a lecturer there.

The house was put on the market in January 1904, the advertisement in The New York Times reading: "Bargain--Charming modern house, $16,000; will pay to see it."  The asking price would be equal to just over $500,000 in 2023.  It was purchased by architect William A. Boring.

Boring had worked in the offices of McKim, Mead & White before striking out with co-worker, Edward Lippincott Tilton to form their own firm.  Among their most recognizable projects was the United States Immigrant Station on Ellis Island.

If Boring intended to live at 155 East 62nd Street, he quickly changed his mind, and sold the house to his partner, Edward L. Tilton, in January 1904.  It was most likely Boring or Tilton (probably the latter) who installed the diamond-paned windows at the parlor and second floors.  Interestingly, later that year Boring and Tilton amicably dissolved their partnership.  While they now conducted independent practices, the men continued to share an office.

from Empire State Notables, 1914 (copyright expired)

Born in 1861, Tilton was married to Mary Bigelow and had a son, Charles Edward.  By 1906 Dr. Alfred C. Henderson practiced from the address, most likely establishing his office in the basement.  The Tilton family would remain in the house until 1912.  

Henderson continued to rent space after the house was sold to Mary A. Dempsey.  He was still here in December 1915 when she resold it to Dr. Marshall Carlton Pease, Jr.

Pease was a professor of pediatrics and a lecturer at the Post Graduate Medical School and Hospital, an attending physician at the Willard Parker Hospital for contagious diseases, and a consulting physician at the Lutheran Hospital of New York City.  He and his wife, Edith May King, were married on September 25, 1907 and living with them in the 62nd Street house was Edith's mother, Elizabeth Eccles King.

Edith filled her time with charitable works.  She was highly involved in the Babies' Wards Guild of the New York Post Graduate Hospital, for instance.

Elizabeth King died in the house on December 18, 1917.  Her funeral was held in the parlor two days later.

In 1925 Dr. Pease added one more item to his resume.  On October 17, The New York Times reported that he had been appointed commanding officer of Laboratory Centre No. 4 on Governors Island where the Second Reserve Corps was headquartered.

Around the time of the Great Depression, Marshall and Edith Pease opened their home to nurses.  Almost unbelievably, given the size of the house, living with them in 1940 were six nurses, all but one of whom were in their 40s (Subov Shiraeff was 54).

The Peases left East 62nd Street in 1955.  Dr. Frank C. Keil officially converted the basement and parlor levels to a doctor's office that year.  Just two years later, on October 15, 1957, he died here.

The skinny little house was renovated in 1994, but it still retained a doctor's office in the basement.  The upper three floors are a single family residence.

photographs by the author
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