A Glimpse of the Gilded Age on Renwick Row
We are fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood rich in 19th century architecture — both individual buildings and entire streetscapes.
But while well-preserved 19th century buildings are not uncommon in the Village, perfectly preserved 19th century interiors that we can still view, especially from the apex of the Gilded Age, are quite rare. Rarer still are they when they are found in one of New York’s most distinguished rows of houses, by one the 19th century’s most distinguished architects.
But that’s exactly what GVSHP has had the privilege of recently encountering, and we are now sharing with the public. We have added to our photo archive some c. 1900 pictures of the interior of 26 West 10th Street, located within what is known as Renwick Row. These photos were donated by a GVSHP supporter who received the photos from descendants of previous residents of the house.
Located on the south side of West 10th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, this row or “terrace” of ten houses at #20-38 was built in 1856 (with the exception of No 38, built in 1858) in the Anglo-Italianate style. Their design is attributed to American architect James Renwick, Jr. (1818-1895), considered one of the preeminent 19th century American architects. Best known for his designs of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Grace Episcopal Church in New York City and the Smithsonian Building in Washington D.C., Renwick was trained as an engineer and received his bachelors and masters degrees from Columbia College, first matriculating at the age of 12. In addition to the row on West 10th Street, the Anglo-Italianate houses at Nos. 23-35 Stuyvesant Street and Nos. 114-128 East 10th Street, also known as Renwick Triangle, are also attributed to the architect. These two groups of row houses are believed to be the only extant rows by Renwick in New York City.
The pictures of the interior of No. 26 were taken around 1900 when it was owned by the Moir family. James and Mary Moir lived there from 1866 to 1900 with their two sons and several servants. James was a merchant, originally from Scotland. The pictures showcase 19th century family living and decorative interior details of the Anglo-Italianate style, including high ceilings with ornamental plaster work, decorative fireplace surrounds, and large over mantel mirrors.