Most of the grand Hunts Point, Bronx, estates disappeared in the early 20th Century. Peter Hoe’s magnificent Sunnyslope on Faile Street and Lafayette Avenue, a Gothic Revival extravaganza built in 1860, is still standing. The Hoe family business was printing; Peter’s brother, Colonel Richard Hoe, invented the rotary printing press. The Hoe family was revered enough that in 1897, a series of streets in Longwood cut through Richard Hoe’s estate, Brightside, was named for them: Hoe Avenue, Aldus Street and Guttenberg Street. The most famous name, Guttenberg, was renamed East 165th; Aldus Street is named for 16th Century Venetian printer Aldus Manutius. Aldus, an early name in computer printing software, sold its Pagemaker program to Adobe, Inc. in the 1990s.
Sunnyslope was originally built on land belonging to William Gilbert. Its asymmetrical graystone construction is said to be derivative of some of the houses and cottages Calvert Vaux, co-architect of Central and Prospect Park, was producing at the time it was built. It became a synagogue in 1919 and most recently has been the home of African Methodist Episcopal Bright Temple.
When I first saw the picture of the structure, it’s Gothic Revival architecture never made me think the building was ever built for any purpose other than a church. Interesting article. I would love to see eary photos of the building when it was a residence in a rural setting. Out of curiousity, I checked an 1872 J.B. Beers Atlas of Westchester County and located “Sunnyslope” in the Town of West Farms on Hunts Point Road, part of a 15 acre estate owned by W.W. Gilbert. It was very close to the platted Village of Morrisania (which was just to it’s west), which in two years time, (in1874), would be annexed to the City of New York, along with the entire Bronx west of the Bronx River. The Bronx east of the Bronx River would remain part of Westchester County until annexations in 1895 and the final annexation of 1898, with the consolidation of Greater New York. By 1885, the street grid ecompassed Hunts Point (according to Robinson’s Atlas of New York City)apparently signalling the end of Hunt’s Point and West Farms former rural nature.
Back in the 1940s &1950s this building served as Temple Beth Elohim which served the Jewish population as a synagogue.
Beautiful building — although that ten foot cyclone fence (topped with what appears to be razor wire) would certainly make the architect roll over in his grave.
My husband is stepson to the late Arthur James Hoe and this property was formerly owned by his relative, Peter Hoe. Cousin to Peter were Richard March Hoe and Robert Hoe’s whose contribution to the arts and science is notable in that they were responsible for fastest printing press known at the time. The expression “hot of the press” is derived from the Hoe rotary printing press. The NYC mansion of Robert March Hoe at 11 East 36th street in the Murray Hill section is know know as the Morgan Lofts and was the Haviland China store after the Hoe mansion was destroyed. I hope to see this amazing structure before it too is destroyed.