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421 E. 61 St. “Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden”

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Up a few steps away from the sidewalk, one of New York’s little jewels lies hidden. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city having been built in 1799 as a carriage house  for Col. William Stephan Smith and his wife Abigail Adams Smith, the daughter of President John Adams. The name Mount Vernon was chosen to commemorate President George Washington’s residence in Virginia also known as Mount Vernon. Just as George Washington’s home overlooked the Potomac River, its New York City counterpart had easy access to the East River. In fact its location was once a country retreat when most of the city’s inhabitants lived below 14th Street and normally did not venture so far uptown unless they were searching for rest and relaxation. Between 1826-1833 this Hotel operated as the Mount Vernon Hotel where visitors would come to enjoy such fascinating past times as swimming in the East River.

After a short span as a hotel, this carriage house was purchased and used as a private residence until 1905 when the Standard Gas Light Company (present day Con Edison) purchased it. After spending a few odd years as an antiques shop, it was purchased by the Colonial Dames of America who undertook a serious renovation. As the New York World’s Fair came to town in 1939 , this carriage house was renamed and opened as a museum called “The Abigail Smith Adams House“.  It became a Historic Landmark in 1967 and in the year 2000 it was renamed “The Mount Vernon House Museum & Garden“.  In a city built around skyscrapers this low-rise structure has a fantastic view. The 59th St. Bridge, recently renamed the “Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge” fills the panorama just across the street.

Written by agnesbstanton

March 30, 2011 at 1:26 pm