A 44th Street stable built in 1865 is a survivor

The postage stamp–size former stable on West 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues is a Civil War era survivor.

Built as part of a row of carriage houses on this one-time “stable street” in 1865, it’s the only one that still stands, according to a 2001 New York Times article. And it appears remarkably similar to the way it must have looked more than 150 years ago.

Once horses and carriages went in and out of this charming little building, and grooms may have lived upstairs. Now, the arched windows and doorways have been painted a color that matches the sidewalk.

One doorway is boarded up, the main entrance has been bricked in, and the “for rent” sign is obscured by the kind of wood boards merchants hastily put up in the spring to protect their property from rioters.

It certainly wouldn’t have been boarded up in Gilded Age New York. The first owner of the stable was Wedworth Clarke, an oil dealer living in a brownstone at 55 West 45th Street, according to the Times article.

Clarke may have used the stable to house carriages designed for ordinary use on city streets. But this was trotting horse country in the 1870s, explains a plaque closer to the Sixth Avenue side of the block near the Algonquin Hotel.

At the time, the area “was a hub for much of the trotting activity during one of the high points of harness horse history.” Trotters owned by Gilded Age wealthy men with last names like Vanderbilt and Rockefeller kept their horses within a half mile, the plaque reads.

In the late 19th century, fortunes rose and fell. The Clarke family “sold 47 West 44th Street to Edward Brandon, a prominent Wall Street stockbroker who often traded for the financier Jay Gould,” stated the Times.

“Brandon went bankrupt in 1890 and the next year had to sell 47 West 44th to Henry G. Trevor, a sportsman who founded the Shinnecock Golf Club on the East End of Long Island and lived at 6 East 45th Street.”

In 1900, with this stable block becoming more commercial and posh (Delmonico’s was about to open up on the Fifth Avenue end), Trevor sold the stable to the new Iroquois Hotel, which it was attached to.

The stable may have been used for deliveries or for guests who needed cab service to the theaters and restaurants of this newly minted entertainment district.

At some point in the ensuing decades, the stable became a restaurant itself. Here it is in a 1940 photo, renovated into a place with the gangland-like name of “Trigger’s.”

The trail goes cold after this. It served as the headquarters for a women’s press organization; it probably did more turns as a restaurant or bar.

In the 2001 New York Times article, a representative of the Iroquois Hotel said that the hotel planned to turn it into a banquet space, but that hasn’t happened. The next chapter for this 1865 stable remains in question.

[Fourth photo: New York City Department of Records and Information Services Tax Photo]

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24 Responses to “A 44th Street stable built in 1865 is a survivor”

  1. Kate Says:

    Love these postings. Wish they were in book form…. enjoying reading the history of NYC

  2. J. Richard Villarin Says:

    Minor error: I believe you mean that the plaque is closer to the SIXTH Avenue side, right by the Algonquin.

    This is a great blog, though, very fascinating

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Ah yes, thank you for pointing out, I’ll fix! Glad you are enjoying this dive into NYC’s backstory.

  3. Bob Says:

    Daytonian in Manhattan has more about the 20th century history, including the Twelfth Night Club pre WWII and the Belcrep Belgian Restaurant in the 1960s, 1970s, etc.

    http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2012/04/out-of-place-stables-at-no-47-west-44th.html

  4. Bob Says:

    From “the Diplomat” via Google Snippet View “Family pride is reflected at Belcrep , Inc . , 47 West 44th Street , where John Hendrix and his wife serve Belgian pancakes and waffles in a warm , narrow room with checkered tablecloths . The kitchen is small and spotless”

    See also

    https://picclick.com/Belcrep-Belgian-Fine-Food-Restaurant-West-44th-Street-373136224210.html#&gid=1&pid=1

    https://picclick.com/Belcrep-Belgian-Fine-Food-Restaurant-West-44th-Street-373136224210.html#&gid=1&pid=2

  5. Bob Says:

    It was an Italian restaurant apparently from the 1990s:

    see Directory of High-volume Independent Restaurants – Page 514
    books.google.com › books
    1990 – ‎Snippet view

    “Alonzo’s 47 W. 44th St. New York Telephone: 212 840-1804 10036 Sales: $1,000,000”

    through at least March 2004:

    see http://www.askanewyorker.com/phorum/read.php?34,24170

    “Alonzo’s Restaurant – 47 W 44th St, New York, (212) 840-1804”

  6. Bob Says:

    DOB permit records from 1992:

    26 Owner’s Information
    Name: DON ALONZO
    Relationship to Owner: OWNER
    Business Name: ALONZO’S INC. Business Phone: 212-840-1804
    Business Address: 47 WEST 44TH ST NY NY 10036 Business Fax:

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Thanks Bob for these images and bits of info. I like the postcard interior of the Belgian restaurant…so low and long, just like this stable. On Google Earth you can see that the stable stretches close to the next block!

  7. LoyaltyOfDogs Says:

    Fascinating history! Thanks for sharing it, before the old building disappears forever. Wondering about the name of the 1940s restaurant. Yes, it sounds a bit like a Prohibition-era hoodlum’s nickname, but thinking of the horses, I wonder if it might have been inspired by something more benign. Was cowboy singer Roy Rogers already a star in the 40s? Trigger was the name of his famous palomino horse.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I thought of the Roy Rogers connection too, as I pondered what the name Trigger’s meant. I still don’t know, but the hoodlum/gang connection might be more apt. It makes the restaurant or bar (not sure exactly what it was) sound more lively and mysterious.

  8. VirginiaLB Says:

    Fascinating post–thanks so much. My great-great grandparents moved from the East Side to West 49th between Sixth & Seventh Aves. at the end of the Civil War. He–Hugh Bruton–was an ostler. They lived on that block for many years til they moved to West 53rd. Hugh was always an ostler. I have often wondered where he worked–perhaps at some rich family’s stable like this one–or this one itself. They watched St Patrick’s Cathedral being built. It was their parish church and several of their children were married there, despite being Irish immigrants of very modest means. Thank you for this wonderful glimpse of NYC history.

  9. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you! Don’t forget many Irish immigrant women donated what little they could to help build St. Pat’s. It’s their church as much as anyone’s.

  10. VirginiaLB Says:

    You are right. It is indeed and I don’t forget it. I am proud of it.

  11. countrypaul Says:

    Another great entry in your coverage. I’m glad I found your blog and am grateful to be on it.

  12. Rob K Says:

    I noticed the yellow box with an X in it, from what I understand that’s put there by the FDNY. A double slash in the box is the equivalent of a skull and crossbones. ”It means that there’s more than one interior hazard,” Chief Dixon said. ”The officer in command must make a decision, based on his knowledge and experience, but if possible we should not go in the building at all.”
    I imagine it’s slated for demolition .

  13. Marti Says:

    An interesting part of the City. Thank you for reminding me of the Belcrep where I had many omelettes & cafe filtre in the very early ’70s. A charming place.

  14. George Quinn Says:

    It says the only stable still standing. How bout the stable a couple blocks south of the twin towers. It’s a small bar now that has free eats all day long. The bar tender has been there for 60 years. He looks like David Niven. Been in there about 20 times.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I meant the only stable still standing on that West 44th Street block! Many stables still exist in NYC, repurposed into homes, studios, and yep, bars.

  15. MizScarlettNY Says:

    When D’Blass…threatened to end handsome carriage rides in Central Park, the NYT visited the two active stables that housed those horses.

    • George Quinn Says:

      I beg to differ. George Washington’t first volunteer fire Dept building is still standing a few blocks south of the twin towers. It is a smAll br now with free food all day long. been there about 20 times.

  16. A mystery manhole cover on a Midtown block | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues has a history. This stable block became the center of the city’s trotting activity in the 1870s. By the […]

  17. When rich New Yorkers took to ‘The Drive’ in Central Park | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] in positions of power indulged in the trotting fad, riding expensive fast horses to Harlem Lane and back to the park. “When General Grant […]

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