Thursday, May 18, 2023

The 1848 Isaac Vannorstrand House - 57 Horatio Street


In 1847 carpenter Isaac Van Nostrand and mason John O'Donnell purchased the two 20-foot-wide building lots at 55 and 57 Horatio Street, just east of Greenwich Street, from Elizabeth Lawrence.  They erected two mirror-image Greek Revival residences on the properties.  Three stories tall above English basements, they were clad in red brick and trimmed in brownstone.  As expected in the style, the third floor was significantly shorter and capped by an unpretentious wooden cornice with block modillions.

Van Nostrand moved his family into 57 Horatio Street (the family's surname would be variously spelled as Van Ostrand and Vannostrand).  He and his wife, the former Sarah A. Van Houten, would have at least three children, Jacob, John  E., and Louisa.

The family took in borders, one or two at a time, most of whom were associated in the building trade.  In  1851 James Cooper, a builder, and B. Harmen, a carpenter, lived with the family.  Five years later Alfred C. Hoe, another builder, was their boarder, and in 1861 roofer John Nicolson lived here.

Although they retained possession of the Horatio Street house, the Van Nostrand family left around 1871.  It was leased to Oscar F. Hawley Jr. in 1872.  The well-heeled businessman owned a box factory on Gold Street and a lumber yard on West 12th Street at the riverfront.

In 1873 the Van Nostrands hired the real estate firm of E. L. & B. T. Burnham to manage the property.  On April 28 that year it advertised, "A second floor and two rooms on third floor to let--57 Horatio street; improvements; immediate possession."  "Improvements" could have referred to lighting gas and running water, but most likely called attention to the recent updating of the outdated structure.  Around this time the third floor was raised to a full floor and a stylish Italianate cornice with an elaborate fascia was added.  Projecting cornices were added to the window lintels.

The rent for the five rooms on the third floor in 1875 was $15 per month, or about $382 by 2023 conversions.  The tenants were middle class.  In 1876 Edward M. Higgins, who ran a stable business on West 52nd Street, lived in the house.  Also living here was George Woolley, a driver and possibly an employee of Higgins.

Louisa Van Nostrand married Henry Bardon on June 11, 1879, and the newlyweds moved to Rockland County.  Louisa's brothers were married by now, too.  Jacob's wife's name was Magdalena and John's was Gertrude.  A widowed Sarah briefly moved back into 57 Horatio Street, living here from about 1885 through 1887. 

The house was listed for rent again in 1888.  The advertisement on January 12, described it as "a three story and basement high stoop house, 57 Horatio st, 12 rooms; rent $800, immediate possession."

Following Sarah's death, the Van Nostrand siblings inherited 57 Horatio Street in equal shares.  In 1907 Louisa Bardon, with her husband, bought out her siblings' portions.  Still living upstate, they couple continued to lease the property.

Sylvester and Mariam C. Pardee lived here in 1908 with their daughter Maud and son-in-law Joseph Lamb.  The family's dog scampered away while on a walk on Gansevoort Street on February 12 that year.  They offered a reward for the return of the "small black female Spaniel."

Maud Lamb died in the house in January 1909.  Her funeral was held in the parlor on the evening of January 15.

By 1914 57 Horatio Street was once again being operated as a boarding house.  John Sullivan and his brother, William, both lived here in 1914.  They ran an express business next to the 23rd Street ferry landing.  William and his family would remain in the house at least through 1920.  Other boarders were engaged in similar trades, like Tony Zwetchick, a tug boat worker, who lived here in 1926.

Change came in 1938 when the house was converted to apartments--one each in the basement and former parlor level, and two each on the top two floors.  The stoop was removed and the entrance lowered to the former English basement level, a few steps below the sidewalk.

Seen here in 1941, the entrance was now below sidewalk level.  The original configuration of the third floor can be seen in 55 Horatio, a mirror-image of 57 when constructed in 1848.  via the NYC Dept of Records & Information Services.

Living here in 1959 was television and stage director Stevenson Phillips.  That year he was hired to direct the Broadway play The American.  And by the mid-1980s, artist Eva Ettisch was a resident.  She was active for years in the Greenwich Village neighborhood.

The vintage house was purchased around 2016, and its owners embarked on an ambitious plan.  They hired Andrew Wilkinson Architects PLLC to return the exterior to a 19th century appearance.  The stoop was refabricated and paneled double doors were installed under a projecting lintel.  Few passersby would guess that the entrance is not historic.  There are two duplex residences in the building.

photograph by the author
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