James Roosevelt House & Carriage House

Art & Culture | History

A Roosevelt familial home - turned first women's hospital - turned Secret Service branch

James Roosevelt House Carriage House Noho History

About James Roosevelt House & Carriage House

 & why it made the Carpe City list

In recent times, 58 Bleecker Street was home to the “Bleecker Street Bar,” a New York stalwart for 30 years. But the building has a lot more history than that! It dated to 1823 and was built for James Roosevelt (FDR’s great-grandfather.) James died in 1847, and his wife, Harriet, died nine years later.

The house was now up for grabs! In 1857, Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in the United States to earn a medical degree, transformed it into “The New York Infirmary for Women and Children.” It was the first hospital for women, staffed by women, and run by women, in the United States.

The hospital opened on May 12th, 1857 – a significant date. It was legendary nurse Florence Nightingale’s 37th birthday, and she was Blackwell’s good friend. The hospital was opened 7 days a week and provided free medical care for women and children.

The original staff was Blackwell, her sister Emily and Dr. Marie Zakrewska. The hospital was also a teaching hospital – it helped prepare other women studying for their medical degrees.

In 1868, the infirmary outgrew the building. Therefore, Blackwell established the “Women’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary” at 126 Second Avenue, between 7th and St. Marks. It was the first women’s medical school and hospital in the country. It operated for 31 years and educated more than 350 women physicians.

After that move, 58 Bleecker was ready for its next act – The Secret Service! Yup, in 1874, it became the home of the New York Branch of the Secret Service (initially established in 1865 to combat counterfeiting!)

By the 1890s, it was part of the area’s “Garment District,” and in the 1960s, it became an art gallery. The gallery closed in 1987, and the Bleecker Street bar opened in 1990.

Carpe City Trivia

Tell me more about Elizabeth Blackwell!

She was born in Bristol, England, in 1821 and moved to the United States with her family in 1832. Blackwell was turned down for medical training at every school she applied to until 1847. At that time, Geneva Medical College (Now Hobart and William Smith College) in Western New York accepted her. (Every male student got to vote on her admittance!)

On January 23rd, 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman in the United States to earn a medical degree and formally practice medicine. She lived and practiced in Paris and London until 1851. Blackwell then moved to New York and rented a floor in the building that still stands at 80 University Place. She administered to mostly local Quaker women.

Before she moved to 58 Bleecker, her practice moved to 207 East 7th Street, and what is now 150 East 3rd St. Blackwell died in England in 1910.

By: Lucie Levine

New York City Tours

Great Places Near James Roosevelt House & Carriage House

Bayard-Condict Building
Art & Culture

Bayard-Condict Building

The only building in New York City designed by "The Father of Skyscraper"

65 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012
Original Empire State Building Noho History
Art & Culture

Original Empire State Building

Call King Kong!

640 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
Robbins & Appleton Building noho architecture
Art & Culture

Robbins & Appleton Building

A landmarked legacy of art and manufacturing

1 Bond Street, New York, NY 10012
Animal Hospital Showfields Noho History
Art & Culture

Animal Hospital & Showfields

The first free animal hospital in the United States

350 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012
Blick Art Supplies interior noho
Art & Culture

Blick Art Materials

Invigorate your artistic journey

1-5 Bond St, New York, NY 10012
Bond No 9 perfume noho shopping
Art & Culture

Bond No. 9 Perfumes

"Making Scents of New York"

9 Bond St, New York, NY 10012
Chuck Close - Lou Reed NYC Subway Art
Art & Culture

Chuck Close on Bond Street

Chuck Close's former home and studio

20 Bond Street, New York, NY 10012
Brooks Brothers 670 Broadway Noho History
Art & Culture

Brooks Brothers & 670 Broadway

An ornamental building with a lavish past

670 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
gene frankel theatre exterior noho
Art & Culture

Gene Frankel Theatre

A building with a historical celebrity cache and avant-garde art cred

24 Bond St, New York, NY 10012

More Great Walking Tours


Sign up to our monthly e-mail about the latest and greatest places for food, wine art and history

Skip to content