|Residence of Chas. Sneff, ESQ (1900)|
41st St. and Madison Ave., New York City
|Residence of Mrs. Thompson|
Madison Avenue and 41st Street, New York City Montrose W. Morris, Architect
The Sneff and the Thompson house at 297 Madison Avenue reflected the bad timing of building in the expanding commercialization of the Murray Hill area.
In the 1850s this area was considered "Uptown" and the well-to-do moved into the neighborhood. Where the NYPublic Library stands today was a reservoir for the city. Numerous brownstones lined the streets. When J. P. Morgan built his mansion in 1882 on Madison Avenue at 36th Street it was considered a fashionable but slightly old-fashioned address.(J.P. Morgan actually purchased property from Isaac Newton Phelps, who had built three garden-surrounded brownstones in 1853 for himself and family members.) Instead stylish merchandising was changing the neighborhood. 300 and 297 Madison Avenue, built at the turn of the century lasted just ten years.
The family of Thomas Adams, inventor of modern chewing gum lived at 295 Madison. Frederick A. Adams was married to Eudora Thompson, sister of Frederick Thompson. No dates or architect. Its conceivable the Adams had Montrose Morris or C. P. H. Gilbert design their home because of their work in Brooklyn's Park Slope area where Thomas Adams Jr. lived.
At the northeast corner, 299 Madison, was the home of Oakleigh Thorne, a capitalist involved in banking, railroads and mining. His home was described as Modern Renaissance, which was a combination of 18th-century French and Italian styles.
|Looking north on Madison Avenue from Forty-first street, about 1900|
The southwest corner was the first to be torn down for commercial use with the twelve-story John Mansville Building in 1912. For some time that side of the street had dilapidated and vacant houses.
The Charles H. Sneff corner house was leased in 1914 to the Lady Baltimore Cake Shop after being vacant and for sale since the death of Mr Sneff in 1911(estate valued at 12million) Mrs. Sneff had moved to 16 79th Street. I don't have the complete time line on when house was torn down.
Newspaper accounts have Frederick Thompson living abroad. The house was rented to Richard Hudnut the "perfumer" for a number of years before 297 Madison first put up a lease sign in 1910. Charles M. Warner of Syracuse, another capitalist with sugar, railroad and mining interests, had acquired property along with the Adams property at 295. He had just finished the 12-story Physicians Building at 40 East 41st Street adjoining the Thompson house and the Chemists Club to the east. For a short time property served as the headquarters for the Aero Club of America who represented the $25,000 Orteig Prize. With the success of the Physicians Building Warner planned a 25-story annex at the corner of Madison and 41st. At some point Abraham Lefcourt, a prominent real estate developer purchased Warner's holdings, tore down the the Physicians Building and built the 45-story Lefcourt Colonial Building in 1929. The rest of the block fronting Madison Avenue was leveled around 1925 for the Murray Hill Building.
Oakleigh Thorne's 299 Madison survived a fire in 1902 - "Rare Furnishings Burned". In 1911 he built at the northeast corner of Park Avenue and 73rd Street, now occupied by a mid-size apartment building. In 1912 a 12-story office building designed by Hill & Stout was erected on the corner. Now location of the Library Hotel.
The Sneff's had a country estate somewhere in Flushing called "Whitestone" described as one of the finest residence on Long Island Sound. I have yet to find any further information on this property. In the 1920s Mrs. Sneff purchased "Knollwood" the Charles Hudson estate in Muttontown, L. I. The Sneff's also owned Curl Neck Farms along the James River in Virginia. Later owned by C.K. Billings. During Mr. Billings ownership Curles Neck was the home of “Harvester", one of the most famous race horses of a generation.
The Thompson family had a summer home in Highland, NY. On the same property Frederick built "Sonnenberg".
Oakleigh Thornes' family had a South Shore estate called "Thorneham". Thorne had his own place in Millbrook, NY.