5 EAST 20th STREET, Gramercy Park

As stated earlier, I was walking around the Gramercy Park area with friends looking for a diner when, wandering down 20th Street, my eye fell on a couple of items. This is the block that is home to the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, which is actually a building constructed in 1916 to look exactly like the building where the president was born in the 1850s.

There are buildings, of course, on the same block that predate Roosevelt’s time here that he undoubtedly walked past as a young man. One of them is #5 East 20th, a building constructed about 1850 with additions in 1865 and 1893. It looks untouched, pretty much, except for the sidewalk sign, since the 1890s, and I’ve always had a fascination for tidy brick buildings.

Here’s a description from the Landmarks Preservation Commission report from 1989:

The property was an open lot until about 1850 when William V. Brady built a 2-story stable, which was converted to residential use during the ensuing decade. Owner Eugene Higgins built a rear addition between 1860 and 1865, and Higgins contracted to build a third floor in 1893. Over the years, ground floor tenants have included a “Japanese fancy goods” purveyor, Proctor’s Furnishings, a restaurant owned by John Bohling, and looking at the photo on the report, a semiconductors seller. Current tenant The Hudson Company sells high-end hardwood floors. 

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”


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