Based in London; Formerly of New York, Buenos Aires, Fife, and the Western Cape. Saoránach d'Éirinn.

Upper East Side

A writer, blogger, historian, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more

The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World commissioned Selldorf Architects, previously responsible for the renovation of the Neue Galerie on Fifth Avenue, to restore and upgrade the townhouse at 15 East 85th Street purchased to house the Institute. The house was built in 1899 but altered beyond recognition in 1928 after its purchase by Ogden Mills Reid, editor-in-chief of the New York Herald-Tribune. After the editor’s death, Mrs. Reid sold it to the American Jewish Committee, who used it as their headquarters until its sale to the Leon Levy Foundation, which endowed the creation of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University in 2006. (more…)

April 1, 2010 12:02 pm | Link | 1 Comment »

The Hanover Bank: A Classical Gem

No. 35, East Seventy-second Street

Passing by, as I sometimes do, the Chase branch bank at East 72nd St., I think to myself “There’s a fine establishment, in which I should keep my money”. The thought never jumps from theory to practice, however, as I am a patriot in everything but finance, and keep my florins safe with the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank instead. Nonetheless, it’s a handsome building, and the Central Hanover Bank & Trust Company should be commended for erecting it. Central Hanover merged with the Manufacturers Trust Company in 1961 to form Manufacturers Hanover (“Manny Hanny”), which was taken over by Chemical Bank in 1991, which was acquired by Chase Manhattan Bank in 1995, which merged with J.P. Morgan in 2000, and the consumer & commercial banking arm of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is now simply known as “Chase”.

While the original Chase National Bank was only formed in 1877, with all these mergers and acquisitions, “Chase” can now trace its lineage back to the foundation of the Bank of the Manhattan Company in 1799, the second oldest bank after the Bank of New York. But — would you believe it? — “Chase” is now headquartered not in the hallowed caverns of Wall Street but — wait for it — Chicago, Illinois!


October 25, 2008 8:02 pm | Link | 12 Comments »

The Dahlgren Residence

No. 15 East Ninety-Sixth Street, New York

THE UPPER EAST SIDE is crossed by a number of wider cross-streets, of which 96th Street has long been agreed as the northern boundary of the neighborhood. (Overeager real estate agents have recently taken to advertising properties above that boundary as being located in the “Upper Upper East Side”). At number 15 on East 96th Street sits a splendid townhouse of superb design and execution often known as the Dahlgren residence. (Seen above, before and after complete restoration).

Lucy Wharton Drexel was of the Philadelphia Drexels, from which also came Saint Katharine Drexel, the founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as the initiators of Drexel University in that Pennsylvanian city. Young Miss Drexel married Mr. Eric B. Dahlgren, son of Admiral John A. Dahlgren, inventor of the Dahlgren Gun used during the Civil War at a ceremony in the Philadelphia cathedral officiated by Archbishop Corrigan of that see, and the couple soon moved to Manhattan where Mr. Dahlgren had a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. The Dahlgrens themselves were a prominent Catholic family, with Eric and his brothers attending Georgetown University, where to this day the main chapel bears the Dahlgren name. (Well-to-do Catholics must have been in short supply at the time, because after Lucy and Eric’s marriage, Lucy’s sister Elizabeth was married to Eric’s brother John).


July 24, 2007 8:34 pm | Link | 21 Comments »

The Neue Galerie

THE RECENT PURCHASE for the Neue Galerie of Gustav Klimt’s 1907 ‘Adele Bloch-Bauer I’ (above), alledgedly for a record-breaking price of $135,000,000, gives me the perfect opportunity to write a post on the eponymously recent addition to New York’s coterie of art museums. Since its 2001 opening, the Neue Galerie has resided in the handsome 1914 beaux-arts mansion on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 86th Street, designed by Carrère and Hastings (of New York Public Library fame) for industrialist William Starr Miller and later inhabited by Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt III. In the time since the construction of No. 1048, the rest of Fifth Avenue has undergone a lamentable transformation from a boulevard of beautiful townhouses and mansions to an avenue predominantly consisting of apartment buildings. While one appreciates the inoffensive design of the pre-war buildings on Fifth, there remain a number of thoroughly opprobrious modern interlopers which offend the graceful avenue. One can’t help but pine for Fifth Avenue before the mansions came down, but we can at least give thanks for holdouts like the Neue Galerie. (more…)

August 30, 2006 3:25 pm | Link | 8 Comments »

L’Église de St. Jean Baptiste, New York

A comment of Mr. Hiss on Fr. Sibley’s blog mentioned the Church of St. Jean Baptiste on the Upper East Side. There are few churches in New York, let alone all America, which are as beautiful as St. Jean Baptiste (or “St. JB’s” as people ridiculously call it). A restoration only a few years ago brought the church back to its full splendour.

It used to be the national parish of the French Canadians in New York, hence the French name, and is now home to the National Shrine of St. Anne, formerly further downtown in what became St. Anne’s Armenian Catholic Cathedral (one of a few beautiful and very active church buildings being pawned off by the wretched bureaucrats who run the Archdiocese of New York).

The church is open most of the day and definitely worth stepping into even if you only have a few minutes. Their parish website (link above) has a somewhat detailed history of the parish and the architecture of the church.

The parish and girls’ high school are now staffed by priests of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament as well as sisters from the Congrégation de Notre-Dame, and the Body of Christ is adored all day long except during Mass.

December 16, 2004 8:54 am | Link | 1 Comment »
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