Friday, June 30, 2023

The Jacob Wrey Mould House - 123 East 26th Street


When Jacob Wrey Mould arrived in New York from Britain in 1852, the 27-year-old architect had already established a name for himself.  He had studied with influential architect Owen Jones, known for his theories on ornament, color and patterning.  The two spent two years studying the Alhambra in Spain, a period that fostered Mould's appreciation for Moorish style architecture and vivid colors.  It resulted in his co-designing the Turkish Chamber in Buckingham Palace.

The young architect moved into a house on East 17th Street near fashionable Union Square Park.  Having designed ornamentation for London's 1851 Great Exhibition, he was  now commissioned to design details of the New York Crystal Palace, scheduled to open in 1853.  Although, according to Adolf K. Placzek in his 1982 Macmillan Encyclopedia of American Architects, Mould was considered "eccentric" and "ill-mannered," his career soared in New York.

He was hired to work shoulder-to-shoulder with Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted on the design of Central Park and is responsible for some of its most notable ornaments--Belvedere Castle, the sumptuous carvings of Bethesda Terrace, and several bridges, among them.

Victor Prevost captioned this 1862 photo, "View of Willowdell Arch With the Team That Created Central Park Standing on the Pathway Over the Span."  pictured (L-R) are Andrew Haswell Green, George Waring, Calvert Vaux, Ignaz Anton Pilat, Jacob Wrey Mould, and Frederick Law Olmstead. Photos of the New Central Park, 1862 (copyright expired)

In 1859, two years after being hired as Assistant City Architect, Mould moved into the newly-built brownstone-faced house at 75 East 26th Street (renumbered 123 in 1865).  One of a row of identical homes, its narrow Italianate style included gently arched openings and understated architrave framing of the double-doored entrance.  Three stories tall above a high English basement, it was crowned with a ornamental cast metal cornice.

In addition to his Central Park work, by the time he purchased the East 26th Street house, he had designed the remarkable All Souls' Church on Park Avenue, and the interiors of the John A. C. Gray mansion on Fifth Avenue.  The Crayon described his color choices for that residence as "bold as a lion."

from A Description of the New York Central Park, 1869 (copyright expired)

The first shot in the Civil War was fired on April 12, 1861.  Seemingly tepid to the Union cause, an editorial in The New York Times on June 1 was titled, "Problem of the Negro Fugitives," and asked, "what shall we do with fifty or a hundred thousand?"  Jacob Wrey Mould gave his opinion (somewhat racist by a 21st century perspective) in a letter to the editor the same day that said in part:

Set them to constructing roads, to assist on earthworks, utilize them into transporters of provisions, or hospital attendants.  They are acclimated, and used to labor under a sun that will pour down disease and disaster on our hitherto unaccustomed Northern troops.  Nor could their loyalty be a very questionable point.  Whatever their previous attachment to their masters, their love for Liberty would transcend it, and they would pretty speedily recognize the fact that they were assisting in behalf of a Power destined most assuredly to work out that Liberty for them "to the full."
                                I am, Sir, yours respectfully,
                                Jacob Wrey Mould
                                No. 75 East Twenty-sixth street, N.Y.

Mould would have another issue to deal with that year.  It became known that he was living with a woman in the East 26th Street house.  Cohabitation without the solemnity of marriage was associated with the lower classes and, even then, was scandalous and disdainful.  He was ostracized by his friends and society in general.  But while he was personally disgraced, his career went on unaffected.

Mould was appointed Architect-in-Chief of Central Park in 1870.  In 1874, he traveled to Lima, Peru to design a public park commissioned by railroad builder Henry Meiggs.  He would not return until 1879.  In his absence, Minnie A. Madison, a widow and most likely his housekeeper, was listed as the resident of 123 East 26th Street.  

On June 16, 1886, The Sun reported, "Jacob Wrey Mould was one of the most accomplished architects in the United States in his branch of the art.  He died on Monday night of heart disease at his late residence, 123 East Twenty-sixth street."  Mould would have been 61 years old in two months.

Throughout the 1890s, the former Mould residence was home to Professor O. B. Douglass.  A physician and educator, he taught at the Post-Graduate School and was associated with the Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital.

The stoop railings date from the late 1880's or 1890's, after Mould's death.  The originals would have looked like those in the background next door.

In July 1900, 123 East 26th Street was sold to Wright Barclay, who operated it as a boarding house.  It became home to professionals like Willis G. Braley, who was a commissioner of deeds in 1905.  

But not everything going on in the house was respectable.  On February 20, 1907, detectives were brought to the house by Morton Woodman of Fall River, Massachusetts.  He complained that he had been swindled out of his recent inheritance--a significant $6,500 in cash, or about $193,000 in 2023.  The New York Times reported, "He had met a man in a cigar store to whom he told of his $6,500 awaiting to earn something.  His new acquaintance told him that he had tapped the wires and could always win on the races.  Woodman was taken to a poolroom where he played a dollar and won five."  Convinced, Woodman drew his entire savings and, "Then he went with the men to 123 East Twenty-sixth Street, where he lost his fortune.”  Police and detectives broke down the door and found five men, "with racing sheets, charts, and a large quantity of 'phony money,'"  according to The New York Times.

Charles W. Akberg purchased the property from Wright Barclay in 1909.  His much more respectable boarder was Dr. Charles Kirtland Stillman, a 1900 graduate of Brown University.  He lived and practiced here in 1910.

In 1936, an office was installed in the basement level, possibly for another doctor, and the upper floors remodeled.  If Mould decorated his home--and there is little chance that he did not-- it was most likely at this time that his irreplaceable work was lost.  The configuration lasted until 1960 when the basement office was replaced by an apartment.  The upper floors, where one of America's greatest architects once lived, remain a private residence.

photographs by the author
many thanks to reader Ted Leather for prompting this post has no authorization to reuse the content of this blog

Thursday, June 29, 2023

The Douglas Ludlow Elliman House - 177 East 71st Street


image via

Born in Flushing, Queens on May 24, 1882, Douglas Ludlow Elliman's early education was at the exclusive Berkeley and Cutler private schools.  But the Financial Panic of 1893 seriously affected his stockbroker father's finances, and he forewent college to take a job as a runner on Wall Street.  Elliman was just 18 years old when he married Theodora Polhemus Trowbridge on October 20, 1900.  His bride was the daughter of well-known architect Samuel Breck Parkman Trowbridge.

Three years later he accepted a job with his older brother Lawrence in the real estate firm of Pease & Elliman.  It was a pivotal move.

On April 14, 1909, The New York Times reported the Pease & Elliman had sold the two wooden houses at 177 and 179 East 71st Street for Mrs. Gertrude B. Miller and Richard M. Hoe, respectively.  "On the entire plot the buyer will erect two five-story American basement houses, each 20 feet front," said the article.

By the time of the transaction, Elliman had done well for himself.  He and Theodora purchased 177 East 71st Street, and worked with Donald Goodrich, the buyer of 179, in developing the site.  They commissioned architect S. Edson Gage to design mirror-image, neo-Federal homes.

Completed in 1910, the American basement residences were faced in red brick and trimmed in stone.  Their first floor windows matched in proportion the Federal style doorways.  Above, a full-width iron-railed balcony fronted three sets of French windows.  The splayed window lintels carried on the Federal motif, and finely dentiled cornices crowned the homes.

Douglas and Theodora had three sons when they moved into 177 East 71st Street.  Douglas Trowbridge was 9 years old, George Trowbridge was 5, and Ludlow was only a few months old.  Also living with the family was Douglas's 20-year-old sister, Rosalie Southgate Elliman.

Douglas Ludlow Elliman (original source unknown)

The Ellimans were affluent enough to not only afford a fine town residence, but a country home.  Shore Acres was in Noroton, Connecticut.  The family was there on May 9, 1911, when, back in the city, a man notified a police officer that he "had seen men going into the basement of the house at 177 East Seventy-first street, which belongs to Douglas C. [sic] Elliman, a real estate man," reported The Sun.  The policeman called for back-up from the East 67th Street station house, and soon the house was surrounded.  One officer shimmied in through a window, then opened the door from inside.

The Sun said, "A search was made of all the twenty-five or thirty rooms of the house, but no one was found, nor had anything been taken.  In the cellar they found that a window had been forced."  While Lieutenant Gloster and Detective McGee hashed out the mystery, policeman Jerry McMahon idly "toyed with the open door of the heater."  He felt cloth, and in feeling closer, realized he was touching a human arm.

Officer McMahon stuck his head into the dark interior of the furnace and demanded, "Come out of that, now!"  His command was answered by a youthful voice that cried, "We can't.  He won't let us."

When McMahon ordered again, more sternly, "Come on now!" he was answered with, "Aw, shut up and come in an' get us!"  The savvy policeman set fire to a newspaper and threatened to light the furnace.  The Sun reported, '"We'll come out!" shrilled the voices, and a head was poked out the door."

The policemen pulled 13-year-old William Callahan out of the furnace.  The next sooty burglar to appear was 14-year-old George Volk.  The leader of the youthful gang, 16-year-old John Ranfino, was more difficult to extract.  "His head came all right," said The Sun, "but his shoulders were broad, and as the door is about a foot in circumference they stuck.  With persuasion and much twisting the shoulders were worried out, but a long tangle of legs followed."

Ranfino was locked up in the 67th Street station, charged with attempted burglary.  The younger boys were turned over to the Gerry Society.  There they explained that Ranfino had pushed them into the cellar window, and then they pulled him in.  They had been on the first floor of the house when they heard police sirens, and hid out in the furnace.  "The police can't yet see how they did it," reported The Sun, "and why they failed to suffocate."

The year of the near-burglary, Douglas Elliman struck out on his own professionally.  He formed Douglas L. Elliman & Co. and began to focus on apartment living.  Years later The New York Times would call him "a leader in arranging the gradual migration of the city's wealthiest residents from the private mansions that lined Fifth and Madison Avenues to the luxury apartment houses that sprang up on Park Avenue and points east, such as Sutton Place.

On June 3, 1913, The New York Press noted, "Mr. and Mrs. Douglas L. Elliman and Miss Rosalie Elliman have closed their house, No. 177 East Seventy-fist street, and have gone to Shore Acres, their summer home in Noroton, Conn."  It would be Rosalie's last season at Shore Acres.

An article in The Sun on March 6, 1914 reported that Douglas and Theodore "have announced the engagement of their sister, Miss Rosalie Southgate Elliman, to Radcliffe Romeyn...Miss Elliman was introduced to society a year ago."

Just two months later, the Ellimans leased 177 East 71st Street to William Chapman Potter.  Born in Chicago, Potter had graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1897 with a degree in engineering.  He would have a broadly varied career.  Aerial Age Weekly explained, "He started life as a mining engineer, and after many years in that work both in Mexico and this country, he became identified with the production of automobiles, vice-president of the Guaranty Trust Company and president of the Intercontinental Rubber Company."

William Chapman Potter, The Guaranty News, July, 1918 (copyright expired)

Potter had married Caroline Morton in 1902.  Three years after moving into the East 71st Street house, the couple suffered indescribable heartache.  On May 11, 1917, The Evening Post reported that their infant daughter had died.

With America involved in World War I, on June 7, 1918 President Woodrow Wilson nominated William Chapman Potter to be a member of the Aircraft Board.  Organized in 1917 and reporting to the Secretaries of War and the Navy, the board made recommendations regarding the development and procurement of military aircraft.

The Potters left 177 East 71st Street that year, and Theodora Elliman rented the house to newlyweds Merideth and Elizabeth Manning Sage Hare.  The couple had been married in Bermuda on March 2, 1916.

A younger Merideth Hare, Quarter-Century Record, Class of 1894 Yale College, 1922 (copyright expired)

An attorney, Merideth was 47 years old when the couple moved in.  A graduate of Yale and Columbia Universities, he had served in the U.S. Army during the Spanish American War.  Elizabeth was a member of The Society of Independent Artists.  Her family traced its American roots to David Sage, who arrived in Connecticut from Wales in 1652.

The Hares' lease was not renewed.  On February 7, 1920 the Record & Guide reported that the Ellimans had sold 177 East 71st Street, noting, "It will be occupied by the buyer at the expiration of the present lease."

That buyer was another Yale graduate, Dr. John Rogers, and his wife, the former Elizabeth Selden White.  Rogers earned his medical degree at the College of Physicians and Surgeons and was, according to Herringshaw's American Blue Book of Biography in 1926, a specialist "on diseases of thyroid gland."  When the couple moved into 177 East 71st Street, he was a consulting surgeon at several New York City hospitals.

The former Elliman house is to the left.  photograph by the author

The Rogers remained here until 1945, selling it in April that year.  In 1989 a "recreation room" penthouse was added.  Never converted to apartments, the eight-bedroom Elliman house was sold in 2014 for $14.8 million. has no authorization to reuse the content of this blog

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

The Methodist Mission Building - 209 Madison Street


photograph via

When Joseph C. Skaden's three-story brick house at 209 Madison Street was offered for sale shortly after his death in 1853, it was described as having "all the latest improvements, cold and hot water baths, gas, &c."  The advertisement noted, "The location [is] one of the most desirable in the seventh Ward."  And an inventory of the furnishings testified to the high-end status of the neighborhood.  It included a "rosewood parlor suite in crimson plush, with covers; mahogany marble-top chamber furniture" as well as "fine oil-paintings [and] marble mantel ornaments."

By the mid-1870s, 209 Madison Street was home to the family of Reverend M. F. Compton.  His son, George N. Compton, would become a Methodist minister as well.  

On June 25, 1885, a trio of purchasers acquired the house for $15,000--or about $435,000 in 2023 money.  In the three decades since Joseph Skaden's death, the neighborhood had greatly changed.  Most of the once-refined homes had been converted to rooming houses, or demolished to make way for tenements for the waves of immigrants flooding the Lower East Side.  

The group had purchased 209 Madison Street for the New York City Church Extension and Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Rev. George N. Compton, who had previously lived in the house, was no doubt highly involved in the transaction--he was the pastor of the Madison Street Mission, founded around 1856.

The trustees hired the architectural firm of D. & J. Jardine to make massive renovations.  Their plans, filed in June 1886, called for the "front [wall] taken down and rebuilt and rear wall in basement and first story taken out and iron beams furnished, height of building increased 4 feet."  The plans further noted that the top floors were "to be occupied as a mission chapel."  

The new home for the Madison Street Mission (better known as the Methodist Mission), left little trace of the building's domestic beginnings.  D. & J. Jardine's design was an ecclesiastical take on Romanesque Revival.  The three arched openings of the first floor shared a continuous, terra cotta triple eyebrow.  The architects saved the Mission Society funds by placing a flat terra cotta pediment over the entrance, rather than a hood or portico.  The double-height chapel in what had been the second and third floors was illuminated by two tall stained glass panels that flanked a rose window.

Rev. George N. Compton, who also served as the superintendent of the Sunday School, had a considerable commute.  He lived far north at 223 East 124th Street.  Only the sexton, John R. Hayes, lived in the mission building.

The Methodist Mission administered to the impoverished residents of the neighborhood by supplying medical aid as well as religious services.  Physician William James Hall was in charge of the mission's dispensary and tended to the sick locals.  The Gospel in All Lands would later say (rather self-righteously), that the Methodist doctor worked "among Roman Catholics and Jews, drunkards and thieves, in the Madison Street Mission...rejoicing in the work of relieving distress, and leading the sinful to the Physician of souls."

On August 12, 1890, Dr. Hall addressed an open-air meeting of the Seventh Ward, demanding that Rutgers Slip be made into a park.  The World commented that the neighborhood housed "one of the densest tenement populations in the city."  Hall said in part, "Some years ago, the people of the neighborhood could get a breath of pure air along the river front, but the demands of commerce have driven them back, and now they have only narrow and ill-smelling streets, confined by tall tenement houses."  He predicted victory for the locals, saying "This place that is now a disease-breeding scar on the face of New York will become a health-giving ornament and a joy to all the children."

A week later, The World reported that children were flocking to the Methodist Street Mission to join the fight.  The article said the mission "has become the recruiting place during the past week of the little people of the Seventh Ward who have set their heads on having Rutgers slip as a playground."  (An open space for children was, indeed, needed.  Of the 75,000 people living in the ward, 35,000 of them were children.  Dr. J. Coughlin of the Anti-Poverty Society told a reporter from The World that on hot days, "They have nothing left them but to sit in the windows and on the doorsteps and shrivel up in the sun.")

An example of the plight of the tenement dwellers was Norbert Pfannerer, an unemployed shoemaker who was referred to the mission in January 1894 by Police Headquarters.  He had gone there in desperation, begging "for some work that he might earn bread for his loved ones," according to The Evening World on January 23.  

"We are starving," he pleaded, "but I don't want charity.  I only want to work and earn bread."

Pfannerer and his family lived on the top floor of a tenement building.  His eldest child was 6 years old and the youngest not yet a year.  When his wife gave birth to the last child, according to The World, "her husband was too poor to furnish her with the necessaries of life which her condition required, and consumption [i.e. tuberculosis] rapidly seized upon her."  For the past few days the family had eaten only "a soup made from stale bread."

In 1895 the Methodist Mission Society moved the Hope of Israel Mission into the building.  Founded in 1893, it continued the dispensary work, under Dr. A. C. Grimm, who treated from 50 to 80 patients a week that year.  

In his first report to the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. A. C. Gaebelein said:

Our new quarters at 209 Madison Street are admirably fitted for our mission work.  By the help of kind friends, we have been enabled to refurnish the whole house, and also to make very necessary repairs in the plumbing roof painting, etc., amounting in all to about four hundred dollars.  Here we have our offices and the headquarters of our publication department.

A reading room in the basement contained Bibles in English, German, Hebrew and Russian, along with newspapers in those languages.  

The goal of this group, however, was notably different from the Madison Street Mission.  As the 20th century neared, the Lower East Side was increasingly filling with Jewish immigrants.  The Hope of Israel Mission set out to convert them.  

Rev. Gaebelein insisted there were no strong-armed tactics involved.  He said the neighborhood Jews "understand now that we are not doing this work from any selfish motive or trying to proselyte them, but that we have a higher aim...No effort is made to induce passers-by to enter the church, though a few signs in jargon bidding everyone welcome hang in the windows."

Ironically, in June 1897 the Mission Society sold the building for $24,000 to congregation Chevra Etz Chaim Anshe Walosin.  Now a synagogue, the basement of the building where the Hope of Israel Mission attempted to convert Jews to Christianity was transformed into a mikveh (a ritual bath) in 1907.  Architect David Stone's renovations included, "toilets, tubs and vault" at a cost of more than $445,000 by today's conversion.

In 1915 the congregation hired architect Fred Horowitz to make exterior alterations.  It was possibly at this time that the a Magen David, or Star of David, was imposed upon the rose window and onion dome-like pinnacles crowned with Magen Davids were placed upon the parapet.

image via the NYC Dept of Records & Information Services.

At some point following World War I the building became home to Congregation Agudath Achim Anshei Barisoff, organized in 1891.  The synagogue continued to serve the neighborhood until the structure was converted to residential purposes in 1993.  The double-height worship space was floored over, creating two internal stories.  

The stoop and stained glass windows were removed, and the rose window bricked up.  Shop spaces were installed in the basement and former first floor.  There were now three apartments per floor in the upper portion.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The 1886 Horace Clark House - 128 West 82nd Street


In 1885 real estate developer Virgilio Del Genovese hired Emanuel Gandolfo to design five four-story rowhouses on the south side of West 82nd Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues.  Completed the following year, the architect's Queen Anne style houses exhibited elements of the Jacobean Revival style, as well.  The western-most of the row, 128 West 82nd Street, was faced in red brick above its brownstone-clad basement and parlor levels.  The transoms of its grouped parlor windows most likely originally held stained glass.  Brownstone quoins fully framed the upper floor openings, and the fourth floor took the form of a charming slate-shingled mansard with gable.

The picturesque gable includes multi-paned windows and a carving of a seemingly disapproving female face.

The 20-foot-wide residence became home to Horace Clark and his wife.  A graduate of Harvard University, he was steward of the new Murray Hill Hotel.  He brought a solid resume to the position, having served as steward in the Hoffman House, French's Hotel, and "a number of country hostelries," as mentioned by the New-York Tribune.

In 1894 Louis de Gumones purchased 128 West 82nd Street as an investment.  He initially leased it to Dr. Charles D. Wilhelmy.  

The physician's patients were no doubt shocked when they read their newspapers on August 10, 1895 and discovered Dr. Wilhelmy was behind bars.  The Evening Telegram reported, "Two respectable looking prisoners under the names of Dr. Arthur Van Ness of No. 146 West Seventy-first street, and Dr. Charles D. Wilhelmy, of No. 128 West Eighty-second street" had been arraigned on charges of swindling book publishers Bryan, Taylor & Co.  Detectives explained that the physicians were part of "an organized band of swindlers, who got books on installment from the publishers and afterward sold them at auction."  The arraignment was only the beginning of Dr. Wilhelmy's legal problems.  The Evening Telegram said there were four other victimized publishers.

Another physician, James Hawley Burtenshaw, next leased the house.  He was a member of the faculty of the New York Polyclinic and was managing editor of its monthly magazine of the same name.  He also served as chairman on the New York County Medical Society's committee on the Abuse of Medical Charity.

In its May 15, 1896 edition, The New York Polyclinic announced, "The Editorial Office of the Polyclinic has been removed to 128 West 82d Street, New York City, to which address all communications intended for the Editor of the Journal should be sent in future."

Dr. Burtenshaw leased 128 West 82nd Street until 1901 when Louis de Gumones sold it to Florence A. Foster.  She resold it in 1902 to Anna K. Daniel, who operated it as a high-end boarding house.

Among the initial boarders was the Reynolds family.  Their  two sons were attending Yale and Princeton.  Living with her parents was 18-year-old Jessie, described by The New York Press as a "girl of refinement."  She became involved in a bizarre incident in the fall of 1903.  

Jessie was close friends with Maude Wise, the daughter of Dr. Peter N. Wise, whose summer home was in New Rochelle.  In October, Jessie was invited to spend a week there, and The New York Press recounted, "Miss Reynolds was introduced into the best circles in New Rochelle."  The article continued, "During the week she was the guest of Dr. Wise she was one of the most popular girls in the town.  She was pretty and accomplished and soon became a great favorite."

About a week after Jennie returned to Manhattan, Dr. Wise received a bill from a Sixth Avenue department store for $217.88 (nearly $7,000 in 2023 money).  The store said the purchases had been made by his daughter, but Maude claimed she had not bought any goods.  When questioned, the sales clerks described a young women matching Jessie Reynold's description.

A detective took one of the saleswomen to 128 West 82nd Street, but she was unable to positively identify Jessie as the purchaser.  Undaunted, Special Officer John F. Larkin waited outside 128 West 82nd Street on November 12, 1903, and when Jessie emerged, he arrested her.  Larkin said "she admitted having received [the goods] and then became hysterical."

Jessie was taken to the Jefferson Market Court where, according to The New York Press, "Magistrate Ommen was struck by the girl's refinement.  He noticed also she acted peculiarly, and when questioned she said the only thing which worried her was that she was afraid she would not be able to see the Yale-Princeton football game."

Because Jessie refused to reveal who her parents were or where they could be contacted, she was detained.  The New York Times said, "It was very late in the day when her family learned of the girl's arrest...Owing to the lateness of the hour, the lawyer failed to find a bondsman."  And so, Jessie spent the night in the Women's Ward of the Jefferson Market Police Court.

A reporter went to the West 82nd Street house and spoke to "the woman who opened the door" (most likely Anna Daniel).  She said:

I will not tell anything about her, but I can assure you everything will be all right in the end.  Miss Reynolds does not need to obtain things under false pretense, and I cannot believe that she did so.

On November 24, 1903 Jessie appeared in court with her mother.  The World described the unlikely defendant as being "dressed in a stylish gray gown and did not appear in the least disconcerted."  It seems that the Reynolds family (who owned "large interests in Princeton, New Jersey," according to The New York Times) had settled up financially with the Wise family.  The World reported that because no one appeared in court to press charges, Jessie was released.

A year later a clever thief was plaguing boarding houses.  On January 2, 1905 the New York Herald reported, "For six months detectives have gone every Monday morning to high class furnished room houses that advertised on Sunday for patrons and told the proprietors to watch for a man...who would call, say he was just up from Lakewood for a few days and, engaging a room, would pay board a week or two in advance to obviate demand for references."

He was James G. Walker, alias Lawrence Macy.  The 42-year-old was described by the New York Herald as "educated, polished, of refined and prosperous appearance and asserting that he held a degree from Oxford University."  He could afford to pay the up-front rent, because the valuables he removed from other boarders' rooms more than made up for the expense.

On New Year's Day 1905, E. B. Cushman caught Walker leaving his room with clothing.  A maid ran for police, who caught Walker climbing out the parlor window.  In exchange for not having to face the "scores of persons he admits having robbed" of "thousands of dollars" in jewelry and clothing, Walker confessed.  He admitted to detectives he was "the most noted room thief in America."  

Mrs. Viva A. Brewer, another of Anna Daniels's boarders, was also burglarized.  She lost $1,000 worth of jewelry (nearly $31,500 in 2023).

The boarders continued to be well-to-do and professional.  Lawyer Frank K. Johnston lived here in 1905, and two years later Columbia University educated attorney Andrew Jack Dewey boarded with Anna Daniels.

Voice teacher Betty Askenasy lived and taught from her rooms in 1912.  On February 18 that year, The New York Times announced she "will give a musicale and reception this afternoon in her studio, 128 West Eighty-second Street."

One boarder was the victim of a horrific accident in the summer of 1915.  Paula Schwerter was secretary of the Transatlantic Import Company.  A German native, she had worked in the firm's Berlin office until being transferred to New York in 1913.

The 38-year-old was close friends of Peter Voss and his wife.  On the evening of Saturday, July 31, 1915, Betty and Peter took a train to visit friends in Glen Rock, New Jersey.  The Patterson Morning Call reported, "They were not familiar with that locality, and they alighted from the car at the wrong place."  They had to walk along the train tracks to the station, which required them to cross a trestle.  Voss later explained, "It was so dark that we really did not know we were on the trestle until Miss Schwerter's umbrella went down between the ties."

The two were midway across the span when the lights of a train could be seen coming around the bend ahead.  Not knowing how high they were, Voss climbed over the edge of the trestle, thinking he could drop to the ground and then help Paula.  Instead, he found himself clinging to the edge as the train drew nearer.

"I yelled to Miss Schwerter to climb down to the side of the trestle, but all I remember is that she screamed as the car passed over me."  Paula either jumped or was knocked off the trestle by the train.  The train stopped and crew members "helped carry Miss Schwerter to the car and she was taken to Paterson," reported The New York Times.  She died at the hospital there.  Her injuries suggested she had been struck by the train before falling 25 feet to the ground.

The house became a private residence again in 1916, home to Dr. Charles Rochester Eastman and his wife, the former Caroline Amelia Clark.  Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1868, Eastman was a renowned scientist, a paleontologist and geologist with a special interest in fish.  He had graduated from Harvard in 1890, and earned his Ph. D. at the Munich University a year later.  The couple's purchase of 128 East 82nd Street was most likely influenced by its proximity to the American Museum of Natural History, where Eastman had been a staff member since 1914.

Dr. Charles R. Eastman (original source unknown)

When the United States entered World War I, Eastman was recruited for the War Trade Board at Washington D.C.  He temporarily left his position at the museum to undertake that assignment.  The Sun reported, "His work was of an arduous nature and he was not physically strong."  Things got worse for Eastman when the devastating influenza pandemic of 1918 hit Washington.  The scientist was infected in September.

The Sun reported on September 30, 1918, "An attack of Spanish influenza which came a few days ago led to the advice that he go to the seashore."  Charles and Caroline went to Long Beach for his recuperation.  After dinner on Friday night September 27 Charles went for a walk.  But he never returned.

The next morning a body, fully dressed, was found in the water.  The Sun reported, "none of those who saw it seemed to recognize the well dressed stranger as the man whose scientific writings had gained wide fame all over the world."  It would be another 24 hours before the body was identified.  Suicide was not only shameful for family members, but was criminal.  And so, if Eastman had purposely drowned himself, the facts were covered up.

The Sun reported on September 30, "It was said last night that Dr. Eastman probably went for a walk Friday night after dinner, and that when he reached the end of the sea walk he was attacked by dizziness."  The newspaper called him, "one of the best known scientists in the country."

The West 82nd Street house was sold to Edward C. Parker in 1920.  He hired architect Charles F. Winkelman in March to alter it into apartments.  The Record & Guide placed the cost of the renovations at $10,000. 

A subsequent alteration, completed in 1940, marked a downturn in the building's history.  There was now a warren of small apartments and furnished rooms throughout the house.

Living here in 1969 was 25-year-old Harvey Fleetwood 3d.  He was the son of banker Harvey Fleetwood Jr. and Dr. Maria Fleetwood, a New York psychiatrist and Cornell University professor.  Harvey landed a job that year as a community affairs reporter for The Manhattan Tribune, an Upper West Side weekly newspaper.  He wrote a human interest piece for the January 25, 1970 issue based on his interview with a 16-year-old narcotics addict.  It turned out to be an ironic choice of subjects.

Journalism was merely an advocation of the entrepreneurial young man.  He recruited young people to travel to India and Syria, paying their airfares, then return to the United States as "mules," carrying large amounts of drugs.  The scheme fell apart when 25-year-old Constance Ziambardi got off a plane at her stop-over in San Juan carrying a scuba tank and a three-foot long stuffed animal.  The New York Times reported on January 27, "A customs inspector became suspicious when she asked that he watch the gear while she made ticket arrangements to continue to New York."  Inside the toy horse and scuba tank were 63 pounds of hashish, valued at nearly 1.5 million in 2023 dollars.

After her arrest, Harvey Fleetwood telephoned the San Juan jail on her behalf, identifying himself as a United States marshal.  The connection led to an unraveling of a vast ring headed by Fleetwood.  Within days six other drug transporters hired by Fleetwood were in jail in San Juan, all of whom told the same story.  Harvey was the last to be captured, and it came on the very day his article on the drug addict appeared.  On January 27 The New York Times reported, "Mr. Fleetwood was arrested on Sunday after a high-speed automobile chase down Fifth Avenue, according to the Federal authorities."

More recently, 128 West 82nd Street was converted to a total of five apartments.  One of only two of the 1886 row to survive, it still exudes the charm that attracted Horace Clark and his wife nearly 140 years ago.

photograph by the author
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Monday, June 26, 2023

The Lost Charles S. Philips Mansion - 1082 Fifth Avenue

1082 Fifth Avenue is the center house.  To the left is the Archer Huntington mansion, and the house at right is the home to Elizabeth W. Van Ingen.  Past the vacant lot at left, the back of the Andrew Carnegie mansion can be glimpsed.  from the collection of the New York Public Library

On February 2, 1901, the Real Estate Record & Builders' Guide reported that George C. Edgar's Sons had purchased the 75-foot-wide, mid-block plot on Fifth Avenue between 89th and 90th Streets.  The article said the firm, "will erect three 5-story and basement American basement stone front dwellings."  The mansions would vary in width--one 22 feet, another 25 feet, and the third 28 feet wide.  The journal added that they "are expected to sell at from $225,000 to $350,000 each."  (The highest price would equal about $11.5 million in 2023.)

Designed by Turner & Kilian, each of the Beaux Arts style residences would be different, while maintaining architectural continuity.  Unlike its brick-faced siblings, 1082 Fifth Avenue was faced in limestone, its entrance centered below a projecting three-story bay.  The fifth floor enjoyed a stone balustraded balcony, while the sixth took the form of a full-height mansard.

As the mansions neared completion in April 1902, the Record & Guide reported that millionaire Archer M. Huntington had purchased two of them.  He bought 1083 Fifth Avenue for his own occupancy, and 1082 as an investment.

Huntington leased 1082 Fifth Avenue for six years, then sold it in August 1908 to Charles S. Phillips, an executive in the brokerage firm C. D. Barney & Co.  Before moving in, Phillips and his wife hired architect Alfred H. Taylor to completely remodel the interiors.  On July 23, 1910, the Record & Guide reported that he "enjoyed during the work the appreciation of a sympathetic client, whose wife was fond of the decorative work of France."

The renovated entrance hall.  Real Estate Record & Guide July 23, 1910 (copyright expired)

The comprehensive make-over was reflected in the journal's description of the dining room:

The dining-room is the result of a desire on the part of madame for a marble room.  Here the only wood in evidence is the table and chairs; and the mantel, wainscot, trims, wall-framing and even the sideboard are richly figured red Numidian marble with two window conservatories of Alps green marble with white stone fountains.  The walls are hung with green velvet, over which are suspended exquisite examples of rare tapestries.


The dining room walls were covered in deep green velvet.  Real Estate Record & Guide July 23, 1910 (copyright expired)

The dining room ceiling.  photo by Wurts Bros. from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York

The dining room was floored in green marble, and gilded plasterwork created a frame for "the vigorous painted ceiling panel by a noted French artist," said the article.  The critic said the room reflected "the palatial work at Fontainebleau."

Taylor paneled the library in mahogany and gave it a black marble mantel and antique Renaissance furniture.  The dark tones were relieved, said the Record & Guide, by bright yellows and blues in the Chinese rugs and cut velvet wall coverings.  "Touches of bright color are given by the precious Chinese vases and the iridescent Assyrian pottery."

Rare Chinese vases are displayed in the library.  Real Estate Record & Guide July 23, 1910 (copyright expired)

Charles Phillips was a recognized authority on antique furniture and tapestries, and the mansion was filled with costly items.  Examples of Louis XIV, XV, XVI, and Empire period furniture were placed throughout the house, along with valuable artworks.

Somewhat shockingly, after the couple's substantial financial outlay, the Phillipses relocated to Paris just three years later.  Everything in the mansion was sold during a three-day auction in December.  The catalogue used adjectives like "choicest," "sumptuously toned," "rare," and "splendid" in describing the furniture, tapestries, and artworks.

Eight months before the auction, Jay Gould II had married Anne Douglass Graham.  The son of George Jay Gould and Edith Kingdon, he had grown up in the lavish mansion at 857 Fifth Avenue.  In September, Charles S. Phillips sold him 1082 Fifth Avenue.  The New York Times called the sale "of more than ordinary interest."

Jay Gould II, from the collection of the Library of Congress.

Gould was the grandson of railroad mogul Jay Gould.  His bride had exotic relatives.  Anne was a cousin of Hawaiian Princess Abigail Campbell Kawānanakoa, wife of Prince David Kawānanakoa.  

Although educated at Columbia College, Gould would not follow the career paths of his grandfather and father.  By the time he entered Columbia, he was already a national and world class tennis champion.  As a teen, his father had constructed a tennis court for him at the family's country estate.  Three years before he and Anne moved into 1082 Fifth Avenue he had earned an Olympic gold medal in London.  (Interestingly, another wealthy tennis champion, Malcolm D. Whitman, lived two doors away at 1080 Fifth Avenue.)

On February 1, 1912, The Newark Daily Star reported, "Mr. and Mrs. Jay Gould are receiving congratulations on the birth of a daughter yesterday afternoon at their new home, 1082 Fifth avenue."  Baby Eleanor would be the first of three children.  Anne Douglass was born the following year, on March 5, and Jay Gould III arrived on May 13, 1920.

Two views of the drawing room during the Phillips residency.  photo by Wurts Bros. from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York 

In the meantime, their father continued to amaze on the tennis courts.  He won every U. S. Amateur Championship from 1906 to 1925, never losing a set.  

When America entered World War I, the tournaments were cancelled for the duration of the conflict.  Gould enlisted in the United States Army on October 6, 1917, achieving the rank of Junior Grade Lieutenant.

With things back to normal following the war, the Goulds resumed their enviable lifestyle.  On September 4, 1919, for instance, The Evening Post reported, "Mr. and Mrs. Jay Gould of 1082 Fifth Avenue have left Newport, where they were the guests of Mr. and Mrs. Hubert Vos, for their camp in the Catskills."

Anne Gould and Jay Gould III, The San Francisco Examiner, December 31, 1921 (copyright expired)

On December 30, 1921, Gould was away, possibly competing in a tennis match.  That morning Anne smelled smoke in her third floor bedroom.  The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, "she immediately informed her secretary.  They traced it to a chimney and then calmly phoned to fire headquarters to bring up an extinguisher before it could get headway."  When firefighters arrived, Anne and her secretary had already extinguished the small "soot fire."  Newspapers nationwide ran with the story.

The Philadelphia Inquirer said the fire "threatened the safety of her three children," and The San Francisco Examiner ran the headline, "Social Leader Saves Babies."  That article began, "Mrs. Annie Graham Gould, wife of Jay Gould, was a heroine in a fire which threatened her home at 1082 Fifth avenue."  The Evening World was more grounded, saying that the fire was extinguished "without difficulty" and "no damage was done."

Eleanor and Ann Gould on their mounts, Patches and Sport, in Central Park, across from their Fifth Avenue mansion.  The Spur, May 1, 1922 (copyright expired)

On June 17, 1925, The Sun reported that Frank George Doelger had purchased the Gould mansion.  Doelger was the son of the massively wealthy brewer Peter Doelger, and had grown up in the family's handsome mansion on Riverside Drive at 100th Street.  

"It is reported that Mr. Doelger will occupy 1082 as his residence," said the article.  That was and was not true.  Initially, Doelger hired architect Harry Allen Jacobs to replace the house with a modern mansion, also six-stories in height.  Jacobs's plans, filed the month after Doelger's purchase of the property, projected the cost at $40,000--or just under $620,000 in 2023.  But, for whatever reason, the 39-year-old bachelor millionaire did not go forward with the plan.

photo by Wurts Bros. from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York 

Society most likely presumed that Doelger would never marry.  If so, he surprised everyone when The York Dispatch reported on March 27, 1928, "Edna Wallace Leedom, musical comedy star, was married in Philadelphia on March 9, to Frank Doelger, wealthy New Yorker, who gave his occupation on the marriage application as 'brewer,' it became known today."  It was not a lavish, society wedding.  The couple was married by a police magistrate.  The groom was now 42, and his bride, a Ziegfeld Follies star, was 31.  The article noted that before taking to the vaudeville stage, Edna "sang in the choir of the Memorial Baptist church" in York, Pennsylvania.

Edna Leedom Doelger, National Vaudeville Artists Souvenir, 1924.

Doegler was Edna's fourth husband.  Newspapers were not sympathetic to her active marital history.  The Tulsa World asked in a headline, "Why Do They All Marry Edna Leedom?"  She had divorced her first husband, Billy Edmunds, and married actor Harry Tighe.  That marriage also ended in divorce, and in 1926 Edna married Ziegfeld Follies composer Dave Stamper.  In January 1927, the year before marrying Frank Doelger, she divorced him, as well.  The Tulsa World predicted this, too, would be a short marriage.  "Probably it won't be long before she finds that wealth isn't all she wants, either."

photo by Wurts Bros. from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York 

In 1929 the Doelgers welcomed a son, Frank Jr.  It was possibly baby Frank's arrival that prompted their moving to Queens, New York.  Despite their newborn baby, Edna still had a wandering eye.

The couple would endure humiliating press coverage that same year in December when Edna was sued by the wife of night club proprietor Chic Endor.  Doris Endor sought $400,000 reparations for alienation of affection.  The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported (somewhat flippantly) on December 13, "With their prize already belonging to someone else, Mrs. Doris Endor and Edna Leedom Doelger, both actresses, will go to the legal mat at Mays Landing, N. J., next month over the affections of a man who vetoed them both and married someone else."

As it turned out, The Tulsa World's prediction that there would be other husbands fell flat.  Edna Leedom Doelger died at the age  of 41 on October 15, 1937.

In the meantime, 1082 Fifth Avenue was home to stockbroker Elliott Anderson and his wife Evelyn.  They, too, had domestic problems.  The couple separated in 1930, with Elliott continuing to live in the mansion.  Evelyn was awarded $15,000 per year in alimony (just short of $245,000 today).  She did not seem to be eager to obtain a divorce, however.  Evelyn appeared in court in June 1931 to extend her alimony payments under the separation agreement.  The New York Sun noted, "Mrs. Anderson won her separation suit on the ground of cruelty and intoxication."

In 1959 developer Markus Mizne purchased and demolished 1080 through 1082 Fifth Avenue.  He replaced the sumptuous mansions with a white brick apartment building designed by Wechsler & Schimenti.

Of the 1902 row, only the Archer Huntington mansion survives.  image via

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