Monday, April 27, 2015

The Lost St. James Hotel -- Broadway and 26th Street



from the collection of the New York Public Library

 In 1859 Broadway near Madison Square saw the opening of two magnificent new hotels.  Amos R. Eno opened his Fifth Avenue Hotel, which engulfed the block front from 23rd Street to 24th, on August 23, 1859.   But his was not the first.  By January that year another white marble had opened, the St. James.

The six-story Italianate structure, run by E. E. Balcolm, was a block to the north, at the southwest corner of 26th Street.  Critics had warned that high-class hotels this far uptown would be doomed to failure.  Instead the St. James and the Fifth Avenue Hotel set a trend and within the next three decades Broadway north of 23rd Street would be lined with upscale hotels.

The St. James Hotel stunned visitors and New Yorkers alike with its gleaming white facade.  Guests entered on Broadway through an understated columned portico.  Baggage and other deliveries came and went through a lesser entrance on 26th Street.  The sitting and reception rooms were flooded with light from the floor-to-ceiling windows that lined the first floor.  Here guests relaxed and watched the bustling Broadway activities outside.

One of the St. James employees who both lived and worked here got into trouble almost before the paint was dry.  On January 22, 1859 The New York Times reported “A colored gent, named George H. Combs, who boards at St James Hotel, New-York, and occasionally serves those more fortunate than himself, was brought before Justice Voorhies yesterday, on a charge of bigamy.”  It appears that the lothario had three wives.

The 200-room St. James vied with the Fifth Avenue Hotel for distinguished guests.  The Civil War brought with it the urgency of communication for traveling military and the hotel responded. On March 31, 1864 it announced that the American Telegraph Company had opened an office in the hotel.  The plan apparently worked and for decades the St. James would be the favorite for visiting military and political officials.

The reputation of the St. James extended overseas.  When the steamer Northern Light arrived in New York on July 21, 1864 the dignitaries who disembarked headed for the St. James.  Among them was His Excellency Governor Turnhelm, “Commander of the Russian Possessions in North America” and his family; Rear-Admiral Simpson and Lieutenant Simpson of the Chilean Navy; and the former United States Minister to Guatemala, E. O. Crosby.

Later that year the hotel would play a part in an act of terrorism which, had it succeeded, would have devastated the city.   A group of Confederate conspirators devised a plan to burn New York City.  Members checked into rooms across the city, including the St. James, and committed synchronized arson.  Their theory was that the Fire Department, receiving multiple alarms from across the city, would be unable to attack all the blazes and the fires would spread ferociously.

Each terrorist piled the furniture and bedding in the center of his room, doused it with turpentine, and, having set it aflame, sauntered out of the building.  The first alarm sounded came at 8:43 on the evening of November 25 from the St. James Hotel.  Within minutes Confederate Army Captain Robert Cobb Kennedy had set Barnum’s Museum on fire.  Quickly fires were discovered in the St. Nicholas, the United States Hotel, the Metropolitan, Lovejoy’s and the New England Hotel.

Before sunrise more hotels were blazing—the Belmont, the Fifth Avenue, Hanford, Astor House and the Howard.  Tammany Hall and several lumber yards were also torched.

The plotters’ scheme would have worked had it not been for the hotel staffs and patrons who fought furiously throughout the night to control the spread of the fires.  Amazingly, every fire was extinguished before the devastation could be realized.  In the St. James, a pre-packed arson kit was found.  A black canvas bag held paper, about a pound of flammable resin, a bottle of turpentine and a bottle of phosphorous in water.

Fire Marshall Baker ended his report saying “this fiendish plan was defeated by one of those slight miscalculations which so often interpose to frustrate the designs of evil-minded men.”

In 1867 a young boy, Dan Brady, was hired as a bellboy.  Such employment was a boon to underprivileged boys who suddenly sported a smart uniform and whose pockets jangled with tips from wealthy guests.  Three months later another position opened up, and Dan’s younger brother Jim was hired.

The boys had experience working in their recently-deceased father’s saloon.  Jim, although only 11 years old, was put to work in the St. James bar.   The boy was sent on errands by wealthy bankers and business titans, who rewarded him with hefty tips.  His exposure to the luxurious lifestyles and free-spending of the millionaires would stay with him throughout his life and sparked his ambition.  He was later best known as “Diamond Jim” Brady.

The Women’s Rights organization was formed around 1860 and to celebrate a decade of existence, it held “a levee” in one of the parlors of the St. James Hotel on October 20, 1870.  The New York Times said that women “most graciously received their male friends and admirers.”  Nearly buried in the list of speakers that day was the name “Miss Susan B. Anthony.”

When the Board of Fire Commissioners enacted the Combustibles Law of 1871, owners of older structures were suddenly in violation.  On January 10, two years later, inspectors found that the St. James had not been brought into compliance.  The report charged:

“A number of the servants sleep in the basement, in which there are no fire detectors or alarms.  There are four stairways from the second to the first floor, and a wooden staircase which runs from the kitchen to the top of the house.  Five detectors and alarms should be placed in each hall, and an iron ladder is needed t connect te roof with the roofs of the adjoining houses on the south.”

The owners, “two gentlemen who were backed financially by Senator Jones of Nevada,” who had purchased the hotel in 1869, apparently remedied the problems.  The “two gentlemen” were Paul Spofford and his brother Gardiner.   

But Senator John P. Jones’s involvement caused another problem.  In his autobiography, Mark Twain wrote “I also knew that Jones’s St. James Hotel had ceased to be a profitable house because Jones, who was a big-hearted man with ninety-nine parts of him pure generosity…had filled his hotel from roof to cellar with poor relations gathered from the four corners of he earth—plumbers, brick-layers, unsuccessful clergymen, and, in fact, all the different kinds of people that knew nothing about the hotel business.  I was also aware that there was no room in the hotel for the public, because all its rooms were occupied by a multitude of other poor relations gathered from the four corners of the earth, at Jones’s invitation, and waiting for Jones to find lucrative occupations for them.”

Senator Jones’s lack of business sense seems to extended beyond his generosity to his family.  On July 3, 1876 The New York Times noted that, in preparation for the Centennial Celebration, “The St. James Hotel spends $500 on lights and bunting and the endeavor will be to get the money’s worth of both.”  The cost of the decorations would amount to more than $12,000 today.

The extent of the financial problems was evidenced in March 1878 when the Spoffords, along with Jones, tried to eject the proprietor Francis T. Walton whose five-year lease was not to expire for another year.  Their complaint alleged that Walton owed $14,205.81 in back rent.

By now the hotel had become a favorite with athletes and politicians.  The Democrats would gather here for meetings for decades.  A travel directory, in 1892, called the St. James “a resort of the better class of sporting men, especially those interested in the turf.”

It was not only those involved with the expensive horse racing sport that were drawn here.  It also lured professional boxers, baseball players, and “pedestrians.”  Developed in Britain, pedestrianism was a popular spectator sport and arose from the necessity of English footmen having to keep up with pace of their masters’ carriages.  It had now infected American enthusiasts who bet heavily on the footraces which evolved into the modern sport of racewalking.

On April 30, 1879 Charles Rowell arrived from England on the steamer Parthia.  The New York Times reported that he “is to compete with Daniel O’Leary, Charles A. Harriman, and John Ennis in a match for the Astley belt March 10.”  Rowell was described as “a short, thick-set man, 5 feet 6 inches in height, and 140 pounds in weight.”  He and his trainer “and one or two friends” headed directly for the St. James Hotel after their baggage had been examined.

The history of baseball was changed in December one year later. The annual convention of the National League of Professional Base-ball Clubs was held in the St. James and rules of play were amended.  Among the new rules was that, unless a player was injured, he could not be substituted during play.  The pitcher’s position was moved from 45 feet to 50 feet from home base; and a base runner was “out” if he failed to retouch the base if play a foul ball was hit and not caught.  Perhaps the most noticeable change was that the number of strikes was reduced from four to three.

On May 16, 1881 prize fighter John L. Sullivan fought the intimidating John Flood, “the Bull’s Head Terror.”  The illegal bare-knuckle fight with a $1,000 prize had to be held on a barge in the Hudson River to escape police intervention.  Sixteen minutes after the bout began, Flood was down.  According to Gary K. Weiand in his The First Superstar, the crowd “carried John off on its shoulders to the St. James Hotel on Broadway.  There he allegedly washed down twelve filets a-la-chateaubriand with a river of champagne.”

City hotels were repeatedly the scenes of suicides; chosen for their detachment from family and to remove the messy affairs from home surroundings.  But the death of a young woman in the St. James Hotel on March 30, 1881 grabbed the attention of New Yorkers.

On Saturday, March 26 she registered as “Mrs. C. M. Johnson, New-Jersey.”   Described by The Times as “about 25 years old,” she “had the appearance of a respectable woman, was well dressed, and had plenty of money. She received few visitors, and went out but little during her stay at the hotel.”  She would be later described as “a rather plain-looking girl, with German features, a high forehead, and golden-brown hair. She wore spectacles, and was vivacious and intelligent.”

Hotel staff noticed that Mrs. Johnson did not make her usual appearance for breakfast on March 30.  Later, between 1 and 2:00 the chambermaid found her room locked.   When no one answered her knocks, she notified Francis Walton (who, by the way, had managed to stay on as proprietor).  The room was broken into and the woman was found semiconscious on the bed “moaning and gasping for breath.”

Dr. Kenneth Reed was called, but it was too late.  “She lingered in great agony until death ensued, between 6 and 7 o’clock,” said The Times.  The woman had committed suicide overdosing on morphine.

It took a month to solve the mystery of Mrs. C. M. Johnson.  On April 1 The New York Times explained that she “was an unmarried woman, 21 years old.”  She had been adopted by a well-to-do San Francisco man, M. Mendheim and was known as Kate O. Mendheim.

The Coroner had found Kate’s diary and letters which explained her despondency.  “He refused to show the letters to any one, but, after examining them and the diary, he said that he inferred that the girl took her life deliberately because she had become disgusted with her existence.”  The newspaper said “She had been living with disreputable companions and had been corrupted by them.”

Kate was financially well-off but she had fallen into the wrong crowd.  The Coroner said some letters “were mostly from women, apparently young and giddy.  Some letters were from men, and were epistles such as no respectable young woman would receive without feeling insulted.”

Investigation revealed that Kate had visited New York hotels in 1878 and 1879 and that she “was not a desirable guest.” The Times said “She was at the Coleman House with one Etta Johnson in December 1878, and they were in February told to seek accommodations elsewhere, their conduct having occasioned much scandalous gossip.  They went to a private boarding-house, and when the Summer season opened traveled to various watering-places.  At the end of the season they stopped at the Rossmore Hotel, and they are remembered there as flirts.”

Kate Mendheim’s flirtatious and scandalous life took a turn when she fell in love.  She met a theatrical agent and “they became intimate, and Miss Mendheim was infatuated with him.”   When her lover became ill in a Boston hotel, she nursed him back to health “and he repaid her by deserting her.”

Kate attempted suicide in Boston by asphyxiating herself with lighting gas.  She was ordered to leave the hotel when her attempt failed.  She took the train to New York and checked into the St. James Hotel, where she died.

Despite Kate’s shocking behavior, Victorian New Yorkers were taken with the pathos of her story and her deathbed repentance.  The final chapter came on April 2 when newspapers reported on her burial in Evergreen Cemetery.  “Her funeral was attended by a few friends,” said The Times.
 
The St. James Hotel, like most high-end establishments, offered permanent housing as well as rooms for transient guests.  Department store mogul Benjamin Altman was living here in 1882, for instance.  But the hotel’s most famous guest was the celebrated actor John McCullough.

The Shakespearean tragedian as he appeared around 1880--photograph Library of Congress

McCullough lived in the St. James for years.  Around 1881 he became ill and was convinced he was about to die.  He lost weight, grew melancholy and was unable to appear on stage.  The New York Times blamed his condition on his friends, who, it felt, contributed to his depression.  “The main secret of Mr. McCullough’s depressed condition was the melancholy attitude of his friends,” it wrote.  During the summer of 1883 a journalist entered the St. James and found McCullough sitting in one of the private parlors with several friends. “The sight presented was mournful.  The usually radiant countenances of the gentlemen…was downcast and doleful.  They drank with expressions of sorrow, and a jest would have stood a very poor chance of living through the act of telling in that neighborhood. In this sort of an atmosphere Mr. McCullough lived for a number of months.”

By February 1884, however, McCullough realized he was not going to die.  He was booked at the Star Theatre and claimed to have gained four pounds during the past four months.  On February 28, 1884 The Times opined “Discovering that he was not to die he concluded to cheer up.  The result has been a very decided improvement of his mental and physical condition.”  Then the newspaper frankly added “As a matter of plain, unvarnished fact, Mr. McCullough’s illness has been about two-thirds imaginary, and he has been very ably assisted in this view of life by his pessimistic friends.”

McCullough as Othello from the collection of the Library of Congress

Among those friends was William Conner who not only managed the actor’s business; but the St. James Hotel.   His dual-role ended in August 1884 when he announced that he “will hereafter devote himself to his interests in the St. James Hotel, and Mr. Joseph Brooks will take his place with the McCullough company.”

John McCullough’s improved condition was short-lived.  On October 9, 1884 The Times reported that about 8:00 on the evening before “the loungers at the St. James Hotel were rather more numerous than usual” when “suddenly the attention of all was called to the figure of a gentleman who walked helplessly up the lobby of the hotel until he reached the desk at the other end. His gait was uncertain and tottering, and his appearance betokened excessive feebleness.  His face was pale and unshaven, his features haggard and sunken.  Deep black lines encircled his eyes, one of which was slightly discolored.  He wore a light check suit fitting closely to his figure which was neat and well formed.

“’John McCullough,’ murmured the loungers in the hotel.”

William Conner intervened and contacted friends rather than take the actor to his suite.  “I thought it better to remove him from his old quarters, where he would be subjected to much unintentional pain.  He will remain for the present with some friends in one of the finest mansions on the avenue,” he explained the following day.

A month later one of McCullough’s friends told reporters, “John McCullough is in a very dangerous condition.  His mind, or that part of it which now remains, is rapidly going, and, in my opinion, a guardian of some kind should keep a watch over his movements and take absolute charge of him.”

While William Conner worried about his good friend’s mental and physical condition, he and his wife had their own problems.  A few weeks later, on the night before Thanksgiving, a friend asked Mrs. Conner if she could borrow a pair of opera glasses.  Mrs. Conner returned to their suite around 7:00 and noticed her jewel case was gone.  A search of the hotel commenced and the empty jewel box was found in an elevator room. 

A newspaper reported “The thieves got for their booty diamonds and jewelry valued at $7,500.”  Mrs. Conner told investigators “I tell you he might have got a good deal more. If he had only opened the first drawer of the bureau he would have found $400 in cash.”

In the meantime John McCullough’s condition worsened until on June 29, 1885 The New York Times reported “John McCullough, the tragedian, is now an inmate of the Bloomingdale Asylum for the Insane.”  Four months later his costumes and other personal effects were sold at auction.

In 1896 Broadway around the white marble St. James Hotel was still a well-heeled neighborhood.  What the man on he second story cornice is up to is unclear -- photo by Byron Co. from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York http://collections.mcny.org/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=24UAYW9OYP0Q&SMLS=1&RW=1280&RH=894
As the turn of the century approached, the hotel district had moved far north.  Modern hotels lured wealthy businessmen with up-to-date amenities.  On April 18, 1896 the Real Estate Record and Builders’ Guide reported on the rumor that the estate of Paul Spofford was in negotiations to sell the St. James for around $1 million.  The staggering price tag had less to do with the white marble structure than with the valuable land on which it sat.

On August 20, 1896 the first day of auctioning of the hotel’s furniture and fixtures was held.  The auctioneer noted that “The lower floors, where the costliest furnishings are, will not be reached before tomorrow.”   In reporting on the auction, The Times mentioned “The hotel, which was recently sold to Pennod Brothers of Philadelphia, will be torn down about Sept. 1 and a large office building will be erected on the site.”

On the last day the “costliest” furniture was sold.   But the outdated Victorian pieces, once the epitome of fashion, were worn and dated.  “The bidding most of the time yesterday was spiritless, and the attendance did not equal that of other days,” said The Times.  “Most of the furniture had seen at least ten years’ service, and the prices offered for it were low.  The carpets, however, which cost originally $1 a yard, sold for 70 cents a yard.  The furniture originally cost $60,000.”

The ground-breaking St. James Hotel was demolished, to be replaced with the handsome 16-story St. James Building, designed by Bruce Price, which still survives.

photograph by the author

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Full Circle -- No. 122 Waverly Place





photograph by the author
As wealthy citizens lined Washington Square with elegant mansions in the 1830s, speculative developers hoped that the blocks branching off the park would ride its upscale coattails.  As it quickly turned out, that was not to be.

In 1835 Thomas Barron erected a four story Greek Revival home at No. 122 Waverley Place.  Its unusual design featured an unexpectedly shallow stoop above an English basement.  The rusticated brownstone parlor level served as a base for three stories of red brick, trimmed with brownstone sills and lintels.

For several years, during the 1840s, The New York City Director listed Aletta M. Eghart, “widow of John,” living here.  But the life of No. 122 Waverley Place as a single family home would be rather short-lived.

In April 1852 an advertisement appeared in the New-York Daily Tribune offering “Furnished and unfurnished rooms to let, with Board for Gentlemen and their Wives, or single Gentlemen, in a pleasant location.”  The ad noted that the house was “near several stage routes.”  The proprietor may have been reticent to rent to single women out of fear the house would be suspected of being a “disorderly house.”

It would appear that the residents at the time were upscale boarders.  A year before the Tribune ad, the Samuel Whittemore family had sold its elegant Federal style mansion at No. 45 Grove Street.  Whittemore was a successful manufacturer of textile equipment.  

Now, when James Bayard Whittemore died of a skin infection, erysipelas, in February 1852, The New York Times reported that his funeral would take place “from the residence of his mother, Mrs. Saml. Whittemore, 122 Waverley-place.”

In 1863, two years after the outbreak of what New Yorkers referred to as The War of Rebellion, a draft lottery was established.   It would directly affect residents of No. 122 Waverley Place.  On the same day, August 20, 1863, the names of Thanthirus Heart and George F. Merrian were drawn.  On March 17, 1865 P. Cusson, another resident, was drafted.

The boarding house maintained its respectable status throughout the 19th century.  In 1867 Dr. Albert Boldeman was here, treating patients from 8 to 10 a.m. and 6 to 7 p.m.  For several years the unmarried school teacher, Margaret A. Boak lived here while working in the Boys’ Department of Public School No. 11.  She had graduated from the Female Normal School in July 1859.  By 1874 she had moved further west on Waverley Place, to No. 154, closer to the school.

The 1870s saw Frederic Stengel boarding in the house.  He was an instructor in German at Columbia College’s School of Mines.   The financial status of the residents might be reflected in Gerald McKenny’s salary.  He lived in the house in 1881 when he earned a salary of $2,000 as a court stenographer.  That amount would translate to about $47,000 today.

At the same time other teachers lived here.  Vincent Aldridge was in the building at least from 1886 through 1888; and Professor William W. Wilcox commuted every day to Hoboken, New Jersey where he taught in the Stevens High School.

The 1890s were troubled days for many of the Waverley Place residents.  The house was owned, by now, by Frederick Raabbe, an owner of many Greenwich Village properties.   In 1894 Nicolas Weiss, a watchmaker for Tiffany & Co. was a tenant.   In October that year he was arrested on a charge by Tiffany that he had stolen a “large quantity of jewelry.”

Weiss told his lawyer he had no money, but gave as his retainer the furniture he owned at No. 122 Waverley Place.  “When the lawyers sold the furniture it netted them only $35,” reported The New York Times.  The amount was insufficient to cover the attorney fees, so Weiss turned over his watchmaker’s tools, allegedly worth $250.

When Weiss appeared in court he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in the penitentiary.  Tiffany & Co. intervened and convinced Governor Morton to pardon him.  Now free, Nicolas Weiss could not make a living because the lawyers had sold his watchmaker’s tools.  In an astonishing turn of events, in June 1895 he had his attorneys arrested, charged with larceny of his tools.

Durant L. Biggony also found himself behind bars.  He was a clerk in the Yosta-Kramer Company, manufacturers of cloaks at No. 24 West 23rd Street.  In January 1896 the stockholders were planning a reorganization of the firm.  Fearing he would lose his company, Biggony’s boss, Gustav Kramer instructed him and three other clerks to bar the doors to prevent a stockholders’ meeting.

On January 8 The New York Times reported “When the stockholders met Monday they found the doors locked, and were forced to hold their meeting on the sidewalk, in spite of the cold.”  Having elected a new president, they gave him his first order: “to force the door.”

The door was forced open and Biggony and his co-workers, who had simply followed the instructions of their employer, were arrested on charges of trespassing.

Later that year resident Nicola Meiso was in Jersey City awaiting the ferryboat John G. McCullough to take him back to Manhattan.  Meiso and about 40 others waited on a bridge as the boat approached the slip.  They watched in horror as the ferry did not slow down, but ran full force into the dock and bridge.

“Great pieces of planking flew into the air,” reported The Times.  Those on the bridge “started to run back when the crash came, but were caught by the flying timbers.  “Four persons on the bridge were hit by flying planks, and others were knocked down in the backward rush to escape.”  Among the most seriously hurt was Nicola Meiso whose injuries included a broken right kneecap.

A greater tragedy befell No. 122 a year later.  Julia Ambrose was 26-years old in 1897.  She and her husband had a young son.  One night in November that year the couple quarreled.  He stormed out of the house and, when he had not returned a week later, the young woman could not pay the weekly rent and had knew of no way out of her predicament.

On the afternoon of November 25 she told her landlady “she was going away” and left the house with her son, Edward.  An hour later she fell unconscious to the pavement at 11th Street and Sixth Avenue.  An ambulance took her and the child to St. Vincent’s Hospital where a note was found in her pocket:

Life is too miserable and unhappy for me.  I can bear it no longer, Julia.  P.S.—Edward is two and a half years old.

The doctors “restored her to consciousness, and she confessed she had taken poison,” reported The New York Times.  She was arrested on charges of attempting suicide and the boy was imprisoned with her.  The Times added “Last night her husband called at the Waverley Place boarding house and asked for her.  When informed that she had gone away he paid the week’s bill and departed.”

Like Mrs. Samuel Whittemore almost half a century earlier, resident John Van Ness was what The New York Times called “a member of an old family whose name has been one of prominence and respect in this city.”    The Van Ness estate, once the seat of a wealthy and influential family, had decades earlier been swallowed up by the development of Greenwich Village.

Now, in 1899 the 65-year old John Van Ness lived at No. 122 Waverley Place, “old, broken in health, living the life of a recluse in the neighborhood where the days of his boyhood were spent,” said The Times on February 27 that year.  The newspaper explained the hard times that had fallen on the man.

“He used to spend much of the time in which he was not looking for work in sitting in [Washington Square] park on pleasant days.  Friends who had supplied him with means fell away.  He was deaf and decrepit, and none wanted such a workman.  He had a sister but it seems that she had ceased to come and see him.”

In December 1898 Van Ness was found in his “little room” on Waverley Place “unconscious from the effects of gas pouring from a gas stove which he used to cook his meals.”  The old man was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital where he recovered, then was arrested for attempted suicide.  He was later discharged.

Three months later, on Saturday February 25, 1899 he was again found unconscious “in the same room in the same way.”  When he recovered at St. Vincent’s Hospital this time, he was not arrested, but taken to Bellevue Hospital, known for its treatment of mental cases.

“They said at St. Vincent’s that his disposition was rather ugly and they did not want to keep him,” reported The New York Times.

With the turn of the century at least two physicians were in the house.  Dr. Maximilian Lewson would remain here at least until 1904.  The Lewson family suffered horrible heartache when one-year old W. E. Lewson died in the house on January 4, 1900.  Dr. Cecile A. Griel was also here, working at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

At the time the two physicians lived here, Greenwich Village was changing.  Especially around Washington Square park vintage homes were being heavily altered into artists’ studios—prompted by the recent influx of creative types—artists, musicians, poets and writers.

In 1915 the contemporary house next door at No. 124 Waverly Place (the second E had been dropped from the name by now) had received a startling makeover that resulted in broad openings on each floor, drenching the interior studios with sunlight.

A photo of the remodeled house next door gives a glimpse of the original brownstone lintels and sills of No. 122 (left).  photograph from the collection of the New York Public Library

Hal Marchbanks had a similar idea.  On June 21, 1919 the New-York Tribune reported that he had purchased the “five-story apartment,” (including the basement level as a floor).  A week later the Real Estate Record & Builders’ Guide noted that Marchbanks “will remodel.”

The alterations were significant.  As owner Vincent Pepe had done to No. 124, the central pier between the two western-most openings was removed and broad studio windows installed; giving a rather pleasing asymmetrical look to the structure.  Updated ironwork replaced the Greek Revival railings and fencing; but the old wing walls of the stoop and the original Greek Revival entrance were preserved.

The expansive studios—one per floor—attracted a more upscale tenant.  Joseph K. Moore had been the ceramic engineer for the Robinson Clay Products Co. in Akron Ohio before serving as Captain in the Chemical Warfare Service during World War I.   Following the war’s end, he moved into No. 122.

Wealthy newlyweds seem to have been attracted to the newly-completed structure.  When Esther Tufts (described by the New-York Tribune as “a member of the younger set of Pinehurst and Boston, taking part in the tennis, riding and other activities there”) married Tracy Hammond Lewis in 1920, newspapers announced “On their return from their honeymoon, Mr. Lewis and his bride will live at 122 Waverley Place.”

That same year Barbara M. Shedd married Thomas Chandler Wayland in a fashionable Fifth Avenue wedding in the Brick Presbyterian Church.   Like the Lewises, the newlyweds moved into 122 Waverly Place following their honeymoon.


The 1835 facade, with its 1921 renovations give no hint of the sleek 21st century interiors.  photos http://www.corcoran.com/nyc/Listings/Display/2498659
In 1953 a conversion bisected the floors into two apartments rather than one.  The building continued to house a succession of tenants until 2009.  Then a remarkable gut renovation resulted in a spectacular single family mansion—much the 21st century version of what Thomas Barron had envisioned more than a century and a half earlier.  In 2012 the house was listed for just under $19 million.