Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bram Stoker Meets Walt Whitman – West Philadelphia 1884

(Images - Public Domain)

(Bing Maps)


George Henry Story – Bohemian Resident of Greenwich Village 1860s – Artist Regular at Pfaff’s

Walt Whitman at Pfaff's Beer Cellar - 1856
(Public Domain)

Per my earlier piece of Mrs. G. H. Story (Eunice Emerson Kimball Story) being a childhood friend of the American Humorist “Artemis Ward”, I have since found a connection of George H. Story to a documented regular at the famous artist hangout of the 1860’s Beer Cellar – Pfaff’s.

It is little wonder Story’s connection to that Bohemian art scene of writers, actors, artists and poets, the most famous of them being Walt Whitman is lost. Not a lot of historical references to check out. Just a lot of collateral evidence of who used to frequent this once popular scene in antebellum and postbellum NYC.

And having an art studio a few doors away is not proof but I can say with certainty Story was no teetotaler. 

A who’s who of young and artsy New Yorkers or “Bohemians” as some of them were called happened around that happening place of Broadway and Bleecker Street in Manhattan.

From that period of “Bohemia” around Pfaff’s beer cellar, artist G.H. Story has his studio located at "643 Broadway" near two addresses identified with Pfaff’s as 647 and 653 Broadway.

1865 NYC Directory

George H Story’s home address is listed as “18 Cottage Place” which is no longer there. It was located between W. Houston and Bleecker and west of MacDougal and absorbed into the Sixth Avenue extension linking uptown with downtown in the 1920s. Part of it exists as part of a small triangle of a park in front of the “Little Red School House” complex – the original older building on the corner still exists and part of the east side of Cottage Place now part of Sixth and or “Avenue of the Americas”. The west side of Cottage Place where the Storys resided in now in the middle of busy Sixth Avenue. I don’t know if those apartment buildings in the picture below go back to the 1860s btw.

Google Maps

One poet who has some documented connections to the Storys is the poet William Winter, quite famous in his day and a key player in his youth at the Pfaff’s art scene.

William Winter - 1876
(Public Domain)

The first connection is some name cards of George and Eunice Story being mailed to the Winter family in acknowledgement of the death of Winter's son William, aged 14 in early 1886.

1886 - Jan - William Winter age 14

A visiting card of George H. Story with a manuscript note: "With heartfelt sympathy my dear Mr. Winter." With accompanying envelope addressed to Winter at No. 17 Third Avenue, Tompkinsville, Staten Island. Also with a visiting card of Mrs. George H. Story and a small clipping on Arthur Winter's death. Date from postmark on envelope.

The other is a later in life testimonial to William Winter with a regret posted on not being able to attend the ceremony by an aged, reclusive and infirmed G.H. Story of 1909, the year after the death of his wife following a long and lingering illness.

(typo – George Henry Story lived at 230 W. 59th Street and or Central Park South at The Hubert Co-op Apartments. Even the NYT obit on Story misspelled his residence as the “Huber”, the French pronunciation, without the correct English spelling.)

Google Maps

The address of 17 Third Ave in Tomkinsville in Staten Island NY of William Winter in 1886 has changed to Alden Place and number 17 is acknowledged by Google Maps but I cannot attach that number to any property at the moment with any certainty. The address is the end of a street entering a park on the top of a hill overlooking New York Harbor.  Winter in later life also had a Staten Island home on the top of a hill further east on the north shore overlooking the Verrazano Narrows toward Brooklyn, half a century before they built the Verrazano Narrows Bridge there.