20 September 2013

The Medical Examiner's House

Clinton Hill, having once been a prime residential neighborhood for the well-to-do, is chock-a-block with interesting structures in a wide variety of grand architectural styles. Almost every address merits one's attention and examination. But on a recent trek through the neighborhood, this little three-story affair at 417 Washington Avenue caught my eye. It was noticeably smaller than its brethren, but its builder seems to have aimed for grandiosity as best as he could, tacking on a Mansard roof and handsome circular portico.

Given its design and its being made of wood, I guessed it was an old building. Real estate listing indicated it was built in 1901. The size made me wonder if it was once a servents' quarters. But that apparently wasn't the case. Until 1938, it was owned by a family named Cruikshank. In that year, they sold it to Dr. Raymond B. Miles, who used the house as his residence.

Miles was an Assistant Medical Examiner, and well-known in the city. When his name appeared in the papers, which was frequently, it was usually in connection to the death of a famous person, often a suicide. A number of these were former Wall Street brokers who had lost everything in the crash. Back then, it seemed, quite a few men jumped from the windows of the Yale Club on Vanderbilt Avenue, including a scion of the Gimbel's department store clan, and a former star quarterback for Yale.


Anonymous said...

Fascinating. Thanks for the spirit of discovery, the research and the photo. Unique stories like this show how the city's texture, which we're now plowing under, took centuries to build....and will not come back.

Andrew Porter said...

I doubt that the building is from 1901. Apparently ALL Brooklyn buildings were listed as "built in 1901" because that's when the amalgamation of Brooklyn into NYC went through, and the records were combined with NYC's.