Thursday, August 12, 2010

NYC Neighborhoods: Jone's Wood (3)

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In that year Valentine Mager (pronounced Major) was the proprietor of the Jones's Wood Hotel, which occupied the Provoost Mansion at the foot of East 71st Street. In the Times of April 25th, he solicited a continuance of the liberal patronage he had received and stated that he had greatly increased his grounds by "taking in fifteen acres more."

He presumed to add that "it is on the whole the only place on the island where a person can enjoy or make himself comfortable." Access was had by the Second and Third Avenue cars which ran within three minutes walk of the hotel "and persons who reside in the lower part of the city could enjoy a fine ride."

On December 16th 1859 Mager acquired by lease a piece of land in the block between 69th and 70th Streets Avenue A and the river from Edmund H. Pendleton and he added thereto in 1860 large slices of the interests of other heirs in nearby property, viz: Jan. 16th the entire block between Avenue A and the river and 70th and 71st Streets under lease from Lewis C. Jones; Jan. 5th the block between 1st Avenue and Avenue A & 68th & 69th Streets from James Cruikshank, agent for Estate of James S. Jones and also lots No. 95-103 in block between the same avenues, and 70th and 71st Streets; he also leased lots No. 1-26 in block between Avenues A and B, 68th and 69th streets, and lots No. 124-127 in block between these avenues and 69th-70th Streets.

On the same date Rebecca Jones leased to him lots No. 244-251 on the s.s. 70th Street between Avenue A and the river and Lewis C. Jones lots No. 548-550, 552 & 553 on s.s. 69th Street, No. 252-258 on s.s. 70th Street, No. 474-476 on n.s. 69th Street, and No. 413, 414 on the n.e. corner 1st Avenue and 70th Street. Likewise on the same day Woodbury Langdon leased him lots No. 543-544, 551, 557-167, 177-184, 415, 418, 468-470, 479, 480 and Alice Jones lots No. 545-547, 554, 237, 243, 419-423, 168-176, 471-473, 477 & 478. All the above indentures of lease said Mager conveyed on February 24, 1860 (L. 831: 9), to Isaac Sommers for $11,000 together with all the stock, fixtures, buildings, fences, and erections there on and a certain other lease "to be given by William C. Schermerhorn as by reference thereto will more fully at large appear."

During the Civil War the place was in constant use by the military. Some of these events follow: on August 27th 1861 the 69th Regiment excursion took place, at which time the steamer "General Arthur" ran from Peck Slip every hour, calling at Gouberneur, Broome and Tenth Streets and at Pier 45, East River, for a fare of five cents. In July 1862 it was the steamer "G.B. Frazer" which ran to the resort. On August 20th the Literary and Social Association gave a "grand festival" there, the proceeds to be devoted to the relief of sick and wounded soldiers. The Herald states that Sommers, "the worthy proprietor of the hotel and the favorite grounds," was everywhere, contributing to the enjoyment of the assembled thousands. The State Quartermaster General, General Arthur, was unavoidably prevented from being present but Generals Sickles and Busteed with other notables attended and were received with flattering enthusiasm. The amusements of the dance, rendered irresistible by the music of two very excellent bands, were continued until a late hour. The same paper but of August 25th noticed that three festivals would be held at the Wood that week; viz; those of the Turnverein, a "family picnic and social" under the direction of Prof. McPherson and on Thursday the annual excursion of St. Mary's R.C. Church in Grand Street.

In this Connection the reporter noted that, up to this time, about forty festivals had been held, being a larger number than any summer for three years past; the success of this place of amusement showing little signs of decrease. Each September on its advent found the Caledonian Club at the Wood. The sixth annual games held on the tenth, was, as usual, a marked success. A very large and particularly select party, numbering several thousands, were assembled to witness the sport and it required all the rolling stock of the Second Avenue Rail Road to carry the visitors to and from the grounds. A splendid double silken, bullion bound banner was presented to the club by the ladies of its members and their friends. Sommers was in personal charge of the refreshments and the festivities under the direction of Chief D. McLellan, Second Chieftan Thomas Barclay, Third Chieftan George Gilluly, and Clansmen James Cumming and John McLellan.

Next: Jone's Wood (4)

Source of Information: From My collection of books: Valentine's Manual of the City of New York; edited by Henry Collins Brown; The Old Colony Press. 1917-1918

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