Monday, December 26, 2005

11 Bank Street

Manhattan > Greenwich Village > Bank Street

Ghost-busting turned the corner on Bank Street during ceiling renovations at number 11.

• • Mystery maven Elizabeth Bullock, who worked at Farrar and Rinehart, and frequently reviewed mysteries for The New York Times, met a quick end on Hudson Street. In January 1931, the 51-year-old Greenwich Village resident collapsed after she was struck by a car. Neighbors carried her to a local drugstore, where she died. Cremated on 21 January 1931, her ashes wound up in the possession of a friend who had been living at a 19-room boarding house [11 Bank Street] during the Depression.
• • Residents had included the model for "Noel" in the Herman Wouk novel Marjorie Morningstar. [Marjorie Morningstar, the daughter of Jewish immigrants and an aspiring actress, pursues Noel Airman, a judge's son, songwriter, and a Broadway-wannabe playwright. They have a passionate but dead-end love affair.]
• • Fast forward to 1948. Engineer Harvey Slatin and artist Yeffe Kimball [1914 - 1978], an Osage Indian born in Oklahoma, get married. In 1951, the couple begins to convert the property back to a single-family household. Lodger-free finally, the house seems mausoleum-quiet and that's when the footsteps and hammering upstairs become apparent. Harvey and Yeffe clock the ghostly pacing; it begins around 11:00 AM, and tapers off around 4:00 PM. Each time they check the second floor, they find no one.
• • They hire a fellow Villager to make repairs. During his dismantling of a ceiling installed in 1880, he discovers a metal canister containing Elizabeth Bullock's remains incinerated in a Middle Village Queens crematorium two decades ago.
• • When they gave Elizabeth-in-a-can a new home on their piano, they noticed the pacing above them stopped.
• • Yes, but does that mean noisy phantoms no longer tap-dance on the parlour ceiling here?
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• • Photo: 11 Bank Street

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Friday, December 09, 2005

53 West 9th Street

Manhattan > Greenwich Village > West 9th Street

Built in 1899, this 16-foot skinny mini was perhaps too narrow to cut up into cellblocks -- er, studio apartments. Therefore, the 4-story property had remained a single-family residence. In the early 1950s, when New Yorkers were fleeing to leafy green suburbs [i.e., Levittown, Long Island], Greenwich Village became "bargain-ville." Two newly-wed psychiatrists purchased it. Soon after they moved in, a baby was born. A year later, the husband died.
• • Alice E. Fabian, M.D. kept the second floor as her office and consultation rooms, seeing patients while raising her daughter. Dr. Fabian subscribed to many medical journals and, apparently, never threw anything out.
• • In need of breathing room maybe, her daughter moved to London, England.
• • Left alone, Dr. Fabian slipped into madness, keeping a daily journal that meticulously recorded the phantoms and apparitions that tormented her. The property deteriorated as her mind did and yet she desperately held on to reality through her daily routines, for example by tending one lone tree in front of her house.
• • When she died, this daily journal crammed with sad details was turned over by Miss Fabian to a performance artist who did a site-specific indie film there - - The Mud Queen - - before four decades worth of periodicals and bric-a-brac were carted away.
• • A successful movie mogul lives there now with a pretty blonde wife. Betcha there's one film they've never seen . . . .
• • Do noisy phantoms and satanic changelings still lurk here - - such as the unearthly tormentors that Alice Fabian's journals so vividly described?
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Photo: 53 West 9th has a wrought iron balcony [2nd floor]

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

57 East 54th Street

Manhattan > Midtown > East 54th Street

Built in 1888, this well-preserved "grand dame" of a rowhouse was originally built as a set of identical 19th-century brownstoned triplets. Always in the ownership of ONE family at a time, the home once belonged to Clement Clark Moore's grandson, who had a son -- as well as other daughter-poor families. Nevertheless, two little girls in long dresses haunt the premises, one dressed in lilac shrouded by a white apron. Their spirits have been seen in the second floor dining salon - - during daytime. And the tykes can be especially noisy on the landing when a solitary female is in the third floor Ladies Room. Occasionally, a bearded gentleman in a frock coat accompanies one girl.
• • Who are these restless entities?

Illustration: courtesy of Barbara Bart

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