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Old bu i Id ings of 
York City, 


3 3333 12355 1794 

Old Buildings 

New York City 







M C M V I I 

Copyright, 1907 , bij Brentniwa 

























Residence of John Bigelow 83 

Former Residence of the late Luther C. Clark ... 85 

Former Residence of the Late James W. Gerard ... 87 

"The Players' Former Home of Edwin Booth ... 91 




former Residence of the Late Samuel J. Tilden . 93 

Former Residence of the Late Rev. Dr. II. W. Bellows . . 97 

Former Residence of the Late Dr. Valentine Molt . 99 

Rectorv of Calvary Parish ... . 101 


r<>rmer Residence of the Late Stanford White . 103 
Former Residence of the Late Cyrus W. Field and the Late 

David Dudley Field 105 





















Old Buildings 


New York City 


ECENTLY a writer in a periodical stated that 
" Xo one was ever born in Xew York." It 
can be safely said that this is an exaggeration. 
Nevertheless it showed the confidence of the writer that 
the statement was not likely to startle his readers very 

Probably not one in a hundred of the men in the 


street know or care anything about the town of fifty 
or sixty years ago. Still the number of those who were 
familiar with it then is large, however small in compari- 
son with the whole number. In fact, the number of 
those whose predecessors were living here when there 
were not more than a thousand people in the whole place 
is much greater than is generally supposed. 

It was for people belonging to the two latter classes 
that these pictures were taken. They may even interest 
some who have known the town for only a generation. 

When a man has traversed the streets of a city for 
fifty years, certain buildings become familiar landmarks. 
He first saw them perhaps on trudging to school with 

his books, and has seen them nearly every day since. 

. / > 

He experiences a slight shock whenever such buildings 
are destroyed. There appears something wrong in the 
general aspect of the town. Of late years these shocks 


Old liuildingx of XCK York ('it// 
have followed one another so continuously that he mav 

well wonder whether he is living in the same place. 

It occurred to the writer that it would do no harm 
to preserve the pictures of some of the landmarks still 
standing, especially as they are getting fewer in num- 
ber all the time, and may shortly disappear altogether. 

He regrets that he is unable to show a photographic 
presentment of many buildings that have disappeared 
in the last fifty years, or even during the life of the 
present generation. Some buildings that had a certain 
historical interest have been razed in the last twenty-five 
years, as, e. g., the Kennedy house,* Xo. 1 Broadway, 
taken down to make way for the Washington Building, 
overlooking the Battery Park, or the old Walton house f 
in Pearl Street near Franklin Square, removed in 1881, 
or the Tombs prison, removed in 1899. 

* Built some years before the Revolution by Captain Archibald 
Kennedy, R.N. (later Earl of Casillis), who married Miss Watts. 
It was the headquarters respectively of Generals Howe, Cornwallis, 
and Carleton. 

t The property of William Walton,, brother of Admiral Walton, 
built in 1752. It was one of the best, if not the best house in 
town. The gardens extended to the river. This house was men- 
tioned in the debates in Parliament to indicate the ability of the 


colonists to pay more taxes. What might in some respects be called 
the mate to this house, the Walter Franklin house, occupied by 
Washington during his Presidency, stood at the north end of the 
square. It was taken down in 1856, " and the only bit of it known 
to exist is the President's chair of the X. Y. Historical Society, 
which is made of wood taken from the old house ' (" Historic Xew 
York," p. 298). 



Among buildings that will be recalled to memory 
by the older citizens it would have been a satisfaction 


to have been able to show pictures of the Brick (Pres- 
bvterian) Church, that stood, with its yard, on Park 

ft V 

Row, taking in the block bounded by Spruce, Nassau, 
and Beekman streets; or Burton's Theater in Chambers 
Street ; the Irving House, later Delmonico's, on the cor- 
ner of Broadway and the same street; of the old Xew 
York Hospital on Broadway near Thomas Street, stand- 
ing far back with its beautiful lawn and grand old trees ; 
of the St. Nicholas Hotel near Spring Street; of the 
old Coster mansion (later a Chinese museum), built of 
granite in the style of the Astor House, near Prince 
Street; and Tiffany's place across the way, with the 

/ / ' 

same Atlas upholding the clock over the door; of the 
Metropolitan Hotel on the next block with Xiblo's Gar- 
den ; of Bleecker Street with Depau Row ; * of Bond 
Street with the large Ward (later Sampson) residence 
on the corner; the Russell residence on the corner of 
Great Jones Street; the famous old New York Hotel; 
the Lorillard mansion at Tenth Street; the large 
brownstone residence of Judge James Roosevelt, near 
Thirteenth Street, famous for the hospitality of its 
owners, and the red brick residence of Cornelius V. S. 
Roosevelt, grandfather of the President, on the cor- 

' r Depau Row was an attempt to introduce the Parisian dwelling 
or hotel. The houses were entered by driveways, running through 
them to large interior courtyards. They were taken down to make 
way for the Mills Hotel for men. 


Old Knildiujrx of Xcn York ('itt/ 
ner of Union Square, having the entrance on J^ road- 



The older resident can recall Union Square when the 
buildings were nearly all private residences, conspicuous 
among which were the Parish house on the north side 
and the Penniman (later the Maison Doree) on the 
south. He can recall the stately appearance of Four- 
teenth Street westward of Union Square: the Haight 
residence on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifteenth 
Street, with its large winter garden ; * the brownstone 
house of Colonel Herman Thorn in Sixteenth Street, 
west of the avenue, standing in its wide grounds (now 
nearly filled by the New York Hospital) ; the residence 
of Mr. and Mrs. August Belmont (so long leaders in 
society), on the avenue, at the corner of Eighteenth 
Street, extending with its picture gallery a long distance 
on the street; the Stuart residence, which shared the 
block above Twentieth Street with a church; and then 
the Union Club house at Twenty-first Street. Perhaps 
of all the landmarks taken down during the time of the 
present generation, none \vas so well known as the Goe- 
let house at Broadway and Nineteenth Street, w-ith the 
grounds extending eastward toward Fourth Avenue. 
Thousands of people passed every day in the short 
stretch between the two squares. Mr. Peter Goelet's 
penchant for rare and beautiful birds was a never- 
ending delight to every passing child and adult, and 

: It is a little remarkable that none of our multimillionaires 
have added this feature to their new houses uptown. 


a number were always standing gazing past the iron 
railing. Peacocks white and blue, Chinese golden 
pheasants, and many other varieties found a comfort- 
able home in the grounds. 

The appearance of the entire city now gives the 
impression of life and bustle. With the exception of 
Gramercy Square and Irving Place, there is hardly a 
spot in the lower part of the city that now has any 
appearance of repose. Thirty years ago the city pre- 
sented a wholly different aspect. Fifth Avenue, from 
Washington to Madison Square, was, in the opinion of 
the writer, one of the finest residence streets anywhere. 
At most hours of the day the people on the sidewalks 
were comparatively few and there was a very small pro- 
portion of business wagons and trucks that used the 
roadway as compared with the numbers that do so to- 
day. University Place was a street of nearly the same 
character, as was also Second Avenue from Seventh 
Street to Stuyvesant Square. This street had a charm 
of its own. Lined as it was on either side with spacious 
residences, it gave the impression of a street of homes. 
The facades of the largest houses were simple and un- 
pretentious, forming a marked contrast to some of the 
houses uptown to-day. 

As regards the matter of repose, it may be said that 
twenty-five years ago the palm would clearly have been 
given to Lafayette Place. This short street also had a 
character of its own. From the Langdon house on the 
east side near Astor Place to old St. Bartholomew's 


Old Building* of \cic Yorlc ('it// 

Church at (ircat Jones Street, and from the Langdon 
(Wilks) house on the west side to the Schermerhorn 
house opposite tlie chureli, almost every building had 
its individuality. The street was marred hv three or 

four ancient buildings, which for some reason were not 
removed, such as the stable between the Langdon house 
and the Astor Library, once the favorite Riding A cad- 

emy. The Library still (1900) stands, as does a part 
of the old Colonnade, but an earthquake could hardly 
have wrought greater changes than has the march of 

The large mansion of the first John Jacob Astor 
stood separated from the Library by a gateway and 
broad alley reaching to the stables in the rear. Adjoin- 
ing was a group of houses of the style of those in 
Washington Square, broad and ; high-stooped." Op- 
posite, on the corner of Fourth Street, stood a church 
whose portico of granite Ionic columns (each a monolith 
brought with great trouble from Maine) was one of the 
wonders of the town. Almost adjoining was the Swan 
residence, since converted into the Church House of the 
diocese, and then the Colonnade with its long row of 
granite Corinthian columns, considered a marvel in its 
dav. Xext to these was the " English basement house 


of the late Charles Astor Bristed, with arch and drive- 
way leading to the rear, and on the corner the Langdon 
(Wilks) house, when it was built, the finest in town. 
Being a short street, blocked at one end and leading 
only to Astor Place at the other, the drivers of very 



few vehicles ever took the trouble to turn into it, ex- 
cept the driver of a private carriage, perhaps a closed 
coach drawn bv heavy horses ( for the cobble stones were 


rough) ; the coachman on a vast hammercloth embel- 
lished with fringes and tassels, as was frequently seen 
forty years ago, the footman sometimes standing behind, 
his hands grasping two leather loops to hold himself in 
place. So quiet was the street that on a pleasant after- 
noon the youngsters who dwelt in the neighborhood car- 
ried on their game of ball undisturbed. Perhaps it was 
this feature of quiet repose which suggested the suita- 
bility of establishing there the Library, the churches, the 
Columbia College Law School, and the Church House. 

The writer might go on and refer extensively to 
other ancient streets and the changed aspect of other 
places throughout the city, but that is not his present 

There are a few old landmarks that are likely to 


stand, for example the City Hall, in the opinion of 
some the most successful building, as to architectural 
design, in the country. 

Abandoned to materialism as the city is and lacking 
sentiment, nevertheless any proposal to take down the 
City Hall, or even to alter it ever so slightly, meets 

*/ o ,' 

with vigorous protests.* 

* It seems rather strange that some architect has not taken this 
facade or some portion of it (as, e. g., the east or west end) as a 
design for the front of one of the palaces that are now springing 
up throughout the land. 


Old Uu tiding* of Xcic York City 

Possibly ])eople might object if it were proposed to 
destroy St. Paul's Chapel, the oldest church edifice in 
the city, and so with a few other buildings; but the 
majority of the landmarks must go and hideous sky- 
scrapers arise, " monuments to greed ' as they have been 
termed, half ruining adjacent properties. 

It was with a view of preserving the appearance of 
some of these landmarks that may be torn down any 
day that these pictures were taken. Endeavor has been 
made to present those that have been in existence about 
fifty years. With two exceptions the buildings repre- 
sented are now (1906) standing. 

Mistakes and errors no doubt appear in the text, and 
these the writer would be glad to correct. The notes 
in no sense profess to be thorough. They are, for the 
most part, mere skeletons of what may be said upon the 
subjects dealt with. 


: ." "**' 

Number Seven State Street 

"S^^^HIS house was built by Moses Rogers, a promi- 
j nent merchant of the latter part of the eight- 
^^i^ eenth and the first part of the nineteenth cen- 
tury. He was a native of Connecticut, his mother being 
a daughter of Governor Fitch of that State. He was 
in business as early as 1785 at 26 Queen (Pearl) Street. 
In 1793 the firm name was Rogers & Woolsey, his part- 
ner being William Walter Woolsey, his brother-in-law, 
Mr. Rogers having married Sarah Woolsey, a sister of 
the wife of President Dwight of Yale College. In that 
year he was living at 272 Pearl Street, near Beekman, 
' in a large house with hanging garden extending over 
the yard and stable." * 


Mr. Rogers was a merchant of high character and 
public spirit. In 1793 he was an active member of the 
Society for the Manumission of Slaves. He was a gov- 
ernor of the New York Hospital from 1792 to 1799, 
and in 1797 treasurer of the City Dispensary. From 
1787 until 1811 he was a vestryman of Trinity Church, 
and in 1793 was a member of the Society for the Relief 
of Distressed Prisoners, f 

*"Old Merchants of New York City/' vol. II, p. 318. 
f Before and after the Revolution, the Hall of Records lately 
removed was used as the debtors' prison. There were usually about 


Old K nil dings of New York City 

In the year 180(5 lie was living in the house here 
presented. His sister had married the celebrated mer- 
chant and ship owner, Archibald Gracie. His children 
were: (1) Sarah K. Rogers, who married the Hon. 
Samuel M. Hopkins; (2) Benjamin Woolsey Rogers, 
who married Susan, daughter of William Bayard; (3) 
Archibald Rogers, who married Anna, daughter of 
Judge Nathaniel Pendleton; and (4) Julia A. Rogers, 
who married Francis Bayard Winthrop.* In the year 
1826 Benjamin Woolsey Rogers was living in the next 
house, Number Five State Street, but after his father's 
death he moved to Number Seven and lived there until 
1830.t William P. Van Rensselaer, grandson of Gen- 
eral Stephen Van Rensselaer, married successively two 
of the daughters of Mr. Rogers. The house during the 
ownership of the Rogers family was the scene of many 
notable entertainments. These entertainments w r ere fre- 
quently referred to by older members of society who 
have now- passed away. In 1830 the house was occu- 
pied by Gardiner G. Rowland. 

The queerly shaped front was to a certain extent a 
necessity. State Street takes a sharp turn and the house 
was built at the apex of an angle. The interior was 
doubtless an improvement on other houses. The ceil- 

one hundred and fifty prisoners. It is said that they were allowed 
only bread and water by the State and depended largely on the 
kindness of benevolent people to relieve their wants. 

* " Lamb's History of the City of New York/' II, p. 735. 

f " The Old Merchants of New York/' vol. II, p. 319. 


Number Seven State Street 

ings were high, and the staircase, instead of being in 
the hall as in older houses, is at the side. It is winding, 
of an oval design, with mahogany balustrade. The sky- 
light was of stained glass, made in England, showing 
the coat of arms. 

During the Civil War, the house was taken by the 
Government for military uses, and afterwards became 
the office of the Pilot Commissioners. 

It is now the house of the mission of Our Lady of 
the Rosary. 



Fraunces's Tavern 

IX the year 1671 Col. Stephen Van Cortlandt 
built a cottage on the corner of Broad and 
Pearl ( then Queen ) streets, to which he brought 
his bride, Gertrude Schuyler. The house overlooked the 
waters of the river and bay. In the year 1700 he deeded 

- V 

this property to his son-in-law, Etienne de Lancey, prob- 
ably wishing to retire to his manor on the Hudson. De 
Lancey was a French Huguenot of rank who had left 
his native country on the revocation of the edict of 


Xantes. He came to Xew York where he established 
himself as a merchant. On these premises he built a 
hip -roofed mansion several stories in height, of small 
yellow bricks imported from Holland. In dimensions 
and arrangement it ranked among the best in the col- 
ony. The property descended through his son James 
to his grandson Oliver. This part of the town having 
by that time become the business quarter in 1757, the 
house was abandoned as a residence and became the 
warehouse of De Lancey, Robinson & Co. On Janu- 
ary 17, 1762, the building was transferred to Samuel 
Fraunces, who converted it into a tavern under the name 
of the ' Queen's Head," and announced that dinner 
w^ould be served daily at half -past one. In April, 1768, 


Old Kuildings of AYrc York City 

in the long room, the Chamber of Commerce was in- 
augurated with John Cruder as president. 

On November '2,5, 1788, the day of the evacuation 
of the British, a grand banquet was given by Governor 
Clinton to General Washington and the French minis- 
ter, Luzerne, and in the evening the w Queen's Head 
and the whole town were illuminated. More than a 
hundred generals, officers, and distinguished personages 
attended the banquet and thirteen toasts were drunk 
commemorative of the occasion. Ten days later Wash- 
ington here met his generals for the last time. After 
a slight repast Washington filled his glass and addressed 
his officers as follows: With a heart full of love and 
gratitude, I must now take my leave of you. I most 
devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosper- 
ous and happy as your former ones have been glorious 
and honorable." In silence his former companions 
then took a final farewell of their chief. 

This is one of the oldest buildings in the city, as the 
great fire of 1776 doubtless swept away most of those 
of earlier date. During the last century the building 
has gone through various vicissitudes, mostly on the de- 
scending scale. A year or two ago the ground floor was 
occupied by a saloon. Lately the building has been 
completely restored by the Sons of the Revolution and 
now presents very nearly its original appearance. 

* Xew York Herald, May 6, 1906. 



Sub-Treasury and Assay Office 

Sub-Treasury is built on the site of the orig- 
inal City Hall. In 1789 this was altered and 
repaired for the use of the first Congress and 
named the Federal Hall. The balcony of the Hall was 

the scene of Washington's inauguration as President, 
in commemoration of which the statue was erected. 

In 1834 the building was demolished and the pres- 
ent structure erected for the Custom House and was 
used as such until 1862. 

The Assay Office is the oldest building in Wall 
Street, haying been built in 1823, for the Xew York 
branch of the Bank of the United States. It became 
the Assay Office in 1853. 

Bank of New York 

oldest bank in the country is the Bank of 
Xorth America in Philadelphia, incorporated 
by act of Congress, December, 1781, and by 
the State of Pennsylvania a few months afterwards. 
Very great losses had occurred from the repudiation 
of the Continental bills of credit. All the States had 
issued bills of their own and kept on : making experi- 
ments in finance which did not depend on specie as a 
basis." Currency was expressed in pounds, shillings, 
and pence and the currency in circulation was a motley 
conglomeration of guineas, doubloons, pistoles, Johan- 
nes pieces, moidores, and sequins. Thus arose the ne- 
cessity of a bank that should both assist the Government 


and benefit the people at large. 

On February 26, 1784, a meeting of the principal 
merchants and citizens was held at the Merchants' Coffee 
House. General Alexander McDougal was chosen 
chairman, and it was unanimously decided to establish 


a bank. Subscription books were opened at the offices 
of John Alsop, Broadway, Robert Bowne, Queen Street, 
and Nicholas Low r , Water Street, and the shares were 
rapidly taken. 

On March 15, 1784, the following officers were 
chosen: General Alexander McDougal, president; Sam- 
uel Franklin, Robert Bowne, Comfort Sands, Alexan- 


Old nuildings of XCK York ('it;/ 

der Hamilton, Joshua Waddington, Thomas Kandall, 
William Maxwell, Nicholas Low, Daniel McCormick, 
Isaae Roosevelt, John Vanderbilt, and Thomas B. 
Stoughton, directors; and William Seton, cashier. 

The bank commenced business at what was formerly 
the old Walton house in St. George's (now Franklin) 
Square. It stood on the east side of Queen (now Pearl) 
Street, almost opposite the present establishment of 
Harper Brothers, the publishers. The building (erected 
1752) will be remembered by many people to-day as it 
was only taken down in 1881, but its appearance during 
its declining years gave a faint idea of its original 
dignity. In 1787 the business of the bank was moved 

C-? - 

to Hanover Square, Isaac Roosevelt having been chosen 
president in 1786. 

In 1796 a lot was bought at the corner of Wall and 
William streets from William Constable for eleven thou- 
sand pounds (New York currency). Strange to say, 
there is no record of the dimensions of the lot, but the 
present building doubtless stands on part of it. 

Early in 1797 steps were taken to remove the house 
then standing and to put up a new building, and the 
corner stone was laid by Gulian Verplanck, then presi- 
dent, on June 27th. Mr. Verplanck died in 1799 and 
Nicholas Gouverneur was chosen president. The cor- 
ner stone of the present building was laid on September 
10, 1856, and the building completed in 1858.* 

* " Domett's History of the Bank of New York." 



St. Paul's Chapel 

chapel built in 1764-66 is the oldest church 
edifice in the city. The first rector was the 
Rev. Dr. Barclay, who was succeeded by the 
Rev. Dr. Samuel Auchmuty. The steeple is in the style 
of one of Wren's designs. After the burning of Trin- 
ity in 1776, it was used as the parish church. The pews 
that during the war held Howe, Andre, the officers of 
the army of occupation, and the young midshipman who 
later became King William IV were, when peace was 
concluded, occupied by the former : rebels ' Washing- 
ton, Clinton, and their followers. After his inaugura- 
tion, in the Federal Hall in Wall Street, Washington 
and the members of both houses came in solemn proces- 
sion to St. Paul's, where services were conducted bv 


Bishop Provost, Chaplain of the Senate, and a Te Deum 
was sung. 

The square pew on the left with the national arms 
on the wall was the one used by Washington as long 
as New York remained the capital. The corresponding 
pew on the right, designated by the arms of the State, 
was that of Governor Clinton. On the chancel wall are 
marble tablets to Sir John Temple, the first British 
consul general, and to Colonel Thomas Barclay, the 
eminent loyalist, son of the Rev. Dr. Barclay, rector 


Old nuildingx of Xcic Yorlc Citt/ 

of Trinity Parish. Colonel Harclav succeeded Temple 

as consul general of " His Hrittanick Majesty/ 1 There 
is also a tablet in memory of the wife of William Frank- 


lin, Tory Governor of New Jersey, and several others. 

* * 

The only other reminder of pre-Revolutionary days is 

* * 

the gilded crest of the Prince of Wales over the pulpit 
canopy. As everyone knows, at the east end of the 
yard facing Broadway are monuments to three eminent 


Irishmen who rose to distinction in this country- -Em- 
met, Montgomery, and MacXeven, one at the bar, an- 
other in the army, and the third in medicine. Emmet 
was the brother of the Irish martyr, Robert Emmet;* 
Montgomery settled in Xew York before the Revolu- 
tion, married a daughter of Chancellor Livingston and 
fell at Quebec; f MacXeven, like Emmet, had taken 

* Robert Emmet, member of an old English family that settled 
in Ireland during Cromwell's time, was one of the purest and most 
disinterested of rebels. He is now believed by his family,, and with 
very good reason,, to have been instigated to rebellion by a secret 
emissary of Pitt in Paris, where he had resided since leaving col- 
lege, as part of an evil scheme to withdraw attention from the 
disordered condition of English politics at the time. (Fide ' Ire- 
land under English Rule,, or A Plea for the Plaintiff," by Thomas 
Addis Emmet, 1903.) 

f Richard Montgomery, son of Thomas Montgomery, of Convoy 
House, Donegal, had been a captain in the British army in the 
French and Indian War. ' On his return to England he is said 
to have formed friendships with Fox, Burke, and Barre, and became 
strongly imbued with their ideas about the rights of the colonies, 
and when he was superseded and disappointed in the purchase of 
a majority, he left England forever." When in America it had 


St. Paul's Chapel 

part in the Irish rebellion of '98, acting with him as 
one of the Directory of Three. Both were imprisoned 

happened that on their way to a distant post, he had come on shore 
with all the officers of his company at Clermont, the Livingston 
place on the North River, and there met Janet Livingston for the 
first time., and on his return,, with the full approbation of her parents, 
he married her in July, 1773. Soon after his arrival he bought a 
farm at Kingsbridge, near New York, but after his marriage he 
arranged to build a house at Barrytown-on-the-Hudson on the Liv- 
ingston property. 

The house, known as " Montgomery Place/' was built from de- 
signs of his nephew, an architect, son of his sister, the Viscountess 
Ranelagh. Some relics of the general, including his sword, etc., 
are still preserved there. When war broke out, Congress appointed 
him a brigadier general, and such was the confidence in him that 
he was given carte blanche as to all the officers under him. He 
fell at the head of his troops in the assault on Quebec, December 
31, 1775, at the age of thirty-seven. The estimation in which he 
was held bv his wife's family continued to the time of his death. 

' * 

In July, 1818, when the State of New York had his remains brought 
from Quebec, they were interred under the monument now seen at 
the east end of St. Paul's Chapel. Forty-three years had elapsed 
since Mrs. Montgomery had parted with her husband at Saratoga. 
She was notified bv Governor Clinton of the dav on which the 

* / 

steamer Richmond, carrying the remains, would pass down the river. 
She was left alone upon the piazza of the house. The emotions with 
which she saw the pageant were told in a letter written to her 
niece : 

' At length they came by with all that remained of a beloved 
husband who left me in the bloom of manhood, a perfect being. 
Alas! how did he return? However gratifying to my heart, yet 
to my feelings every pang I felt was renewed. The pomp with 
which it was conducted added to my woe; when the steamboat 


Old Buildings of New York City 

at Fort George in Scotland. He later served in Xapo- 
leon's army as surgeon. 

George W. P. Custis, who was one of Washington's 
family, spoke of St. Paul's as being " quite out of 
town." Xo doubt the great fire of 1776, which stopped 
when it got to the Chapel yard, left the Chapel stand- 
ing isolated from buildings below it; but Custis, to get 
there from St. George's (Franklin) Square, must have 
had to go some distance " down town." It tends to show 
that the water front of the city was covered with build- 


ings before the central part. The fact that the com- 
missioners for making a plan of the future city early in 
the last century arranged for so many streets running 
to the water and for so few running north and south 
would also seem to indicate that they thought easy access 
to the rivers was of prime importance. 

Mr. Astor, with his wonderful foresight, w r as the 
first man to realize that the backbone ' of the island 
was, in after years, to show the greatest advance in the 
value of real estate. 

passed with slow and solemn movement, stopping before mv house, 
the troops under arms, the Dead March from the muffled drums, 
the mournful music, the splendid coffin canopied with crepe and 
crowned with plumes, you may conceive my anguish ! ' After the 
vessel had gone by it was found she had fainted. 


The City Hall 

plans of the architect who designed the 
City Hall, John McComb, were accepted in 
the year 1803, but the building was not com- 


pleted until nine years later. 

It is not always an agreeable business to devote one's 
time to destroying a myth which has become lodged in 
the affections of the people, but sometimes it rests on 
so slight a foundation that there is nothing gained in 
keeping it alive. We have lately seen how the tradi- 
tion that Washington Irving used to live in the house 
on the corner of Irving Place and Seventeenth Street 
had no foundation in fact, except that he had a nephew 
who lived next door. And so the story so often repeated 
in newspapers and guide books that the City Hall was 
finished in brownstone at the back because the city fa- 
thers thought that nobody of any importance would ever 
live to the north of it might, it seems, be set at rest, 
although the attempt is not made for the first time. 
The story reflects on the intelligence of the people of 
the day. The reason was economy, but not joined to 
deficiency of foresight. 

The Common Council of that day, instead of being 
obtuse on the subject were quite the other way, and 
show by their records that they took a highly optimistic 


Old linildingx of \CK York City 
view of what they call the city's " unrivaled ' situation 


and opulence. They state their belief that in a very few 

years the hall that they were about to build would be 

the center of the wealth and population of the city. It 
was at first arranged to build entirely of brownstone, 
and the contractors got their work done as far as the 
basement, as can readily be seen to-day. Then the views 
of the Common Council underwent a change. A halt 
was made and McComb was requested to make an esti- 
mate of the cost in marble. 

From an interesting article appearing in the Century 
Magazine for April, 1884, written by Mr. Edward S. 
Wilde, it seems that the committee's report states: It 
appears from this (the architect's) estimate that the 
difference of expense between marble and brownstone 
will not exceed the sum of $43,750, including every 
contingent charge. When it is considered that the City 
of New York from its inviting situation and increasing 
opulence, stands unrivaled . . . we certainly ougbt, in 
this pleasing state of things, to possess at least one pub- 
lic edifice which shall vie with the many now erected in 

Philadelphia and elsewhere ... in the course of a very 
few years it is destined to be the center of the wealth 


and population of the city. Under these impressions 
the Building Committee strongly recommend that the 
front and two end views of the new hall be built of 

The corporation then authorized the use of marble 
on three fronts. The brownstone of the rear received 


The City Hall 

its first coat of white paint only a few years ago, as 
nearly anyone who reads this can testify. In 1858 the 
cupola was destroyed by fire and was restored in a poor 
manner, but Mr. Wilde says : : Notwithstanding this 
change and the damage done less by time than by stu- 
pidity, the hall stands to-day unsurpassed by any struc- 
ture of the kind in the country.' 


Astor Library 

Astor Library was founded in accordance 
with the terms of a codicil to the will of the 
first John Jacob Astor. It was opened in 
1854. His son William B. Astor added a wing to the 
original building (the present central portion) and pre- 
sented five hundred and fifty thousand dollars to the 
library fund. 

In 1881 another wing was added by his grandson, 
John Jacob Astor. 


The Langdon House 

house was usually called the Langdon 
house, although it was never occupied by the 
family of that name. Mr. Walter Langdon's 
house, directly opposite, was built much later. About 
1845 the first John Jacob Astor wished to present his 
daughter, Mrs. Walter Langdon, with a city residence 
and built this house for her during her absence abroad. 
He built merely the shell of the house, and on his daugh- 
ter's return gave her the sum of thirty thousand dollars 
for the purpose of decorating it. Carte blanche w r as 
given to a famous decorator of that day, and he pro- 
ceeded to finish it in a style hitherto unknown in the city. 
The result was that in the end the cost of the interior 
had risen to sixty thousand dollars, considered a very 
large sum at that time. A great deal of attention was 
paid to plaster and stucco ornamentation and woodwork. 
The most attractive feature of the house was the main 
staircase, w r hich was made in England especially for the 
house. This staircase was rectangular and of a dark 
rich colored w r ood, was beautifully carved and of a very 
graceful design. It was lighted by a large stained- 
glass window overlooking Astor Place. The reception 
rooms were on the left of the main hall with a conserva- 
tory in the rear. At the right were the library, stair- 


Old Buildings of Ncic York City 

case, dining room, and offices. Mrs. Langdon, however, 
returned to Europe and continued to reside there until 
her death. Meanwhile it was arranged that the house 
should he occupied by her daughter, who had married 
an English gentleman, Mr. Matthew Wilks. Mr. and 
Mrs. Wilks continued to live there until the house was 
taken down in 1875. 

The property had a frontage of about two hundred 
and fifty feet on both Astor Place and Lafayette Place 
(now Lafayette Street), from which it was shut off 
by a high wall. The enclosed courtyard w r as laid out 
as a garden, with large trees, and the rear was occupied 
by the stables. The garden contained a ring large 
enough for riding purposes. 

Of course during the Forrest-Macready riot in 1849 
the house was almost in what might be called the storm 
center. In the midst of it one of the servants, who 
thought he had secured a perfectly safe point of observa- 
tion on the roof, was killed. 


St. Mark's in the Bowery 

Stuyvesant retired from office, after the 
British occupation, he withdrew to his " Bow- 
erie ' or farm near the site of the present 
church, then two miles out of town. In 1660 he built 
a small chapel near his house for the people of the little 
village that sprang up about the farm, as well as for 
his own family and the slaves, of whom there were 
about forty in the vicinity. This chapel was torn dow r n 
in 1793, and the Petrus Stuyvesant of that day offered 
to present the ground and eight hundred pounds in 
money to Trinity parish if it would build a church 
there. This offer was accepted. In May, 1799, the 
church was finished and the bodv of it has remained 

intact to the present time, but there was no steeple 
before 1828. One pew was reserved for the gov- 
ernor of the State, and the corresponding pew on the 
other side for " Mr. Stuyvesant and family forever," * 
each pew being surmounted by a canopy. f The ne- 
gro servants (slaves) sat in the rear of the congre- 

In a vault under the chapel the governor's body had 
been placed after his death, in 1672, and in 1691 the 

* By resolution of the Vestry, August 26, 1803. 
f Removed in 1835. 


Old Buildings of Xcic York City 

body of the Knglish governor (Sloughter) was also 
placed there. 

In building the church Stuyvesant's remains were 
removed and placed in a vault beneath the walls of the 
new edifice. The stone which may be seen fastened to 


the outer wall bears the following inscription: In this 
vault lies buried Petrus Stuyvesant, late Captain Gen- 
eral and Governor in Chief of Amsterdam in Xew 
Netherlands, now called New York, and the Dutch 
West India Islands, died A.D. 1671-2, aged 80 years." 
In July, 1804, the church was draped in mourning 
for the death of Hamilton, and was so kept for six 


Second Avenue 

Former Residence of the Late Lewis M. Rutherfurd 

nEWIS M. RUTHERFURD was one of the 
most noted astronomers that this country has 
produced. As a young man, he began the 
study of the law with William H. Seward, and was 
admitted to the bar in 1837 and became associated with 
John Jay and afterwards with Hamilton Fish. But 


his tastes were entirely in the direction of science, and 
he decided to abandon the law and apply his attention 
to scientific research. With ample means, he had full 
opportunity to devote his life to the pursuit of his favor- 
ite study, astronomical photography. He spent several 
years of study in Europe and, on his return, he built 
an observatory in New York, the best equipped private 
astronomical observatory in the country. He made with 
his own hands an equatorial telescope and devised a 
means of adapting it for photographic use by means of 
a third lens placed outside of the ordinary object glass. 
He was the first to devise and construct micrometer ap- 
paratus for measuring impressions on the plate. It is 
said that he took such pains in the construction of the 
threads of the screw r s of his micrometer that he was 
engaged three years upon a single screw. He worked 
for many years at the photographic method of observa- 


Old Kiiildhitfx <>f AYu' York City 

tion before the value and importance of his labors were 
recogni/ed. but in 18(>.> these were fully acknowledged 
by the Xational Academy of Sciences. The remarkable 
results that he obtained were all secured before the 
discovery of the dry-plate process. His photographs 
of the moon surpassed all others that had been made. 
When overtaken by ill health he presented his instru- 
ment and photographs to Columbia College, and his 
telescope is now mounted in the observatory of that 

He was an associate of the Roval Astronomical So- 


ciety, president of the American Photographical Soci- 
ety, and was the American delegate to the International 
Meridian Conference at Washington in 1885, preparing 
the resolutions embodying the results of the labors of 
the conference. He received many decorations and 


honors from the learned societies of the world, but his 
dislike of ostentation was such that he was never known 
to wear one of the decorations, emblems, etc., that were 
conferred upon him.* 

The Mansard roof has been added to the house since 
its occupation by the Rutherfurd family and the en- 
trance removed from the avenue to the side street. 

When the house and grounds of the late Hon. 
Hamilton Fish, on Stuyvesant Square, were sold a 
few years ago, it was said that there had been no trans- 
fer of the site except by devise or descent since the time 
of the old Governor. The same might be said of this 

* " Xat. Cyclop, of Am. Biog.," vol. VI, p. 360. 


Former Residence of the Late Lewis J/. Rutherfurd 

property. Stuyvesant's house, in which, it is said, the 
papers were signed transferring' the province to the 
British Crown, stood close to this spot, The house is 
the property of Rutherfurd Stuyvesant, a son of Lewis 
M. Rutherfurd. 

The Keteltas House 

example of an old Second Avenue dwelling, 
the residence of the Keteltas family on the 
corner of St. Mark's Place. 


m >*^ 

Washington Square 

Residence of Eugene Delano 

house was formed by uniting two of the 
fine old residences on the north side of Wash- 
ington Square. The interior has been admira- 
bly reconstructed. The house was formerly occupied 
by Edward Cooper (son of the late Peter Cooper), 
who was, at one time, Mayor of the City. 


First Presbyterian Church, Fifth Avenue 

HIS church, representing the oldest Presbyte- 
rian organization in the city, was formed in 
1716. The building was erected in 1845. 


An Old Fifth Avenue House 

Former Residence of the Late James Lenox 

a AMES LENOX was born in New York in 
1800, and was the son of Robert Lenox, a 
wealthy Scotch merchant. He graduated 
from Columbia College in 1820 and entered upon a 
business life, but on the death of his father in 1839 
he retired and devoted the rest of his life to study and 


works of benevolence. The collection of books and 
works of art became his absorbing passion, and even- 
tually he gathered about him the largest and most valu- 
able private collection of books and paintings in Amer- 
ica. In 1870 he built the present Lenox Library. The 
collection of bibles is believed to be unequaled even by 
those in the British Museum, and that of Americana 
and Shakespeareana greater than that of any other 
American library, in some respects surpassing those in 
Europe. He conveyed the whole property to the City 
of New York. He was the founder and the benefactor 
of the Presbyterian Hospital. 


Another Old Fifth Avenue House 

Former Residence of the Late Robert B. Mhitnrn 

GRIOR to the Civil War, the principal merchants 
and bankers were among the most prominent 
men in the city. The multimillionaire had not 


then appeared. The ships of Howland & Aspinwall, 
N. L. & G. Griswold, A. A. Low & Brother, and 
Grinnell, Minturn & Co. carried the flag to the farthest 
quarters of the globe, where their owners' credit stood 
second to none. For speed the American clipper was 
unsurpassed. These ' vessels performed wonderful feats 
-as when the Flying Cloud ran from Xew York to 
San Francisco, making -13314 statute miles in a single 
day; or the Sovereign of the Seas sailed for ten thou- 
sand miles without tacking or wearing; or the Dread- 
nought made the passage from Sandy Hook to Queens- 
town in nine days and seventeen hours." * 


Mr. Minturn was a philanthropist and one of the 
best citizens the town ever had. 

The house is now the residence of Thomas F. Ryan. 

' King's Handbook of Xew York," p. 38. 

Grace Church, Broadway 


The Society Library 

IN the year 1700 the Public Library of Xew 
York was founded under the administration 
of the Earl of Bellomont, and seems to have 
progressed as the city grew, being aided from time to 
time by gifts from interested persons on the other side, 
several folio volumes now in the Society Library having 
been presented by friends in London in 1712, and in 
1729 the Rev. Dr. Millington, rector of Newington, 
England, having bequeathed his library to the Society 
for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 
it was presented to the New York Public Library. The 
library, being in charge of the corporation of the city, 
was evidently not managed in a manner satisfactory to 
the people in general. In the year 1754 it was deter- 
mined that a more efficient library was a necessity. In 

*.' / 

that year the present Society Library had its origin, 
and what had been the Public Library of the city was 
incorporated with it. Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer * 
states that it had its source in a movement started by 
Mrs. Alexander, who suggested to some of her friends 
that a circulating library should be established, the sub- 
scribers to collect sufficient money to send to England 


for the newest and best books. A list was made headed 

f Goede \ 7 rouw of Man-a-hata. 


Old Building* of AYrc York ('it// 

by Messrs. William Smith, Philip, William and Robert 
Livingston, John Morin Scott and William Alexander. 
After subscription hooks had been opened and the lieu- 
tenant governor (l)e Lancey) and council had 'set 
their official seal ' on the venture, a considerable sum 
was raised and an institution was regularly organized 
and later received a charter from Governor Trvon. 


Down to the time of the Revolution, the collection was 
constantly increased by the purchase of books, but dur- 
ing the Revolution, with a large part of the city de- 
stroyed by fire and what remained being under the 
control of a hostile army, the library suffered greatly. 
Mrs. Lamb * states that four thousand or more books 
disappeared at the outbreak of the Revolution and were 
supposed destroyed, but many were hidden away for 
safe-keeping and reappeared after the war." j 

In December, 1788, a meeting of the proprietors 
was called, trustees were elected, and the library again 
resumed operations. 

The library was kept in a room in the Federal Hall 
in Wall Street and was used as the library of Congress. 
The first building put up for its use was on the corner 

* Magazine of American History. 

f The British took possession of the City Hall and ' they also 
plundered it of all the books belonging to the subscription library, 
and also of a valuable library which belonged to the corporation, 
the whole consisting of not less than sixty thousand volumes. This 
was done with impunity and the books publicly hawked about the 
town for sale by private soldiers ' (" Lamb's History of the City 
of New York/' vol. II, p. 134). 


The Society Library 

of Nassau and Cedar streets in 1795, but the growth of 
the city compelling a change, a new building was erected 
in 1840 on the corner of Broadway and Leonard Street. 


The Library has occupied the present building in Uni- 
versity Place since May, 1856. 

/ *,' 

The membership of the library has been from the 
start among the most prominent and respectable citi- 
zens. Many of the original shares of 1754-58 have 
remained in the same families to the present time, as 
those of the Auchmuty, Banyer, Beekman, Clarkson, 
Cruger, De Peyster, De Lancey, Harrison, Jones, 
Keteltas, Lawrence, Livingston, Ludlow, McEvers, 
Morris, Ogden, Robinson, Rutherfurd, Smith, Stuyve- 
sant, Van Home, and Watts families; and from 1790-96 
those of the Astor, Bailey, Barclay, Bowne, Coles, Dela- 
field, Fish, Gelston, Greenleaf, Jay, Kemble, Kings- 
land, Lenox, Low, Lee, Le Roy, Oothout, Peters, 
Prime, Ray, Remsen, Roosevelt, Sackett, Schermer- 
horn, Schieffelin, Swords, Titus, Townsend, Van Zandt, 
Van Wagenen, Van Rensselaer, Verplanck, Wadding- 
ton, Winthrop, and Woolsey families. 


I I v 


i ? F i ' r r r r r 

i, I, I , ! , I , 

!T 4 

\ ' i ' i ' i 


Cruger House 

AXY old Xew Yorkers remember the Cruger 
house in Fourteenth Street about halfway 
between Sixth and Seventh avenues, when it 
was occupied by the late Mrs. Douglas Cruger.* 

The house, having a frontage of seventy-five feet, 
stood in the middle of a courtyard extending on either 
side about one hundred feet, separated from the street 
by a high wall. Now the courtyard has disappeared and 
the house, crowded closely on both sides by high build- 
ings, seems completely dwarfed. Decorated with fire 
escapes and signs it has fallen from its high estate, and 
the whole street, formerly a quiet dwelling street, is now 
nearly given over to trade and noisy bustle. The en- 
trance hall, twenty-five feet in width, extended from 
front to rear eighty-five feet, a wide staircase rising 
from the center at the end, the conservatory at the rear 


being of the width of the house. The rooms on either 
side were rather curiously divided, losing somewhat in 
what might have made a more imposing effect, not, 
however, enough to prevent their being an excellent 

' r Mrs. Cruger spent her summers at that quaint castellated 
structure, Henderson House or Home, seven miles from Richfield 
Springs, the grounds being part of twenty thousand acres received 
by letters patent from the English crown. 


Old 'Building* of Xcic York ('it// 

place for the disposition of the collection of the Metro- 
politan Museum, which leased the house in 1873 for five 
years. The house is described in the annual report for 
that year as a large and elegant building surrounded 
hy spacious grounds, upon which grounds new galleries 
may he built, should they he required. ..." * The 
rooms certainly had more unobstructed light than could 


be found in most private houses. It is now occupied 

bv the Salvation Army. 

* .' 

1 Bulletin of Metropolitan Museum/' January, 1907. 


Abingdon Square Greenwich 

peculiarity of the Greenwich section of the 
town is that it has retained an individuality 
that no other section has retained. It is very 
much of an American quarter. The streets are lined 
with well-kept, comfortable brick houses, dating back 
sixty years or more, many of them with the elaborately 
ornamental iron railings and newel posts that are dis- 
appearing so rapidly. There is a marked paucity of 
the conventional tenement house, and although factories 
and warehouses are crowding it on all sides, its people 
cling with a stolid determination to their ancient homes. 
This square is taken as representative of this quarter 
of the city, although it is rather in the streets adjoining 
that the houses are most representative of old dwellings 
of sixty or seventv vears ago. Before the arrival of 

' / .' O 

Henry Hudson, there was an Indian village here near 
the site of Gansevoort Market, but Governor Van 
Twiller turned the locality into a tobacco farm. By 
1727 it became covered with farms and was joined to 
the city by a good road very nearly following the line 
of the present Greenwich Street. 

The region was always noted for its healthfulness 
and when an epidemic of smallpox broke out Admiral 
Warren invited the Colonial Assemblv to meet at his 



Old Building* of Xew York ('it if 
house. This made Greenwich the fashion, and for nearly 


a century when epidemics occurred the people Hocked 
out of town to that village. At one time the Hank 
of Xew York transferred its business there. 

Xo history of this part of the city can he written 
without some reference to that hold Irish sailor, Admiral 
Sir Peter Warren. Post captain at the age of twenty- 
four he, in 174-4, while in command of the squadron on 
the Leeward Islands station, in less than four months 
captured twenty-four prizes, one with a cargo of two 
hundred and fifty thousand pounds in plate. He also 
served at Louisburg, Gibraltar, and elsewhere. When 
at length he tired of a seafaring life, although still 
young, he decided upon making his home in Xew York, 
and proceeded to anchor himself for a time at least by 
marrying a Xew York woman, Miss De Lancey. He 
bought three hundred acres of land at Greenwich, built 
a house and laid out the grounds like an English park. 
Here he resided for some years, and then went to Eng- 
land and entered Parliament. 

He died at the age of forty-eight and lies buried in 
Westminster Abbey, with a fine monument by Roubillac 
above him. After Lady Warren's death the property 
was divided into three lots, one lot going to each of 
the three daughters. The lot containing the house fell 
to the eldest daughter, Lady Abingdon, and was sold 
by her to Abijah Hammond, who afterwards sold it 
to the late Abraham Van X T est. The remainder was 
sold off in small parcels after three roads had been cut 


A bingdon Square Greenwich 

through them, the Abingdon, Fitzroy, and Skinner 
roads.* The first corresponds to the present Twenty- 
first Street, the second was almost on a line with Eighth 
Avenue, and the third was part of the present Christo- 
pher Street. 

* Named after the three daughters, Countess of Abingdon,, Lady 
Southampton ( Fitzroy ), and Mrs. Colonel Skinner. 


Gramercy Square 


DOW that St. John's Park has been destroyed, 
Gramercy Park is the only private park in 
the city- -that is, one restricted in its use to 
owners of houses facing it. Fifty years ago it had 
more seclusion. A high and dense hedge surrounded 
it on the inside of the iron fence. For some reason 
this was removed and never replanted. Xow people in 
the park might almost as well be in the middle of the 
street. The figure on the fountain was then a Hebe 
perpetually filling her cup with water. In former days 
the children that played in the grounds had an annual 
May festival on the first of the month. One of the 


young girls was chosen queen. Dressed in white and 
crowned with flowers, she led the festivities around the 
Maypole, under the trees. Later they all withdrew to 
the house of her parents, where a collation was served 
and the dancing continued until the children were sent 
home by their parents and to bed. 

A number of men who have been prominent in the 
city's life are living or have lived in houses about the 
square. We might mention John Bigelow, Stuyvesant 
Fish, James W. Gerard, Edwin Booth, Samuel J. 
Tilden, Dr. Bellows, Dr. Valentine Mott, Cyrus W. 
Field, and David Dudley Field. 


Gramercy Square 

Residence of John Bigeloic 

R. BIGELOW, one of the best-known citizens 
of New York, was admitted to the bar in 1839 
and in 1850 joined William Cullen Bryant as 
editor of the Xew York Evening Post. He continued 
as one of the principal editors until 1861, when he was 
appointed consul at Paris, and on the death of Mr. 
Dayton became United States Minister, remaining so 
until 1866. 


While at Paris he published Les Etats Unis 
d'Amerique." This work corrected the erroneous views 
of the French as to the relative commercial importance 
of the Northern and Southern States and was effective 
in discouraging the supposed desire of the French Gov- 
ernment for the disruption of the Union. 

Mr. Bigelow also conducted the negotiations leading 
to the withdrawal of the French armv from Mexico. 


In 1875 he was elected to the office of Secretary of 


State of Xew York. He has published The Life of 
Samuel J. Tilden," of whom he was one of the three 
executors; The Mystery of Sleep ' and numerous 
other works. He has been honored by degrees from 
various colleges and universities.* 

* " Natl. Cyclo. of Amer. Biog." 


Gramercy Square 

Former Residence of tlic Late Luther C. Clark 
OR many years this house was the residence of 

. . 

Mr. Clark, the well-known banker. It is now 
the house of the Columbia University Club. 


Gramercy Square 

Former Residence of the Late James W . Gerard 

R. GERARD was an eminent lawyer. Born 
in this city in 1794, of French ancestry on 
his father's side, he graduated from Columbia 
College in 1811, and in 1816 took the degree of M.A. 
and was admitted to the bar. A man of great public 
spirit, he, in 1824, procured the incorporation of the 
House of Refuge for Juvenile Delinquents, the first 
institution of the kind in the country. Formerly, the 
police or : watchmen," as they were called, wore no 
uniforms. Occasionally, an ordinary looking man would 
be seen wandering about the streets, and, if the wind 
happened to turn aside the lapel of his coat, one might 
observe a small metal shield. This was the only indi- 


cation of his office. Mr. Gerard publicly advocated the 
adoption of a uniform and by letters, addresses, and 
persistent action accomplished his purpose. He wore 
the new uniform at a fancy dress ball given by Mrs. 
Coventry Waddell, who occupied a Gothic villa, with 
tower, turrets, etc., on Fifth Avenue, at the top of 
Murray Hill, and entertained a great deal. 

Mr. Gerard devoted much of his time to charitable 
institutions and was especially interested in the public 


Old liuildings of Xnc York ('it// 

schools of the city. lie was a capital speaker. His 
speeches were witty and always in good taste. That 
he was in constant demand, in his prime, at dinners 
both public and private, is readily perceived by looking 
through the pages of Mayor Philip Hone's diary. 

Gramercy Park was founded in 1831 and this is 
said to be the oldest house facing' it. 


Gramercy Square 

(e The Players " 

'DWIX BOOTH, perhaps the most distin- 
guished American actor, was born in Mary- 
land in 1833. He made his first appearance 
in 1849 and was ever after devoted to his profession, 
playing throughout this country and also abroad. 

He was crushed by the affair of the assassination 
of President Lincoln and retired from the stage for a 
year, but never lost his personal popularity. He opened 
Booth's Theater in Twenty-third Street in 1869 and 
for thirteen years maintained the most popular revivals 
of Shakespeare's tragedies ever known in the city. Al- 
though forced into bankruptcy in 1873, he retrieved his 
fortunes by earning two hundred thousand dollars in 
fifty-six weeks. 

In 1882 he went to Europe and was received with 
the greatest favor. In 1888 he purchased the building 
here shown (formerly the residence of Valentine G. 
Hall), remodeled and furnished it and presented it to 
actors and the friends of the drama as The Players," 
a complete gentleman's club. Booth made his home 
at " The Players ' from the date of its opening until 
his death, which took place in this house June 7, 1893.* 

' Xatl. Cyclo. of Amer. Biog.' 


Gramercy Square 

Former Residence of the Late Samuel J. Tilden 

R. TILDEX had a great reputation for skill 
as a lawyer. He was also a thorough poli- 
tician, being chairman of the Democratic State 
Committee of Xew York for thirteen years. Xominated 


for President in 1876, he received a majority of the 
popular vote, but owing to the fact that the votes of 
several States were disputed, the celebrated Electoral 
Commission was appointed, consisting of senators, 
judges, and representatives. The commission divided 
on party lines and gave the disputed votes to Mr. Hayes. 
The house is formed by combining two, one formerly 
having a front similar to that of The Players," and 
the other with a front corresponding to the brick house 
adjoining on the west. The larger house had belonged 
to the Belden family. Both the Hall and the Belden 
houses once had ornamental iron balconies at the main 
floor with canopies similar to those now seen attached 
to the fronts of the houses on the west side of the square, 
and were alike in appearance, excepting that the Belden 
house had the coat of arms carved in high relief over 
the door. One of the beautiful Misses Belden married 
the late Dudley Field, another the late Colonel Tal- 


Old Itnildiugx of Xcic York City 

The gardens in the rear of these two houses were 
the largest in tlie row, extending through the block to 
Nineteenth Street, a part near the Belden house being 
formally laid out with box-edged walks and flower beds, 
while the rest was turfed and shaded by large trees, a 
few of which survived until a year or two ago, when 
they were cut down to make way for the new building 
of the National Arts Club, the present owner. Mr. 
Tilden, joining with the other owners on the square and 
the owners of the houses on Irving Place, had all the 
wooden fences in the angle formed by these houses re- 
moved and an open iron fence put in their place. As 
there were no houses on Nineteenth Street, there re- 
mained an unusual effect of greenery and trees for New 
York City. 


Gramercy Square 

Former Residence of the Late Rev. Dr. Henry IF. 


OR. BELLOWS was a distinguished clergyman. 
Born in 1814, he graduated at Harvard and 
at the Cambridge Divinity School, and in 1838 
became the pastor of the First Unitarian Church, New 

York, and so continued for forty-four years. Dr. Bel- 

/ / 

lows was an accomplished orator, his extemporaneous 
speeches being remarkable for their lucidity and style. 
He published numerous lectures and pamphlets, but is 
best known throughout the country for his work as 
president of the United States Sanitary Commission 
during the Civil War. Under him the commission dis- 
tributed supplies amounting to fifteen millions of dol- 
lars in value and five millions of money. The results 
of the experience of the commission in their work of 
reducing the suffering in war have been copied abroad. 


Gramercy Square 

Former Residence of tlie Late Dr. Valentine Mott 

OR. MOTT was a distinguished surgeon, and one 
of the best-known citizens of the small town 
of sixty or seventy years ago. He previously 
lived at the easterly end of Depau Row. For many 
years Dr. M. resided in Paris, during the reign of Louis 
Philippe, whose physician he was. In 1841 * a ball w r as 
given for the Prince de Joinville at the Depau Row 
house, and during the Civil War the Comte de Paris 
and brothers were entertained at the Gramercy Square 

' Diary of Philip Hone/' vol. II, p. 101. 


Gramercy Square 

Rectory of Calvary Parish 


rectory has been the home of many clergy - 
men celebrated in the community. One of the 
earlv rectors was Dr. Francis Lister Hawks. 


Born at NTewbern, N. C., in 1798, he was ordained in 
1827 and was conspicuous in the church up to the time 
of his death in 1866. 

In 1844 he became rector of Christ Church, New 
Orleans, and president of the University of Louisiana, 
and in 1849 he became rector of this parish. Being of 
Southern birth, he, at the outbreak of the Civil War, 
withdrew to the South, but returned after the close of 
the war. He published many works on ecclesiastical 
and other subjects. He declined the bishopric of Mis- 
sissippi and also that of Rhode Island. 

The Rev. Dr. Arthur Cleveland Coxe was at one 
time rector. He afterwards became the Bishop of 
Western New York. The Rev. Dr. Henry Yates 
Satterlee was for many years the well-know r n rector of 
this parish. He is noAV Bishop of Washington. 


urn jam 

Gramercy Square 

Former Residence of the Late Stanford White 

R. WHITE was an eminent architect. It is 
now the house of the Princeton Club. 


^ / If ' 

k I'-- s- i -- 

* ; ' S*- ; 

r. ***' 

' ' 

VI 4 \ 

Gramercy Square 

Former Residence of the Late Cyrus W. Field and the 

Late David Dudley Field 

GYRUS W. FIELD was a business man until 
about 1854-56, when with Peter Cooper, 
Moses Taylor, and others he organized the 
Atlantic Telegraph Company. Although the first 
cable was laid in 1858, it was not until 1866 that the 
enterprise was entirely successful, after Mr. Field had 
crossed the ocean thirty times in the prosecution of the 
work. He received the thanks of Congress and many 
other honors. 

His brother, David Dudley Field, was conspicuous 
at the New York bar for over fifty years. For forty 
years of this time he devoted all his spare moments to 
the subject of the reform of the law and obtained a 
marked success. The new system of civil procedure has 
been adopted in many States and substantially followed 
in Great Britain. In 1873 he was elected the first presi- 
dent of an association for the reform and codification of 
the law r of nations formed at Brussels in that year.* 
The two houses owned by the brothers Field have 


been united by the present owner, Henry W. Poor, 
banker and author of the statistical work on American 
railways universally consulted by bankers and investors 
throughout the country. The interior has been beauti- 
fully reconstructed. 

* " Natl. Cyclo. of Amer. Biog." 


Former Residence of the Late Peter Cooper 
and the Late Abram S. Hewitt 

QETER COOPER was born in New York in 
1791. His father being a man of small means, 
he was at an early age put into business and 
contributed to the support of his family. 

He entered into the manufacture of glue and soon 
became the best -known maker of that commodity. In 
1828, when thirty-seven years of age, he had acquired 
considerable wealth and was enabled to buy three thou- 
sand acres of land within the limits of the city of Balti- 
more. Here he built the great Canton Iron Works, and 
the entire investment soon proved extremely successful. 
About the year 1830 he built, at the West Point Foun- 
dry, X. Y., the first locomotive constructed in the 
United States for actual service. Not long after he 
disposed of the Canton Iron Works and erected enor- 
mous iron works at the city of Trenton, N. J. The 


firm was a pioneer in the successful manufacture of 
iron and became one of the largest of the kind in the 


Mr. Cooper made many inventions in connection 
with this business. He became associated with Cyrus 
W. Field in his efforts to lay the Atlantic Cable, and 


Old llnildings of Xcic York Citt/ 

the final success of that enterprise was in great measure 
due to his cooperation. Mr. Cooper is perhaps hest 
known as the founder of the Cooper Institute, of which 
he commenced the construction as early as 18,5.'*. The 


ohjects of this institution were to furnish free schools 
in art and science and a free reading room and to pro- 
vide free lectures on scientific, artistic, and social sub- 
jects. Mr. Cooper died, universally respected, in 1883. 
Abram S. Hewitt, a native of Rockland County, 
X. Y., was the son-in-law of Peter Cooper, and to him, 
in partnership with his son Edward Cooper, he trans- 
ferred that branch of his business connected with the 
manufacture of iron. Mr. Hewitt was a man much 
interested in the great social problems, being no mere 
theorist but a man ready to sacrifice his own interests 


to the well being of his dependents. 

It is a fact that for forty years the business at Tren- 

f - 

ton was carried on with absolutely no profit beyond the 
amount necessary to pay the wages of the three thou- 
sand men employed and the regular expenses of the 
establishment. He stated at one of the meetings of 
the Congressional Committee on the grievances of labor 
that from 1873 to 1879 the business was carried on at 
a loss of one hundred thousand dollars a year. Of 
course, one object was to continue the business and to 
prevent the deterioration of the plant, but the firm also 
aimed to avoid throwing such a large body of men out 
of employment, although at times they were placed on 
half pay. 


Former Residence of the Late Peter Cooper 

Notwithstanding, the firm became wealthy through 
ventures not relating to the iron business and also 
through investments connected with it. As an exam- 
ple it may be mentioned that a large purchase of iron 
in 1879-80 resulted in a profit of a million dollars. In 
1874 Mr. Hewitt was elected a representative to Con- 
gress and served with the exception of one term until 
1886. In that year he was chosen mayor of Xew York. 
Mr. Hewitt was extremely honest and independent. 
He w r as neither a free trader nor a protectionist. He 
\vas a reformer but not a radical one, and at his death 
the nation, and especially the Democratic Party, lost 
a wise statesman and counselor.* 

' Natl. Cyclo. of Amer. Biog." 


The General Theological Seminary 


'OME time about the year 1750 Captain Clarke, 
a veteran of the provincial army, who had 
seen considerable service in the French war, 
built a country house, two or three miles north of the 
city, to which he gave the name of Chelsea. He gave 
it this name because he said it was to be the retreat of 
an old soldier in the evening of his days. 

It has been thought that the name of Greenwich was 
given to the neighboring estate by Admiral Warren 
for a corresponding sentimental reason, but Mr. Janvier, 
in that very entertaining book, '' In Old Xew York," 
shows that the name of Greenwich was in use long be- 
fore the admiral's advent. Captain Clarke, unfortu- 
nately, was not destined long to enjoy the house he 
had built. During his last illness, the house caught fire 
and the captain came very near being burned with it, 
but he was carried out by neighbors and shortly after 
died in an adjacent farmhouse. Mrs. Clarke rebuilt the 
house on the crest of a hill that sloped down to the river 
about three hundred feet distant.* The estate descended 
to her daughter, the wife of Bishop Moore, and in 1813 

* " In Old Xew York/' by Thomas A. Janvier. 


Old lln tiding* of \cic Yorlc ('if// 

it was conveyed to their son, Clement C\ Moore,* by 
whom the- old house- was considerably enlarged. The 
house was taken down when the bulkhead along the 
river front was constructed bv the eitv. Mr. Moore 


gave the whole of the block hounded by Twentieth and 

Twentv-first streets and Ninth and Tenth avenues to 

the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal 
C'hurch, and it became known as Chelsea Square. The 
building here shown was built about 183.5 and is con- 
structed of a gray stone. The modern buildings, how- 
ever, are of brick and stone, of a Gothic style and, with 
the old trees remaining and the stretches of green lawn, 
produce, especially in summer time, a suggestion of 
English seclusion and repose quite at variance with the 
bustle and the crudeness of that part of the city. 

* Remembered as the writer of that popular poem, ' 'Twas the 
night before Christmas/' etc. 

Former Residence of the 
Late William C Schermerhorn 


Church of the Transfiguration 

IT is difficult to realize the position held forty 
years ago by the old Wallack's Theater at 
Broadway and Thirteenth Street. It was in a 
way a city institution. The company remained nearly 
the same for years, with occasional changes, and its 
members were, one and all, accomplished in their pro- 
fession. The receipts of the theater were as regular as 
those of a bank. 

The elder Wallack, a well-bred Englishman, was a 
finished actor of the old school. His son, Lester Wal- 
lack, was an extraordinarily handsome man of the ro- 
mantic type, well suited for the more sentimental drama 
of the day, although his wealth of curly black hair and 
whiskers would violate our modern canons of taste. By 
his father's desire when a young man he became an offi- 
cer in the British army, but after serving two years 
resigned and adopted the profession of the stage. His 
wife was a sister of Millais, the artist. 

George Holland was a short, thickset man with a 
rather large head, who was seldom cast for a very prom- 
inent part, but his humor and his evident geniality and 
honesty made him a favorite with the public. Conse- 
quently when the story of his funeral became public, 
there was some indignation expressed. 


Old Hnildhigx of Xcic York City 

It is fair to the Rev. Dr. Sabine, however, to say 
that it is claimed that when approached by the parties 
having charge of the funeral, he told them that the 
Church of the Incarnation was undergoing repairs, that 
the aisles were crowded with workmen and scaffolding, 
and that it would prove an inconvenience to all parties 
to hold the services in that church. The late Rev. Dr. 
Houghton, rector of this parish for forty-nine years, 
was a clergyman held in the highest esteem by the peo- 
ple of this city. 



Residence of J. Pierpont Morgan 


Former Residence of the 
Late Theodore A. Havemeyer 

Former Residence 
of the Late Edwin D. Morgan 

'DWIX D. MORGAX, born in Berkshire Coun- 
ty, Mass., in 1811, came to Xew York in 1836 
and founded a mercantile house which became 
very successful. In 1858 he was elected Governor of 


the State of Xew York, and as he continued to hold 
that office during the first years of the Civil War he is 
frequently referred to as " The War Governor." In 
1861 he was appointed major general of volunteers and 
placed in command, but refused to receive any compen- 
sation for his services. In 1862 he was chosen United 
States Senator and occupied that office until March, 

President Lincoln offered him the position of Secre- 
tary of the Treasury. The same position was offered 
him by President Arthur in 1881, but on both occasions 
he declined the honor. 

He was a most generous benefactor to charitable 
institutions during his lifetime and also by virtue of his 
last will and testament.* The grounds attached to this 
house are extensive for Xew York City. 

* " Natl. Cyclo. of Amer. Biog." 


The Old Arsenal Central Park 



view of the Hudson, on a fine day, to a 
person looking northward from Claremont is 
one of the best on the river. Being on a high 
point that juts out somewhat into the stream, the spec- 
tator appreciates the river's breadth. In former days 
the site of Claremont was remarkable for its magnifi- 
cent trees, pine, oak and tulip, of extraordinary girth, 
height and spread, but the building of the railroad 
(which spoiled so many country seats) sounded its death 
knell in respect to its being a place of residence with 
appropriate surroundings. What is now known as 
Claremont appears at an early period to have been 
composed of two properties, the upper or northerly 
one being called " Strawberry Hill," or ' Claremont," 
and the lower or southerly one " Monte Alto." Some 
of the early deeds were not recorded and the writer 


has not ascertained when or how the division was 

A tract of land including that on which the house 
stands was conveyed in 1774 to Nicholas de Peyster, 
and in August, 1776, was sold by him to George Pol- 
lock, an Irish linen merchant. 

Pollock endeavored to improve the place by clearing 

and cultivation, as is shown by the statement in a letter 



Old Hnildhix's of \CK York ('it// 

below, in which he says: I have long con- 
sidered those grounds as of my own creation, having 
selected them when wild, and brought the j)laee to its 
present form/ lie named the place Strawberry 
Hill. After living there for some years and after the 


loss of a child (said to have occurred by drowning) he 
withdrew to England. 

Almost everyone who has visited Grant's Tomb re- 


members the marble funereal monument in the form of 
an urn inclosed within an iron railing near the top of 
the hill. The inscription, much blurred by time, reads: 
" Krected to the memory of an amiable child, St. Claire 


Pollock, died 1,5th. July 1797 in the 5 year of his age." 
Then follow some lines of verse. In a letter written 
from England by Mr. Pollock to Mrs. Gulian Ver- 
planck, who had become the owner of that or the ad- 
joining place, dated July 18, 1800, he writes: ' There is 
a small enclosure near vour boundary fence within which 

/ * 

lie the remains of a favorite child, covered bv a marble 


monument. . . . The surrounding ground will fall into 
the hands of I know not whom, whose prejudice or 
better taste may remove the monument and lay the en- 


closure open. You will confer a peculiar and interest- 
ing favor upon me by allowing me to convey the en- 
closure to you, so that you will consider it a part of your 
own estate, keeping it however always enclosed and 
sacred. There is a white marble funereal urn to place 
on the monument which will not lessen its beauty. I 


have long considered those grounds as of my own crea- 


Clare mo nt 

tion, having selected them when wild, and brought the 
place to its present form. Having so long and so de- 
lightfully resided there, I feel an interest in it that I 
cannot get rid of by time." * 

In July, 1803, a tract of over thirty-one acres w r as 
conveyed by John B. Prevost, former Recorder of the 

/ / 

city, to Joseph Alston, of South Carolina, planter. 
Alston f seems to have held the property about three 
years and then to have sold it to John Marsden Pintard. 
This deed conveys the tract known as Monte Alto." 
In November, 1808, a release was recorded, executed by 
Theodosia Burr Alston in favor of Michael Hogan, 
gentleman, Hogan having bought Monte Alto from 
Pintard. J 

There is no record of any conveyance of Claremont, 

*"N. Y. Standard Guide/' p. 112. 

f Joseph Alston became Governor of South Carolina. Mrs. 
Alston,, the daughter of Aaron Burr, met with a tragic fate. On 
December 30, 1812, she sailed from Charleston in a small schooner, 
The Patriot, accompanied by Mr. Green, a friend of her father's, 
her physician and her maid. The vessel never reached its destina- 
tion. Forty years afterwards, three men., two in Virginia and one 
in Texas, made deathbed confessions that they had been members 
of the crew, that the crew had mutinied and murdered all the officers 
and passengers, Mrs. Alston being the last to walk the plank. The 
expression of her face, one man said, haunted him the rest of his 

J Pintard was a very prominent man in the first part of the 
last century, the founder of the New York Historical Society and 
many other city institutions. 


Old llnildingx of AYtc Yarlc ('it// 

by Gillian Verplanck or his executors, to Hogan,* but 

a deed made hv Robert Lenox, Jacob Stout, and John 

Wells, trustees, to Michael Iloo-an, dated July '21, 1811), 
reconvevs to him all property not disposed of in the 
execution of their trust, which is referred to as having 

* The author of " The Old Merchants of New York City " gives 
this account of Hogan. written in his peculiar style: Now look 
back forty-eight years ago to 1805, and there was but one Hogan 
in New York. His name was Michael Hogan, and he had only 
landed in the city a few months, but what attention he received from 
all the leading men of that dav ! Robert Lenox at that time lived 


in good style at 157 Pearl Street. He sent an invitation to the 
distinguished stranger the second day of his arrival. He was such 
a man as did not arrive in the then small city of New York every 
day. Michael Hogan brought with him in solid gold sovereigns 
four hundred thousand pounds, equal to two million dollars, and 
he had a wonderful history. What \vould I not give if I could write 
it all out! All these 160 Hogan families alluded to above, mostly 
Irish, are kith and kin of the great nabob, for such he was when he 
arrived here in 1804, with his dark Indian princess wife. Michael 
Hogan was born at Stone Hall, in the County of Clare, Ireland, 
September 26, 1766. So he was thirty-eight years old when he 
landed in New York, with his dark-skinned lady and his fabulous 
amount of gold. But what scenes he had been through in these 
eventful thirty-eight years! He had been a sailor; he had com- 
manded ships bound to ports in every quarter of the world in Asia, 
Africa, America, and Europe ; he had been to North as well as South 
America; and he had voyaged to the West as well as to the East 
Indies; he had made successful voyages to the almost then unknown 
land of Australia. In the East Indies he had married a lady of 


great wealth. This was the story that was talked about when Cap- 
tain Michael Hogan came here." -Fourth Series, p. 115. 


Clare mo nt 

been imposed by tzco previous deeds of assignment or 
conveyance dated July 25, 1811. It is here that it is 

/ / 

generally thought a vagueness and uncertainty as to 
the true owner exists. It was about this time that Clare- 
mont was occupied by a rather mysterious individual, an 
Englishman named Courtenay, who, it is said, in after 
years, inherited the title of the Earl of Devon. 

Mr. Haswell,* in his ' Reminiscences of an Octo- 
genarian," says, page 25: " West of Broadway, between 
Eleventh and Twelfth avenues and One Hundred and 
Twenty-third Street, there was a large country resi- 
dence occupied by an Englishman, a Mr. Courtenay, 
with but one man servant and a cook. He lived so 
retired as never to be seen in company with anyone 
outside of his household and very rarely in public. 

There was, as a consequence, many opinions given 
as to the occasion of such exclusiveness. The one gen- 
erally and finally accepted w r as that he had been a gay 
companion of royalty in his youth, and that his leaving 
England was more the result of expediency with him 
than choice." Lossing's f account differs somewhat 
from this. He says: "When the War of 1812 broke 
out he (Courtenay) returned thither (to England) 
leaving his furniture and plate, which were sold at auc- 
tion. . . , Courtenay was a great lion in Xew York, 
for he was a handsome bachelor, witli title, fortune, and 
reputation- -a combination of excellencies calculated to 

* Who lately died at the age of ninety-eight. 

f " The Hudson from the Wilderness to the Sea/' p. 388. 


Old Itu'ildin^* <>f AYu' For/,' ('it// 

captivate the heart desires of the opposite sex. C'lare- 
inont was the residence for a while of Joseph Bonaparte, 
ex- King of Spain, when he first took refuse in the 
I'nited States, after the hattle of Waterloo and the 
downfall of the Napoleon dynasty. Here too Francis 


James Jackson, the successor of Mr. Erskine, the Brit- 
ish Minister at Washington, at the opening of the War 
of 1812, resided a short time. . . . He was politically 
and socially unpopular, and presented a strong contrast 
to the polished Courtenay." Courtenay disappeared at 
the time of the war between this country and Great 


Britain, after haying greatly embellished the place. It 

has always been a tradition in the Post family (who 

, .' 

owned the property for nearly fifty years) that Courte- 
nay built the present house. In March, 1812, Hogan 
joined with the above-named trustees in cony eying the 
property ' commonly called Claremont : to Herman 
Le Roy. William Bayard, and James McEvers, trus- 
tees. By some it has been supposed that while the legal 
title was in trustees, there may have been an unrecorded 
declaration of trust, by which Courtenay became the 

/ / 

equitable owner. The grantees * in the last -mentioned 
deed first leased Claremont and several years later sold 


it to Joel Post, February 12, 1821. Later, Mr. Post 
(brother of the distinguished physician of the last cen- 
tury, Dr. Wright Post, who also resided at Claremont) 

" It has been suggested that these trustees, being relatives., held 
the property in trust during the minority of Gulian C. Verplanck, 
who in later life became the noted Shakespearian scholar. 


Clare mont 

purchased the property adjoining on the south, Monte 
Alto, and united the ownership of the two places, al- 
though Monte Alto was for many years occupied as a 
country seat by the McEvers family.* In 1868 the 

. . * 

house and a portion of the place were acquired by the 
city from the heirs of Mr. Post. 

It seems to have been pretty well shown that the 
battle of Harlem Heights was not fought in this local- 
ity. It is only in recent years that Morningside Heights 
have been spoken of as Harlem Heights. In conveying 
Claremont it is described as in Bloomingdale and ac- 
cording to the map (Mrs. Lamb's ' History of the City 
of Xew York," vol. II, p. 129) the westerly line of 
Harlem excluded all Morningside Heights except a few 
feet at the base of the high ground at Manhattanville. 
The high ground was known as Vandewater Heights, 
and if the battle had taken place there it would have 
been known by that name. It is more probable that 
most of the fighting (which was widespread) took place 
at the base of the Point of Rocks, south of the Convent 
of the Sacred Heart, and also along the high ground 
to the west and north. Day's Tavern stood a little to 
the northeast of the Point of Rocks, and there Knowlton 
and the Connecticut troops were stationed. 

Major Lewis Morris, Jr., wrote to his father on 
September 28th: Monday morning an advanced par- 
ty, Colonel Knowlton's regiment, was attacked on a 
height a little to the southwest of Day's Tavern." 

* Miss McEvers married Sir Edward Cunard. 


Old 11 nil dings of Xcic Yorl' ("//// 

Morningside Heights would have been considerably 
more than " a little ' to the southwest of Day's Tavern. 


The (k'taehnient .sent out before daylight under Knowl- 
ton hy General Washington was not liis regiment but 
a small body, probably a single company, and was sent 
to make a diversion upon the enemy's rear. It is prob- 
able that they followed the river's edge as far south as 
Ninety-fourth Street, much below Claremont and Morn- 
ingside Heights. The actual battle did not begin until 
late in the day. The resolution of Congress passed 
October 17, 1776, was " Resolved, That General Lee 
be directed to repair to the camp on the Heights of 
Harlem with leave," etc. 

Washington had no camp on Morningside Heights. 
His camp was on the high ground between the Point 
of Rocks and the Harlem River. 

Finally " nowhere on Manhattan Island, to my 
knowledge, beyond the limit of the city, have there been 
found the remains of so many English and Hessian 
soldiers, as shown by buttons, cross-belt buckles, bay- 
onets, and portions of other arms, as have been exca- 
vated, from time to time, in the neighborhood of Trin- 
ity Cemetery. There could have been no fight at this 
point unless it was at the battle of Harlem, while the 
neighborhood about Columbia University, where it is 
claimed the battle was fought, has been particularly 
free from all such evidence." * Claremont is now a 

* " The Battle of Harlem Heights/' by Thomas Addis Emmet, 
M.D.; Magazine of American History, September, 1Q06. 



public restaurant.* The adding of the huge inclosed 
piazzas has produced an effect that is nondescript. 

* During the War of 1812, defenses were erected in this section 
as a protection against anticipated attacks by the British. Mrs. 
Lamb says (" History of the City of New York," vol. II, p. 661): 
' On the bank of the Hudson, near the residence of Viscount Cour- 
tenay, afterwards Earl of Devon, was a strong stone tower con- 
nected by a line of intrenchments with Fort Laight." Fort Laight 
was at the north on an eminence overlooking Manhattanville. 


Hamilton Grange 

LEXAXDER HAMILTOX, although born 

in another colony, was identified with the city 

/ - * 

from boyhood and married into a Xew York 


family.* The genuine Xew Yorker seems always to 
haye had a certain regard for the memory of Hamilton, 
ascribable perhaps to his untimely taking off, to a sen- 
timent of haying been, as it were, robbed of the seryices 
of a great man, and to the strong light thrown upon 
the contrast between his traits and those of his distin- 
guished and brilliant antagonist. 

He had faults, but they were very human ones, while 
those of his adversary tended toward the incarnation of 


selfishness. His career is probably more familiar to the 
people than that of any of the other characters con- 
nected with the State of Xew York during the Revo- 
lutionary era. The site of the house (named after the 
estate of his grandfather in Ayreshire, Scotland) was 
chosen by him in order to be in proximity to the house 
of his friend, Gouverneur Morris, at Morrisania. The 
situation at that time, like that of the Jumel house, 
commanded an extensive view of the Hudson and Har- 
lem rivers and Long Island Sound. It was then about 
eight miles from town, so that it was his habit to drive 

* Mrs. Hamilton was the daughter of General Philip Schuyler. 


Old Building* of Xcic York ('it// 
in cvcrv (lav. It was not to this that he was 


brought after the disastrous event of July 11, 1804. His 
friend William Bayard had received an intimation of 

the proposed encounter, and was waiting 1 when the boat 
containing him reached the Xew York shore. Hamil- 
ton was carried to his house and died there the next 
day. His wife and children were with him. One daugh- 
ter, overcome by two such dreadful events in the family 
within a short period, lost her reason.* The whole city 
was affected. Business was suspended. Indignation 
was universal. Burr's followers walked in the funeral 
procession. Talleyrand said of Hamilton: " Je con- 
sidere Napoleon, Fox, et Hamilton comme lest trois plus 
grande homines de notre epoque, et si je devais me 
prononcer entre les trois, je donnerais sans hesiter la 
premiere place a Hamilton." 

* Some time before this his eldest son had lost his life in a dueL 


The Jumel House 

S house was built in 1758 by Captain (after- 
wards Colonel) Roger Morris of the British 
army, who had been an aide of General Brad- 
dock. Morris married a daughter of Colonel Philipse. 
The Philipse estate embraced a great part of the present 
Westchester and Putnam counties. The manor hall 
erected about 1745 (the oldest part probably about 
1682) now constitutes the City Hall of Yonkers.* In 
that house, on July 3, 1730, was born Mary Philipse, 
and in the drawing-room on Sunday afternoon, Janu- 
ary 15, 1758, she w r as married to Captain Morris by 
the Rev. Henry Barclay, rector of Trinity, and his 
assistant, Mr. Auchmuty. 

A paper on The Romance of the Hudson," by 
Benson J. Lossing, published in Harper's Magazine 
for April, 1876, gives the following account of the wed- 
ding: The leading families of the province and the 
British forces in America had representatives there. 
The marriage w r as solemnized under a crimson canopy 

* This is one of the best examples of a Colonial manor house 
now standing with wainscoted walls, ornamental ceilings, carved 
staircase, mantels, etc. The establishment was a large one for the 
time, maintaining thirty white and twenty colored servants. ' Bol- 
ton's History of Westchester County." 


Old lluildinx* <>f AVtf York 
emblazoned with the golden crest of the i'ainilv. . . . 

t^ / 

The bridesmaids were Miss Barclay. Miss Van Cort- 

landt. and Miss De Lancev. The <>Toomsnien were Mr. 


Ileathcote, Captain Kennedy, and Mr. \Vatts. Acting 
(overnor l)e Lancev (.son-in-law to Colonel Heath- 

cote, lord of the manor of Scarsdale) assisted at the 
ceremony. The brothers of the bride . . . gave away 
the bride. . . . Her dowry in her own right was a 
large domain, plate, jewelry, and money. A grand 
feast followed the nuptial ceremony, and late on that 
brilliant moonlit night most of the guests departed. 

While they were feasting a tall Indian, closely 
wrapped in a scarlet blanket, appeared at the door of 
the banquet hall, and with measured words said: Your 
possessions shall pass from you when the eagle shall 
despoil the lion of his mane.' He as suddenly disap- 
peared. . . . The bride pondered the ominous words 
for years . . . and when, because they were royalists 
in action, the magnificent domain of the Philipses was 
confiscated bv the Americans at the close of the Revo- 


lution, the prophecy and its fulfillment were mani- 
fested." * 

AVhile in Xew York in 1756 Washington stayed at 
the house of his friend, Beverly Robinson, who had mar- 
ried a sister of Miss Philipse, and there is no doubt 
that her charms made a deep impression upon him, but 
there is no evidence that she refused him. 

After the Revolution Colonel Philipse withdrew to 

* " Bolton's History of Westchester County," vol. II. 

*. y 



The Jumel House 

Chester, England, died there in 1785, and was buried 
in Chester Cathedral, where there is a monument to 
his memory. Some of his descendants are now living 
in England, as well as descendants of Colonel and Mrs. 
Morris. ' A part of the Philipse estate was in posses- 
sion of Colonel Morris in right of his wife, and that 
the whole interest should pass under the (confiscation) 
act, Mrs. Morris was included in the attainder." It 
is believed that Mrs. Morris and her sisters were the 
only women attainted of treason during the Revolution. 
' In 1787 the Attorney General of England examined 
the case and gave the opinion that the reversionary in- 
terest was not included in the attainder," and was recov- 
erable, and in the year 1809 Mrs. Morris's son, Captain 
Henry Gage Morris, of the royal navy, in behalf of 
himself and his two sisters, sold their reversionary inter- 
est to John Jacob Astor for twenty thousand pounds 
sterling. In 1828 Mr. Astor made a compromise with 
the State of ISTew York by which he received for these 
rights five hundred thousand dollars, with the under- 
standing that he should execute a deed with warranty 

f At the outbreak of the Revolution the manorial families of the 
province held various sentiments regarding the relations with the 
mother country. Families like those of Philipse and De Lancey 
were loyal to the crown and lost everything. Others, like those of 
Livingston and Schuyler, espoused the cause of the ' rebels ' or 
' patriots." Again, there was a third class, embracing families 
like those of Van Cortlandt and Morris, that had representatives 
on either side. The Patroon., being a minor, was legally incapable 
of choosing and saved his vast estate. 


Old Buildings of Xcic Yurie City 

against the claims of the Morris family, in order to quiet 
the title of the numerous persons who had bought from 
the commissioners of forfeitures. This he did. 

In 1810 the property was bought by Stephen Juniel, 
a wealthy French merchant. There he entertained 

Louis Philippe, Lafayette, Joseph Bonaparte, Louis 
Napoleon, and Henry Clay. After Jumel's death it 
came into the possession of his widow. Aaron Burr, in 
his old age, married Madame Jumel. After he had 
made away with a good deal of her money, she got rid 
of him. He withdrew to other fields of action and died 
somewhere on S tat en Island. 

During the Revolution Washington had his head- 
quarters here from September 16 to October 21, 1776, 
and revisited it, accompanied by his cabinet, July, 1790. 

The house is now in the control of the Department 
of Parks and is shown to the public. 


Gracie House East River Park 

RCHIBALD GRACIE, a native of Dumfries, 
Scotland, of an old Scotch family, came to this 
country about the time of the close of the 
Revolutionary War and established himself as a mer- 
chant. He became one of the largest if not the largest 
ship owner in the country, his ships visiting, it is said, 
every port in the world. He was a man of the highest 
character. Oliver Wolcott said of him: " He was one 
of the excellent of the earth, actively liberal, intelligent, 
seeking and rejoicing in occasions to do good." Wash- 
ington Irving wrote (January, 1813) : " Their (the 
Grades') country place was one of my strongholds last 
summer. It is a charming, warm-hearted family and 
the old gentleman has the soul of a prince." Mr. Gracie 
lost greatly as a result of the Berlin and Milan decrees, 
over a million dollars, it is said. It is believed that 
he was the largest holder of the celebrated ' French 
Claims," * which Congress with outrageous persistence 
refused or neglected to pay for generations. He mar- 
ried Esther, daughter of Samuel Rogers and Elizabeth 

' The Government of France had certain claims against this 
Government. An agreement was made to release these claims upon 
the express consideration that the United States would pay their 
own citizens the claims that they had against France. 


Old liu'ddinx* of \CK York ('it// 

Fitch, daughter <>!' Thomas Fitch, (Governor of Con- 

There was an old house at Grade's Point belonging" 
to Mrs. Prevoost, and this he either altered and enlarged 
01- else 1 removed entirely and built the present structure, 
but at what time it is not known. In the year ISO.} 


Josiah Quincv was entertained there at dinner. lie 

describes enthusiastically the situation, overlooking the 

. C_7 

then terribly turbulent waters of Hell Gate. He said: 

The shores of Long Island, full of cultivated pros- 
pects and interspersed with elegant country seats, bound 
the distant view. The mansion is elegant in the modern 
style and the grounds laid out in taste with gardens." 
Among the guests at that dinner were Oliver Wolcott, 
Judge Pendleton, Hamilton's second, and Dr. Hosack, 
who later married Mrs. Coster. 

William Gracie, the eldest son, married the beauti- 
ful Miss Wolcott, daughter of Oliver Wolcott, Secre- 
tary of the Treasury under Washington. A great re- 
ception was given by Mr. and Mrs. Archibald Gracie 
to the bride at this house. All the bridesmaids, grooms- 
men, and a large company were assembled when the 
bride died suddenly of heart disease. His daughter 
Hester w r as married in the parlor of the house to Will- 
iam Beach Lawrence, afterwards Governor of Rhode 
Island. Another daughter married James Gore King, 
the eminent banker, and another Charles King, after- 
wards president of Columbia College, both being sons 

* Mrs. Lamb's " History of the City of New York." 


Grade House East River Park 

of Rufus King of Revolutionary fame. On one occa- 
sion during the Xapoleonic wars, a French vessel was 
chased by an English frigate into the neutral harbor 
of Xew York. The Englishman lay in the lower bay 
ready to attack the Frenchman when he should return 
through the Xarrows. Being sure of his prize he was 
off his guard. The French captain, taking a skillful 
pilot, slipped up the East River, a feat believed im- 
possible for so large a vessel. In rounding Grade's 
Point a sailor on a yardarm was swept from his perch 
by the overhanging branches of a great elm that was 
standing on the lawn as late as 1880. With wonderful 
agility, the sailor seized the limbs and swinging from 
one to another reached the trunk, down which he slid 
to the ground. Charles King, calling to the French- 
man, rushed to the other side of the Point, put him in 
his boat and followed the man-of-war, although it had 
then swung over to the other side of the river. By 
skillful management he reached the vessel and the sailor 
scrambled aboard. Anyone who remembers the waters 


of Hell Gate before the rocky bottom was blown up 
by the Government will admit that Mr. King did some 
vigorous rowing. The man-of-war escaped by way of 
the Sound, much to the chagrin of the English. 

Many distinguished people were entertained in this 
house. When Louis Philippe was here in exile he was 
invited to dine with Mrs. Gracie. The carriage and 
four were sent to town to bring the royal visitor, and 
when he arrived the family were assembled to receive 



Old litiildinxx of Xcic York ('Hi/ 

him. One of tlie little girls exclaimed aloud, That is 
not the king 1 , he has no crown on his head," at which 
the guest laughed good-naturedly and said: In these 
days, kings are satisfied with wearing their heads with- 
out crowns." An early picture shows an ornamental 
balustrade on the roof of the house and also on that 
of the piazza, relieving the present rather bare appear- 



The Gouverneur Morris House * 

'OUVERXEUR M ORRIS was one of the most 
interesting characters of the Revolutionary 
era, interesting because he had an individual- 
ity that distinguished him from the other worthies of 
the time. Though crippled, f his versatility and activity 
of mind and body were very great. An orator of the 
first rank, when but a few years past his majority he 
swayed the Continental Congress with his views upon 
matters of finance, a subject for which he had an espe- 
cial aptitude throughout his career. Resolving, when 
a young man, to be the first lawyer in the land, he 
became so. By reason of his connections, his education 
and abilities, during his long stay abroad he associated 
on intimate terms with a vast number of the most influ- 
ential personages living at the time. The unfortunate 
King and Queen of France sought his advice and aid 
in their troubles, as did Lafavette and many others. 

/ *- 

This picture is from a sketch by permission of the New York 

\ While living in Philadelphia during the war he was thrown 
from his carriage in trying to control a pair of runaway horses. 
The accident necessitated the amputation of a leg. 


Old Hnlldhi^ of AYu- York T//// 

His diary published in 1888 (now out of print), 
written in "Paris during the early days of the French 
Revolution, although evidently for his own use, is 
comparable with those other letters and memoirs of the 
eighteenth century when writing of the sort was culti- 
vated as a fine art. 

His father's will states: It is my desire that my 
son, Gouverneur Morris, may have the best education 
that is to be had in England or America." Great pains 
were taken that this should be carried out, so that he 
should be fitted for any career that might open to him.* 
He was a member of the Provincial Congress of Xew 
York, in 177o, " serving on the various committees with 
such well-balanced judgment as to command the respect 
of men of twice his age and experience." Twice elected 
to the Continental Congress, he was a chairman of three 
committees for carrying on the war,y wrote contin- 
ually 011 all subjects, especially that of finance, and 
at the same time practiced law, doing all this before 
he was twenty-eight years of age. After five years 
of devotion to public affairs, he became a citizen of 
Philadelphia and settled down to the practice of his 

In 1787, as a delegate from Pennsylvania, he took 
his seat in the convention which met to frame the Fed- 
eral Constitution. He had been connected in certain 
financial ventures with William Constable of Xew York, 

* Diary, p. 2. 

f Commissary's,, Quartermaster's, and Medical Departments. 


The Gourerneur Morris House 

which had been eminently successful, and in November, 


1788, led partly by matters relating to these and partly 
by the desire to travel, he decided to visit France. His 
life on the other side became so crowded with interesting 
and important events that this visit was prolonged far 
beyond his intention. It was ten years before he re- 
turned. He was furnished by Washington with letters 
to persons in England, France, and Holland. He was 
present at the assembling of the States-General at Ver- 
sailles, which has been called the ' : first day of the French 
Revolution," and from that time on w r as au fait with 
all the important events of that exciting period. At 
times he was in almost daily communication with the 


Duchess of Orleans, Madame de Stael, Talleyrand, and 
hosts of others equally important. 

He was soon recognized as applying a clear brain 
to the solution of any important question submitted to 
him, and we find him writing a memoir for the guidance 
of the king and the draught of a speech to be delivered 
before the National Assembly. The Monciel scheme, 
usually mentioned in the biographies of Morris, was a 
well-conceived plan to get the king out of Paris. Mon- 
ciel, one of the ministry, consulted Morris as to the 
details of the plan, and the king deposited with him 
his papers and the sum of seven hundred and forty- 
eight thousand francs. Everything was discreetly ar- 
ranged and success nearly assured when, on the morning 
fixed for the king's departure, he changed his mind and 
refused to budge. Later the money was nearly all with- 


Old Building of \CK y<>rk T//// 

drawn, leaving a small balance in Morris's bands \vbich 
be returned to tbe Dncbess d'Angouleme.* 

In 17H9 Washington liad written liiin a letter re- 
questing bim to visit Kngland and endeavor to facilitate 
tbe carrying out of tbe terms of tbe treaty between tbe 


two countries, but tbe English governing class at that 
day had no desire to facilitate anything in which this 
country was interested. He bad many interviews with 

Leeds and Pitt, but was always met with a policy of 
vagueness, postponement, and unlimited delay, so that 
be accomplished little. It was partly on this account 
that when Washington nominated him as Minister to 
France in 1791, tbe nomination was opposed. His views 
also regarding tbe condition of France were well known. 
He did not deem that country fitted for a radical change 
of government nor for the development of tbe wild 
theories of government that were there rampant. f The 

* A laconic entry in the diary gives a hint as to the life of 
terror which the ill-fated family were leading: ' Go to court this 
morning (August oth). Nothing remarkable, only they were up 
all night expecting to be murdered." -Diary, p. 069. 

M. Esmein quotes Tairie: ' Quatre observateurs, ecrit Hip- 
poly te Taine, out des le debut, compris le caractere et la portee de 
la Revolution fran^aise RivaroL, Malouet, Gouverneur Morris et 
Mallet du Pan,, celui ci plus profondement que les autres; . . ." 
but Esmein says ' centre 1'auteur illustre et respecte des Origines 
de la France contemporaine, j'oserais revendiquer pour Gouverneur 
Morris, la plupart des titres qu'il reconnait a Mallet du Pan." 
(" Gouverneur Morris, un temoin American de la revolution Fran- 
-caise/' by A. Esmein., membre de 1'Institut, Paris., 1906.) 


The Gouverneur Morris House 

sanity of these views was proved by subsequent events, 
but many senators did not regard him as suitable to 
represent this republic. He was, however, confirmed by 
a moderate majority. He continued to be Minister un- 
til Genet was recalled at the request of Washington. 
Then France requested his recall on the ground of 
" reciprocity." 

Monroe arrived in Paris in August, 1794. Morris 
intended to return, but changed his plans and decided 
to spend another year in Europe visiting some of the 
principal courts and traveling * through various coun- 
tries, but events were so interesting and produced so 
much stir and excitement that it was fully four years 
before he returned. 

While in England he was presented at court, No- 
vember 25, 1795.f Finally in October, 1798, he sent 
his steward to New York with all his : books, liquors, 

' Partout oii il a porte ses pas, en Angleterre comme dans 
1'Europe continentale, il etait accueilli avec une faveur marquee 
par les hommes d'Etat les plus en vue; les ministres en charge, 
les ambassadeurs les plus influents, le consultaient voluntiers et le 
renseignaient en meme temps. 

' II a su recueillir partout des information abondantes et sure, 
et tres souvent ses predictions se realisaient. . . . Voici le compli- 
ment que lui adressait le 2 Juillet, 1790, M. de la Luzerne, am- 
bassadeur de France a Londres ' vous dites toujours des chose 
extraordinaires qui se realisent ' (idem}. 

f The king: " Pray, Mr. Morris, what part of America are you 
from ? ' Morris : ' I am from near New York, sir. I have a 
brother who has the honor to be a lieutenant general in your Maj- 


Old Building of Xezc York f//// 

linens, furniture, plate and carriages," and soon after 
followed himself. 

On his mother's death in 1786, the estate of Mor- 
risania devolved on his eldest brother, Staats Morris; 
but he, having no intention of living in this country, 
willingly sold it to him, including his father's house, in 
which he was born. The house he found in poor con- 
dition, and at once set about the task of repairing and 
adding to it. After its restoration, he settled there, and 
for the rest of his life the house became the scene of a 
continuous hospitality, not only to the most eminent 
Americans of the day, but to nearly every foreigner of 
distinction that came to this country. 

He was elected a United States Senator and was 
always interested in public affairs. He is said to have 
been the originator of the Erie Canal. In December, 
1809, he married Miss Randolph of Virginia. In May, 
1804, he was present at the deathbed of his friend, 
Alexander Hamilton, and later delivered the funeral 

Sparks * says : The plan of his house conformed 

esty's service." The king: ' Eh ! what ! You're a brother of General 
Morris? Yes, I think I see a likeness, but you're much younger." 

Diary, vol. II, p. 135. Some years prior to the Revolution, 
his elder brother, Staats Morris, had married the Duchess of Gor- 
don and was a lieutenant general in the British army. He was 
the first lieutenant colonel of the Eighty-ninth Regiment of High- 
landers, the duke being a captain, and his brothers, lieutenant and 

* " Life of Morris," vol. I, p. 177. 


The Gouverneur Morris House 

to a French model, and though spacious and well con- 
trived was suited rather for convenience and perhaps 
splendor within than for a show of architectural mag- 
nificence without." To a friend he wrote: I have a 
terrace roof of one hundred and thirty feet long,* to 
which I go out by a side or rather back door, and from 
which I enjoy one of the finest prospects while breath- 
ing the most salubrious air in the world." The parquet 
floors of all the rooms were brought from France. The 
library, wainscoted and ceiled with Dutch cherry panels, 
also imported, w T as in the early days hung with white 
and gold tapestry. The room contained the mahogany 
desk, still preserved, trimmed with brass (said to have 
been a present from one of the royal family), at which 
he carried on his correspondence with so many dis- 
tinguished personages, correspondence often relat- 
ing 1 to loans of monev to the Duchess of Orleans, 


Madame de Lafayette, Louis Philippe, and hundreds 
of others. 

The reception room, twenty-two by thirty feet and 
fourteen feet high, was also a paneled room with mir- 
rors set in the wall in the French style. It contained 
a number of pieces of gilt furniture, originally covered 
with white silk embroidered in gold, with designs from 
Boucher which he had brought with him from France. 
The dining room of peculiar shape (a half octagon) 
w r as paneled in dark wood and contained a curious re- 
minder of life during Revolutionary days, a dumbwaiter 

* Diary, vol. II, p. 418. 


Old Building* of Xnc Yorlc ('//// 

placed near each guest so that servants need not be 
admitted to overhear the conversation.* 

Morris died on November 6, 1816, in the room in 
which he was born. Almost the last letter he wrote was 
to plead with the Federal Party to : forget party and 
think of our country. That country embraces both par- 
ties. \Ve must endeavor therefore to save and benefit 
both." What statesman to-day would put forth such 
a sentiment ? f 

* " The Homes of America/' p. 11 9. 

f The house was taken down in 1905 to make way for the tracks 
of the New York & New Haven Railroad Company. 


Van Cortlandt House 

property on which the house stands belonged 
in the seventeenth century to the Hon. Fred- 
erick Philipse and was sold by him in the year 
1699 to his son-in-law, Jacobus Van Cortlandt, who had 
married his daughter Eva. The house was built in 1748 
by Frederick Van Cortlandt, only son of Jacobus, who 
married Frances Jay, daughter of Augustus Jay, the 
Huguenot. His will, dated October 2, 1749, states: 
Whereas I am now finishing a large stone dwelling 
house on the plantation in which I now live, which with 
the same plantation will, by virtue of my deceased fa- 
ther's will, devolve, after my decease, upon my eldest 
son, James," etc.* 

During the Revolutionary War the neighborhood 
was constantly the scene of conflicts. Washington vis- 
ited the house in 1781, and on the hill to the north 
disposed part of his army, which lighted camp fires while 
he was quietly withdrawing the rest of his troops to 
join Lafayette before Yorktown. There was a bloody 
engagement near the house on August 31, 1778, be- 
tween the British, under Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe, 
and a body of Stockbridge Indians. The Indians 
fought with great bravery and desperation, dragging 

f Surrogate's Office, New York, fol. XVIII,, 62. 


Old Buildings of New York City 

the cavalrymen from their horses, but were ultimately 
dispersed, their chief being killed.* 

Washington slept here the night before the evacua- 
tion of the city by the British, November 25, 178,5. The 
estate has been bought by the city and is now known 
as Van Cortlandt Park. It contains 1,070 acres. There 
is a lake covering sixty acres and a parade ground for 
the National Guard on a level meadow of 120 acres. 

The house is used as a museum and is crowded with 
interesting relics. 

* " Bolton's History of Westchester County," vol. II, p. 622. 



The Bowne House Flushing 

^S^^^HIS house was built in 1661 by John Bowne> 
i j a native of Matlock, Derbyshire, England, in 
^^^ whose church he w r as baptized in the year 1627. 
About 1672 George Fox, founder of the sect of Quakers 
or Friends, visited Flushing and held meetings there. 
Bowne's wife * frequently attended the meetings, and 
after a time joined the sect. As a result of this, Quakers 
were often entertained at the house. Governor Stuvve- 


sant had Bowne arrested for " harboring Quakers," and 
he was thrown into jail. Prior to this Henry Town- 
send, of Oyster Bay, had been subjected to the same 
treatment. Bowne, being a man of considerable inde- 
pendence, remained obdurate. He w r as then banished 
to Holland. He presented his case to the Dutch West 
India Company in such a manner that he was returned 
in a special ship with the following rebuke to the Gov- 
ernor and Councils of the New Netherlands, 1663: ' We 
finally did see from your last letter you had exiled and 
transported hither a certain Quaker named John Bowne,. 
and although it is our cordial desire that similar and 
other sectarians might not be found there, yet, as the 
contrary seems to be the fact, we doubt very much if 

* Daughter of Lieutenant Robert Feake, patentee of Greenwich,. 
Conn.,, and his wife Elizabeth., niece of John Winthrop. 



gti of AYtc Yurie City 

vigorous proceedings against them ought not to be dis- 
continued, except YOU intend to check and destroy your 


population, which, however, in the youth of your exist- 
ence ought rather to be encouraged by all possible 
means, wherefore it is our opinion that some connivance 
would be useful that the conscience of men, at least, 
ought ever to remain free and unshackled. 

" Let everyone be unmolested as long- as he is mod- 


est, as long as his conduct, in a political sense, is irre- 
proachable, as long as he does not disturb others or 
oppose the Government." Signed, The Directors of 
the West India Company, Amsterdam Department." 

The house has always remained in the possession of 
the descendants of the first owner. House and furni- 
ture are in a good state of preservation; they are in 
charge of a caretaker and shown to visitors. 


The Billop House 

'OR more than a century Staten Island was prac- 
tically in the control of the Billop family. 
The Eillops for several generations had led 
active and valiant careers in the service of the sover- 
eign. One, James, in the sixteenth century, is said to 
have won the friendship of Queen Elizabeth by risking 
his own life in order to save hers. They had favors 
also from the Stuart line. 

Christopher, born in 1638, received a naval training 
by command of Charles I. He was commissioned cap- 
tain and made important and adventurous voyages, in 
one of which he was wounded, captured by Turkish 
pirates and abandoned, to be later rescued by a passing 
ship. In 1667, whether by order of Charles II or on 
his own account it is not known, he sailed from Eng- 
land in his vessel, the Bentley, and came cruising in 
the waters of the Xew Netherlands. The tradition is 
that the Duke of York, to determine the ownership of 
the islands in the bay, decided that any island that could 
be circumnavigated in twenty-four hours belonged to 
the province of Xew York, and Billop, having proved 
that Staten Island was so included by sailing around it 


Old Building of Xcic Ynrk ('it// 

in the required time, was presented with 1,103 acres in 
the southern part of the island. On this tract he built 
in 1008 the stone house here presented. The stones and 
lumber were obtained in the vicinity, but the cement 


was l)rou "'lit from England and the bricks from Bel- 

o ~ 


In the early records his name appears as showing" 
that lie had several public positions, but apart from that 
little is known about him except that he held a military 
command and had a controversy with Governor Andros 
to his disadvantage at first, but later he succeeded in 
having the governor recalled to England. 

In the year 1700 he sailed for England in the 
Bcntleij, but was never heard of again. By some 
writers it is thought that he was ordered back, inas- 
much as a pension was assigned to his widow by the 
king. Captain Billop married a Miss Farmer, sister 
of a Supreme Court judge in the neighboring province 
of Xew Jersey. They had one child, a daughter, who 
married her cousin, Thomas Farmer, and he, succeed- 
ing to the manor of Bentley, changed his name to 
Billop. Both died young and their tombstones are to 
be seen at the house to-day. Christopher Billop, their 
only son, born 1735, was a prominent man in public 
affairs throughout his life. In the Revolution he was 
intensely loyal to the crown, and became a colonel in 
the British army. Twice he was captured. The New 
Jersey colonists were especially bitter toward him, and 
once by keeping men stationed in the steeple of St. Pe- 


The Billop House 

ter's Church at Perth Amboy they observed him going- 
into his house. Immediately they took boats, crossed 
the river and made him prisoner. By order of Elisha 
Boudinot (Com. Pris. of New Jersey) he was thrown 
into jail at Burlington, hands and feet chained to the 
floor and fed only on bread and water. Here his com- 


panion in captivity was Lieutenant Colonel Simcoe of 
the Queen's Rangers, probably the same Simcoe who 
was in the engagement near the Van Cortlandt house. 
Billop was exchanged for a captain who had been on 
the prison ship. The second time he was taken he was 
released by Washington at the solicitation of Lord 
Howe, commander in chief of the British forces. 

After the battle of Long Island, Howe thought it 
an opportune time to offer favorable terms to the col- 
onists if they were willing to lay down their arms. Ac- 
cordingly he dispatched General Sullivan (then a pris- 
oner) to Congress requesting them to send a committee 
to negotiate. This committee, composed of Benjamin 
Franklin, Edward Rutledge, and John Adams, met 
Howe at the Billop house. ' Along the sloping lawn 
in front of the house, long lines of troops that formed 
the very flower of the British army were drawn up be- 
tween which the distinguished commander escorted his 
no less distinguished guests." The conference was held 
in the northwest room on the ground floor. It resulted 
in nothing, the colonists refusing to accede to any terms 
not involving their independence. About 1783-84 Bil- 

*" Morris's ' Memorial History of Staten Island." 


Old llnild'uigs of \cic Yorls ('ill/ 

lo]) withdrew to Xew Brunswick, and joined that army 
of estimable persons who, despoiled of their possessions, 
were driven from the land for their lovaltv to their 


king. There for years he held prominent offices in the 
Assembly and in the Council and died at St. John, 
March '23. 1827, at the age of ninety-two. At his 
funeral the highest honors of the town were paid to 
his memory. 


Hillop was evidently a complete type of the country 
gentleman and tory squire. According to Mr. Morris, 
in his Memorial History of Staten Island," the fol- 
lowing description of him was given by a friend: 
1 Christopher Billop was a very tall, soldierly looking 
man in his prime. He was exceedingly proud and his 
pride led him at times to the verge of haughtiness. Yet 
he was kind-hearted, not only to those he considered 
his equals, but to his slaves as well as to the poor people 
of the island. Xo one went from his door at the old 
manor hungry. It was his custom to gather the people 
of the island once a year on the lawn in front of his 


house and hold a ' harvest home.' . . . Passionately 


fond of horses, his stable was filled with the finest bred 
animals in the land. He was a magnificent rider and 
was very fond of the saddle. He was an expert shot 
with the pistol, which once saved his life when he was 
attacked by robbers. Christopher Billop was not a man 
to take advice unless it instantly met with his favor. 


. . . Lifelong friends pleaded with him to join the cause 
of independence at the commencement of the Revolu- 


The Billop House 

tion, but he chose to follow the fortunes of royalty. He 
was a good citizen, a noble man ! ' 

Before the Revolution the house was noted for its 
hospitality and gayety in the Colonial society of the 
day. The owner entertained lavishly and at the time 
of the war he received there Generals Howe, Clinton, 
Knyphausen, Cleveland, Cornwallis, Burgoyne, and 
many others. The interior of the house is extremely 
plain. Presumably in the year 1668 the house decora- 
tor had not made his appearance. The walls are three 
feet thick and the woodwork as sound as on the day 
it was built. There is of course a ghost room, with 
" that spot on the floor that cannot be washed out ' 
where murder is said to have been done. Below there 
is a dungeon with massive iron gate, and the marks are 
still visible where prisoners, American and then British, 
tried to cut their way out through the three-foot wall 
and arched ceiling.* It is said there was an under- 
ground passage leading to the river. 

In the basement Fenimore Cooper laid one of the 
scenes in his novel of the Water Witch." 

The grounds, once laid out with parklike lawns and 
flower beds, are now in the last stages of dilapidation. 

*New York Herald, April 15, 1906.