Posts Tagged ‘Village Nursing Home’

A new co-op reveals a bit of old Hudson Street

June 24, 2013

For a few years, scaffolding had obscured the facade of what was once the Village Nursing Home, a faux-colonial, six-story residence on the corner of Hudson and West 12th Streets.


Now the scaffolding has been removed. And the entrance to the building—newly converted into a luxury co-op called the Abingdon—displays a clue to its illustrious past.

“Laura Spelman Hall” is carved above the doorway. It’s the formal name of the building from 1920 to the 1950s, when 607 Hudson Street was a women’s residence run by the YWCA.

Trowmartinn1906Named after the wife of a Rockefeller, Laura Spelman Hall functioned as a home for “working girls,” as any unmarried woman who had a job was called in 1920.

To score a room there, a woman could earn no more than $30 a week. The cost: “$8.65 to $12.65 a week with two meals weekdays and three on Sunday,” reports this old city guidebook.

Not a bad deal . . . and a lot cheaper than the going rate for a place there now. One of the penthouse apartments sold for $22 million!

607 Hudson Street actually started out as a working woman’s home even before the YWCA took it over.

Called the Trowmart Inn, it was built by a businessman who hoped to prevent women from becoming spinsters by offering them a pleasant place to be courted by potential husbands.

[1906 photo: Museum of the City of New York]

The famous bullfighter who came from Park Slope

January 18, 2012

Plenty of A-list actors, comics, and ball players hail from Brooklyn. But a matador?

His given name was Sidney Frumkin, born in 1903 to Jewish immigrant parents who lived on tiny Jackson Place off 16th Street near Seventh Avenue.

After a fight with his tough police officer father, 19-year-old Sidney, a dropout from Brooklyn Commercial High School, took off for Mexico.

There, on more or less a whim, he sought out a star matador and asked him to teach him to fight.

He renamed himself Sidney Franklin and impressed the crowd at his first fight, in Mexico City in 1923. In the 1930s and 1940s, he was one of the world’s top matadors.

He counted bullfighting fan Ernest Hemingway as a friend. ”Sidney Franklin is brave, with a cold, serene and intelligent valor,” Hemingway wrote in Death in the Afternoon, according to this 1999 New York Times piece.

”No history of bullfighting that is ever written can be complete unless it gives him the space he is entitled to.”

After decades of winning (and getting pretty seriously gored), Franklin retired in 1959 and returned to the U.S.

Franklin died in obscurity in the Village Nursing Home on Hudson Street at 72.

[Above, the cover of his autobiography, published in 1952]

Two ways of looking at Abingdon Square

November 7, 2008

Originally part of the estate of Peter Warren in the 1700s, the West Village’s Abingdon Square—really a triangle—was named after the Fourth Duke of Abingdon, who married Warren’s daughter. The land was kind of a wedding present to the couple; it was made into a public park in 1831.

At the time, mansions lined the park. According to a 1921 New York Times article, one of those old mansions was still standing on the corner of Bleecker and Bank Streets.

This photo depicts Abingdon Square around 1900:


The park doesn’t look much different in this 2008 photo. Some of the buildings surrounding it have changed; there’s a Bing and Bing pre-war apartment house facing the park on West 12th Street, plus another big pre-war building looming nearby on Jane Street.


What hasn’t changed is the structure at the left on Hudson Street. Today it’s the Village Nursing Home.