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© Ben Heine || Facebook || Twitter || www.benheine.com

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For more information about my art: info@benheine.com

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With Mailer's Death, U.S. Loses a Colorful Writer and Character

 

By David Wiegand

 

If Norman Mailer, who died Saturday in a New York hospital of acute renal failure, wasn't larger than life, he sure gave it a run for its money.

 

Perhaps the quintessential American author of our era, Mailer, 84, married six times, fathered eight children, stabbed one of his wives during a booze-fueled party, once ran for mayor of New York City, and carried on feuds with other writers with such bloodlust that the whiny dustup between Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell seems like a lovers' tiff.

 

Scrappy, outspoken and built more like a dockworker than a pen-pusher, Mailer had speech mannerisms that were mesmerizing even if you didn't always grasp what he was talking about. His tone of voice, which evolved from his birth in New Jersey on Jan. 31, 1923, and childhood in Brooklyn, took on a mid-Atlantic accent - American with posh British undertones. For any other writer, it would have been an odd vocal mix, but it seemed to fit Mailer, reflecting at once his pugnacious, rough-and-tumble public persona, his seemingly insatiable intellectual and cultural curiosity, and his erudition. Oh, and perhaps a bit of self-aggrandizement to boot.

 

Mailer came from average, middle-class stock. His father, Isaac, was an accountant born in South Africa, while his mother, Fanny, owned a housekeeping and nursing employment agency.

 

After attending public schools in New York, he went to Harvard to study aeronautical engineering. By the time he earned his degree in 1943, he'd already made up his mind to be a writer, but had to put that idea on hold when he was drafted into the Army and shipped to the Philippines.

 

In many ways, World War II was the best thing that could have happened to the scrappy Brooklynite: He was getting material firsthand that would later form the basis of his first novel, "The Naked and the Dead," written after the war while he was studying in Paris on the GI Bill and published in 1948. The book was a huge critical and commercial success, which may seem like a good thing for a beginning writer, but then the question is always put: What's next? It's not always easy to come up with the answer, and Mailer flailed around at first, with his second book, "Barbary Shore," considered pretty much a bust.

 

For much of his life, Mailer pursued the concept of the great American novel. Or, perhaps it's better to say it pursued him. The notion seemed to haunt him. Seemingly with each new book, no matter how well reviewed it was, the "big book" remained his version of Gatsby's green light, something always beyond his reach on a far shore.

 

With F. Scott Fitzgerald having left the world after collapsing to the floor of a Hollywood bungalow and much of Ernest Hemingway's best writing behind him, Mailer seemed the logical choice to inherit the mantle of great American author from the Romulus and Remus of 20th century American letters.

 

Fitzgerald, a "victim" of early success himself, had once said there were no second acts in American lives, and that often seemed to hold true for Mailer. For every great book he published in his six decades as a writer, there were the head-scratchers and groaners, like his highly self-touted novel "Ancient Evenings," perhaps the biggest failure of his career. But there were also the works that not only further defined Mailer's singular gift, but also defined us as a nation and a culture.

 

Mailer gravitated toward the nascent beat culture of the '50s, writing commentary pieces for the Village Voice, cozying up to writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, and offering the essay "The White Negro: Superficial Reflections of a Young Hipster," which looked to African American culture as the foundation for the counterculture in general.

 

San Francisco author Herbert Gold ("Fathers," "Haiti: Best Nightmare on Earth") remembers Mailer from those days.

 

"I knew him during the time of the late '50s in New York, when he was writing 'Advertisements for Myself.' He was very committed to feuding then," Gold said. "My great adventure with him at a party at George Plimpton's place. (Mailer was trying to stare him down.) You know, alpha male makes the other person drop his eyes. He fixed me with a stare, and instead of dropping my eyes, I blew him a kiss. He jumped up, said, 'Let's fight.'

 

"We went outside, and I took my glasses off. It was stupid, but I didn't know what else to do. So I put them in my pocket. But since no one was watching us, and that's the key, he put his arm around me and said, 'You're OK, Gold.' "

 

Mailer had his share of flops in that era, including "Barbary Shore" (1951) and "The Deer Park," a novel about the film industry's reaction to political pressure from Washington.

 

But as the nation began to creak and groan toward the seismic culture shift of the '60s, Mailer found his real footing. The social and political upheavals fit Mailer's style and persona. He never seemed to quite "get" Eisenhower America the way he got what was happening in the Summer of Love, the 1967 anti-Vietnam War march on the Pentagon that became the Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Armies of the Night," and the Republican and Democratic National Conventions of 1968 that became "Miami and the Siege of Chicago." The novel "Why Are We in Vietnam?" looked not to the White House or the Pentagon for the reason our young men were dying in a foreign country, but, rather, to our own culture for the answer.

 

These books, and others, had a major impact on American readers, not just because Mailer wrote them, but because he was becoming a master of the kind of stylistically amalgamated writing practiced by others such as Truman Capote and Tom Wolfe, known as the New Journalism. The style was a good fit for a writer who had touted his own greatness in the 1959 book "Advertisements for Myself." You didn't have to make a choice between pure fiction and journalism anymore: You could capture a real-life scene and insert yourself directly into it, rather than gazing from the distance of traditional reportage.

 

Long before an appearance on "Good Morning America" was deemed crucial to a book's success, Mailer figured out the cult of personality. He was no doubt as much a press representative's dream as nightmare. No matter what he did, Mailer always called attention to himself. And if the attention was negative, it never seemed to bother him.

 

The late critic Anatole Broyard once observed of Mailer, "His career seems to be a brawl between his talent and his exhibitionism." Those words were written in 1967, but looking back on the full span of Mailer's career today, one might instead suggest his career was a marriage of talent and exhibitionism.

 

He carried on epic feuds with writers such as Gore Vidal and Erica Jong. He ran for mayor of New York and came in fifth. He directed several films, including the movie version of his 1984 book "Tough Guys Don't Dance." Taking a page from the Hemingway chapbook, he loved bullfighting and boxing, whether in an actual ring or weaving around a party where another guest seemingly insulted him. He stabbed his second wife, Adele Morales, with a pen knife, but was never charged. In her own book 10 years ago, Morales revealed that the cut was severe enough to have endangered her life.

 

Tom Luddy of Berkeley, the executive producer of "Tough Guys Don't Dance," recalled that Mailer "was very natural and warm toward everybody on the film."

 

"Of all the films I've produced, it's the one where all of us stayed friends and stayed in touch," he said. "That rarely happens."

 

American life calmed down a bit during the '70s, but Mailer had learned how to hold the spotlight. Understanding cultural iconography as well as he did, Mailer didn't hesitate to write the text for the coffee-table book "Marilyn" in 1973. And when the nation erupted in debate over the reinstatement of the death penalty, Mailer wrote a book about Gary Gilmore, the first person executed in the United States in more than a decade. Gilmore was executed by firing squad in 1977, and "The Executioner's Song" won Mailer another Pulitzer.

 

After all his marriages, Mailer finally settled down with sixth wife, Norris Church. Coincidentally, Church's early paintings often seem to replicate family snapshots, complete with the shadow of the photographer in the frame - much like Mailer's New Journalism style.

 

His other wives were Beatrice Silverman, Lady Jeanne Campbell, Beverly Bentley and actress Carol Stevens. He had five daughters, three sons and a stepson.

 

For years, Mailer divided his time between Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., and Provincetown, Mass., where he had a house on the water on Commercial Street.

 

Although he rarely drew the intensity of attention he enjoyed in the '60s and '70s, Mailer was never out of the public eye for long. He continued to publish, right up to the end of his life. His latest novel, "The Castle in the Forest," gave Mailer a way of examining Adolf Hitler's early life to understand the nature of evil. Writing in the Chronicle Book Review in January, Alan Cheuse said the book "comes 10 years after the publication of Mailer's weakest novel, 'The Gospel According to the Son,' and it reads like one of his strongest."

 

Two years ago, Mailer received a gold medal for lifetime achievement from the National Book Awards.

 

While he could be mercurial, argumentative, perhaps even insufferable at times, Mailer enjoyed wide respect and affection among other writers.

 

Said San Francisco author Leo Litwak ("Nobody's Baby and Other Stories"): "I think his early book 'Advertisements for Myself' was enormously influential. It challenged us, in effect, to move outside the law, to give vent to our instincts and desire, to be more public about what we wanted. It was a further move away from the kind of Henry James writing that still had influence.

 

"It's an enormous loss," he added. "I had mixed feelings about Mailer, but I miss him."

 

"He had such a compendious vision of what it meant to be alive," said friend and fellow author William Kennedy. "He had serious opinions on everything there was to have an opinion on, and everything was so original."

 

"He could do anything he wanted to do - the movie business, writing, theater, politics," said author Gay Talese, husband of publisher Nan Talese. "He never thought the boundaries were restricted. He'd go anywhere and try anything. He was a courageous person."

 

In a recent interview with John Freeman, president of the National Book Critics Circle, for the Chronicle Book Review, Mailer talked about his early years, when he told the world about that great American novel he would write. He seemed to understand, though, that the time had passed.

 

"I may have made announcements 50 years ago of the kind of book I was going to write. But I'm not going to stick to those predictions," he said.

 

Perhaps, though, he has: As memorable as so many Mailer books will remain, the man himself was perhaps Mailer's best creation - the great American author.

Mailer's works

 

Noteworthy writings of Norman Mailer:

 

-- "The Naked and the Dead," 1948

 

-- "Barbary Shore," 1951

 

-- "The Deer Park," 1955

 

-- "The White Negro: Superficial Reflections of a Young Hipster," essay, 1957

 

-- "Advertisements for Myself," 1959

 

-- "Why Are We in Vietnam?" 1967

 

-- "The Armies of the Night" (National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize), 1968

 

-- "Miami and the Siege of Chicago," 1968

 

-- "Marilyn," 1973

 

-- "The Fight," 1975

 

-- "The Executioner's Song" (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction), 1979

 

-- "Of Women and Their Elegance, Pieces and Pontifications," essay, 1982

 

-- "Ancient Evenings," 1983

 

-- "Tough Guys Don't Dance," 1984

 

-- "Harlot's Ghost," 1991

 

-- "The Gospel According to the Son," 1997

 

-- "The Castle in the Forest," 2007

 

----------------------

 

--> The article appeared on www.sfgate.com

--> Also see :

 

* The Norman Mailer Society : www.normanmailersociety.com/

* Norman Mailer Filmmaker articles about Mailer's cinematic ventures : subcin.com/mailer.html

* Mailer's famous essay, "The White Negro" (Dissent Magazine) : dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=877

* Norman Mailer on American Masters (PBS Broadcast) : www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/mailer_n.html

* Norman and John Buffalo Mailer - "The Big Empty" : www.nysoundposse.com/2006/03/event-norman-and-john-buffal...

* Mailer's interview with The Paris Review : www.theparisreview.org/viewinterview.php/prmMID/4503

* Norman Mailer's writing on the Huffington Post : www.huffingtonpost.com/norman-mailer/

* Norman Mailer chats to Scottish writer Andrew O'Hagan at the Edinburgh Book Festival, August 2007 : www.edbookfest.co.uk/readings/#ab

* Signature of Norman Mailer : www.kruegerbooks.com/books/sig/mailer-norman.html

* A conversation with Norman Mailer (Minnesota Public Radio) : minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/01/31/midday2/

Created with fd's Flickr Toys

  

(You can view other "Photography Hacks" here: photographypla.net/diy-photography-hacks/)

  

Yeah, it's crude but it works!

Items that I used...they were at hand but you can obviously use better things:

 

-"Take Along Food Bowl" in translucent plastic.

-Lots of foil.

-Scissors and dremel tool set. (Dremel helped a lot!)

-Tape.

-Wax Paper.

-Bubble mailer. (This one was yellow.)

-7-11 Big Gulp cup. (It was a stiff enough plastic that I can actually cut easily.)

-Your own external flash. (I used my Canon 580 EX II)

-Dad.

 

(Some instructions down below.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

UPDATE: I've since replaced the flimsy bubble mailer part with the cardboard part of a large box that carries soda (pop) cans. Using the cardboard helped in reducing the light loss from where the flash was inserted to. Plus, it was stiff enough without being to bendable. Also I have since lined the white part (inside) of the Big Gulp cup with black construction paper which help reduced some flare back into the lens.

 

Another Update: After all this time, I realized I didn't put up any instructions. The pictures are semi self explanatory, but I can fill in some details.

  

---->Some Instructions:

-Make a hole in both the bowl and cover. I used scissors or use whatever tool is easiest for you. The plastic was soft enough that it was cut.

-I cut the Gulp cup at both ends.

-I lined the outside of the cup and bowl with aluminum foil.

-I lined the inside of the bowl cover with wax paper.

-Cut square hole on the outside side of the bowl. Before doing this, I eyeballed it on how close or far it was from my camera, lens, and flash.

-See the "UPDATE" part above for further cardboard instructions for the part that attaches to your flash head. Cut to bend towards your flash head. Line with foil, of course.

  

Any more questions, feel free to ask below in the comments.

Thanks, and enjoy.

-Amanda

 

East Village, Manhattan, New York City, New York

 

Summary

 

The large town house at 4 St. Mark’s Place in the East Village section of Manhattan was constructed in 1831 in the Federal style, characterized and made notable by its unusual 26-foot width and 3-1/2-story height, Flemish bond brickwork, high stoop, long parlor- floor windows, Gibbs surround entrance with triple keystone and vermiculated blocks, white marble base with openings also with Gibbs surrounds, molded pediment lintels, peaked roof, and double segmental dormers. The entire block of St. Mark’s Place (East 8th Street) between Third and Second Avenues was built by English-born real estate developer Thomas E. Davis, who sold this house in 1833 to Col. Alexander Hamilton, son of the late first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

 

This was the home during the next nine years of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, the senior Hamilton’s widow; her daughter, Eliza Hamilton Holly, and her husband Sidney; and Col. Hamilton and his wife Eliza. In 1843¬ 49, it was the home of Isaac C. Van Wyck and his son Cornelius, oil and candle merchants; the Van Wyck family retained ownership until 1863. By the 1850s, houses on this formerly fashionable block were no longer single-family dwellings. No. 4 was owned from 1863 to 1903 by butter merchant John W. Miller; in the 1860s, a large two-story rear addition was built with a first-story meeting hall. From 1901 to 1952, the house was owned and used in part by the musical instruments firm of C. Meisel, Inc. The building had a significant and colorful theatrical history from 1955 to 1967, reflecting its location on St. Mark’s Place during the cultural ascendancy of the East Village.

 

Among other uses, it was the Tempo Playhouse, New Bowery Theater, and Bridge Theater, noted venues for experimental theater, contemporary music and dance, and early underground films. Despite the loss of some architectural details, the Hamilton-Holly House is among the rare surviving and significantly intact large Manhattan town houses of the Federal style, period, and 3-1/2-story, dormered peaked-roof type.

DESCRIPTION AND ANALYSIS

 

The Development of the Greater Washington Square Neighborhood

 

The area of today’s Greenwich Village was, during the 18th century, the location of the small rural hamlet of Greenwich, as well as the country seats and summer homes of wealthy downtown aristocrats, merchants, and capitalists. A number of cholera and yellow fever epidemics in lower Manhattan between 1799 and 1822 led to an influx of settlers in the Greenwich area, with the population quadrupling between 1825 and 1840. Previously undeveloped tracts of land were speculatively subdivided for the construction of town houses and rowhouses. Whereas in the early 19th century many of the wealthiest New Yorkers lived in the vicinity of Broadway and the side streets adjacent to City Hall Park between Barclay and Chambers Streets, by the 1820s and 30s, as commercial development and congestion increasingly disrupted and displaced them, theelite moved northward into Greenwich Village east of Sixth Avenue. For a brief period beginning in the 1820s-30s, Lafayette Place, including the grand marble Greek Revival style LaGrange Terrace (1832-33, attributed to Seth Geer), St. Mark’s Place, and Bond, Great Jones, East 4th and Bleecker Streets were among the most fashionable addresses, the latter developed with three block-long rows of houses in 1827-31.

 

A potter’s field, located north of 4th Street below Fifth Avenue since 1797, was converted into Washington Military Parade Ground and expanded (to nearly nine acres) in 1826 and landscaped as Washington Square in 1828. This public square spurred the construction of fine houses surrounding it, beginning with a uniform row of twelve 3-1/2-story Federal style houses (1826-27) on Washington Square South (4th Street), between Thompson and MacDougal Streets, by Col. James B. Murray and others. On Washington Square North, west of Fifth Avenue, Federal and Greek Revival style town houses were built between 1828 and 1839, while east of Fifth Avenue, “The Row” of thirteen large Greek Revival style town houses was developed in 1832-33 by downtown merchants and bankers who leased the properties from the Trustees of Sailors Snug Harbor. The University of the City of New York (later New York University) constructed its first structure, the Gothic Revival style University Building (1833-36, Town, Davis & Dakin), on the east side of the Square.

 

In 1832, the Common Council created the 15th Ward out of the eastern section of the large 9th Ward, its boundaries being Sixth Avenue, Houston and 14th Streets, and the East River. According to Luther Harris’ recent history Around Washington Square, during the 1830s-40s “this ward drew the wealthiest, most influential, and most talented people from New York City and elsewhere. By 1845, 85 percent of the richest citizens living in the city’s northern wards resided in the Fifteenth.” Fifth Avenue, extended north of Washington Square to 23rd Street in 1829, emerged as the city’s most prestigious address. To the east, lower Second Avenue and adjacent side streets also became fashionable from the 1830s through the 1850s.

 

Thomas E. Davis and St. Mark’s Place

 

Both sides of the block of St. Mark’s Place (East 8th Street) between Third and Second Avenues were built by speculative real estate developer Thomas E. Davis. Born c. 1795 in England, Davis immigrated to New Brunswick, N.J., where he worked briefly as a distiller. In 1830, he relocated to New York City and began to acquire real estate. Once part of Peter Stuyvesant’s Bowery farm, East 8th Street was opened by the city in 1826, preceded by Third and Second Avenues in this vicinity in 1812 and 1816. St. Mark’s Place extended the three blocks between Third Avenue and Avenue A (Tompkins Square). On the westernmost block of St. Mark’s Place owned by Davis, he allocated the lots more generously than the Manhattan norm, each lot having a width of 26 feet and a length of 120 feet (rather than 100 feet). Grand 3-1/2-story Federal style marble-and-brick-clad town houses with balconies were constructed here in 1831. In February 1832, Davis sold No. 4 St. Mark’s Place and three adjacent houses for $56,000 to merchant Samuel David Rogers and his wife, Frances, but these properties reverted eight months later, for $46,000, to Davis.

 

Also in 1831, Davis developed Carroll Place, both sides of Bleecker Street between Thompson Street and LaGuardia Place, with Federal style houses. He obtained the backing of the J.L. & S. Josephs & Co. Bank, which represented the interests of the Rothschild family in the U.S. from 1833 to 1837. In the early 1830s, Davis became involved with the Stuyvesant family in the development of the former Bowery farm to the north of St. Mark’s Place as an elite residential neighborhood.

 

Davis acquired a major portion of the Staten Island real estate holdings of the late Governor Daniel Tompkins at a sheriff’s sale in 1834, and continued to amass property along the island’s northern shore. Plans were made to develop this property into a summer retreat to be named New Brighton, and five Greek Revival style residences were built along Richmond Terrace in 1835; Davis’ own mansion became the nucleus of the Pavilion Hotel (1836, John Haviland). In 1836, Davis conveyed New Brighton to a syndicate of five New York businessmen for the then astronomical sum of $600,000. Davis also became involved with a group of New York investors in a failed scheme, chartered as the New Washington Association in 1835, to build a town at the head of Galveston Bay in Texas. According to Luther Harris, “in an 1840 auction following the Panic of 1837, Davis picked up over 400 lots on Fifth Avenue blocks north of Twentieth Street, for a few hundred dollars each, with plans to erect elegant residences there.” His real estate was listed in the 1860 census as worth $1.5 million.

 

Federal Style Rowhouses in Manhattan

 

As the city of New York grew in the period after the Revolution, large plots of land in Manhattan were sold and subdivided for the construction of groups of brick-clad houses. Their architectural style has been called “Federal” after the new republic, but in form and detail they continued the Georgian style of Great Britain. Federal style houses were constructed from the Battery as far north as 23rd Street between the 1790s and 1830s. The size of the lot dictated the size of the house: typically each house lot was 20 or 25 feet wide by 90 to 100 feet deep, which accorded with the rectilinear plan of New York City, laid out in 1807 and adopted as the Commissioners’ Plan in 1811. The rowhouse itself would be as wide as the lot, and 35 to 40 feet deep. This allowed for a stoop and small front yard or areaway, and a fairly spacious rear yard, which usually contained a buried cistern to collect fresh water and the privy. During the early 19th century, several houses were often constructed together, sharing common party walls, chimneys, and roof timbering to form a continuous group. The houses were of load-bearing masonry construction or modified timber-frame construction with brick-clad front facades. With shared structural framing and party walls, each house in a row was dependent on its neighbor for structural stability. With the increasing availability of pattern books, such as Asher Benjamin’s American Builders Companion (published in six editions between 1806 and 1827), local builders had access to drawings and instructions for exterior and interior plans and details.

 

Federal style rowhouses usually had a three-bay facade with two full stories over a high basement and an additional half story under a peaked roof with the ridge line running parallel to the front facade. Very modest houses could be two bays wide, while grander town houses had three full stories, and could be up to five bays wide. The front (and sometimes rear) facade was usually clad in red brick laid in the Flemish bond pattern, which alternated a stretcher and a header in every row. This system allowed the linking of the more expensive face brick with the cheaper, rougher brick behind. Walls were usually two “wythes,” or eight inches, thick. Because brick was fabricated by hand in molds (rather than by machine), it was relatively porous. To protect the brick surface and slow water penetration, facades were often painted.

 

The planar quality of Federal style facades was relieved by ornament in the form of lintels, entrances, stoops with iron railings, cornices, and dormers. Doorway and window lintels, seen in a variety of types (flat, incised or molded), were commonly brownstone. The most ornamental feature was the doorway, often framed with columns and sidelights and topped with a rectangular transom or fanlight, and having a single wooden paneled door. Some grander, later houses, like the Hamilton-Holly House, had large round-arched entrances with Gibbs surrounds. The entrance was approached by a stoop – a flight of brownstone steps placed to one side of the facade – on the parlor floor above a basement level. Wrought-iron railings with finials lined the stoop and enclosed areaways. Window openings at the parlor and second stories were usually the same height (the size sometimes diminished on the third story) and were aligned and the same width from story to story. The wood-framed sash were double hung and multi-light (typically six-over-six). Shutters were common on the exterior. A wooden cornice with a molded fascia extended across the front along the eave, which carried a built-in gutter. A leader head and downspout that drained onto the sidewalk extended down the facade on the opposite side from the doorway. Pedimented or segmental dormers on the front roof slope usually had decorative wood trim, and the top sash were often arched with decorative muntins. The roof was covered with continuous wood sheathing over the rafters and clad in slate.

 

The original design of the Hamilton-Holly House was characteristic of the Federal style in its Flemish bond brickwork, high stoop with wrought-ironwork, ornamented entrance, molded pediment stone lintels, molded and modillioned cornice, peaked roof, and segmental double dormers. It is made particularly notable as a grand town house by its 26-foot width, 3-1/2-story height, and long parlor-story windows (which originally opened onto a balcony), round-arched Gibbs surround entrance with triple keystone, vermiculated blocks, and fanlight, and white marble base with openings also with Gibbs surrounds. Surviving houses of this period with entrances with Gibbs surrounds are rare. Despite the loss of the cornice and some other architectural details, the Hamilton-Holly House is also among the rare surviving and significantly intact Manhattan town houses of the Federal style, period, and 3-1/2-story, dormered peaked-roof type (dating from 1803 to 1832).

 

The Hamilton-Holly House

 

In November 1833, the No. 4 St. Mark’s Place house was purchased from Thomas E. Davis for $15,500 by Col. Alexander Hamilton, son of the late Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. This was the home during the next nine years (until 1842) of the Hamilton and Holly families, including (according to city directories) variously, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, the senior Hamilton’s widow; her daughter, Eliza Hamilton Holly, and her husband, Sidney Augustus Holly; and Col. Hamilton and his wife, Eliza P. Knox Hamilton.

 

After Alexander Hamilton’s death in 1804 in a duel with Aaron Burr, Eliza S. Hamilton (1757-1854) was left nearly destitute to raise their seven children -- the youngest was only two -- by herself. Born in Albany, she was the second daughter of the wealthy and aristocratic Gen. Philip and Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler. Her father’s death just four months after her husband’s provided her with a modest inheritance of money and property, but she lived the next five decades on modest means, relying on friends (who organized a secret subscription fund to cancel Hamilton’s debts) and family, also petitioning the government for her husband’s pension and other benefits. Most of Alexander Hamilton’s substantial debt had accrued with the purchase of a 35-acre Harlem summer estate property, its landscaping, and the construction of a house, The Grange (1801-02, John McComb, Jr.). Realizing that Eliza could not be publicly dispossessed of The Grange, Hamilton’s executors purchased the home and sold it to her at half price. She retained the property until November 1833, when it was sold for $25,000 to Thomas E. Davis, at the time of the Hamiltons’ purchase from Davis of No. 4 St. Mark’s Place.

 

According to Ron Chernow, author of Alexander Hamilton, a recent biography,

 

Because Eliza Hamilton tried to erase herself from her husband’s story, she has languished in virtually complete historical obscurity. ... In fact, she was a woman of towering strength and integrity who consecrated much of her extended widowhood to serving widows, orphans, and poor children. On March 16, 1806, less than two years after the duel, Eliza and other evangelical women cofounded the New York Orphan Asylum Society, the first private orphanage in New York.

 

She served as second directress, and then from 1821 to 1848 as first directress, of the Society.

 

Col. Hamilton (1786-1875), the eldest living son, graduated from Columbia College in 1804 and became a lawyer, later serving in the Duke of Wellington’s army and as a U.S. infantry captain in the War of 1812. He married Eliza P. Knox in 1817. In 1822, he became a U.S. district attorney in Florida, and was appointed land commissioner of eastern Florida by President Monroe in 1823. Upon his return to New York, he became involved in real estate. Eliza Hamilton Holly (1799-1859), the youngest Hamilton daughter and wife of merchant Sidney Augustus Holly (died c. 1842), became her mother’s primary caretaker in her later years. Neither sibling had children.

 

In 1841, the Washington Marine (later Washington Mutual) Insurance Co. foreclosed on No. 4 St. Mark’s Place, though the Hamiltons and Hollys appeared in the 1842-43 city directory as still living here. In 1843-45, Eliza Hamilton and Eliza Holly (now a widow) lived at No. 63 Prince Street; they moved to Washington, D.C., where Eliza Hamilton survived to the age of 97.

 

From 1843 to 1849, No. 4 St. Mark’s Place was the home of Isaac C. Van Wyck and his son, Cornelius I. Van Wyck, oil and candle merchants in the firm of Isaac C. Van Wyck & Son. It appears that it became a boardinghouse right after their residency. The Van Wyck family retained ownership of the house until 1863.

 

The St. Mark’s Place Neighborhood and Hamilton-Holly House in the Late 19th Century

 

Commercial and institutional intrusions and the arrival of immigrants ended St. Mark’s Place’s fashionable heyday before the Civil War. In the 1850s, Broadway north of Houston Street was transformed from a residential into a significant commercial district. Also beginning in the 1850s, the Lower East Side (the area bounded roughly by 14th Street, the East River, the Bowery/Third Avenue, and Catherine Street) became known as Kleindeutschland (“Little Germany”) due to the huge influx of German-speaking immigrants. Aside from their presence as residents, these immigrants contributed in significant ways to the vibrant commercial and cultural life of the neighborhood and the city at large. By 1880, this neighborhood constituted one-fourth of the city’s population and was the leading German-American center in the U.S. A massive exodus of Jews from Eastern Europe from the 1880s to World War I led to approximately two million Jewish immigrants settling in New York; most lived for a time on the Lower East Side, establishing their own cultural and religious institutions here.

 

This block of St. Mark’s Place also began to change in the 1850s, as the former residents moved northward and their single-family residences were converted into multiple dwellings or boardinghouses, as well as other uses, such as clubs or community cultural institutions. Hastening the change in the residential character of St. Mark’s Place, a wide variety of major cultural, religious, commercial, and educational institutions located nearby in the mid- to late-19th century, including Cooper Union (1853-58, Frederick A. Petersen), Astor Place and Third Avenue; and Tompkins Market/ 7th Regiment Armory (1855-60, James Bogardus and Marshall Lefferts; demolished), Third Avenue and East 7th Street. The New York Free Circulating Library, Ottendorfer Branch, and German Dispensary (1883-84, William Schickel), 135 and 137 Second Avenue, among others, catered to the German community. The Third Avenue elevated railroad opened in 1878. Most of the Federal style houses on this block of St. Mark’s Place were demolished for denser development with French flats and tenements between 1874 and 1902.

 

From 1863 to 1903, the former Hamilton-Holly House was owned by John W. Miller (died c. 1896) and his estate. Miller, a butter merchant in the firm of John W. Miller & Bro. at the Washington Market, resided around the block at No. 41 East 7th Street. A two-story, nearly 53-foot rear addition to the Hamilton-Holly House was built

 

c. 1865-66 in the large rear yard. Apparently, a first-story interior hall was created at this time. According to New York Times advertisements in 1874, it appears to have been a rental meeting hall; in 1880, Republicans of the 14th Assembly District met here. The upper stories became apartments, and a fire escape was installed on the front facade. In 1896-99, a commercial tenant was Central Art Studio (Emil Heyman, proprietor) for commercial photographs and crayon portraits. John W. Miller’s will was probated in 1896, at which time his estate was worth $250,000 plus an additional $35,000 in real estate. No. 4 St. Mark’s Place was placed at auction in 1903 (along with Miller’s other properties on this block: Nos. 16 and 20 St. Mark’s Place and Nos. 19-27 and 41 East 7th Street).

 

20th Century History of Greenwich Village and the East Village

 

After a period of decline, Greenwich Village was becoming known, prior to World War I, for its historic and picturesque qualities, its affordable housing, and the diversity of its population and social and political ideas. Many artists and writers, as well as tourists, were attracted to the Village. At the same time, as observed by museum curator Jan S. Ramirez,

 

As early as 1914 a committee of Village property owners, merchants, social workers, and realtors had embarked on a campaign to combat the scruffy image the local bohemian populace had created for the community. ... Under the banner of the Greenwich Village Improvement Society and the Greenwich Village Rebuilding Corporation, this alliance of residents and businesses also rallied to arrest the district’s physical deterioration... their ultimate purpose was to reinstate higher-income-level families and young professionals in the Village to stimulate its economy. Shrewd realtors began to amass their holdings of dilapidated housing.

 

These various factors and the increased desirability of the Village lead to a real estate boom – “rents increased during the 1920s by 140 percent and in some cases by as much as 300 percent.” According to Luther Harris

 

From the 1920s through the 1940s, the population of the Washington Square district changed dramatically. Although a group of New York’s elite remained until the 1930s, and some even later, most of their single-family homes were subdivided into flats, and most of the new apartment houses were designed with much smaller one- and two-bedroom units. New residents were mainly upper-middle-class, professional people, including many young married couples. They enjoyed the convenient location and Village atmosphere wit h its informality, its cultural heritage, and, for some, its bohemian associations.

 

Older rowhouses were remodeled to attract a more affluent clientele or as artists studios.

 

New York University, particularly after World War II, became a major institutional presence around Washington Square. Vanderbilt Hall (1950), the main building of the Law School, at the southwest corner of the Square at MacDougal Street, was the vanguard of the university’s expansion and new construction to the south. During the 1950s, the area south of Washington Square, to Houston Street, was also targeted for urban renewal. The surviving historic streets to the west became particularly popular for coffee houses, restaurants, and clubs.

 

The residential and cultural desirability of the “East Village” increased with the removal of the Third Avenue El in 1955. As indicated by Terry Miller,

 

the psychological barrier that had marked the eastern boundary of Greenwich Village was gone. Blocks that once had no prestige were suddenly seen as intriguing, and apartments here were less costly than those in Greenwich Village. ... As artists and writers moved east, the blocks from St. Mark’s Place to Tenth Street were the first to hint that the Lower East Side was being transformed. Realtors began marketing the area as “Village East,” and by 1961 as the “East Village,” a name that stuck.

 

In the 1950s, the East Village became home to a number of key Beat Generation writers, including Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Norman Mailer, and W.H. Auden. The neighborhood was renowned for its protest art and politics, galleries, poetry and coffee houses, bookstores, clubs, and the East Village Other “underground” newspaper (1965-72).

 

From World War I to the 1940s, Second Avenue between East 14th and Houston Streets had been considered the heart of New York’s Jewish community, known as the “Yiddish Rialto” for its role as the world’s center of Yiddish theater. As Yiddish theater declined, the East Village gave rise in the 1950s to off-Broadway theater, including the Phoenix Theater (1953-61) in the former Louis N. Jaffe Art Theater (Yiddish Art Theater) building, 181-189 Second Avenue; the Orpheum Theater (1958), 126 Second Avenue; and Ellen Stewart’s La Mama Theatre (1962), 321 East 9th Street (after 1969 at 74 East 4th Street).

 

The East Village’s “counterculture” scene centered on St. Mark’s Place. Nos. 19-25 (in part formerly Arlington Hall) had been the Polish National Home (Polski Dom Harodowy) since the 1920s. In the 1960s, “the Dom” was associated with a number of seminal figures of the period, including Timothy Leary and his “psychedelic celebrations,” the counterculture band The Fugs, and Andy Warhol’s “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable,” featuring his films performed with live music by the Velvet Underground. For a time the Electric Circus disco, this facility became a community center after 1971.

 

20th-Century History of the Hamilton-Holly House

 

From 1903 to 1952, the former Hamilton-Holly House was owned by the family of Charles and Anna C. Meisel. The first story was used, beginning in 1901, by the musical instruments import-export firm of C. Meisel, Inc. (established 1878) and the Italian-Musical String Co. The basement level was adapted for commercial use. Other businesses listed here in directories between 1929 and 1950 included a dental laboratory, a photography studio, and a general contractor, as well as the Omega Delta Phi fraternity. At the time of its sale in 1952, the building contained, according to the Times, “a store, club, apartments and auditorium.”

 

Rev. Nicola (Nick) Arseny, of Cleveland, Ohio, was the owner of this property from 1952 to 1961. A 1955 application for a Certificate of Occupancy indicated that the building was to house a basement store; an art gallery (front) and theater (rear) on the first story; a one-family apartment (front) and office (rear) of the second story; and a one-family apartment on the third story (plus attic). From 1955 until 1967, this building had a significant, colorful, and controversial theatrical history, reflecting its location on St. Mark’s Place during the cultural ascendancy of the East Village and of off-Broadway theater. Actress-manager Julie Bovasso established and directed the 132-seat Tempo Playhouse here in 1955, where she is credited with the American premieres of works by Jean Genet, Eugene Ionesco, and Michel de Ghelderode. The non-profit theater was closed for a portion of the 1955-56 season as the City’s License Department insisted that it required a theater license. Plays performed at the Tempo were: Genet’s The Maids; Gertrude Stein’s In a Garden and Three Sisters Who Are Not Sisters; Arthur Schnitzler’s The Gallant Cassiam; Jean Cocteau’s The Typewriter; Ionesco’s Amedee and The Lesson; Howard Blankman’s Amish musical By Hex; de Ghelderode’s Escurial; George Bernard Shaw’s Press Cuttings and O’Flaherty, V.C.; Henrik Ibsen’s Lady From the Sea; and Moliere’s The Doctor in Spite of Himself. The first Obie Awards, given for off-Broadway theater by the fledgling The Village Voice in 1955-56, recognized Ms. Bovasso as best actress in The Maids and, in a special citation, the Tempo Playhouse as best experimental theater.

 

In December 1957, the front portion of the first story opened as the Pyramid Gallery with an exhibition of drawings by contemporary painters and sculptors. The theater was known in 1958 as the Pyramid Theater, which presented Michael Hastings’ Don’t Destroy Me and the New York premiere of Seymour Barab’s opera Chanticleer, and, later, as the Little Theater, in which Schnitzler’s Anatol was performed. In July 1959, the Key Theater was established here by Nils L. Cruz and Robert E. Judge. The Times mentioned that it was a “115-seat house, equipped with a proscenium stage.” Performed here were Eugene O’Neill’s early short plays The Movie Man, Abortion, and The Sniper; August Strindberg’s The Dance of Death; James Comorthoon’s Every Other Evil; Anton Chekhov’s one-act plays On the High Road, The Wedding, and The Anniversary; and “Lorca and 3 New Playwrights,” including Frederico Garcia Lorca’s The Virgin, the Sailor, and the Student/ Chimera. By 1961, the building housed three sculptors’ studios.

 

From 1961 to 1967, No. 4 St. Mark’s Place was owned by Theodora Colt Flynn Bergery (1928-2004), a descendant of the Rhode Island branch of the Colt family, related to Samuel Colt, inventor of the Colt revolver. Bergery was a sometime poet, stage and movie actress, interior decorator and painter. After traveling with her children for years in France, where she encountered small circuses, Bergery purchased this building in order to produce her own circus, The Children’s Circus, which debuted in December 1961 and ran for two winters. She hired the Gangler Brothers Circus and, according to the Times, “the Gangler-Bergery families have been playing together and living together on the upper floors of the building with the animals.” Bergery re-named it the Bowery Theater “to try to revive the days when the Bowery was a jazzy place.” William C. Curtis’ The Kumquat in the Persimmon Tree played at the Bowery Theater in 1962. By June 1963, it had become The Howff, “a theater-café with a Scottish atmosphere run by a Welshman born in Turkey,” Roy Guest, who had previously operated a well-known folk music club in Edinburgh. It showcased The World of Kurt Weill in Song, with Martha Schlamme and Will Holt, the revue Rule, Britannia??, and the Israeli pantomime duo Solomon and Mina Yakim.

 

As the New Bowery Theater in 1964, it was the site of Malcolm L. LaPrade and Alan Helm’s musical comedy Will the Mail Train Run Tonight? and Jerry Douglas’ musical Never Say Dye. In March 1964 (after the City closed the Gramercy Arts Theater), it also became the venue for the showing of early avant-garde “underground” films by the Film-Makers’ Cooperative under Jonas Mekas, then film critic of The Village Voice and editor-publisher of Film Culture magazine. The work of the Kuchar Brothers was introduced here, including the premiere of “Lust for Ecstasy.” The district attorney’s office raided the theater, seizing Jack Smith’s allegedly “obscene” film “Flaming Creatures” and arresting Mekas. He was again arrested for showing Genet’s “Un Chant d’Amour.”

 

In 1965-66, No. 4 St. Mark’s Place was the location of the noted and eclectic Bridge Theater, and also contained an art gallery. “Light artist” Rudi Stern later called the Bridge “the most exciting theater in New York City at that time.” One of the theater’s specialties was experimental plays. Arthur Sainer’s The Bitch of Waverly Place, The Blind Angel, and God Wants What Men Want were performed here, as well as Georg Buchner’s Woyzeck. This was also a significant downtown venue for contemporary dance, in a program called “Dance at the Bridge.” Among the noted dancers and choreographers (many associated with Judson Church’s experimentaldance program and with Merce Cunningham) whose work was performed here were Lucinda Childs, Yvonne Rainer, Meredith Monk, Trisha Brown, and Kenneth King, whose performances were reviewed by the New York Times and Dance magazine. Underground films continued being shown here, as the downtown venue of the midtown Film-Maker’s Cinematheque.

 

Contemporary classical music and unconventional music were featured here as well, including Yoko Ono and The Fugs, in a series of midnight shows in 1965. “The operators of the embattled Bridge Theater,” according to the New York Times, were brought before the Department of Licenses in April 1966 on various petty violations, but mainly for the burning of an American flag in “LBJ,” an anti-Vietnam War skit, during a benefit. The theater was charged with “a show... that was immoral, indecent and against the public welfare” and with “not obtain[ing] an open flame permit.” A committee of artists and writers, headed by poet Allen Ginsberg, held a press conference at the theater and denounced “petty officials... [who were] conducting a campaign of harassment to drive avant garde artistic endeavors out of the city.” The charges were ultimately dropped, but the building’s use as a theater ended.

 

It was purchased in 1967 by Saul and Sarah Arons and Sanford F. and Bettie Ann Cohen; this ownership was later transferred to 4 St. Marks Place Realty and Stone Free Realty LLC. Saul Arons (1907-1995), a Polish-born furrier whose firm was the House of Aronowicz, operated “Mr. A,” fur traders, in The Underground in the basement of No. 4 St. Mark’s Place in the 1970s. Previously, Ground Floor Attic, an antiques store, was located in the basement level until 1966. A commercial tenant in 1967 was the Headquarters, a used-clothing emporium and cabaret. From c. 1969 to at least 1993, the first-story space was Limbo, a clothing store. Since 1980, Trash & Vaudeville has been a tenant, now occupying the entire basement and first-story commercial spaces. The upper stories are residential.

 

Description

 

No. 4 St. Mark’s Place is a 26-foot-wide and 3-1/2-story Federal style town house clad on the first through the third stories of the front facade in Flemish bond brickwork. The basement level, entirely clad in white marble (now painted) and surmounted by a watertable, has two openings with Gibbs surrounds (originally windows, now with a non-historic eastern metal-and-glass door and a non-historic western angled storefront, both with rolldown gates). The concrete-paved areaway has concrete steps down and a rolldown gate beneath the stoop; originally there were a wrought-iron fence and gates. A high, wide non-historic brick and stone stoop with non-historic wrought-iron railings and high gates leads to the round-arched entrance, which has a stone (now painted) Gibbs surround with triple keystone (with vermiculated central keystone) and vermiculated blocks, deep paneled reveals (including in the arch), and a decorative molded transom bar (the double metal doors and single-pane fanlight are non-historic). The windows of the first through the third stories have molded pediment stone lintels.

 

The long first-story windows, originally with nine-over-nine double-hung wood sash, originally opened onto a balcony having a wrought-iron railing (removed pre-1939); the eastern window has a single commercial storefront pane, while the western opening currently has a shopfront entrance with a non-historic metal-and-glass door. Non-historic iron stairs with a metal platform lead to this entrance and a fixed-box neon sign has been placed above it; lights are placed above the first story. Sash was originally six-over-six double-hung wood; second-story windows currently have one-over-one double-hung sash (with metal grates), while third-story windows have paired small one-overone double-hung sash. A downspout is placed at the western edge of the building. A late-19th-century decorative iron fire escape was placed on the western section of the second and third stories, leading to the western dormer. A banner pole has been placed on the third story. The house originally had a molded and modillioned wooden cornice; this was removed (post-1939) and the cornice area was parged and terminated by a metal gutter. The peaked roof has original segmental double dormers, originally faced with colonnettes and now parged on all sides; four-over-four double-hung wood sash with segmental tops were replaced with rectangular one-over-one wood sash.

 

- From the 2004 NYCLPC Landmark Designation Report

East Village, Manhattan, New York City, New York

 

Summary

 

The large town house at 4 St. Mark’s Place in the East Village section of Manhattan was constructed in 1831 in the Federal style, characterized and made notable by its unusual 26-foot width and 3-1/2-story height, Flemish bond brickwork, high stoop, long parlor- floor windows, Gibbs surround entrance with triple keystone and vermiculated blocks, white marble base with openings also with Gibbs surrounds, molded pediment lintels, peaked roof, and double segmental dormers. The entire block of St. Mark’s Place (East 8th Street) between Third and Second Avenues was built by English-born real estate developer Thomas E. Davis, who sold this house in 1833 to Col. Alexander Hamilton, son of the late first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

 

This was the home during the next nine years of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, the senior Hamilton’s widow; her daughter, Eliza Hamilton Holly, and her husband Sidney; and Col. Hamilton and his wife Eliza. In 1843¬ 49, it was the home of Isaac C. Van Wyck and his son Cornelius, oil and candle merchants; the Van Wyck family retained ownership until 1863. By the 1850s, houses on this formerly fashionable block were no longer single-family dwellings. No. 4 was owned from 1863 to 1903 by butter merchant John W. Miller; in the 1860s, a large two-story rear addition was built with a first-story meeting hall. From 1901 to 1952, the house was owned and used in part by the musical instruments firm of C. Meisel, Inc. The building had a significant and colorful theatrical history from 1955 to 1967, reflecting its location on St. Mark’s Place during the cultural ascendancy of the East Village.

 

Among other uses, it was the Tempo Playhouse, New Bowery Theater, and Bridge Theater, noted venues for experimental theater, contemporary music and dance, and early underground films. Despite the loss of some architectural details, the Hamilton-Holly House is among the rare surviving and significantly intact large Manhattan town houses of the Federal style, period, and 3-1/2-story, dormered peaked-roof type.

DESCRIPTION AND ANALYSIS

 

The Development of the Greater Washington Square Neighborhood

 

The area of today’s Greenwich Village was, during the 18th century, the location of the small rural hamlet of Greenwich, as well as the country seats and summer homes of wealthy downtown aristocrats, merchants, and capitalists. A number of cholera and yellow fever epidemics in lower Manhattan between 1799 and 1822 led to an influx of settlers in the Greenwich area, with the population quadrupling between 1825 and 1840. Previously undeveloped tracts of land were speculatively subdivided for the construction of town houses and rowhouses. Whereas in the early 19th century many of the wealthiest New Yorkers lived in the vicinity of Broadway and the side streets adjacent to City Hall Park between Barclay and Chambers Streets, by the 1820s and 30s, as commercial development and congestion increasingly disrupted and displaced them, theelite moved northward into Greenwich Village east of Sixth Avenue. For a brief period beginning in the 1820s-30s, Lafayette Place, including the grand marble Greek Revival style LaGrange Terrace (1832-33, attributed to Seth Geer), St. Mark’s Place, and Bond, Great Jones, East 4th and Bleecker Streets were among the most fashionable addresses, the latter developed with three block-long rows of houses in 1827-31.

 

A potter’s field, located north of 4th Street below Fifth Avenue since 1797, was converted into Washington Military Parade Ground and expanded (to nearly nine acres) in 1826 and landscaped as Washington Square in 1828. This public square spurred the construction of fine houses surrounding it, beginning with a uniform row of twelve 3-1/2-story Federal style houses (1826-27) on Washington Square South (4th Street), between Thompson and MacDougal Streets, by Col. James B. Murray and others. On Washington Square North, west of Fifth Avenue, Federal and Greek Revival style town houses were built between 1828 and 1839, while east of Fifth Avenue, “The Row” of thirteen large Greek Revival style town houses was developed in 1832-33 by downtown merchants and bankers who leased the properties from the Trustees of Sailors Snug Harbor. The University of the City of New York (later New York University) constructed its first structure, the Gothic Revival style University Building (1833-36, Town, Davis & Dakin), on the east side of the Square.

 

In 1832, the Common Council created the 15th Ward out of the eastern section of the large 9th Ward, its boundaries being Sixth Avenue, Houston and 14th Streets, and the East River. According to Luther Harris’ recent history Around Washington Square, during the 1830s-40s “this ward drew the wealthiest, most influential, and most talented people from New York City and elsewhere. By 1845, 85 percent of the richest citizens living in the city’s northern wards resided in the Fifteenth.” Fifth Avenue, extended north of Washington Square to 23rd Street in 1829, emerged as the city’s most prestigious address. To the east, lower Second Avenue and adjacent side streets also became fashionable from the 1830s through the 1850s.

 

Thomas E. Davis and St. Mark’s Place

 

Both sides of the block of St. Mark’s Place (East 8th Street) between Third and Second Avenues were built by speculative real estate developer Thomas E. Davis. Born c. 1795 in England, Davis immigrated to New Brunswick, N.J., where he worked briefly as a distiller. In 1830, he relocated to New York City and began to acquire real estate. Once part of Peter Stuyvesant’s Bowery farm, East 8th Street was opened by the city in 1826, preceded by Third and Second Avenues in this vicinity in 1812 and 1816. St. Mark’s Place extended the three blocks between Third Avenue and Avenue A (Tompkins Square). On the westernmost block of St. Mark’s Place owned by Davis, he allocated the lots more generously than the Manhattan norm, each lot having a width of 26 feet and a length of 120 feet (rather than 100 feet). Grand 3-1/2-story Federal style marble-and-brick-clad town houses with balconies were constructed here in 1831. In February 1832, Davis sold No. 4 St. Mark’s Place and three adjacent houses for $56,000 to merchant Samuel David Rogers and his wife, Frances, but these properties reverted eight months later, for $46,000, to Davis.

 

Also in 1831, Davis developed Carroll Place, both sides of Bleecker Street between Thompson Street and LaGuardia Place, with Federal style houses. He obtained the backing of the J.L. & S. Josephs & Co. Bank, which represented the interests of the Rothschild family in the U.S. from 1833 to 1837. In the early 1830s, Davis became involved with the Stuyvesant family in the development of the former Bowery farm to the north of St. Mark’s Place as an elite residential neighborhood.

 

Davis acquired a major portion of the Staten Island real estate holdings of the late Governor Daniel Tompkins at a sheriff’s sale in 1834, and continued to amass property along the island’s northern shore. Plans were made to develop this property into a summer retreat to be named New Brighton, and five Greek Revival style residences were built along Richmond Terrace in 1835; Davis’ own mansion became the nucleus of the Pavilion Hotel (1836, John Haviland). In 1836, Davis conveyed New Brighton to a syndicate of five New York businessmen for the then astronomical sum of $600,000. Davis also became involved with a group of New York investors in a failed scheme, chartered as the New Washington Association in 1835, to build a town at the head of Galveston Bay in Texas. According to Luther Harris, “in an 1840 auction following the Panic of 1837, Davis picked up over 400 lots on Fifth Avenue blocks north of Twentieth Street, for a few hundred dollars each, with plans to erect elegant residences there.” His real estate was listed in the 1860 census as worth $1.5 million.

 

Federal Style Rowhouses in Manhattan

 

As the city of New York grew in the period after the Revolution, large plots of land in Manhattan were sold and subdivided for the construction of groups of brick-clad houses. Their architectural style has been called “Federal” after the new republic, but in form and detail they continued the Georgian style of Great Britain. Federal style houses were constructed from the Battery as far north as 23rd Street between the 1790s and 1830s. The size of the lot dictated the size of the house: typically each house lot was 20 or 25 feet wide by 90 to 100 feet deep, which accorded with the rectilinear plan of New York City, laid out in 1807 and adopted as the Commissioners’ Plan in 1811. The rowhouse itself would be as wide as the lot, and 35 to 40 feet deep. This allowed for a stoop and small front yard or areaway, and a fairly spacious rear yard, which usually contained a buried cistern to collect fresh water and the privy. During the early 19th century, several houses were often constructed together, sharing common party walls, chimneys, and roof timbering to form a continuous group. The houses were of load-bearing masonry construction or modified timber-frame construction with brick-clad front facades. With shared structural framing and party walls, each house in a row was dependent on its neighbor for structural stability. With the increasing availability of pattern books, such as Asher Benjamin’s American Builders Companion (published in six editions between 1806 and 1827), local builders had access to drawings and instructions for exterior and interior plans and details.

 

Federal style rowhouses usually had a three-bay facade with two full stories over a high basement and an additional half story under a peaked roof with the ridge line running parallel to the front facade. Very modest houses could be two bays wide, while grander town houses had three full stories, and could be up to five bays wide. The front (and sometimes rear) facade was usually clad in red brick laid in the Flemish bond pattern, which alternated a stretcher and a header in every row. This system allowed the linking of the more expensive face brick with the cheaper, rougher brick behind. Walls were usually two “wythes,” or eight inches, thick. Because brick was fabricated by hand in molds (rather than by machine), it was relatively porous. To protect the brick surface and slow water penetration, facades were often painted.

 

The planar quality of Federal style facades was relieved by ornament in the form of lintels, entrances, stoops with iron railings, cornices, and dormers. Doorway and window lintels, seen in a variety of types (flat, incised or molded), were commonly brownstone. The most ornamental feature was the doorway, often framed with columns and sidelights and topped with a rectangular transom or fanlight, and having a single wooden paneled door. Some grander, later houses, like the Hamilton-Holly House, had large round-arched entrances with Gibbs surrounds. The entrance was approached by a stoop – a flight of brownstone steps placed to one side of the facade – on the parlor floor above a basement level. Wrought-iron railings with finials lined the stoop and enclosed areaways. Window openings at the parlor and second stories were usually the same height (the size sometimes diminished on the third story) and were aligned and the same width from story to story. The wood-framed sash were double hung and multi-light (typically six-over-six). Shutters were common on the exterior. A wooden cornice with a molded fascia extended across the front along the eave, which carried a built-in gutter. A leader head and downspout that drained onto the sidewalk extended down the facade on the opposite side from the doorway. Pedimented or segmental dormers on the front roof slope usually had decorative wood trim, and the top sash were often arched with decorative muntins. The roof was covered with continuous wood sheathing over the rafters and clad in slate.

 

The original design of the Hamilton-Holly House was characteristic of the Federal style in its Flemish bond brickwork, high stoop with wrought-ironwork, ornamented entrance, molded pediment stone lintels, molded and modillioned cornice, peaked roof, and segmental double dormers. It is made particularly notable as a grand town house by its 26-foot width, 3-1/2-story height, and long parlor-story windows (which originally opened onto a balcony), round-arched Gibbs surround entrance with triple keystone, vermiculated blocks, and fanlight, and white marble base with openings also with Gibbs surrounds. Surviving houses of this period with entrances with Gibbs surrounds are rare. Despite the loss of the cornice and some other architectural details, the Hamilton-Holly House is also among the rare surviving and significantly intact Manhattan town houses of the Federal style, period, and 3-1/2-story, dormered peaked-roof type (dating from 1803 to 1832).

 

The Hamilton-Holly House

 

In November 1833, the No. 4 St. Mark’s Place house was purchased from Thomas E. Davis for $15,500 by Col. Alexander Hamilton, son of the late Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. This was the home during the next nine years (until 1842) of the Hamilton and Holly families, including (according to city directories) variously, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, the senior Hamilton’s widow; her daughter, Eliza Hamilton Holly, and her husband, Sidney Augustus Holly; and Col. Hamilton and his wife, Eliza P. Knox Hamilton.

 

After Alexander Hamilton’s death in 1804 in a duel with Aaron Burr, Eliza S. Hamilton (1757-1854) was left nearly destitute to raise their seven children -- the youngest was only two -- by herself. Born in Albany, she was the second daughter of the wealthy and aristocratic Gen. Philip and Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler. Her father’s death just four months after her husband’s provided her with a modest inheritance of money and property, but she lived the next five decades on modest means, relying on friends (who organized a secret subscription fund to cancel Hamilton’s debts) and family, also petitioning the government for her husband’s pension and other benefits. Most of Alexander Hamilton’s substantial debt had accrued with the purchase of a 35-acre Harlem summer estate property, its landscaping, and the construction of a house, The Grange (1801-02, John McComb, Jr.). Realizing that Eliza could not be publicly dispossessed of The Grange, Hamilton’s executors purchased the home and sold it to her at half price. She retained the property until November 1833, when it was sold for $25,000 to Thomas E. Davis, at the time of the Hamiltons’ purchase from Davis of No. 4 St. Mark’s Place.

 

According to Ron Chernow, author of Alexander Hamilton, a recent biography,

 

Because Eliza Hamilton tried to erase herself from her husband’s story, she has languished in virtually complete historical obscurity. ... In fact, she was a woman of towering strength and integrity who consecrated much of her extended widowhood to serving widows, orphans, and poor children. On March 16, 1806, less than two years after the duel, Eliza and other evangelical women cofounded the New York Orphan Asylum Society, the first private orphanage in New York.

 

She served as second directress, and then from 1821 to 1848 as first directress, of the Society.

 

Col. Hamilton (1786-1875), the eldest living son, graduated from Columbia College in 1804 and became a lawyer, later serving in the Duke of Wellington’s army and as a U.S. infantry captain in the War of 1812. He married Eliza P. Knox in 1817. In 1822, he became a U.S. district attorney in Florida, and was appointed land commissioner of eastern Florida by President Monroe in 1823. Upon his return to New York, he became involved in real estate. Eliza Hamilton Holly (1799-1859), the youngest Hamilton daughter and wife of merchant Sidney Augustus Holly (died c. 1842), became her mother’s primary caretaker in her later years. Neither sibling had children.

 

In 1841, the Washington Marine (later Washington Mutual) Insurance Co. foreclosed on No. 4 St. Mark’s Place, though the Hamiltons and Hollys appeared in the 1842-43 city directory as still living here. In 1843-45, Eliza Hamilton and Eliza Holly (now a widow) lived at No. 63 Prince Street; they moved to Washington, D.C., where Eliza Hamilton survived to the age of 97.

 

From 1843 to 1849, No. 4 St. Mark’s Place was the home of Isaac C. Van Wyck and his son, Cornelius I. Van Wyck, oil and candle merchants in the firm of Isaac C. Van Wyck & Son. It appears that it became a boardinghouse right after their residency. The Van Wyck family retained ownership of the house until 1863.

 

The St. Mark’s Place Neighborhood and Hamilton-Holly House in the Late 19th Century

 

Commercial and institutional intrusions and the arrival of immigrants ended St. Mark’s Place’s fashionable heyday before the Civil War. In the 1850s, Broadway north of Houston Street was transformed from a residential into a significant commercial district. Also beginning in the 1850s, the Lower East Side (the area bounded roughly by 14th Street, the East River, the Bowery/Third Avenue, and Catherine Street) became known as Kleindeutschland (“Little Germany”) due to the huge influx of German-speaking immigrants. Aside from their presence as residents, these immigrants contributed in significant ways to the vibrant commercial and cultural life of the neighborhood and the city at large. By 1880, this neighborhood constituted one-fourth of the city’s population and was the leading German-American center in the U.S. A massive exodus of Jews from Eastern Europe from the 1880s to World War I led to approximately two million Jewish immigrants settling in New York; most lived for a time on the Lower East Side, establishing their own cultural and religious institutions here.

 

This block of St. Mark’s Place also began to change in the 1850s, as the former residents moved northward and their single-family residences were converted into multiple dwellings or boardinghouses, as well as other uses, such as clubs or community cultural institutions. Hastening the change in the residential character of St. Mark’s Place, a wide variety of major cultural, religious, commercial, and educational institutions located nearby in the mid- to late-19th century, including Cooper Union (1853-58, Frederick A. Petersen), Astor Place and Third Avenue; and Tompkins Market/ 7th Regiment Armory (1855-60, James Bogardus and Marshall Lefferts; demolished), Third Avenue and East 7th Street. The New York Free Circulating Library, Ottendorfer Branch, and German Dispensary (1883-84, William Schickel), 135 and 137 Second Avenue, among others, catered to the German community. The Third Avenue elevated railroad opened in 1878. Most of the Federal style houses on this block of St. Mark’s Place were demolished for denser development with French flats and tenements between 1874 and 1902.

 

From 1863 to 1903, the former Hamilton-Holly House was owned by John W. Miller (died c. 1896) and his estate. Miller, a butter merchant in the firm of John W. Miller & Bro. at the Washington Market, resided around the block at No. 41 East 7th Street. A two-story, nearly 53-foot rear addition to the Hamilton-Holly House was built

 

c. 1865-66 in the large rear yard. Apparently, a first-story interior hall was created at this time. According to New York Times advertisements in 1874, it appears to have been a rental meeting hall; in 1880, Republicans of the 14th Assembly District met here. The upper stories became apartments, and a fire escape was installed on the front facade. In 1896-99, a commercial tenant was Central Art Studio (Emil Heyman, proprietor) for commercial photographs and crayon portraits. John W. Miller’s will was probated in 1896, at which time his estate was worth $250,000 plus an additional $35,000 in real estate. No. 4 St. Mark’s Place was placed at auction in 1903 (along with Miller’s other properties on this block: Nos. 16 and 20 St. Mark’s Place and Nos. 19-27 and 41 East 7th Street).

 

20th Century History of Greenwich Village and the East Village

 

After a period of decline, Greenwich Village was becoming known, prior to World War I, for its historic and picturesque qualities, its affordable housing, and the diversity of its population and social and political ideas. Many artists and writers, as well as tourists, were attracted to the Village. At the same time, as observed by museum curator Jan S. Ramirez,

 

As early as 1914 a committee of Village property owners, merchants, social workers, and realtors had embarked on a campaign to combat the scruffy image the local bohemian populace had created for the community. ... Under the banner of the Greenwich Village Improvement Society and the Greenwich Village Rebuilding Corporation, this alliance of residents and businesses also rallied to arrest the district’s physical deterioration... their ultimate purpose was to reinstate higher-income-level families and young professionals in the Village to stimulate its economy. Shrewd realtors began to amass their holdings of dilapidated housing.

 

These various factors and the increased desirability of the Village lead to a real estate boom – “rents increased during the 1920s by 140 percent and in some cases by as much as 300 percent.” According to Luther Harris

 

From the 1920s through the 1940s, the population of the Washington Square district changed dramatically. Although a group of New York’s elite remained until the 1930s, and some even later, most of their single-family homes were subdivided into flats, and most of the new apartment houses were designed with much smaller one- and two-bedroom units. New residents were mainly upper-middle-class, professional people, including many young married couples. They enjoyed the convenient location and Village atmosphere wit h its informality, its cultural heritage, and, for some, its bohemian associations.

 

Older rowhouses were remodeled to attract a more affluent clientele or as artists studios.

 

New York University, particularly after World War II, became a major institutional presence around Washington Square. Vanderbilt Hall (1950), the main building of the Law School, at the southwest corner of the Square at MacDougal Street, was the vanguard of the university’s expansion and new construction to the south. During the 1950s, the area south of Washington Square, to Houston Street, was also targeted for urban renewal. The surviving historic streets to the west became particularly popular for coffee houses, restaurants, and clubs.

 

The residential and cultural desirability of the “East Village” increased with the removal of the Third Avenue El in 1955. As indicated by Terry Miller,

 

the psychological barrier that had marked the eastern boundary of Greenwich Village was gone. Blocks that once had no prestige were suddenly seen as intriguing, and apartments here were less costly than those in Greenwich Village. ... As artists and writers moved east, the blocks from St. Mark’s Place to Tenth Street were the first to hint that the Lower East Side was being transformed. Realtors began marketing the area as “Village East,” and by 1961 as the “East Village,” a name that stuck.

 

In the 1950s, the East Village became home to a number of key Beat Generation writers, including Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Norman Mailer, and W.H. Auden. The neighborhood was renowned for its protest art and politics, galleries, poetry and coffee houses, bookstores, clubs, and the East Village Other “underground” newspaper (1965-72).

 

From World War I to the 1940s, Second Avenue between East 14th and Houston Streets had been considered the heart of New York’s Jewish community, known as the “Yiddish Rialto” for its role as the world’s center of Yiddish theater. As Yiddish theater declined, the East Village gave rise in the 1950s to off-Broadway theater, including the Phoenix Theater (1953-61) in the former Louis N. Jaffe Art Theater (Yiddish Art Theater) building, 181-189 Second Avenue; the Orpheum Theater (1958), 126 Second Avenue; and Ellen Stewart’s La Mama Theatre (1962), 321 East 9th Street (after 1969 at 74 East 4th Street).

 

The East Village’s “counterculture” scene centered on St. Mark’s Place. Nos. 19-25 (in part formerly Arlington Hall) had been the Polish National Home (Polski Dom Harodowy) since the 1920s. In the 1960s, “the Dom” was associated with a number of seminal figures of the period, including Timothy Leary and his “psychedelic celebrations,” the counterculture band The Fugs, and Andy Warhol’s “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable,” featuring his films performed with live music by the Velvet Underground. For a time the Electric Circus disco, this facility became a community center after 1971.

 

20th-Century History of the Hamilton-Holly House

 

From 1903 to 1952, the former Hamilton-Holly House was owned by the family of Charles and Anna C. Meisel. The first story was used, beginning in 1901, by the musical instruments import-export firm of C. Meisel, Inc. (established 1878) and the Italian-Musical String Co. The basement level was adapted for commercial use. Other businesses listed here in directories between 1929 and 1950 included a dental laboratory, a photography studio, and a general contractor, as well as the Omega Delta Phi fraternity. At the time of its sale in 1952, the building contained, according to the Times, “a store, club, apartments and auditorium.”

 

Rev. Nicola (Nick) Arseny, of Cleveland, Ohio, was the owner of this property from 1952 to 1961. A 1955 application for a Certificate of Occupancy indicated that the building was to house a basement store; an art gallery (front) and theater (rear) on the first story; a one-family apartment (front) and office (rear) of the second story; and a one-family apartment on the third story (plus attic). From 1955 until 1967, this building had a significant, colorful, and controversial theatrical history, reflecting its location on St. Mark’s Place during the cultural ascendancy of the East Village and of off-Broadway theater. Actress-manager Julie Bovasso established and directed the 132-seat Tempo Playhouse here in 1955, where she is credited with the American premieres of works by Jean Genet, Eugene Ionesco, and Michel de Ghelderode. The non-profit theater was closed for a portion of the 1955-56 season as the City’s License Department insisted that it required a theater license. Plays performed at the Tempo were: Genet’s The Maids; Gertrude Stein’s In a Garden and Three Sisters Who Are Not Sisters; Arthur Schnitzler’s The Gallant Cassiam; Jean Cocteau’s The Typewriter; Ionesco’s Amedee and The Lesson; Howard Blankman’s Amish musical By Hex; de Ghelderode’s Escurial; George Bernard Shaw’s Press Cuttings and O’Flaherty, V.C.; Henrik Ibsen’s Lady From the Sea; and Moliere’s The Doctor in Spite of Himself. The first Obie Awards, given for off-Broadway theater by the fledgling The Village Voice in 1955-56, recognized Ms. Bovasso as best actress in The Maids and, in a special citation, the Tempo Playhouse as best experimental theater.

 

In December 1957, the front portion of the first story opened as the Pyramid Gallery with an exhibition of drawings by contemporary painters and sculptors. The theater was known in 1958 as the Pyramid Theater, which presented Michael Hastings’ Don’t Destroy Me and the New York premiere of Seymour Barab’s opera Chanticleer, and, later, as the Little Theater, in which Schnitzler’s Anatol was performed. In July 1959, the Key Theater was established here by Nils L. Cruz and Robert E. Judge. The Times mentioned that it was a “115-seat house, equipped with a proscenium stage.” Performed here were Eugene O’Neill’s early short plays The Movie Man, Abortion, and The Sniper; August Strindberg’s The Dance of Death; James Comorthoon’s Every Other Evil; Anton Chekhov’s one-act plays On the High Road, The Wedding, and The Anniversary; and “Lorca and 3 New Playwrights,” including Frederico Garcia Lorca’s The Virgin, the Sailor, and the Student/ Chimera. By 1961, the building housed three sculptors’ studios.

 

From 1961 to 1967, No. 4 St. Mark’s Place was owned by Theodora Colt Flynn Bergery (1928-2004), a descendant of the Rhode Island branch of the Colt family, related to Samuel Colt, inventor of the Colt revolver. Bergery was a sometime poet, stage and movie actress, interior decorator and painter. After traveling with her children for years in France, where she encountered small circuses, Bergery purchased this building in order to produce her own circus, The Children’s Circus, which debuted in December 1961 and ran for two winters. She hired the Gangler Brothers Circus and, according to the Times, “the Gangler-Bergery families have been playing together and living together on the upper floors of the building with the animals.” Bergery re-named it the Bowery Theater “to try to revive the days when the Bowery was a jazzy place.” William C. Curtis’ The Kumquat in the Persimmon Tree played at the Bowery Theater in 1962. By June 1963, it had become The Howff, “a theater-café with a Scottish atmosphere run by a Welshman born in Turkey,” Roy Guest, who had previously operated a well-known folk music club in Edinburgh. It showcased The World of Kurt Weill in Song, with Martha Schlamme and Will Holt, the revue Rule, Britannia??, and the Israeli pantomime duo Solomon and Mina Yakim.

 

As the New Bowery Theater in 1964, it was the site of Malcolm L. LaPrade and Alan Helm’s musical comedy Will the Mail Train Run Tonight? and Jerry Douglas’ musical Never Say Dye. In March 1964 (after the City closed the Gramercy Arts Theater), it also became the venue for the showing of early avant-garde “underground” films by the Film-Makers’ Cooperative under Jonas Mekas, then film critic of The Village Voice and editor-publisher of Film Culture magazine. The work of the Kuchar Brothers was introduced here, including the premiere of “Lust for Ecstasy.” The district attorney’s office raided the theater, seizing Jack Smith’s allegedly “obscene” film “Flaming Creatures” and arresting Mekas. He was again arrested for showing Genet’s “Un Chant d’Amour.”

 

In 1965-66, No. 4 St. Mark’s Place was the location of the noted and eclectic Bridge Theater, and also contained an art gallery. “Light artist” Rudi Stern later called the Bridge “the most exciting theater in New York City at that time.” One of the theater’s specialties was experimental plays. Arthur Sainer’s The Bitch of Waverly Place, The Blind Angel, and God Wants What Men Want were performed here, as well as Georg Buchner’s Woyzeck. This was also a significant downtown venue for contemporary dance, in a program called “Dance at the Bridge.” Among the noted dancers and choreographers (many associated with Judson Church’s experimentaldance program and with Merce Cunningham) whose work was performed here were Lucinda Childs, Yvonne Rainer, Meredith Monk, Trisha Brown, and Kenneth King, whose performances were reviewed by the New York Times and Dance magazine. Underground films continued being shown here, as the downtown venue of the midtown Film-Maker’s Cinematheque.

 

Contemporary classical music and unconventional music were featured here as well, including Yoko Ono and The Fugs, in a series of midnight shows in 1965. “The operators of the embattled Bridge Theater,” according to the New York Times, were brought before the Department of Licenses in April 1966 on various petty violations, but mainly for the burning of an American flag in “LBJ,” an anti-Vietnam War skit, during a benefit. The theater was charged with “a show... that was immoral, indecent and against the public welfare” and with “not obtain[ing] an open flame permit.” A committee of artists and writers, headed by poet Allen Ginsberg, held a press conference at the theater and denounced “petty officials... [who were] conducting a campaign of harassment to drive avant garde artistic endeavors out of the city.” The charges were ultimately dropped, but the building’s use as a theater ended.

 

It was purchased in 1967 by Saul and Sarah Arons and Sanford F. and Bettie Ann Cohen; this ownership was later transferred to 4 St. Marks Place Realty and Stone Free Realty LLC. Saul Arons (1907-1995), a Polish-born furrier whose firm was the House of Aronowicz, operated “Mr. A,” fur traders, in The Underground in the basement of No. 4 St. Mark’s Place in the 1970s. Previously, Ground Floor Attic, an antiques store, was located in the basement level until 1966. A commercial tenant in 1967 was the Headquarters, a used-clothing emporium and cabaret. From c. 1969 to at least 1993, the first-story space was Limbo, a clothing store. Since 1980, Trash & Vaudeville has been a tenant, now occupying the entire basement and first-story commercial spaces. The upper stories are residential.

 

Description

 

No. 4 St. Mark’s Place is a 26-foot-wide and 3-1/2-story Federal style town house clad on the first through the third stories of the front facade in Flemish bond brickwork. The basement level, entirely clad in white marble (now painted) and surmounted by a watertable, has two openings with Gibbs surrounds (originally windows, now with a non-historic eastern metal-and-glass door and a non-historic western angled storefront, both with rolldown gates). The concrete-paved areaway has concrete steps down and a rolldown gate beneath the stoop; originally there were a wrought-iron fence and gates. A high, wide non-historic brick and stone stoop with non-historic wrought-iron railings and high gates leads to the round-arched entrance, which has a stone (now painted) Gibbs surround with triple keystone (with vermiculated central keystone) and vermiculated blocks, deep paneled reveals (including in the arch), and a decorative molded transom bar (the double metal doors and single-pane fanlight are non-historic). The windows of the first through the third stories have molded pediment stone lintels.

 

The long first-story windows, originally with nine-over-nine double-hung wood sash, originally opened onto a balcony having a wrought-iron railing (removed pre-1939); the eastern window has a single commercial storefront pane, while the western opening currently has a shopfront entrance with a non-historic metal-and-glass door. Non-historic iron stairs with a metal platform lead to this entrance and a fixed-box neon sign has been placed above it; lights are placed above the first story. Sash was originally six-over-six double-hung wood; second-story windows currently have one-over-one double-hung sash (with metal grates), while third-story windows have paired small one-overone double-hung sash. A downspout is placed at the western edge of the building. A late-19th-century decorative iron fire escape was placed on the western section of the second and third stories, leading to the western dormer. A banner pole has been placed on the third story. The house originally had a molded and modillioned wooden cornice; this was removed (post-1939) and the cornice area was parged and terminated by a metal gutter. The peaked roof has original segmental double dormers, originally faced with colonnettes and now parged on all sides; four-over-four double-hung wood sash with segmental tops were replaced with rectangular one-over-one wood sash.

 

- From the 2004 NYCLPC Landmark Designation Report

THE ALL NEW HOWLING CURMUDGEONS

 

October 25, 2006

Licht Kitsch

by Greg

Via Colleen Doran through Lea Hernandez:

 

Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein

"Deconstructing" does not mean what he thinks it means, but regardless. What this site is is Lichtenstein's paintings side-by-side with the comics he swiped from.

As Lea says, the dominant conclusion to be drawn by anyone who knows comic art is that Roy wasn't a very good swiper.

His copies have much flatter affect. His lettering is pretty sad, except for the occasional sound effect.

Posted by Greg at October 25, 2006 2:41 PM

Comments

#1 ::: Jeff R. ::: October 25, 2006 3:33 PM ::: link

So can someone explain to me why it wouldn't be appropriate to conclude that, at this point, Marvel Editorial has a higher ethical standard than _insert given museum which has exhibited Lichtenstein's work_?

#2 ::: Rasselas ::: October 25, 2006 3:48 PM ::: link

"Ethical standard"? "Museum"?

www.archaeology.org/online/features/italytrial/

#3 ::: Greg Morrow ::: October 25, 2006 4:01 PM ::: link

(Jeff's talking about this, from Rich's column this week.)

Well, for a variety of reasons, which I'm sure you're being disingenuous about.

Marvel, a corporation, has much less interest in defending itself against a copyright lawsuit that a museum does; this is less about ethics than it is about the budget for the legal department.

When Lichtenstein painted, the interaction of derivative works and copyright was much less fixed, much less theoretical, and there was much greater distance between high art and comic book art, so that the transformative aspects of Lichtenstein's work would be given much more credit than they would today.

And, to further that point, when a Marvel artist swipes, it's to make a deadline, with far more practical intent than artistic. When Lichtenstein swiped, it was with the intent of creating new art by transforming the old.

In addition, note that Lichtenstein's swipes, by emphasizing the false contrast between high art and comic art, made it possible to appreciate comic art as art. In essence, you can only do what Lichtenstein did once: transform non-art into art. Once it's art, it can't be non-art again. Today, a museum could do an ethical Lichtenstein exhibit by treating the source material as art, too.

That being said, it is still dishonorable that Lichtenstein himself was enriched by his thefts, but these are crimes in the past, and the art remains.

#4 ::: Mike Chary ::: October 25, 2006 4:10 PM ::: link

Okay, David Goldfarb has told me that I tend to present my opinions as though they were canon writ, so let me try to be a bit more modest in reaction to this portrayal of Roy Lichtenstein...

Greg, don't listen to these morons.

Yes, that is my more moderate response.

First of all, the notion the Lichtenstein reputation and "wealth," is based on stealing from comics artists is silly. He does have some well-known works that were based on comics panels, but he stopped doing that in the mid-1960's, and a lot of his best work has nothing whatsover to do with comics, as for example, this sculpture in the national gallery. I'm not saying that he's not known as the comics-guy, but Jackson Pollock is known as the guy who spilled paint, and Dali is known as the melting clock guy. He did other things, and reducing hinm to a bad comics thief is just ludicrous.

Second, a comic book is not a stand alone painting. The things that make a painting -- particularly a pop art, futurist, statirical painting interesting -- are not the same things that make comics interesting. Using the panel you showed as an example, the comics panel belongs in a page. We don't even know if it is a good comics panel, because we don't known what comes next, but it appears to be guiding the eye slightly up and to the left, so I can't imagine it was too helpful in the story-telling process. The painting, however, well, that's a different story.

The eye is centered directly on the sound effect. The hand is removed, so there's no human element to take attention away from the pop colors. The explosion of color is what it is all about. There's no need for to worry about the next panel, because he's not telling a story. The dialogue and lettering at cheesy, but they are in keeping with what the public expects of comics art.

And that's what RL was doing. He was like Warhol, a cheeky bastard playing with the expectations of art. Warhol used Campbell's soup, and RL used comics. He's saying, "Look, art is all around you!" But you could never just blow up that panel and put on a museum wall. As a drawing, the panel is too obviously in service to another work. The RL painting stands alone because of the color and perspective.

Third, I can understand where these people are coming from, I suppose, because they think "Hey, RL didn't do anything these guys couldn't have done if they had wanted to." But's that's not true. RL's paintings aren't swipes of comics panels. They are new pieces of art based on panels from comics. The differences in the panels and paintings are what makes them art. They are taken out of context and universalized to remind the viewer of a different context. To say to them, "Hey, you like this painting? Well, you saw something that looked just like it in the Sunday funnies." I mean, artists take a lot of things from every day life, but if you look at LeRoy Nieman's "Satchmo" I think you'll agree that it's a great painting, even if it is a lousy picture of Louis Armstrong. I mean, you can't even recognize the guy.

Fourth, I can't access the site from work, but this article discusses the copyright implications, and raises a couple points in my mind. It's a problematic issue because the panels are not complete works. It's not a problem for the artists because they were doing work for hire, so the copyright infringement belongs to the copyright holder, such as DC or King Features.

Additionally, the whole point of copyright law is constitutional: to promote science and the useful arts, so RL taking these things and making something else, is right in line with that policy.

I can understand why the original artists might be upset, though Joe Kubert claims not to be. I also think that perhaps some credit was worth giving, though it wasn't always clear in those comics who did what. The inspiration for Lichtenstein's work might not have a legal basis for compensation anyway. I could come up with winable arguments on either side.

However, the legalities of copyright law aside there's such a thing as being a mensch. Just ask The Girl from Ipanema.

#5 ::: Jeff R. ::: October 25, 2006 4:19 PM ::: link

1.) Most museums are corporate entities also, and all corporate 'ethical standards' are more about liability than the sorts of intangibles that corporations are often legally barred from taking into account

2.) The transformative content ofthe work is, if not directly derivative of then certainly strongly implied by the Warhol works of the preceding years, and

3.) Given that Roy did in fact enrich himself doing it, it's hard to claim that his motivation began and end with 'creating art'. One suspect's that Dr. Johnson's maxim ('Only a blockhead writes except for money') applies to all of the arts equally well...

#6 ::: Mike Chary ::: October 25, 2006 4:33 PM ::: link

Greg, how do you think RL was enriched? Did he own "Torpedoes...Los!" when it was sold in 1989?

I'm curious. I don't know.

 

Btw, I beg everyone to take a look at some of his exhibitions. Here's what the New York Museum of Modern Art has, and here's one from the National Gallery. Note that "Look Mickey" is in that last one, and if Disney doesn't want a piece of you in a copyright case, that should be a signal that maybe you haven't got one, because the Mouse tends to have no sense of humor whatsoever about this stuff.

#7 ::: Greg Morrow ::: October 25, 2006 4:39 PM ::: link

Mike, have a look at this example, then. It preserves a much larger hunk of the story context.

I won't argue your point about the redesign of the example panel, since it's clearly valid, but I don't think it provides general or sufficient excuse. Just looking at the first four examples on the page, like this one, many of Lichtenstein's swipes show almost no deviation from the source material.

As for the copyright implications, I'll grant you they're very complex--are you usurping the whole of the work, is there parodic intent, to what extent does the reworking and transformative contribution have to outweigh the copied contribution, and so on. As I noted, Lichtenstein was freer to do it then than one would be to do it now, because the transformative contribution would be so much greater: You no longer have to point out "You saw art this week in the Sunday comics".

#8 ::: Greg Morrow ::: October 25, 2006 4:45 PM ::: link

Mike, I use "enrich" in the more-or-less legal sense of "got something of value" in lieu of the more quotidian "got rich". That is, by reworking the art of others, he was able to both sell paintings and gain a valuable reputation. That's plain'n'simple enrichment, as I understand the term.

I don't know how much he got paid for his paintings on original sale (I'm certainly not so naive as to think that he gets a chunk of the resale), but I bet it wasn't chump change. He also retains the copyright even once the original is sold, so he can profit from derivative works like posters.

#9 ::: Jeff R. ::: October 25, 2006 4:48 PM ::: link

I think that the anti-RL sentiment doesn't stem from a copyright standpoint but from a broader, European-ish 'moral rights of the artist' standpoint. (a tiny 'after xxxxx' beneath his signature would have obliterated much of it)

That said, I'm stunned that the Mouse's lawyers didn't bite...

#10 ::: Mike Chary ::: October 25, 2006 5:08 PM ::: link

You know, I could waste my time defending Roy Lichtenstein as an artist. And then maybe I could try to defend the value of Frank Robinson as a baseball player. Or perhaps muse idly on how maybe Norman Mailer knew how to string words together. Perhaps comment on how I think Jesse Jackson might have some oratory skills. Or wax poetic on how Heather Locklear is kind of a attractive in the right sort of lighting...

 

No deviation fromt he source material? Isn't that painting like a thousand times larger than the panel? And the series of panels you showed were still in a comic book, yes? Btw, I'm curious, where'd "Torpedo...Los!" come from, because that guy's gotta a real case to be upset.

 

The really ballsy part is that apparently the copyright notice on his foundation's website is his swipe from Joe Kubert. Anyway, copyright is life plu whatever these days, I'm sure the relevant artists can sue if they want. I don't have a dog in this fight, so to speak, but RL was a great artist. The comics panels were only part of that, if the part that comes most readily to mind. All I am saying is that you, Greg Morrow, are smarter than these other people so don't let them drag you down to path to madness.

#11 ::: Mike Chary ::: October 25, 2006 5:14 PM ::: link

Droite morale is contrary to the policy of US copyright law.

#12 ::: Jeff R. ::: October 25, 2006 5:36 PM ::: link

Suddenly US Copyright law is the only possible framework to use in making moral judgments about artistic ethics?

Heck, anyone here think US Copyright law is even, you know, remotely good at all?

#13 ::: Greg Morrow ::: October 25, 2006 5:46 PM ::: link

Jeff is presumably referring to the moral reaction to RL's work, not the legal reaction, in his invocation of droit morale.

(In any case, droit morale is not entirely against US policy.)

#14 ::: Chris Durnell ::: October 25, 2006 7:26 PM ::: link

Chary's word gymnastics aside, I think this shows how much of this is just farce. 1000 years from now people will still want to look at the classics, but I doubt most of the 20th century stuff we think is genius or important will hold up. There are some modern artists that are important and will remain so, but this is just fraud.

Perhaps it was important that Lichtenstein subverted the high art ideals and showed comics was really art (although the high art - low art scale is just as strong as ever, and the recent rise in comics appreciation has come about only as its mass popularity has declined), but thats politics in the art community, not art.

And yes, no one discussing comics actually seems to know what "deconstruction" means.

#15 ::: Mike Chary ::: October 25, 2006 9:32 PM ::: link

"Word gymnastics?" Please explain which part of my explanation was not explained to your satisfaction with reference to outside sources?

And, by the way, name even one artist from 1000 years ago.

#16 ::: Mike Chary ::: October 25, 2006 10:17 PM ::: link

Okay, now from home, I can look at the site.

First, the most expensive painting is "Torpedo...Los!" and observe this site.

Now, one thing strikes me about the panels in question:

They suck.

RL didn't remove life or dynamism or power from the panels. He took some of the most generic comics panels imaginable and turned them into good pop art.The use of color in particular is a remarkable change.

The idea that the artists in question should be known for these panels is insulting to them as comics artists.

#17 ::: Mike Chary ::: October 25, 2006 10:20 PM ::: link

And now, Greg, has called one of the giants of twentieth century pop art a "dishonorable copyist." Greg, would you please give me a nickel for every time some comics artist has swiped from another artist?

#18 ::: moose n squirrel ::: October 25, 2006 10:38 PM ::: link

Well, I was going to go off about how the bizarre anti-Lichtenstein stuff you tend to read is weird crank-talk, but Mike has said everything a lot more cogently than I was going to say it. Before I started reading comic blogs I had no idea this kind of weird animus for Lichtenstein existed in the comics community; it never even occurred to me to think of Lichtenstein as a "thief."

As far as U.S. copyright law goes: copyright in this country errs on the side of restrictiveness, not permissiveness, so I wouldn't hold the lack of Lichtenstein lawsuits against him. Tight restrictions on copyright rarely result in either greater production of art or greater enrichment of artists, but can make for greater profits for the corporations and industries that own art here.

#19 ::: Mike Chary ::: October 26, 2006 8:24 AM ::: link

Oh, and by the way, the lettering ain't lettering, it's pictures of letters. IT'S A PAINTING!!! Don't be so provincial.

#20 ::: Greg Morrow ::: October 26, 2006 10:17 AM ::: link

"Ce n'est pas" lettering, Mike? And McLuhanesque exultation of the medium over the content? We have very, very different reactions to art.

Most of the artists of 1000 years ago are anonymous--but we still hang the Bayeux Tapestry and its contemporaries in a place of honor in our museum, and if we knew who did it, we'd remember their name. But record-keeping was quite different then. 1000 years ago viewed from now has very different quality and quantity of information than now viewed from 1000 years hence.

(On a quick scan, the earliest attributed stuff in the Met's medieval art highlight collection is 15th century.)

As for removing life and dynamism, look at the nurse. The original nurse is vastly superior. (And I think it's Kane--you're not going to tell me that RL is a better illustrator than Gil Kane, surely?)

#21 ::: Doug ::: October 26, 2006 10:28 AM ::: link

I haven't got much to add except to point out that if Lichtenstein wasn't a very good swiper, maybe it was because his intention was to do something else entirely. I have little doubt that he could've provided a line by line, ben-day dot by ben-day dot replication if that had been his aim.

The last couple of Lichtenstein exhibitions I've attended have basically focused on his process, demonstrating the work--whether it was comics panels, ads, photographs, or whatever--he started with and how he adapted it to his own purposes, so I suspect that will be the way he will be approached for the next little while.

After seeing one of those shows at LA's Museum of Contemporary Art, I made a list of his sources and intended to start collecting the panels that functioned as his starting points, but then I lost that list.

#22 ::: Mike Chary ::: October 26, 2006 11:51 AM ::: link

The medium might not be the message in the sense you are referring to, Greg, but it certainly informs the message.

"Nurse" is only superior in the Kane version in a comic book, because the nurse is looking at something. In the stand alone drawing by RL, the narrower face serve to bring the head closer to the center of the frame. The colors of the hand are brighter bringing more balance to the empty space on the right side. The shading in the Kane version serves to change the weight of the body language, making it clear the nurse is looking at something the reader in meant to see. Probably in the next panel. The RL drawing has a more balanced weight, and nurse's head isn't tilted, bring her gaze more centric, keeping the viewer's eye on the picture. "What is the nurse looking at?" thus become not a question with an answer (the next panel) but a question to ponder like "What is Mona Lisa smiling at?" Is RL a better illustrator than Gil Kane? probably not, tough his later works would suggest he probably had the aritistic chops to do just about anything. Do you think Gil Kane is a better sculptor than RL?

#23 ::: Jason Fliegel ::: October 26, 2006 1:14 PM ::: link

I think the real problem with Lichtenstein is that he was taking something generally considered not to be art and showing that it could, in fact, be art. Which is all well and good for the general public, but the problem is that we are used to considering comics to be art. To us, copying Gil Kane and saying "Aha! It's art!" is no different than copying Rafael and saying "Aha! It's art!" We're not the intended audience because we already know it's art. If I were a talented artist, I could do a sculpture of a BlackBerry to show people that these ubiquitous devices are not merely functional but also have aesthetic value, and most people would ooh and ah over it, but somewhere in a RIM facility, there would be a bunch of pissed off designers. They'd be saying things like "of course it's got aesthetic value" and "All he did was take our work and copy it for a sculpture!"

That said, I do wish Lichtenstein and the art community were more up-front about acknowledging the contributions of Gil Kane, Joe Kubert, Russ Heath, and the others that provided the raw material for Lichtenstein's work. If Lichtenstein's work was about reinterpreting what we had considered "non-art" and showing us that it is, in fact "art," why has the world only accepted it as "art" in Lichtenstein's adapted form and not in the Kane/Kubert/Heath originals?

#24 ::: Mike Chary ::: October 26, 2006 1:29 PM ::: link

And I wish the comics community had put any credits at all on any of their books. And I wish Dick Sprang's art hadn't had Bill Kane's name on it. And what about Jack Cole's Will Eisner stuff. All these guys had "studios" which put their name on work by other artists. I mean, the treatment of artists within comics is actually worse than from outside the medium. At least RL made some changes and admitted he was using comics. He never said these were taken from comics, but he made them into stand alone art.

#25 ::: Ralf Haring ::: October 26, 2006 1:46 PM ::: link

And people rightfully bitch and moan about Kane and the studios. Just like they're bitching about Lichtenstein.

#26 ::: David Barsalou ::: October 27, 2006 5:27 PM ::: link

Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein

additional sites:

www.boston.com/news/globe/living/articles/2006/10/18/lich...

davidbarsalou.homestead.com/LICHTENSTEINPROJECT.html

www.flickr.com/photos/deconstructing-roy-lichtenstein/

www.valleyadvocate.com/gbase/Arts/content?oid=oid:688

davidbarsalou.homestead.com/roylichtenstein.html

davidbarsalou.homestead.com/roylichtensteinsee.html

www.umassmag.com/nypop/barsalou.htm

www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/010003.html

 

THE ART LAW BLOG

theartlawblog.blogspot.com/2006/10/lichtenstein-and-copyr...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lichtenstein and Copyright

Alex Beam has an interesting piece in the Boston Globe on copyright issues surrounding Roy Lichtenstein's use of images from comics. An art teacher named David Barsalou has been tracking down and cataloging specific comics that were the inspiration for Lichtenstein's paintings; so far he's found about 140. "Color me naive," writes Beam, "but I never thought Lichtenstein's work was a direct copy of scenes from comic books. I assumed that he stylized certain scenes suggested by the comic vernacular of the 1950s and 1960s." He also correctly points out that Lichtenstein could have faced serious copyright problems (Beam doesn't mention it, but just think of Rogers v. Koons); he says the interesting question is why he never did. The question is in any case now moot: there's a three-year statute of limitations for copyright claims.

 

You can see samples of Barsalou's research at his website, Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein.

 

www.flickr.com/photos/deconstructing-roy-lichtenstein/

davidbarsalou.homestead.com/LICHTENSTEINPROJECT.html

ulcercity.blogspot.com/2008/06/more-on-lichtenstein-and-s...

www.fineartregistry.com/articles/altabe_joan/artwork-copy...

 

Title: British bee journal & bee-keepers adviser

Identifier: britishbeejourna1884lond

Year: 1873 (1870s)

Authors:

Subjects: Bees

Publisher: London

Contributing Library: UMass Amherst Libraries

Digitizing Sponsor: Boston Library Consortium Member Libraries

  

View Book Page: Book Viewer

About This Book: Catalog Entry

View All Images: All Images From Book

 

Click here to view book online to see this illustration in context in a browseable online version of this book.

  

Text Appearing Before Image:

March 1, 1884.] ADVERTISEMENTS TO THE BRITISH BEE JOURNAL. .Sue-rul yrcpuib ^bbcrtisc-mmts. For Sales and Purchases of Bee Appliances, Honey, Books, Pamphlets, Diagrams, &c, Exchanges and Situations. Term.-': Tuelve words and under, Fourpenct; for every ad- ditional three word.*, One Penny extra; no reduction can be made for continuous insertion. Advertisements will not be received for insertion under this heading from Manufacturers or Dealers in Bee Furniture, except for the Sales of Honey and Bee Literature. Till: SIMMIXS- METHOD OF DIRECT INTRODUC- TION7. Enlarged to 32 pages. Price 6JA Post free, of the Author, Bottingdean, Brighton; Messrs. neiohboubc& Sons, 149 Regent Street; and Mr. J. Hccki.e, King's Langly, Herts. (53) ~y E\V PERSIAN CLOVER, highly fragrant, and a valu- j_> uhle Bee Flower. Very scarce. In small packets, 1*.each. Cash with order. The BEE-KEEPERS' FLORAL PA in. by 1". in., 10 in. deep, to be sold cheap. Apply T. Hill, Scotlands Cannock Road, near Wolverhampton. i 67 WANTED, Second-hand Honey Extractor to ciation's Frames. Address Alfbed Wi.i I7TOB SALE. Three good strong Stocks in large Flat topped Straw Hives, foi Supering. Apply ; Bar, Brrnet. v 69 FOR SALE.âA Foot-power Circular Saw Bench, newly made, Oak frame, suitable foi Bive making, with two Saw-. Further particulars apply tu i 0 7 Shaft, Corsham, Wilts. * 70 FOR SALE. Fifty SI frames and Double-walled Hives. Apply to R. . Sleaford, Lincolnshire. WINTER LEC'A1 U K.ES. For Sale on I LID! â ABBOTT BROS., Southall, Middlesex. METAL ENDS FOR FRAMES. NOTICE. We beg t i call the tention of all Bee-keepers to our latest imnrovement in Metal Ends for Frames, which entire!] supersede the use of Zinc Runners and Broad-shouldered Frames, while their w< ighl and fixing keep the Frames perfectly ] erpendicular. Price, lOd. per doz., 9s. per gros3. 'â¢!1 BKvi uro littcd with these : Pri* ttajlei), Coventry, te. C. G. HARRISON & CO., Hive Makers and Dealers in all Apiarian Appliances, Blalesoweh, Worcestershire. 1890

 

Text Appearing After Image:

WELWYX, HERTS, Manufacturer of Bee-keeping Appliances of every Description, And IMPORTER OF FOREIGN BEES, ElEGS to call attention to the unrivalled quality of his > productions. By the aid of special power machinery he is enabled to combine moderate prices with high quality. Mere lowness of price is not so much aimed at as accurate tit and finish, all Roods being adapted both for the convenience of the Bees and ease of manipulation to the Bee-keeper. ILLUSTRATED CATALOGUE, 48 Pages, 50 Illustrations full of interesting and useful information, Free on application. THE HEREFORDSHIRE SCHOOL OF APICULTURE QUPPLY BEES, HIVES, and Brverything per- i 7 taining to Modern Bee-onlture. HIVES made only of the best well-seasoned wood, a quantity of which is always kept ready cut and prepared for putting ti Awarded Honourable Mention for a line, exhibited at Cobs Industrial ExHrarriov, 1888, and Ffrsf Prizes at various County Shows. Revised Catalogue for 1884. /; K I . juafi td by r.. B. A'..I. Address-TARRINGTON, LEDBURY. CANE (PREPARED) for making Straw SI 1 lb, | mailer packets 1 -., post free, SALIC1 Lie ACED, free per post, Is. I'llVMi M,. 1 r. p r in quantity. Addre ! J. ft. \v. Hole, Tarrington, Ledbury. LIMNANTHES D0UQLA8II, Is. per 100. free, looo, 7*. BNOWBEBR? SHRUBS, well rooted, two for U., free, i .1;. W. Ibury. « 68 TIHIZRIEE BRIDGES, SUSSEX, i to nil NEW STOCK of BEE-KEEriNG APPLIANCES for 1884, and hopei to '"â (aronred n itn t] . [)â Bi I Bci a I it, Ac. : , ol ENGLISH, UlU'ltlAN :..,â ! i â ! ... li t- i-prillR â SPECIALITIES. 0OWAN iiivi-:.' . thi : I,.!. :,, 1 - Mb. Sections for â pteto. 1 Bi n,n Of ,i.-t tor Brtttth G CHINA HONEY BOXES and JARS, as sold at the Knightsbridge She I of Mr. â¢I. Mi. i.i b, Kin I I i are suitable in size for holding 1 lb. Sections, ami the Jars about 1J lbs. i u ! and con- i i t Table. Price reduced toâBoxes 2/6, Jars 1/0. Can b n post on pay- ment of the cost of carriage, amounting to li-. Those who dread the risk of introducing valuable Queens should J! sharp. Address John Hewitt, Sheffield. Common Swarms or Stocks wanted.

  

Note About Images

Please note that these images are extracted from scanned page images that may have been digitally enhanced for readability - coloration and appearance of these illustrations may not perfectly resemble the original work.

This is the front (left) and back (right) of the HURT mailer. It is a full 8.5"X11" postcard.

 

You can find details about the key art here.

 

The primary objective of the mailer is:

1. Promote Easter Sunday

2. Promote the Hurt series

3. Promote the new location

 

* I'm feeling like it's text heavy but simply duplicating the art on both sides seemed/looked odd.

* I'm also having a hard time creating a color and texture palette with enough range to be interesting yet cohesive. (And the RGB conversion isn't helping here). You're right, I haven't yet fixed the color of the ghosted text.

* I'm not convinced I'm "hopeful" enough with the promo paragraph on the front. The pastor said "if we're going to go that graphic and heavy with the title and art, we need a strong contrast of hope and positivity with the text."

 

Because they switched to a local printer, I now have until EOD Thursday to finalize.

 

You and the pastor are seeing this at the same time—now.

 

from whowhatwhy

 

June 6, 2016 | Jon Hecht

 

WWW DIGS: Did the 2014 Sale of a Manhattan Rat Den Lead to Brooklyn’s Voter Purge?

 

Voter Fraud Protests

New Yorkers protest in Brooklyn after Democrats were purged from voter rolls. Photo credit: Otto Yamamoto / Flickr

 

WhoWhatWhy believes that when allegations are made about serious matters, journalists should investigate — and report what they find, and do not find. With your support, this will be the first of many such inquiries.

 

The New York Democratic Primary on April 19, 2016, was a mess.

 

In addition to strikingly onerous party registration rules which required people to file all the way back in October of 2015 if they wanted to change parties to vote in the closed primary, there were the long lines at polling places.

 

But the most egregious problems came when thousands of voters (including this reporter) found themselves stricken from the voter rolls when they tried to vote and were forced to sign affidavits they could only hope might be counted later.

 

With Hillary Clinton’s strong victory over fellow New Yorker Bernie Sanders having changed the momentum of the race that had begun to look much better for Sanders, there is ample reason for concern. With voting problems in a state so vital, there is good reason to look closer.

 

Shortly after the primary, the investigations started. New York’s flagship public radio station, WNYC, reported that tens of thousand of registered Democrats had been purged from the voter rolls. The New York State Attorney General opened an investigation into how that could have happened, and Diane Haslett-Rudiano, a Brooklyn county clerk working at the New York City Board of Elections, was soon suspended without pay.

 

Some Sanders supporters quickly noticed something suspicious about Diane Haslett-Rudiano. This was not the first time she had been in the New York City press. A few years before, a real estate deal had made her a multimillionaire, when she sold a severely dilapidated apartment building in Manhattan’s Upper West Side for $6.6 million, despite having only bought it for $5,000 in 1976.

 

Curiously, the buyer in that deal was Dana Lowey Luttway — the daughter of Nita Lowey, Democratic Congresswoman for New York’s 17th District, a strong ally of Hillary Clinton — and a superdelegate to the upcoming convention in Philadelphia.

 

All this begged a rather unsettling question: Was that real estate deal for 118 West 76th Street, giving a massive windfall in exchange for a property that was described at the time as “an ol’ bag of rats,” really just a front for a payment to a well-situated election official, who could, when the time was ripe, rig the election for Lowey’s ally Hillary Clinton?

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

 

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has opened an investigation into the New York primary. Photo credit: DOJ / Wikimedia

 

WhoWhatWhy investigated this question and dug deep into what happened to uncover the truth. Below are the results of our fact-finding mission, trying to ascertain what really happened to disenfranchised voters in the County of Kings.

 

A Staunch Clinton Ally

 

Nita Lowey came to Washington several years before the Clintons. She was elected to Congress first in 1989, and has served in the House ever since, representing parts of Westchester and Rockland counties, just north of New York City.

 

Since then, Lowey has become a close ally of Hillary. In 2000, the Clintons moved to Chappaqua, NY, right into Lowey’s district. Lowey considered running for Senate in 2000, but decided not to compete with Hillary Clinton, with whom she had become friendly during her time as First Lady.

 

Later, Lowey took herself out of the running for Clinton’s seat in 2009 since she was at that point a high ranking member of House Appropriations Committee, on which she is now the ranking Democrat.

 

Lowey supported Clinton in both 2008 (when the Huffington Post called her “the worst Clinton surrogate ever“) and 2016. She was one of Clinton’s first endorsements, before the former first lady had even declared her candidacy. Lowey also lobbied the campaign to put its office in her district, before they decided on Brooklyn.

 

In the current Democratic primary, Lowey has shown herself to be one of Hillary Clinton’s most reliable supporters within the party. She introduced Clinton at several rallies in New York before the primary. When asked if she would switch her superdelegate vote if Bernie won the NY primary, her chief of staff said, “Absolutely not. Hillary Clinton is Congresswoman Lowey’s friend, colleague and her constituent, and she is behind her 100%.”

 

So in answer to the first part of this question, of whether Congresswoman Lowey had the kind of connection to Clinton to warrant this kind of suspicion, the answer is yes, Lowey is certainly a massive Hillary supporter.

 

But supporting Clinton is not evidence of anything but what seems to have been a long friendship from working together. Of course, it is worth looking into whether she has used that friendship for something corrupt.

Was it Really Suspicious?

.

 

If Lowey wanted to influence the election, would she really go through her daughter, considering the risk that would pose if she was caught?

 

Her daughter, Dana Lowey Luttway, is no stranger to the real estate market. She has had a reputation as a skilled house-flipper since 1984, owns her own real estate company and has pulled off multiple deals like this one.

 

WhoWhatWhy reached out to Luttway, who declined to discuss the 2014 deal.

 

The question then becomes the property itself. Did Luttway overpay Haslett-Rudiano for the brownstone she bought for so little and let fall into disrepair?

 

A June 2013 article from the New York Daily News (a year before the building was sold) suggested it would likely cost $5.5 million. Haslett-Rudiano expressed frequent refusal to sell, even as she received fines. It is currently listed for $18 million after major renovations.

 

WhoWhatWhy looked at similar townhouses listed on the market, and the renovated ones (as 118 West 76th Street is now) seem to be going in the high $7 million range today (which makes the current price absurd, but not the price in 2014).

 

The year 2014 was also in the middle of an “Upper West Side Boomlet,” according to The New York Times, with numerous properties in the area going for similar or even higher prices, and the market trends from Trulia suggest that prices were actually a little higher in 2014 than now.

 

At the time, there was seemingly a huge amount of pressure on Haslett-Rudiano to sell, including from neighbors, that NYDN article, and a “Save 118 W 76th Street” Facebook campaign. The West Side Spirit, in an article discussing the real estate deal, reported on personal appeals from City Councillor and eventual Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to Haslett-Rudiano, even as she refused to sell for sentimental reasons.

 

That West Side Spirit article contains what I felt was the best analysis of the process that went into eventually getting Haslett-Rudiano to sell. It includes this quote from the broker who made the deal:

 

“I’m very persistent,” said Mike Sieger, an associate broker with Fenwick Keats Real Estate who finally landed his personal Nemo. “I knew eventually she would sell, I just knew it.”

   

Sieger said he first contacted Haslett-Rudiano 20 years ago, when he was starting out in real estate. As for why she chose now to sell, and anointed Sieger to handle the transaction, he said, “I got her a very good price.”

   

Sieger said he’s considered giving up on Haslett-Rudiano throughout the years, but never did.

   

“I’m very pleased that I’m the broker that was able to succeed,” said Sieger. “Not only was I one of many, many brokers that called her, there were many, many buyers that were calling her and wanted to buy it cheap and wanted to buy it direct from her.”

 

Sieger declined to comment for this story.

 

Here is where my own personal opinion as a journalist must inevitably come into play. The short answer to the core question of this investigation, in my opinion, is no.

 

The brownstone did not seem to have been especially overpriced. While $6.6 million was higher than the original estimation of the Daily News, and significantly higher than the $1.5 million that Haslett-Rudiano briefly listed the property for in Spring 2013, it appears to be well within the bounds of what a buyer might pay to an owner who was holding out after numerous attempts to buy.

 

Haslett-Rudiano was apparently not willing to sell even with many offers. It seems unlikely she would take an offer that included such onerous additional requirements from her. It would essentially mean lowering the cost of the building itself.

 

Haslett-Rudiano’s position as the focal person of the New York primary mess is also in question. The New York Post suggests (somewhat convincingly) that the problem did not lie with her as she, a Republican appointee, oversaw the Republican voter rolls, not the Democratic ones. In the Post’s analysis, she was scapegoated. A few weeks later, her Democratic counterpart was similarly fired. Both of them seem to have bent the rules in their own favor all over the place.

 

The city investigated the board in 2013, and found widespread evidence of nepotism, bad hiring and review practices, and general incompetence and corruption. A closer look at the Board does not make the primary fiasco seem like an event that can be blamed on a single worker who was paid off.

 

The evidence does not point to the 2014 deal being so far out of the ordinary in terms of price that Haslett-Rudiano was making the kind of windfall that would be worth jeopardizing her job and helping get a Democrat elected, since she is, after all, a working member of the Republican party. She was making a $120k salary and had previously sold another multi-million dollar Upper West Side townhouse, and was already making a few million on this deal. It seems unlikely that she would take a bribe here.

 

Lowey has too much to lose in this kind of backroom deal for her involvement to make sense. This deal is on the books and was in the midst of high-profile media coverage from the New York press. Lowey is not just a sitting Congresswoman, but a rather high ranking one who has had her job since before the Clintons left Arkansas.

 

For her to funnel money through her daughter in such a public way seems like a bizarre thing for her to do in terms of risk. It does not seem like some large amount compared to how much the apartment would have been worth selling to someone else.

 

The NYBOE mess, and especially the involvement of Haslett-Rudiano, seems like a very inept way to rig an election in favor of Hillary Clinton. There was a purge of over 100,000 Democrats in Brooklyn, one of Hillary Clinton’s best areas.

 

It is especially hard to target specific types of voters in a one-party primary — the voter history does not line up the way it would in a general, since plenty of Democrats who did not support Clinton in 2008 do now, and vice versa. Clinton was projected to win New York before the election, and while she beat her polls by a few points, it is unclear how hypothetically removing voters from the rolls without knowing how they would vote would be the way to rig it.

The Verdict

.

 

I say all of this as someone who had to sign an affidavit to vote on April 19. I am shocked by how much of a mess the New York Primary was, but considering how much advocacy there has been on this for years, perhaps I should not have been so surprised.

 

But what that long history of terrible management by the Board says to me is that if Clinton really was behind the failure of the Board at the primary, this is a conspiracy so far-reaching that it has undermined the election process in Clinton’s home state for years.

 

Considering that New York is one one of the most heavily Democratic states in the country, and that, not knowing who she would be facing off against back in 2014, there was little reason to expect much difficulty for her here as a very popular former senator (who didn’t expect opposition from a guy with a thick Brooklyn accent), it seems like a very convoluted plan, not just in terms of the difficulty in pulling it off, but in terms of the badly targeted chaos in the election process of the nation’s largest city.

 

Obviously, we at WhoWhatWhy cannot conclusively say that no conversations between Dana Lowey Luttway and Diane Haslett-Rudiano about the sale of 118 West 76th Street related to Haslett-Rudiano’s position at the Board of Elections, or that the purge of voter rolls in advance of the primary was not done with an ulterior and specific motive.

 

But after digging into the sale, as well as the primary process, nothing suggests that the two were linked. We are left to conclude that the official narrative is most likely correct: The New York City Board of Elections has simply been abysmally managed.

 

Hopefully, the Attorney General’s investigation can begin to fix this problem.

 

Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge Xavier Gonzalo Pons / Flickr

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"My vote for 'most desperate' mailer goes to Brian Maienschein (San Diego City Attorney candidate) who created a look-alike Republican elephant logo (with only 2 stars instead of the official 3) to solicit the Republican vote in a nonpartisan election when the local Republican party had chosen to endorse Jan Goldsmith instead." -- Read more by Gloria Penner on her blog Political Fix »

"My vote for 'most irresistible mailer to open' goes to Marty Block (D -78th Assembly District) whose Education PAC-funded mailer encloses a new 42 cent stamp and encourages that it be used to mail in your ballot with a vote for… guess who? That stamp is yours to do with as you want, of course, and 42 cents is almost half a dollar. He’s not buying your vote, of course." -- Read more by Gloria Penner on her blog Political Fix »

"...I offer one classy attempt to educate the voters. It was paid for by the Committee to Elect Marshall Merrifield (a new name in City of San Diego politics) and it clearly compares the positions of the three candidates running for City Council District 1, complete with source material. There’s no apparent soliciting of votes for Merrifield, and, in fact, he provides his challengers’ web sites as well as his own. The mailer demonstrates that all three look worthy of your consideration if you live in District 1, based on their professional experience and community service. So, the main decider should be their positions on the issues. =Maybe the Merrifield campaign is on to something. We’ll know more after the votes are counted." -- Read more by Gloria Penner on her blog Political Fix »

"April Boling (District 7) almost outdoes Hartley by confessing “Some people think I’m a little boring, and maybe I am.” I guess that’s meant to preempt her opponent, Troubleshooter Marti Emerald’s Democratic Party-financed mailers, featuring her photogenic face and tough talk." -- Read more by Gloria Penner on her blog Political Fix »

"April Boling (District 7) almost outdoes Hartley by confessing 'Some people think I’m a little boring, and maybe I am.' I guess that’s meant to preempt her opponent, Troubleshooter Marti Emerald’s Democratic Party-financed mailers, featuring her photogenic face and tough talk." -- Read more by Gloria Penner on her blog Political Fix »

Title: The animal kingdom, arranged after its organization, forming a natural history of animals, and an introduction to comparative anatomy

Identifier: animalkingdom00cuvi

Year: 1854 (1850s)

Authors: Cuvier, Georges, baron, 1769-1832; Blyth, Edward, 1810-1873; Mudie, Robert, 1777-1842; Johnston, George, 1797-1855; Westwood, J. O. (John Obadiah), 1805-1893; Carpenter, William Benjamin, 1813-1885

Subjects: Zoology

Publisher: London, W. S. Orr and co.

Contributing Library: Smithsonian Libraries

Digitizing Sponsor: Smithsonian Libraries

  

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BRANCIIIOPODA. 439

 

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Fljp. IS.—Cypris vidua, magnified. ately beneath, are shorter than the body, setaceous, and 8 or 9-jointed; the terminal joints short, and pencilled with long- hairs, form a kind of oar. The mouth is composed of a ridged labium; two large dentate and palpi- gerous mandibles, the basal joint of the palpi being famished with a 5-branched branchia; two pairs of maxilla1, the anterior pair also bearing branchial appendages, and the posterior palpigerous. The office of the lower lip is performed by a compressed sternum. The legs are 5-jointed; the two anterior much larger than the others; affixed beneath the antennae, and directed forwards. The two following legs are directed backwards, and are situated in the middle of the under-side of the body ; but the posterior pair never appear out of the shell, but are bent upwards to give support to the ovaries. The body presents no distinct articulation, and is terminated behind in a tail folded beneath the breast, with two setaceous or conical fila- ments. The eggs are spherical. The laying of the eggs and the casting of the skins of these Crustacea are not less numerous than those of Cyclops and other Entomostraca, and their mode of life is similar. No recent author has been able to detect their sexual organs. Strauss, indeed, discovered the insertion of a great conical vessel, which he considered to be a testicle; but the individuals which he examined were furnished with ovaries, whence it would seem that the Cyprides are hermaphrodites. He, however, observed, in disproof of this opinion, that the males may probably exist at a certain period of the year, and that the vessel he describes may belong to the digestive system. According to Jurine, the antenna; are real fins or paddles, the animals having the power of extending the threads at will, and according to the rapidity with which they are anxious to swim. We also are of opinion that these filaments may more probably be engaged in respiration, as well as the so-called branchial plates of the jaws. In- deed, the plates of the maxillae appear to me to be a real, but greatly dilated palpus ; and the other two are ap- pendages of the mandibular palpi. Jurine has noticed, that, in swimming, they move these antenna", and two fore-legs, with rapidity, but slowly whilst crawling on water plants. This pair of legs, together with those of the penultimate pair, at such times support the body. He supposes that those legs, which he regards as the second pair, serve to form a current in the water, and to direct it towards the mouth. The two filaments composing the tail unite, and seem to form but one when pushed out of the shell. It is conjectured that they are used in clean- ing the interior of the shell. The female lays her eggs in a mass, fixing them, with a glutinous secretion, to water-plants : this occupation lasts twelve hours. The number of eggs, in the largest species, amounts to twenty- four. Having isolated a packet of eggs, Jurine observed them hatch, and obtained a second generation without the intervention of males. A female which had laid its eggs on the 12th April, had, by the 18th of the following May, changed its skin six times. On the 27th of the same month, it laid a second mass of eggs ; and on the 29th, two days afterwards, a third. He therefore concluded that the number of moultings, in the infancy of these ani- mals, has reference to the gradual developement of the individual, which developement can only be effected by a general separation of the envelope, now become too small to lodge the animal, which has a determinate limit to its size.* [.Mr. W. Band has given a valuable and complete memoir upon this genus in the Magazine of Zoology and Botany, vols. i. and ii., describing a considerable number of new British species. He also states that a fossil species occurs in the limestone of Burdiehouse Quarry, near Edinburgh.] The third general division of the Branchiopodous Lophyropa have also only one eye ; and the shell is hent in two, hut without any dorsal hinge, and is terminated posteriorly in a point. The head is not covered by the shell, hut is inclosed in a kind of shield like a beak. They have two very large arrn- like branched antenna?, always exserted, and serving as oars. The legs, ten in number, are terminated by a pectinated or digitated fin, and furnished (except the anterior pair) with a branchial plate. The eggs arc situated beneath the back. The body is always terminated by a tail, with two setae at the tip. The front of the body cither terminates in a point, or forms an apparently distinct head, occupied entirely by a single large eye. These are our Cladocera, or the Daphnides of Strauss, and compose Jurine's second family of Monoeulus. From the form of a pair of their antennae, which resemble branches, and serve as oars, ami their power of leaping, the common species has obtained the name of the Arborescenl w ater-flea. Latona, Strauss, has the antennae oar-like, divided into three single-jointed branches. Daphnta sfli/rra. Miiller. Sniii, Strauss, approaches the other known genera in reaped to the antennas, which are, however, divided only into two branches, one being 2 jointed and the other 3-jointed. l)/miti crittallina, Miiller. in these ami the other genera, there also exists another pair of antennae, very short, especially iii the females, situated at the anterior and lower extremity of the head, composed of a single joint, w it Ii one or two -., : the tip. Polyphenol*, .Miiller, has the antennae oar-like, as in Daphnia and i-> acens, divided into two branches, each of which is 5-j ted. Moreover, the head, very distincl and rounded, and affixed upon a short neck, is almost entirel) occupied by a single eye of large Bize. The legs are entirely exposed. A. single species onlj Is known {Monoadut pediculus, Linn., DeGeer; Polyphenol* oeului, Mailer; Cephaioeulut rtagnonm, Lamarck), [about the size of a flea.] The legs are unlike those of the Monoculi of this division, being composed of a thigh, tibia, • Se« MOIler; Jurine. HUt.i ,n, Bamdohr, Moil. iv. Mnu... W. >i. du Mm. dltut .Xr.'..7. | . tldtrationt mil CVlflf. / follll t| d "Cyprli Ore," foond ■■ nc»r Tmrtit da l

  

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Title: The American florist : a weekly journal for the trade

Identifier: americanfloristw25amer

Year: 1885 (1880s)

Authors: American Florists Company

Subjects: Floriculture; Florists

Publisher: Chicago : American Florist Company

Contributing Library: UMass Amherst Libraries

Digitizing Sponsor: Boston Library Consortium Member Libraries

  

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igo3. The American Florist. 905 The variety is Mr. Naiimann's seedling from Tidal Wave and Scott, dark pink in color. The name is Louise Nauniann. The originator docs not call it a fancj-, but a good market sort. The house shown was planted September If) and photographed December 1, 1902. Greenhouse at Seabright, N. J. The principal jiurposc in showing the accompanying illustration is to indicate how a pleasing architectural etifeet may be secured with the oftentimes essential economy in building. This straight roof construction gives a palm house of rea- sonable height, very practical growing- houses for cut flowers, etc., and at a very moderate cost. The pretty little vesti- bule adds materially to the general effect of the structure. This conservator}' was built for Sclmar Hess, at Seabright, N. J., bv the Lord iS; Hurnham Co. Florists' Plant Notes. RHODODENDNONS. Rhododendrons kept in -a cool house nuist now have more heat to bring them on time for Easter. A temperature of 55° at night in my judgment is about right. Keep them well syringed and give plenty ol water at the roots. After the flowers are open, a light shading applied to the glass will prevent the bright sun from wilting the flowers. GLADIOLI. If an early crop of gladioli is wanted, plant your corms any time this month. We plant them among the carnations, just deep enough to cover the top ot the corms. It they are not planted too thickly no harm will be done to the car- nations, for the foliage is not heavy enough to do anj' shading. A row on the north edge of a bench the length of the house planted two feet apart is about the proper distance. FERNS. Now is the time to sow the spores of the dirterent varieties of ferns we grow for ferneries. A temperature of 65° to 70° at night in a well-shaded part of the house will be all right. Keep the seed boxes covered with glass and give little air until the spores have germinated, but Ije careful to keep the moisture rubbed oft' that gathers on the under side of the glass. The best varieties to grow for lerneries we have found to be the following: Pteris tremula, Ptcris argynea, Pteris cretica albo-lineata, Pteris serrulata cristata, Pteris adian- toides, Onychiurajaponicum, Cyrtomium falcatum, Adiantumpubescens, Aspidium angulare and Lastrea opaca. Selaginella Emmiliana, for edging, requires difterent treatment in propagating. We rob each plant of a few good leaves, cut up into pieces about three-fourths of an inch long, discarding the coarser part of the leaf in the middle, and scatter the pieces over the sand in a flat. Cover with glass and keep them well sprinkled and densely shaded until thej- commence to take root, after which, transplant them into flats in good fern soil and when of suffi- cient size pot oft' into small pots. They require at all times plenty of water and heavy shading. Unless you are growing ferns for this purpose in quantity, it is perhaps better and cheaper to leave this work for the specialists who grow them annually by the hundreds of thousands, and supply them to the trade in the fall at a cost less than you could grow them for vourselt. G.

 

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GREENHOUSE AT SELMAR HESS ESTATE, SEABRIGHT, N. J. Protest at Express Rates. Ed. Am. Florist:—I enclose a protest which the florists of Wichita, Kan., have prepared to use in the campaign against the fifty per cent increase in express rates on cut flowers. We have filed one copy with each agent here, have sent one to each of the general managers' offices and also a copy to John N. May, of Summit, N. J. While we do not regard this as an especially brilliant effort, either from a literary or logical standpoint, we think that ever3' florist ought to make a "kick" on this matter, and we chose this man- ner in making ours. W. H. Cdlp. Wichita. Kansas, .l:inu;irv B, 190.'!. Okntlkmkn:—Wi\ the uiKlcrsigned 'florists of Wicbit:i, wisli to onter a protest )i!»aiii-t the (■h:int,'e ill rates made by your <*orai):iny. in coii- junetion with other express eorapanies.'in which cut-llower packa'ies are ehar'.'e<l llfty j)er rent more th;in formerly. Wc are sure tliat this change was made witli- oiit a full understanding of the facts by those fixing the rate Taking it as a rule, iloris'ts give your employes less trouble with cut-llower pack- ages than is given by the general run of pack- ages carried under tlie single merchaTulise or regular rate. Most par-kages are delivi*red at depot or U. U. station if an office is mainiained i here. Iteceipis arc usually written in thi' book, packages are plainly m:ifked with shipper's card attaclied. so that such packages give the miniinuui of work in receiving a^d billing. □ In delivering, we believe thata larger per cert of cut-flnwer packages are called for at depot or office by consignees tlum any other single item under the regular nierchandise rate. The matter of express charges is an item of consideral ion with nearly every customer who has flowers shipped by express, and we And that the new r.-ite is considered unreasotutble, ami is often declared prohibitive and we are sure ijuii it tends to discourage freijuent buying by out-of- town customers. In addition to this nian,\ direct that light pack- ages be sent b\ mail, lliiis lessening considerably the business of the c.xjiress <*ompany on local pai'kag s, in which there is doubtless a good per cent of iiroltt. As to loss of packages and claims for ilamages in transit, webfdieve that suc-h are as small or smaller than in any other one <dass of trallic in which the goods carried arc perishable or liable to damaL'c bv delay in transit. Several other arguments iniL'ht be used in this case, one of \vhich is that this present rate works a hardship on a f moderale means with whom such an item as this is a mat- ter of grave importance in lessening the already too close margin of profit on cut flowers bought at wholesale and sent to the retailer by exi>ress. In conclusion, will say that a rate corresiiond- ing to a general siwciai would have been much nearer justice in this matter iu giving the llorist shipper a rale wliich the volume and steadiness in his traflir- deserves. So long as the preicnt rate is in fori'e. we btdieve that florists will expect to receive to the smallest detail the most particular attention lo cul-flower shipnienls. ;ind lliat alt cl.aims for damaged goods, either by heat, cold, careless handling, ordel.iy, will bejiresented for collection regard ess of personal friendship wliitdi niuv, and usually docs exist between the florist and e'xpress employes. We trust that this mailer will receive vour early consiileration and that you will do all 'pos- sible in your power to readjust it to a salisfactorv basis. Respectfully. llAitiiY L. Hunt. \V. II. CclpA Co. ('HAS. p. .MPI.LER. IIeRSET QaEENlIOUSKS. F. KDECHENMEISTEn. ('. A. KOSE. [This protest is in the right spirit. If ever}' shipper and receiver of cut flowers by express will write such a letter to the general superintendent of his express company and also forward a copy to John N. May, Summit, N. J., and to the American Florist, it will aid greatly in securing a reconsideration of the matter. —Ed.] Write Your Protest To-day. Excessive express rates on cut flowers do not appear to interest the florists generally throughout the country, iudg- ing from the few protests received. Up to last Saturday, January 10, twelve letters only have been received and notices were printed in each of the three trade papers one week prior to aliove date. This would certainly indicatethat the florists, as a body, do not object to paying the excessive additional rates now being charged, and is plain proof that they would rather pay sixty-five to seventy per cent more daily for express for the flowers they may be shipping than take the trouble to write half a dozen lines of protest, costing them at most 4- cents. A committee has been appointed by the president of the S. A. F. to take the matter up at headquarters here in New York, and theinvitationsent out through the papers, as above stated, was a pre- liminary work necessary for said com- mittee to have something definite to work upon, and it certainly would appear to be of enough interest to the florists, one and all, to do something and that something cannot well be less than to write a couple of letters, one for the use of the committee in New \ork, the other to the superintendent of the express company in the ne;irest city to where the writer is located. Furthermore if any concession is to be gained, every florists' club as a body should take the matter tq) at once and make a vigorous protest to

  

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