Our house was built by Daniel McDicken, a developer who built our entire row of 2-family brownstones (on spec) sometime in the early 1890s. While I can’t prove it, I’m reasonably certain the architects were Amzi Hill & Son (more likely the son: Henry Hill). The same design of house is fairly common throughout our neighborhood. Perhaps Mr. McDicken paid for the design and kept using it? Maybe he just copied it. We might never know.
The first owner of our house was Alphonso C. Welch, who purchased it on March 12th, 1896. The price? $6,850. He lived here with his wife and daughter, as well as his mother, Mary Jane, and her third husband, Alonzo Burr. Census records also show that an Irish maid lived with them.
Mr Welch was a fruit dealer and I believe Alonzo worked for him in the fruit business (most likely at the Wallabout Market). I’m most intrigued by Mary Jane. She managed to raise 3 children as a single mother in the 1800s, which must have been unusual. She was twice a widow, and when she married a third time (to Alonzo) she chose a man 20 years her junior. I think she was a woman who marched to the beat of her own drum, and I can’t wait to learn more about her.
As for the house, as early as 1910 it was fully occupied by tenants – 3 families, a total of 11 people. Must have been a tight squeeze.
I’m still working on piecing together the full history of the house. I am fascinated by all the lives lived here, and the stories these walls have witnessed.
She’s a work in progress and we are honored to have our turn as her caretakers.