Friday, June 22, 2012

A Carriage House in Manhattan: The Mount Vernon Museum & Garden

The Mount Vernon Museum & Garden you must first head east, along 61st Street, past 3rd, 2nd and 1st Avenue. When you see the giant Bed, Bath & Beyond you’re close. Almost under the heavy metal cantilever of the Queensboro bridge, just a stone’s throw before the East River, and you’ll know you’ve arrived. Now walk up the brick stairs, shrug off the 21st century and go back in time. All the way to the late 1700s.

The Mount Vernon Hotel, built in 1799, began its career as a carriage house and, if you poke around the gardens at the end of the tour, you’ll see the second floor driveway used for just that purpose. It didn’t last long as a carriage house; we won’t talk about the dreadful fire that did away with the Manor House across the way. Its new owner, Joseph Coleman Hart, benefitting from said unsaid fire–perhaps an overturned candle–turned it into a full-fledged hotel in 1826. It was mainly a day hotel, used by the upper middle class neighbors (who lived below 14th Street) for a day in the “country”. It was occasionally used as a hotel by foreigners travelling by on boat, but its main use was a weekend getaway for locals.

Read the entire piece, originally published on Untapped Cities, New York.

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