Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The 1799 Isaacs-Hendricks House

The oldest house in Greenwich Village, at 77 Bedford Street, this beauty was built in1799.  Joshua Isaacs built his free-standing, clapboard house with yard a days ride from what was then Manhattan further south.  Isaacs was a wholesale merchant and his Federal-style home with its hipped roof was a declaration of his success.

That success didn't last and Isaacs lost his residence to creditors after which it was acquired by Harmon Hendricks.  Hendricks, along with Paul Revere, dominated the colonial copper market and it was to him, by the way, that Robert Fulton went to buy the copper which became the boilers for his 1807 steamboat, The Clermont.

As far as I'm concerned, the raising of the roof in 1928 to essentially add a third floor is unfortunate.  I would much prefer to see those wonderful Dutch-like angles to the roof now only visible at a side view.  I am much less offended by the 1836 brick facade that was added, no doubt, to upgrade the look of the wooden building as "modern" Federal rowhouses began encroaching.

I love the recessed entranceway, up six wide steps, with its paneled walls and Federal sidelights, overlight and door.  Try as I might, I cannot think of a similar sunken entrance like this one.

Notice the two brick sections on the side of the house.  A tourist once asked me "why do you suppose they bricked up those windows?"

Those aren't formers windows.  Not even doors.  Behide those brick sections are fireplaces and since it would be pretty unwise to build a wooden fire-back, the fire-backs were constructed of brick.  It would be interesting to know why the builders didn't continue the clapboards over the brick fire-backs just for the cosmetic aspect of it.  But I happen to like that little architectural idiosyncracy, anyway!

non-credited photographs taken by the author


  1. When's that city going to get serious about banning window-unit air conditioners? They're an eyesore and they detract horribly from this otherwise lovely home. Please tell the current owners about it.

  2. This is still a one-family home. You'd think that if a person can afford a vintage house in Manhattan's Greenwich Village they would be able to afford central air conditioning. Doncha think?