Fancy

I happened to be walking past this building on east 38th Street and felt it deserved a photo. The big doors announce it to be carriage house, the ornate facade suggests it was connected to a wealthy person’s home rather being a commercial stable. Take a good look, as there’s a lot going on there. There’s a bulldog’s head over the oval window at the third floor and two horse heads in the band above the first floor.

The short version is that it was built as a private stable and has in the past been used as a stable, a garage, and a house. Daytonian in Manhattan has the whole story: here. There’s one part of the story that seems a little strange: the New York Times apparently said that the previous building on the lot was a house. Here’s the 1899 Sanborn map and we’re looking at 149 East:

Green with a D and one dot indicates a first-class “store or dwelling” with a special fire risk including (take a deep breath) “Bakeries (ovens in building). Breweries. Cooperages. Drug Stores (retail, with privileged of compounding). Dyeing establishments. Fur Dressers. Glass stainers. Hat finishers. Hay (open stock, loose). Lamp sellers (privilege for kerosene &c.) Laundries. Malt houses. Manufactories of Baskets, Bonnet-frames, Boots and shoes, Caps, Clothing, Combs, Envelopes, Feather dusters, Fringe &c., Gas fixtures, Gold pens, Hats, Hemp, Jewelry cases, Morocco, Paper bags, Pocket-books, Ruffling and ruches, Segars, Shirts, Tobacco, Umbrellas, Vinegar, Watches, Watch cases, Writing ink. Map mounting and varnishing. Metal mills. Molasses houses. Photographers. Private stables. Smoke houses. Tanneries. Tin shops. Wheelwrights. Wire workers. Wool-pullers.” The list for two dots includes slaughterhouses, the list for three dots includes oil mills, and the list for four dots includes chemical laboratories. Note that the rear building on the lot os G with three Xs, which meant is was a wood-frame building with one of the high-risk occupancies. This is definitely the old building that was torn down for the garage as the footprint in the 1910 map is completely different and matches the current building height:

Maybe the old building had been a house and was converted to retail or semi-industrial use. That was certainly not an uncommon occurrence in nineteenth-century New York.

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