Mysterious male names over tenement doorways

Ever notice that when a tenement building has a name, it tends to be female? Bertha, Florence, Rose, Sylvia—names popular at the turn of the last century, when so many tenements were built, are etched above doorways all over the city.

But a handful of tenements buck the trend and appear to be named for a man. Is it the developer himself, or just a random name that happen to appeal to circa-1900 ears?


I wonder if that’s the case with Jerome. It’s the name of a tenement in Morningside Heights, perhaps a nod to Leonard Jerome, a flashy 19th century financier whose name still graces a park and thoroughfare in the Bronx? He’s also the grandfather of Winston Churchill.


Theodore, on the Upper East Side, could be a tribute to Theodore Roosevelt. Or the builder’s son or brother?


The Roger, on 160th Street and Edgecombe Avenue in Washington Heights, is named for Roger Morris, a British army colonel who fought in the French and Indian War.

In the 1760s, he retired to an Upper Manhattan estate (now known as the Morris-Jumel Mansion) that still stands today.


I don’t know who Edgar was or why a tenement on West 125th Street was named for him. But instead of the name being carved above the door, it’s laid in tile on the floor.

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One Response to “Mysterious male names over tenement doorways”

  1. Eric K. Washington Says:

    The Edgar Court Studios at 545 West 125th Street was the eponymous name of the Edgar Construction Company, which sold its 6-story building to an out-of-town investor in 1913, according to the New York Times. Built by architect William G. Killan about 1909, the building’s original address was 111 Manhattan Street, the signature main street of the Manhattanville neighborhood of present-day West Harlem. In March 1921, the city renamed Manhattan Street to make it form the oblique continuation of West 125th Street, and the old building addresses were renumbered accordingly. In August 1915, the Edgar Court was home to Lillian L. Deaver, Chairman of the Committee for the Salvation of the Jacob A. Stamler Deep-Sea Hotel for Working Girls, a floating boarding home moored to the foot of 23rd Street on the East River.

    Eric K. Washington
    Author, “Manhattanville: Old Heart of West Harlem”

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