Saturday, February 24, 2024

The 1882 Patrick M. Haverty House - 558 East 87th Street


John C. Henderson's laudable project of erecting affordable homes for middle-class families in 1881 was the first of at least two.  Thirty-two brick-faced homes filled the blockfront along East End Avenue and wrapped around the corners of 86th and 87th Street.  The architectural firm of Lamb & Rich placed the cost of construction of each at $6,500 when it filed plans in October that year.  The figure would translate to about $192,000 in 2024.  Completed in 1882, the individual Queen Anne designs melded into a picturesque enclave.

558 East 87th Street sits prominently at the corner.  from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York.

Patrick M. Haverty moved his family into 558 East 87th Street at the corner of East End Avenue.  Its dog-legged stoop and the basement level are faced in rough-cut brownstone, as is the low wall that runs around the shallow yard.  Rather than stone lintels, Lamb & Rich crowned the parlor floor openings with five dramatic, sunburst-like rows of brick headers.  A plaque of terra cotta tiles sits between the doorway and parlor window.  To the west, a two-story faceted bay with an arched second-floor window rises to a peaked gable and unusual angled bay window.

Two paired windows sit on either side of the second floor corner.  Most interestingly, terra cotta plaques shorten one of each pair to half-size.  The third floor took the form of a steep, slate-shingled mansard, prominently broken at the corner by a tower capped with reverse-curve pyramidal roof.

Born in Dublin, Ireland in 1827, Patrick M. Haverty had been a bookseller before coming to America in 1847.  He landed just before the California Gold Rush and in 1849 the young man headed West.  But gold was not in Haverty's future.  In 1898, The Brown Book: A Biographical Record of Public Officials in the City of New York recounted that after "many months of hardships and privations," Haverty went to San Francisco.  There he worked for a newspaper, remaining on staff "until the great fire of 1851, which destroyed the city," according to The Brown Book.

Patrick M. Haverty, The Brown Book: A Biographical Record of Public Officials of the City of New York for 1898-9 (copyright expired)

Haverty returned to New York and when the Civil War broke out, helped organize the Irish Brigade.  He saw action in several conflicts, including the battle of Fredericksburg, which earned him the rank of major.  Following the war, he returned to publishing and bookselling in a shop on Barclay Street.  In 1885, three years after moving into the East 87th Street house, Mayor William R. Grace appointed him to the Board of Assessors.

Haverty specialized in Catholic publications and books on Ireland.  Reportedly, his edition of Bourke's Easy Lessons was the first Irish language book published in the United States.  Other volumes he published were Sean Ó Mathúna's translation of Foras Feasa on Ireland, and the collection of 300 Irish Airs.

Haverty married Mary McShean in 1854.  The couple had three daughters, Geraldine, Agnes, and Grace; and two sons, Frank and Patrick A. Haverty.

The prominence of the Haverty family within the Irish Catholic community was evidenced in Agnes's marriage to Jeremiah I. Bacon in the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel on East 19th Street on January 9, 1889.  The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that the Rev. Vicar General William Keegan, assisted by Rev. J. O'Kelly, performed the ceremony, with nine other priests in attendance.  The article said, "Waving palms and ferns gave a picturesque effect to an impressive ceremony, and there was every evidence of wealth and taste in the drapery of the bride's costume and those of the five bridesmaids."

The reception was held in the East 87th Street house where the the newlyweds "received the congratulations of their friends standing under a floral canopy of white and pink roses in the front reception room."  The article noted, "Dancing and supper by Rogers of Park place followed the reception."  Among those present were former mayor William R. Grace and his wife, police inspector Peter Conlin and his wife, and city officials and judges.

Geraldine M. Haverty had been teaching in the primary department of Grammar School No. 37 on East 87th Street for at least a year at the time of Agnes's wedding.  She would never marry and around 1919 would become editor of the bi-lingual monthly newspaper The Gael.  Her brother, Frank, would also go into journalism as a staff member of The World.

On February 2, 1893, Mary Haverty died of heart failure at the age of 62.  Her funeral was held in the Church of St. Columba. 

At the time of his mother's death, Patrick A. Haverty worked as a warrant clerk in the office of the City Chamberlain.  It was most likely his father who arranged the entry position in 1886 when he was just 18 years old.  Described by the New-York Tribune as "tall, broad-shouldered and fine-looking," in 1896 he became engaged.  The wedding was scheduled for just before Christmas.  Tragically, he would not live that long.

On October 8, 1896, Patrick was was speaking to a fellow clerk, Frank Smith, when he suddenly blurted, "Oh! Frank!" and fell forward.  Smith caught him and laid him on the floor.  An ambulance was called, but before it arrived the 28-year-old was dead.

The New-York Tribune reported, "Word of his son's death was carried to Major Haverty, who was deeply affected by the news."  The indiscretion angered the younger Haverty's boss, General McCook, who said, "I very much regret that any one should be thoughtless as to run to Mr. Haverty's father and tell him suddenly that his son was dead.  The Major is in infirm health, and the shock might have caused serious results to the old gentleman.  I intended to break it to him as tenderly as possible myself."

By the turn of the century, Haverty's age and ill health forced him to sell 558 East 87th Street.  He died on September 17, 1901, "after an illness of several months," according to The New York Times.  

The East 87th Street house was owned by John G. and Belle Frank in 1917.  The title had been transferred to them by Belle Frank (presumably John's mother) that year for $1.  By the Depression years, it was owned by William Trevor and his wife, the former Anita Clarendon.

Trevor was the owner of the William Trevor Corp., a women's neckwear company.  Anita was his second wife, his first having died.  On June 24, 1922, the New York Herald had titled an article, "William Trevor Finds Romance at Stage Door Inn," and began its article saying, "Miss Anita Clarendon, famous as a child actress and well known as a grownup, is to be married to-day in St. Thomas's Church to William Trevor."  The article explained, "Friends who learned of the engagement yesterday said that it was an outgrowth of the establishment of the Stage Door Inn and the National Stage Women's Exchange...Mr. Trevor became interested in the work, which was started to relieve the unemployment situation, and this interest culminated in a desire for better acquaintanceship."

Anita Clarendon had started her stage career at the age of three.  A celebrated performer, the New York Herald said, "She was a guest at the White House during Cleveland's administration and had dresses and hats named for her."

On September 5, 1933, the Flushing, New York North Shore Daily Journal reported that the Trevors had leased 558 East 87th Street to Marcy F. Hellman, "formerly of Scarsdale."

Around 1946, the house was purchased by attorney Henry Harfield.  A 1934 graduate of Yale University, he earned his law degree from Columbia Law School in 1937.  A partner in the legal firm of Shearman & Sterling, he was also a director in the Bank of Nova Scotia, Int'l., and the Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Co.

Harfield specialized in banking, and in 1961 executed the legal framework for certificates of deposit for his client Citibank.  His negotiation of a letter of credit which partially resulted in the return of prisoners from the Bay of Pigs invasion earned him a letter of thanks from the John F. Kennedy White House.

While Harfield worked on legal banking issues, a neighbor nearby, Louise Fitzhugh, was writing.  In 1964 she published Harriet the Spy, a children's novel about a sixth grade student who would be a writer and secret agent.  Almost assuredly she based Harriet's home on 558 East 87th Street, from which she spied on her neighbors from her tower room.

Henry Harfield died on September 13, 2003 at the age of 90.  In August 2016 the house was placed for sale for $4.95 million, the realtor noting it "hit the market for the first time in 70 years."  Disappointingly, between Harfield's death and the sale, Lamb & Rich's 1882 interiors were destroyed.  The listing noted the "state of the art restoration down to the studs."  (That realtor needs to be informed of the definition of "restoration.") 

photographs by the author
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