Saturday, July 6, 2024

The 1840 Samuel Martin House - 52 King Street

The original stoop railings wrapped around newels that perched upon the brownstone drums. 

On June 18, 1854, Elizabeth E. Martin married Albert G. Crowell.  The wedding may have taken place in the parlor of her parents' home at 52 King Street.  Well-to-do builder Samuel Martin's house was one of a row of identical Greek Revival style homes.  Built in 1840, the three-story-structure was faced in brick above the brownstone clad basement level.  Handsome iron stoop railings descended to wrap the short newels atop sturdy brownstone drums.  Within its heavy stone framework, the paneled door was flanked by narrow sidelights.  A delicately dentiled cornice originally ran along the roof life.

Albert G. Crowell, who was in the drygoods business, and his bride moved into the Martin house.  It became a bit more crowed when Elizabeth's sister Caroline married John G. Benson.

The parlor was the scene of Caroline's funeral on the afternoon of May 16, 1854.  She had died two days earlier "after a lingering illness," according to her death notice in the New York Herald.

A second funeral was held here in 1863.  Samuel Martin died at the age of 78 on February 13, and his funeral was held two days later.

Around 1875, Albert G. Crowell would be appointed the chief clerk in the municipal Government's Excise Department.  By then they had been gone from 52 King Street for about nine years.  It became home to the Mark and Catherine Redmond family.

The Redmonds were well known at the Washington Market.  James H. and Nicholas W. both worked in their father's butcher business, and their mother oversaw the Redmond & Co. fruit business there.

Like many of their neighbors, the Redmonds took in a boarder.  In 1868 it was John Meyer, whose name appeared in the newspapers for an embarrassing reason that year.

On March 12, the Evening Express reported that Meyer had appeared before the magistrate in the Jefferson Police Court and "related how he had been enticed into a den of iniquity by a fair but false one and then robbed of $150."  The "fair and false one" was a woman named Jennie Hess who lived on Bleecker Street.  According to Meyer, he met her on the street and she invited him to her room.  

While he and Jennie were in bed, three men entered the room.  "On arising, he found that his wallet, containing $150 in money, had been taken from his pantaloons," related the Evening Express.  The scheme was known to police as a "panel house game."  Perpetrators had little reason to fear that their victims--preferring to suffer the loss rather than face the humiliation and publicity--would go to the police.  But Meyer was different.  He immediately found a policeman who arrested Jennie Hess.  Although she pleaded not guilty, "she was locked up to await her trial at the General Session," said the Evening Express.

In 1872 the Redmond family moved to 120 East 23rd Street.  The King Street house became home to the extended Henry M. Scoble family, who moved here from Vestry Street.  Living with him and his family were his widowed mother Caroline Martyn Scoble and his brother John R., who was a firefighter.

Caroline Martyn Scoble died in the house at the age of 74 on March 14, 1874.

Henry and his wife had four sons, Andrew Harvey, John M., William Henry and Thomas.  An attorney, Andrew ran for assemblyman in 1897.  The Evening Post noted described him as, "Lawyer; has been bank clerk and journalist; never before a candidate for public office."

William Henry was accepted into the College of the city of New York in May 1899.  It was no doubt a source of pride for the family.  The New York Herald noted, "more than thirteen hundred pupils of the public schools essayed to answer the puzzling questions put to them by the faculty of the college.  Of this number 630 reached the requisite percentage and will enter upon their duties the coming autumn."

The Scobel family lived on in the King Street house for decades, finally selling it in April 1907.  

At some point during the Depression years, the house was converted to unofficial apartments.  The stoop was removed and the entrance lowered to the basement level.

image via the NYC Dept of Records & Information Services

Living here in 1959 were Glacinta Rubino, a widow, and her unmarried daughter, Annette.  Another daughter, Rosalie Rubino Weinstein, had died in an airplane crash in April 1958 "while returning to New York from a western mission for Boys Town," according to The Villager.  Rosalie's husband, attorney Charles Weinstein, had died three months earlier.

Glacinta and Annette Rubino had an impressive house guest in the summer of 1959.  The Villager reported, "Princess Gabrielle Pacelli, niece of the late Pope Pius XII, visited 84-year-old Mrs. Glacinta Rubino, at her home, 52 King St., in Greenwich Village, on Monday, June 1."  The article explained, "The Princess and her husband, Prince Marcantonio Pacelli, were dear and close friends of Mrs. Rubino's daughter, the late Mrs. Rosalie Rubino Weinstein."

No. 52 King Street was officially converted to apartments , one per floor, in 1977.  A subsequent renovation in 1988 resulted in two duplex apartments and the rebuilding of the stoop based on surviving examples along the row. 

photograph by the author
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