27 March 2014

Who the Heck Is Wallace?

Rico Wholesale calls home a rusticated, four-story, sandstone-like building at 1149 Broadway, between 26th and 27th Street. It one bothers to look up, one see that it was once home to "Wallace & Co.," which now reads "Walla ce & Co.," since someone, at some point, erased the keystone that once separated the "A" from the "C."

The building dates from 1886. William L. Wallace was a confectioner and this was his store. Or his last store, anyway. Wallace, who lived in Tarrytown, died in 1890. Wallace was very good at selling candy. When he passed away, he was a millionaire. Wallace was a modest man. In his will, he called for a "plain and inexpensive monument" over his grave. He was also a vengeful man. He left nothing to his daughter Kate, to whom he "had never become reconciled since her elopement with a Mr. Wood of Sing Sing some years ago," or his son Carolyn (Carolyn?), who was given only $50, "which the testator thinks, together with advances that were made during his lifetime, will be sufficient." Unsurprisingly, the will was contested. Eventually, the two aggrieved parties were given $15,000 each.

Wallace's familial pain has lived through many tenants. In the early '20s it was the headquarters of the Thom McAn Show Company. In 1926, the building was leased to Harvey Clothes, Inc. This whole time, the structure was owned by Abraham C. Schnee. By 1930, someone named Bessie Fest had a store in this building. In 1932, someone name Marcus Greenberg, who did business in trunks and leather goods, did work out of here. In 1938, there seems to have been a toy sell on the premises. I can't think there was such rapid turnover. The various merchants must have inhabited different floors.

In the 1970s, Photographics Unlimited occupied this space. They conducted four-week photography classes. In 1976, however, there was one Cozzali Sandwich Shop here.


Mitch said...

What do you think was erased off the keystone? It probably always looked like that.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Maybe so. I just imagined the keystone once protruded a bit more in front. Otherwise, the space between the letters looks like a mistake.