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House Detectives #20

Twentieth in a series of unidentified

home photos from 1913-28

House # 15 has been identified as 112 Arthur St. by Christopher Aries.  

Aries said, “It was the doghouses and windows that gave it away for me as they are just so distinctive.”

The Arthur Street house was purchased in 2007 by “Consider it DONE” (home repair and home detailing/cleaning company) owner, Emily Arnone and Christopher Cottrell, a Credit Suisse investment banker. They have two children, Harry (8) and Kay (5). They moved from Park Slope, Brooklyn.

The approximately 4,200-square foot Georgian colonial was built around 1908. It has seven bedrooms, original flooring in almost every room and has distinctive wood details around the interior side of the windows. As with many houses of this era, it also has a servant’s staircase towards the back of the home.

The first owners the author was able to find were Gladys B. Balch Woolsey and Floyd Elijah Woolsey, Sr. with their son, Floyd, Jr., daughter, Kathryn and one maid. They moved from Brooklyn sometime between 1920 and 1925 and are probably the second owners.

Floyd Woolsey, Sr. (1882-1928) and Floyd, Jr. (1911-1974) were members of the Sons of the American Revolution, being descendants of Josiah Woolsey. Floyd, Sr. was an auditor for the Equitable Life Assurance Society.

Gladys Woolsey (1886-1957) was married to Floyd, Sr. in 1909, on her parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. Her parents were married by Henry Ward Beecher, the American Congregationalist minister who believed in abolition of slavery and brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe of Uncle Tom’s Cabin fame.

In 1928 Floyd, Sr. passed away. By 1930, the three Woolseys were living together with the step mother-in-law, Edith Woolsey, who continued to live there until at least 1936. They had two servants (butler/chauffer and maid) from Germany and the couple’s baby living with them. The same year a garage was added to the back of the house, with a driveway that curved around the south side of the house to the backyard.

In 1932 Floyd, Jr. was a salesman in the electrical industry and married Gertrude Huhl. It was a short marriage, and by 1940 he was back living at 112 Arthur St. with his widowed mom.

The following year Kathryn Balch Woolsey (b. 1914) married Elwood Alexander Powell (b. approximately 1911) in the Cathedral of the Incarnation. Kathryn was the fourth generation of Balch women in her family to marry on the date of October 16. The wedding reception was held at the large 112 Arthur St. house.

Powell was a statistician with a financial company. The newlyweds moved next door into 114 Arthur St. by 1935 and also had a maid. The Powells had little Cathryn Anna, born approximately 1937.

Around 1943 the Powells moved into 112 Arthur St. It seems that Gladys, Edith and the others stayed on as well.

By 1953 the Powells and Gladys Woolsey moved to 204 Wellington Rd. after the Woolseys had lived there between 28 to 33 years. They stayed on Wellington until at least 1956.

Thomas F. Miller and his wife were the next to live at 112 Arthur St. Little is known about the couple and they lived there for about 10 years until 1963.

According to Patricia Watts Vommoro, Bill Hammonds owned the house from 1963 to 1974 and he sold it to the Watts family.

“My parents watched the progress of the house being rebuilt. One day, they knocked on the door and told the owner how much they admired the house. Mom said, ‘I want that house if they ever sell it.’ After it was completed, dad offered money for it and Mr. Hammonds accepted. What’s interesting too, is that Mr. Hammonds bought a house right next to where my dad grew up,” Vommoro said.

“Bill Hammonds was a builder and contractor who built malls,” Robert Watts, Vommoro’s father added.

The house changed dramatically to a Georgian with Hammonds when he removed the front porch and added a brick facade over the clapboard. Most likely, he was the one who removed the chimney from the back of the house and added another with a fireplace in the living room.

However, the leaded glass windows on either side of the front door and the second floor center trio of windows are the originals. The doghouses on the third floor have remained the same as well.

Robert Allen Watts (b. 1933) and his wife, Piera lived at 206 Wetherill Rd. for at least seven years while Hammonds was redoing 112 Arthur St. Robert and Piera moved in 1974. They spent about 22 to 25 years at the Arthur Street address.

“It was a pretty magnificent house,” Vommoro remarked.

“The rooms were wonderful, great for entertaining, “ Watts stated.

During his time in Garden City Watts owned a metal fabricating company. But his home was a center for many musical people, starting with Watts’ son, John.

“My son is a professional musician and taught Andrew Lloyd Weber to play the piano. Musicians have a better life,” Watts said.

He was also friends with songwriter, composer, arranger and two- time Grammy- winner, Bugs Bower of Nice Stories About Nice People fame [See Dave Gil de Rubio’s story on Bower at http://www.antonnews.com/gardencitylife/news/29750-hitting-the-right-note.html  ].

Watts and his wife, Piera, spent time with Arthur Street neighbor, Philip Dipippo, who he said is the “foremost accordionist and played in The Godfather wedding scenes.” They all socialized with opera star Robert Merrill; singer and actor Eddie Fisher; the Andrews Sisters singers; actor and Kojak lead Telly Savalas and musician John Tesh.”

Watts said the eventually house got too big when his children left, so he sold it to a young Garden City couple. He now lives in Pennsylvania and sells commercial and residential real estate.

The Baumgratz family spent some time at the Arthur Street home before moving to North Carolina. It was also used for a rental at one point.

In 2007 Emily Arnone and Christopher Cottrell bought the Arthur Street house, the year of its centennial (or 2008). Garden City architect Barbara Ruggiero drew up plans for major renovations for Mrs. Arnone and Mr. Cottrell recently. While they were doing the renovations, the white clapboard of the original house was found underneath the brick facade.

Arnone said, “We incorporated the former garage space into the kitchen, rebuilt the den and re-did the butler’s pantry and added a mud room.”

The Arnone- Cottrell family has lived there for over five years.

Author’s Note: Do you have a home that was built prior to 1930? Are you curious as to who lived there before you? What is its history? Alvey is writing a new series about Garden City homes entitled, “My History House.” Please contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 516-326-1720 for her to feature your own house.

News

The Garden City Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for the 35th annual Fall Festival Street Fair set for Saturday, Oct. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Seventh Street. The chamber thanks the Garden City Hotel which will serve as the primary event sponsor.

JGS entertainment will return for the 16th year as master ceremonies providing music and vocals. There will be plenty of activities for the kids. Included will be the return of the two trackless trains carrying children 12 years of age and younger up and down Seventh Street sponsored by Coach Realtors and Garden City Teachers Association. There will be the traditional inflatable bouncy house sponsored by SMPL Technologies and the ever-popular money cube sponsored by Calogero’s and Leo’s. The Garden City Parks and Recreation Department will have giveaways and temporary tattoos.


Sports

Reminder

With the fall sports season upon us, the department of recreation and parks would like to remind all residents that pets are not allowed in any neighborhood parks, Community Park, or St. Paul’s fields. Non compliance with this rule will result in the issuance of appearance tickets.

Register For The Online Registration Option

Garden City’s Department of Recreation and Parks will offer the option of online registration with credit card payment beginning with its winter programs in early December.

In order for a family to use the online registration option, the family will first need to visit the recreation and parks office at 108 Rockaway Ave. to verify residency and their family information and receive their password.  A list of instructions as to how to use the website will be included.

Stretching tips for the high school athlete

Prior to the start of high school running season, Garden City’s Physical Therapy Options (PTO) had an opportunity to provide a presentation to members of Sacred Heart Academy’s cross country team. Team members gathered at Garden City’s New York Running Company to learn strategies and tips for a successful fall season.

PTO staff members Dr. Meghan Goetz, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and PTO Aide Mike Murphy discussed the importance of stretching to prevent injury and provided strategies and tips for success for the high school runner.


Calendar

Garden City High School Homecoming

Saturday, October 25

Marvelous Movie Matinée

Monday, October 27

A Map Of Artistic Inspiration

Saturday, November 1



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com