Spotlight Landmark: The Edward Mooney HouseSEE & DO Monday, April 18th, 2011
Michelle Jiang, staff reporter
The red brick building that stands on the corner of Pell and Bowery currently houses Summit Mortgage Bank, and just so happens to be the oldest row house in New York City. The plot of land this historical landmark sits on, was seized from James Delancey, a British loyalist during the American Revolutionary War, and was bought through an auction by Edward Mooney, a merchant who once represented the City’s butchers in the Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen. The building was erected between 1785 and 1789, and served as Mooney’s primary residence until his death in 1800.
The building has then been a site for numerous commercial businesses and some not-so legitimate trades—such as a brothel, while still maintaining partial residential use in its upper floors.
Although the exterior of the Mooney house has undergone minimal alterations, the interior of the structure has steadily deteriorated throughout centuries of wear and use, requiring many of its line of owners to perform moderate alterations and repairs.
It’s four stories and cellar makes the building ideal for multifunctional settings. In the late 1800s, the address of 18 Bowery belonged to Barney Flynn’s, a saloon for gentlemen, and was then taken over by Oriental Restaurant, a Chinese dining establishment. According to a 1924 Certificate of Occupancy from the Department of Buildings, its ground floor was occupied by a store adjoined to a pool parlor on the second floor.
What perhaps strikes observant passerby’s most is the building’s distinguished architecture amongst its surroundings. The Mooney house is not reminiscent of an early era Chinatown and its outer appearance differs from the buildings it neighbors.
Despite its disparate constructional style, the house has been plotted for centuries on what is now a busy street corner in one of New York City’s most popular ethnic enclaves. The Edward Mooney House gained official landmark status on August 23, 1966 and was registered with the National Register of Historic Places on December 12, 1976.
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