|photo by Alice Lum|
In 1834, as the village of Greenwich experienced a boom in development, a handsome Federal-style double house was built at Nos. 15 and 17 Barrow Street. The two mirror-image homes, two and a half stories tall, featured Flemish bond brick and tall prim dormers. A horse walk, or passageway to the rear yards, tunneled through the center of the homes accessing the two private stables.
The modest but attractive houses were constructed for Thomas and Henry Cox, presumably brothers. Both men were carters—the equivalent of today’s local truck drivers or deliverymen. Thomas Cox lived at No. 17.
|photo by Alice Lum|
Irish immigrant Michael Hallanan was a force in that change. The blacksmith had arrived in New York from Galway, Ireland in 1861 and his fortunes took a turn when he invented a vulcanite rubber horseshoe pad. The New York Times would remark “His inventions proved not only profitable to himself but a blessing to horses.”
In 1896 Conrad Schafer demolished No. 15 Barrow to construct an imposing private stable designed by H. Hasenstein. The following year Michael Hallanan purchased No. 17 and renovated it as his horseshoeing operation. An immense arched opening with double carriage doors was installed that engulfed the basement and parlor floors and the horsewalk became the entrance to the upstairs living quarters.
|The demolition of half of the double house resulted in an odd window above the new entrance where the horsewalk had been -- photo by Alice Lum|
By 1901 he had leased No. 17 Barrow Street to Abraham J. Norris while he moved his own operation to No. 186 West 4th Street, just down the block. An idea of Hallanan’s growing real estate holdings is evident in a petition signed by Norris and him that year. The men joined other businessmen in the neighborhood seeking to have “the carriage way of West Fourth Street, from McDougal street to Barrow street…repaved with asphalt pavement on concrete foundation.” Norris listed No. 17 Barrow as his address; Hallanan listed Nos. 186, 188 190, 194 and 196 West 4th Street.
Abraham Norris was still leasing the building in 1917 and
living upstairs when he served as agent for the State Fair Commission’s
Division of Agriculture.
|Hallanan did not attempt to match the brickwork when he created the large arched entrance. The origin of the coat-of-arms type decoration remains arcane. -- photo by Alice Lum|
By the time Hallanan died in April 1926 he had earned the affectionate nicknames of the “Greenwich Village Blacksmith” and the “Father of Sheridan Square.” The latter was due to his influence in the naming of that park. The 79-year old was the largest property holder on Sheridan Square.
Within two decades, the former blacksmith shop was converted to a restaurant. And with its new life another set of romantic Greenwich Village stories was born.
Popular lore suddenly made No. 17 Barrow Street the former carriage house of Aaron Burr. And to spice up the story, the building was haunted by the spirit, not only of Burr, but of his daughter Theodosia. The wonderful and spellbinding tale sidestepped the historic facts that Cox’s 1834 house was a residence, not a carriage house; and that it was built exactly three decades after Burr fled New York. Additionally, the educated and privileged Theodosia Burr would never have visited a utilitarian structure filled with horses, hay and manure, let alone haunt it.
With or without ghosts the latest restaurant (established here in 1973), One if By Land, Two if By Sea, is a charming upscale restaurant that remains here four decades later. Upstairs are two apartments. The nearly 200-year old house is perhaps even more charming because of its Victorian alterations and the tall tales that it tells.