A Historical Tour of Bond Street Part IV


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No. 15 Bond Street

No. 15, was occupied in 1831 by Thomas A. Ronalds, who had lived previously at 5 Cliff Street. He was in the book and stationery trade, wholesale and retail, at 203 Pearl street. He made a fortune out of the business, and at his death in 1835 he was worth a half a million besides the amount his family derived from the Lorillard estate. He was active in civic affairs, and bore a prominent part in the measure taken for the defense of the city in the War of 1812. For a considerable period he was a director of the Mechanics' Bank. Mrs. Ronalds was Maria D. Lorillard, a daughter of old Peter Lorillard. She retained the Bond street house for a number of years after her husband's death.

As related in connection with the Ward Mansion, No. 16 Bond street was first the residence of Samuel Ward, the banker. When he went to "The Corner" in 1833 No. 16 was taken by Gideon Lee, then mayor of the city, who for two or three years previously lived next door, at No. 18. He was the last mayor appointed by the Common Council, his successor, Cornelius W. Lawrence, being elected by the people in 1834. Gideon Lee was a "swamper," in business at 20 Ferry street. The firm was Gideon Lee and Company, the company being Shepherd Knapp and Charles M. Leupp. In 1828 he was alderman from the 12th Ward, and president of the Leather Manufacturers' Bank. He was also a director of the Traders' Insurance Company. During the period of his mayoralty occurred an unusual number of events of interest and importance, such as the following, gathered from Haswell's Reminiscences of an Octogenarian. The Knickerbockers Magazine was founded, under the editorship of Charles Fenno Hoffman. Platt street was opened and named. The first Belgian Block pavement in the city was laid in the Bowery, between Bayard and Walker streets. The Greenwich Savings Bank was opened. The famous Marine Pavilion at Rockaway was erected. Col. Nicholas Fish died. President Andrew Jackson visited the city and was entertained by Mayor Lee at his Bond street residence. Aaron Burr married the notorious Madame Jumel. The Sailors' Snug Harbor was opened. The Sun was established. Horace Greeley published his first newspaper. Lotteries were prohibited by act of the legislature. James Fenimore Cooper returned to New York after a long residence abroad. The Italian Opera House, later the National Theatre, was erected at Church and Leonard streets. Washington Market was opened. The boundary line between New York and New Jersey was settled.

Mayor Lee had a country house at Bloomingdale, on a tract which he acquired in 1822 and which was originally a part of the Apthorpe estate.

In 1826 Gideon Lee was elected to Congress, and at the end of his term retired to Geneva, N.Y., where he died in 1841. His partner and son-in-law, Charles M. Leupp, who made his home at the Mayor's Bond street residence, was the friend of Irving, Paulding, Halleck, Morris, Willis, Bryant, and the rest of the "Knickerbocker" writers. From Bond street he went in 1839 to 66 Amity (now West Third) street. In that house, while he resided there, The Century Association was founded, at a meeting of The Sketch Club held in December, 1846. For some years he was a member of the School Committee of The Association for the benefit of Juvenile Delinquents, and was also a director of the Tradesmen's Bank.

No. 16 Bond Street

In 1840 Margaret V. Denison, widow of David Denison, took No. 16 and opened a boarding house which she conducted for more than ten years. Prior to 1840 her establishment was at 42 Bleecker street.

No. 17 Bond Street

Russell H. Nevins and Elihu Townsend, both of whom lived at No. 17 Bond street, constituted the firm of Nevins and Townsend, characterized by Walter Barrett in his Old Merchants of New York as "the highly respectable and rich Wall Street broker firm." They moved to Bond street in 1831. Previously they both lived in the famous boarding house of Miss Jane Cowing at 5 and 7 Murray street. They were men of powerful influence in financial circles and were members of numerous directorates. Russell H. Nevins was one of the founders of the Stock Exchange in 1817, and in 1838 was one of the founders and first directors of the Bank of Commerce. He was also a director of the Manhattan Insurance Company, The Jersey City Ferry Company, and the old Stuyvesant Institute, and was secretary of the Pacific Insurance Company. Elihu Townsend was a director of the Boston and New York Transportation Company and of the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Company. In 1842 Russell H. Nevins disappears from the city directory and Elihu Townsend is given as residing at 36 Union Square.

The next occupant of No. 17 was Henry Grinnell, who took the house in 1842, having previously resided at 25 Market street. He was a brother of Joseph Grinnell, one of the founders of the famous firm of Fish and Grinnell. Another brother, Moses H., was one of New York's merchant princes. Henry and Moses H. were also members of Fish and Grinnell, which became Grinnell, Minturn and Company about 1834, Robert B. Minturn having succeeded Joseph Grinnell upon the latter's retirement in 1828. The head of the firm, one of New York's most eminent citizens, was, while an infant, found floating by a fisherman of New Bedford. He was given the name Preserved Fish by his rescuer and bore that name throughout his life. Henry Grinnell took an active interest in geography and in 1852-3 was the first president of the American Geographical Society, of which he was one of the founders. In 1850 he financed, at his own expense, the De Haven Arctic Expedition (of which the celebrated Dr. Kane was surgeon and naturalist) to search for Sir John Franklin. This expedition discovered Grinnell Land, which was so named in honor of Henry Grinnell. In 1853 he contributed heavily to the first expedition led by Dr. Kane. He also gave freely to the Hayes expedition in 1860 and to the Polaris expedition in 1871.

Henry Grinnell was a resident of No. 17 Bond street at the time of his death in 1874, at the age of seventy-four. His younger brother, Moses H., died in 1877, also at the age of seventy-four, but their elder brother, Joseph, survived them and died in 1885 at the advanced age of ninety-four.

No. 18 Bond Street

No. 18 was first the residence of Henry Ward, brother of Samuel Ward II., who moved from 43 Franklin street in 1827. In 1830 he went to No. 23 Bond street, and No. 18 was taken by Gideon Lee, who, as we have already seen, went to No. 16 in 1833. The house was then taken by Beverly Robinson, who the year before was living at 108 Grand street. This Beverly Robinson was a son of Colonel Beverly Robinson of the British Army, who was himself a son of the first Beverly Robinson. The latter, a major in the British army, married Susan Philipse, a sister of Mrs. Roger Morris, and built on the banks of the Hudson opposite West Point the famous mansion known as "Beverly." This house was the scene of many important events during the Revolution. At the beginning of the war the owner, Beverly Robinson I., being a loyalist, went to New York and his famous mansion and immense estate up the River were confiscated. The house was then used as a military hospital. Later it became Arnold's headquarters, and under its roof he "perfected his traitorous designs." Afterwards it was the headquarters of other officers of the American army and many times sheltered General Washington . It was destroyed by fire about twenty-five years ago. Beverly Robinson III., who lived in Bond street, was a successful lawyer and was identified with a number of prominent institutions, among them Columbia College of which he was a trustee.

 About 1838 he moved to 245 Eighth street, the second house east of First Avenue, and No. 18 Bond street was taken by John D. Gibson, a merchant of No. 1 Hanover street, and Agnes D. Gibson, who continued in the Bond street house the school she had conducted for some years at 534 Broadway. In the 40's John D. Gibson is described in the directories as "Scotch and English Counselor and Law Agent." About 1843 the Gibsons moved to 21 Bond street, where Miss Gibson continued her school as late as 1851. In 1857 we find her school at 38 Union place, the third house north of East Sixteenth street. After the Gibsons left No. 18 Bond street the house seems to have been unoccupied for a few years, but about 1848 it was taken by the Gilford family, Samuel Gilford II., Thomas B. Gilford, and Jacob T. Gilford, who had lived for many years at 126 (now 124) William street. Samuel Gilford I. in 1773 bought the old house at 122 William street, and resided there till his death about 1821. This ancient building is still standing and is one of the few (perhaps a half dozen) pre-Revolutionary dwellings left on Manhattan Island. It has been known for many years as "Golden Hill Inn," but there seems to be no real evidence that it was ever used for such purpose. No. 124 William street (also still standing) was built by the Gilfords shortly after the Revolution and occupied by them until their removal to Bond street. Samuel Gilford II. was a merchant, and was in business with his father, Samuel Gilford I., at 61 Front street under the firm name of Samuel Gilford and Son. In 1825 he was Alderman from the second ward, and as early as 1812 he was a director of the Firemen's Insurance Company. Jacob T. Gilford was a physician, and remained at No. 18 Bond street for more than twenty years. Thomas B. Gilford the lawyer, moved to 34 West Twenty-first street in 1862.


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: A Historical Tour of Bond Street Part IV
Researcher/Preparer/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my collection of Books: Valentine's Manual of the City of New York 1917-1918 Edited by Henry Collins Brown; The Old Colony Press, Copyright: Henry Collins Brown 1917
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