Friday, November 30, 2012
SNIFFEN COURT...HISTORICAL PRIVATE ALLEY (c) By Polly Guerin
ORIGINALLY STABLES These two storied structures were originally stables owned by old New York families who lived in Murray Hill and now are a testament to historical preservation. Let’s not forget that this area was considered in those days as a very tony part of old New York and many celebrated New Yorker’s moved to this area, far uptown some said at the time. The structures are brick, some in their natural brownstone color and others painted various shades of gray and green while others are black. To the most part they are considered as early Romanesque Revival.
THE BUILDER The ten brick stables were build in the 1850s by a local builder John Sniffen and were converted into town houses in the 1920s with a studio at the south end. Horses once watered at the hand pump in front of the rear way at the far end of the flagstone-paved alley. Plaques of Greek horsemen adorn the rear wall by the sculptress, Malvina Hoffman, who maintained her studio there during the 1920s and 30s. When carriages were replaced by automobiles, individual premises were converted into dwellings with common access to the alley.
THE AMATEUR COMEDY CLUB Number One on Sniffen Court has been owned by the Amateur Comedy Club since 1884, and registered as a legitimate theater, albeit a private one. It is not open to the public but stages legitimate shows strictly by and for the amusement of its own members and social circle. I was fortunate to attend several performances as a guest of a member and I am reminded how truly professional these thespians are performing as they do staged classic revivals. The only time the club broke their private rule was during WWI, when it became a dramatic theater company for the entertainment of military service members.
THE MURRAY LADIES ENTERTAIN There are other historic sites worth seeing while you are in Murray Hill. Legend has it that Mrs. Mary Lindley Murray and her daughters entertained British General Howe and his troops for tea, while General Putnam and his American troops moved northward. The Murray home, Belmont, was located at Park Avenue and 37th Street, on their farm known as Inclenberg. A bronze plaque honoring Mary Lindley Murray, placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution, is embedded in a boulder in the southern mall at Park Avenue and 37th Street.
Visit Sniffen Court, a New York Historic District and National Register of Historic Places, at 150-158 East 36th Street. IMAGES, courtesy of the Estate of Dean Avery, of historic and architecturally important buildings in Murray Hill are available for purchase as black-and-white note cards, prints and a map through www.murrayhillnyc.org.
- Polly Guerin
- Polly Guerin is an author/poet with four textbooks and 2 video productions as credentials as well as 4 books ready to be published. All my blogs are intended to become the basis for books to be published. PollyTalk From New York (c) is a current events blog about happenings in New York City. I have been PollyTalk columnist on the Internet, Big Apple News Network. AmazingArtDecoDivas blog features amazing women of notable character. I am on the board of the Art Deco Society of New York. The Fashion Historian blog gives pertinent insight into Polly's consummate knowledge about fashion history. Former professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Awaken Your Sleeping Beauty blog gives you pertinent information about holistic remedies for health, beauty, mind, body and spirit. I am on the board of the Edgar Cayce New York Center. I sing with the St. George's Choral Society and also serve on their Board. My little dog Colby is a rescue dog and I support animal charities. I hope you enjoy my blogs, please keep in touch.