NYC – An unlikely place for two civil war era houses

In previous blogs I have mentioned, when on a walk, how enjoyable it is to find something unexpected along the way. Here is the latest.

Today’s event happened while walking up East 58th Street between 1st and 2nd avenues, a street full of traffic speeding towards the Queensboro Bridge.

There they were, two freestanding houses, and very unusual to see one-or-two-story homes in Manhattan that have survived since the Civil War.

but this pair of surviving ones =two stories high with a basement and constructed of brick with stone trim. The pair were built in an Italianate style in the late 1850s and must have been among the first buildings on East 58th. Both are brick with stone trim and have basements; only #313 has retained a porch.

But each reflects design styles popular in the 1840s and 1850s: huge windows, French doors, pilasters, shutters, small front lawns, and a (charmingly crooked) front porch.

Most of known information is about #313. The history of the property goes back to 1676. It may have been a Tavern called the “The Union Flag”.

tis amazing that these two buildings were saved during the construction of he bridge just a block away. In the 18th century the area near the East River around what would become 58th Street was lonely. 

Travelers using the Eastern Post Road could stop at the inn called The Union Flag (the name of which referred, of course, to the British colors, not the later American union).  The tavern sat approximately at the Queensboro Bridge approach.

Today #311 is home to antiques store Phillip Colleck, Ltd., while #313 at last check was home to painter John Ransom Phillips after a stint as the Czech Pavilion Restaurant., number 311 is occupied by an English antique furniture business (the business bought the house for $1.1 million in 1999).

For several decades the building was used as the offices of the NYC Humane Society

I guess we should think of them as examples of the “modest, semi-suburban houses which dotted the uptown side streets of mid–19th century New York,”

The following is not to depress you but to show how bad these two older buildings fell into disrepair Thankfully, someone along the way cared!

An interesting side note is that in 1899 the original owner patented an invention far afield from the building business.  His “reversible tie” was described as having “sides of different color or material.”  For the price of one tie, the customer would get two.

One more look at how nice they look now

Author: thom bradley

I am an educator who has worked in Woodstock NY, Rhinebeck NY, Salisbury CT and who has lived in Rhinebeck, Wilmington NC and New York City. I have been interested in photography since the '60s. I enjoy walking as a hobby and have taken quite a few pictures during these strolls. I share some of these adventures on or I

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