Built in 1831 by Thomas E. Davis, a British-born real estate developer credited with building the blocks we now know as St. Mark’s Place. The townhomes were built on what was then the Stuyvesant Farm’s sparsely inhabited marshland. The homes were constructed for the wealthy, who were moving north to escape the downtown cholera epidemic.
The home is a Federal-style townhouse, 26 feet wide and 3.5 stories high. It’s made of brick constructed in a Flemish bond pattern, with white marble embellishments, Gibbs surrounds and a high English basement. If you’re asking, “What the he** are Gibbs surrounds, English basements and Flemish bond?” You are not alone. Fortunately for you, we love our miscellaneous architectural facts. Get the scoop below!
The Hamilton-Holly house was originally purchased by Alexander Hamilton Jr. (Yes, that Hamilton’s son) for $15,500 in 1833.
He lived there with his mother, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, his wife Eliza, and his sister and brother-in-law, Eliza and Sidney Holly.
Shortly after the Hamilton brood moved in, they landed a fancy new neighbor with literary panache. At #6 St Marks Place lived none other than the famous writer James Fenimore Cooper. Fresh off of his success of The Leatherstocking Tales and The Last of the Mohicans, it is said that here Cooper wrote Then Homeward Bound, Home as Found and Chronicles of Cooperstown.
Indicative of the immense changes this neighborhood has seen, Cooper’s #6 went from a wealthy residence, to a high-end boarding house, to an inexpensive one with a doctor’s office who specialized in curing tape worms, to an illegal gambling den, to a gay bathhouse, to a subversive film venue, to a video game bar, karaoke den and a gym. Only on St. Marks, kids, only on St. Marks….
Anyhoo, back at #4 St. Marks, the Hamiltons sold the house in 1843 to oil and candle merchants, and the dwelling changed hands several times after that. In the 1970s, the house became the home of the one and only Trash & Vaudeville store, a punk fashion outlet frequented by icons like Blondie, Cher, Joey Ramone and Prince.
In April 2016, the house was purchased by an investment group, and Trash & Vaudeville moved to new digs on 7thStreet. We’ve heard that renovations are underway to restore some of the original look and feel of the place.
Carpe City Trivia
What in the he** are Gibbs Surrounds, English Basements, and Flemish Bond?
Gibbs Surrounds are ornamental, architectural frames that surround doors, windows or niches.You can see one around the door of the Hamilton-Holly House.
English basements can be found in many NYC townhouses or brownstones. Rather than a traditional below-ground basement, an English basement has its own separate entrance to the building. It’s laid out partially above and partially below ground level.
The brickwork of the Hamilton-Holly House is in a style known as Flemish bond. Flemish bond is when you see the long narrow side of a brick (called a stretcher) laid out next to a brick turned the other way with only its width exposed (called a header). Usually when you see this style of brick work in NYC, the building you are looking at was built in the 1800’s.
Fun facts about Alexander Hamilton
He was a founding father and did many fab things to help create our great nation. So why was Alexander Hamilton never president? Because he was not born in the United States. He was born in the West Indies, on the island of Nevis.
He did not have an auspicious start to life, born the illegitimate son of James Hamilton, who abandoned him and his mother Rachel Faucett Lavien when he was young. Then, his mother died and he was orphaned at the age of 13. Fortunately, his guardian sent him to the American colonies to further his education, and the rest is history.
Hamilton was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804. A little known fact is that his oldest son, Philip Hamilton, was killed in a duel just 3 years prior. To add insult to injury, Hamilton and Burr used the same pistols in their duel that his son used in his!
Alexander Hamilton founded the New York Post in 1801. It was originally called The New York Evening Post, and he used it to publicize his own works for the Federalist Party.
Hamilton and Aaron Burr were two of the most prominent lawyers in the city and they actually collaborated on several cases. One such case is People v Levi Weeks, which is the first U.S. murder trial on record.