Is this really New York’s oldest row house?

EdwardmooneyhouseNext time you’re in Chinatown, stop at the corner of Bowery and Pell Street.

The three-story house painted fire-engine red, the one with the name of a bank in Chinese and English letters on the front? It’s considered the oldest row house in the city.

It was built by Edward Mooney between 1785 and 1789. Mooney was a wealthy meat wholesaler who bought the land after it was seized from British loyalist James Delancey.

How old are we talking here? Well, in 1789, George Washington was sworn in as president.

BarneyflynnsbowerybarMooney lived there until his death in 1800. Since then, it’s housed a variety of businesses, including Barney Flynn’s, a late 19th century saloon frequented by Bowery character Chuck Connors (in NYPL sketch).

And like so many of the city’s super old homes, it also served as a brothel, according to

The early Federal-style house still has lots of interesting details, such as the gabled roof, quarter-round windows, and original hand-hewn wood timbers.

“It is a unique example of the domestic architecture which flourished in Manhattan two centuries ago,” reports this 1966 document.

[Top photo: Wikipedia. Bottom illustration: NYPL digital collection]

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9 Responses to “Is this really New York’s oldest row house?”

  1. The Edmonton Tourist Says:

    Buildings like this always make me wonder why they bricked up windows.

  2. EV Grieve Etc.: Mourning Edition « NYC Real Estate News Says:

    […] Is the city’s oldest row house on the Bowery in Chinatown? (Ephemeral New York) […]

  3. Mooney Says:

    Did they brick up the Windows or were they always Bricked up..Most buildings of this age have the first corner Windows Bricked up.

    Anybody know?

  4. bowery boy Says:

    Terrific building! It’s maybe 10 or 15 yrs older than the rowhouse I live in up the block, but there are many similiarities, including the bothels:

  5. Chris Flash Says:

    About 15 years ago, a guy who ran a business in there told me that only the exterior was original, that a fire many decades earlier had wiped out the interior, which was rebuilt.

  6. Lip Fei Says:

    I love this place!

  7. Johnny Says:

    It seems the bricked windows are in line with the chimney

  8. James Says:

    Yes, the faux windows would have been covered by shutters, as would all the real windows, but these would have remained closed at all times. They’re just there for balance.

  9. The anti-slavery past of a Bowery house built in the 1790s | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] left) has the edge when it comes to New York history. This 3-story house dates back to the 1790s, making it one of the oldest houses still extant in Manhattan. Number 136 is old by Gotham standards, but it didn’t go up until […]

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