10 February 2009

St. Anthony of E. 28th Street

This old, five-story building on E. 28th Street seemed too grand and unusual not to have a story behind it. So I did a little detective work on the current home of Chef 28.

First of all, old it indeed is. It was built in 1879. And not by some hack either. The architect was Renwick, Aspinwall & Russell, as in James Renwick Jr., as in Grace Church and St. Patrick's Cathedral.

It's not so unusual that Renwick should design such a minor building, when you consider its occupants. This was the first fraternity house of St. Anthony Hall. Wha? Huh, you say? Read:

St. Anthony Hall, also known as Saint Anthony Hall and The Order of St. Anthony, is a national college literary society formerly known as the Fraternity of Delta Psi... The first, or "Alpha" Chapter was founded at Columbia University on January 17, 1847, which is the feast day of St. Anthony...In 1879, Baird's Manual characterized the organization as having "the reputation of being the most secret of all the college societies." References appear in several F. Scott Fitzgerald short stories, and the Order has a distinguished architectural inheritance.

Yeah, Fitzgerald would be obsessed with such a club as St. Anthony. Anyway, this chapter was connected to Columbia when the university was at 49th Street and Madison Avenue. When Columbia moved uptown in the late 1920's, the fraternity relocated but kept the building on 28th as a clubhouse for some years.

There is a small coat of arms, worn down by time, on the fourth floor.


Anonymous said...

It's now located between 115th and 116th and Riverside drive.
Goregeous building.

Anonymous said...

I went to a party in this building once...It's been chopped up into a total rabbit warren, with all sorts of odd details and staircases poking up in random places. Gorgeous high ceilings too.

Here's Park Slope said...

Ha! I'd always wondered about this place. St. Anthony Michael Hall society frat house. Love it.

Christopher Browne said...

Dear Brooks,

What is also remarkable for this area of Manhattan is the business just about next door to this St.Andrews house is a street level violin maker who moved from West 54th street down here in no name land.

In the window is a block plaster mold form for a Stradivarius violin,how cool iz dat?

Through the lace curtains one may see one or another of the master violin makers Mr. Rene Morel or Mr. Emmanuel Gradoux-Matt at work.

If you look in the window they also
have small intimate concerts posted usually of duo string instrumentalist's or solo Violinist.

As the son and Brother of a violinists (both dead now),this warms my heart to pass by this street level workshop.

Michael (of Tin Pan Alley)

Gabriel (of Midtown) said...

Sorry, Michael (or Christopher Browne...whoever you are), but Mr. Morel doesn't work at Gradoux-Matt Rare Violins, LLC, in fact, Mr. Morel has never set foot in the building. He works at Tarisio Auctions as a consultant. He and Mr. Gradoux-Matt separated on bad terms in April of 2008 and closed Morel & Gradoux-Matt then. He still does sound post adjustments and repairs at 250 W. 54th St. so, I don't know who told you that Mr. Morel was ever there, but they were very, VERY mistaken.

Sorry for the confusion! I'm sure it was an innocent mistake...