Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2011

Legendary Magician and Escape Artist: Harry Houdini

I’ve posted about Harry Houdini (aka Ehrich Weiss) before, but with a new development –-and new photographs--here’s another tribute to the famed magician on the 85th anniversary of his death.
On October 31, 1926, Harry Houdini died in a Detroit hospital from peritonitis, following two surgeries for a burst appendix. He was 52 years old. Houdini’s body was placed in a bronze casket the magician had had specially constructed  for one of his acts and –-it was said --for his eventual burial. Curiously, after Houdini’s last show in Detroit close, his equipment was all shipped back East except for the casket. On November 3rd, Mrs. Beatrice Houdini and three of the magician’s siblings accompanied his body on the train to NYC. There it was met at Grand Central Station by a large group of friends and relatives before being taken to the West End Funeral Chapel.

At 10:30 AM, the next morning, Houdini’s religious service took place at the Elks Club in Manhattan. Two Rabbi’s officiated and Lee Shu…

Stephen Whitney, the "Cotton King"

Another of the fabulous Green-Wood mausoleums open to the public during openhousenewyork weekend, was that of cotton speculator, Stephen Whitney. I had always wanted to see inside, as to me this structure gives the impression of a stone cottage, despite its Gothic architectural style. It looked nothing like I envisoned (a cozy living room with a fireplace, lol), but captured my attention instead because of the symbolism on the crypt covers. At the time of Whitney's death, in 1860, he was reported to be the second richest man in the world. Yet, as the placard above notes, "he was no spender." His heirs had this octagonal-shaped mausoleum built in his honor.

The Credit Rating King: John M. Bradstreet

Ohio lawyer, John M. Bradstreet, founded what later became –in 1933--Dun & Bradstreet.

The Eppig Mausoleum

Leaving St. John Cemetery yesterday, after a funeral, I took a quick shot of this imposing mausoleum. The photo shows no indication of the rainy and gloomy day it was. I’d seen this mausoleum before and was decided to research the family name of Eppig. Turns out, Leonhard Eppig was a Brooklyn brewer who founded Leonhard Eppig's Germania Brewery in Bushwick, Brooklyn in 1866. He was also a major benefactor to the Catholic Church. In fact, because of this, two Brooklyn Churches --both of which served the German Catholic immigrants-- St. Barbara and St. Leonard, were said to be named for Eppig’s children. St. Leonard was founded in 1871 and, in 1884, Franz Leonard, its namesake, was married there. The church closed in 1978 and in 2001 the building was demolished. St. Barbara, built in 1910, was designed by the architectural firm of Helme and Huberty, the firm also responsible for the Central Park boathouse and the Greenpoint Savings Bank, and still serves the community today.


A Peek Inside the Steinway Mausoleum

Over the weekend, Green-Wood Cemetery participated in openhousenewyork (sic). One of the highlights this year was the rare opportunity to see inside some of Green-Wood's most famous mausoleums. Had a fabulous day doing just that under yesterday's picture perfect sky. The Steinway Mausoleum --which houses the remains of Henry Steinway, the piano maker, and many of his family members--is the largest in the cemetery.

Louis Bonard--A Friend to Animals

When French -born New Yorker, Louis Bonard, died in February of 1871 he left his entire estate --valued at $250,000 --to ASPCA founder, Henry Bergh. Bonard, an animal lover, wanted Bergh to use the money to continue his good work. This will was contested, unsuccessfully, by siblings of Bonard --siblings he had been estranged from for many ears --on the grounds that Bonard was insane given his belief in metempsychosis (reincarnation). During the proceedings in Surrogate Court, a number of witnesses were called, including a physician and several acquaintances of Bonard’s. One of these acquaintances testified that Bonard believed that after death “the soul passed into the body of some animal.”  On May 16, 1871, Bonard’s body was removed from a receiving vault at Green-Wood Cemetery and buried in a plot nearby the cemetery’s main entrance. Bonard’s monument was paid for out of estate funds, overseen by Henry Bergh, and cost $600.00.

Cypress Hills Military Cemetery

Cypress Hills Military Cemetery was formed during the Civil War and located within Brooklyn’s Cypress Hills Cemetery. At the time, approximately three acres were allotted for the burial of the Civil War dead in what was called Union Grounds. After the war, in 1870, Cypress Hills Cemetery deeded the property to the United States for $9,600. By that time, 3,170 Union soldiers and 461 Confederate POWs had been buried there.

Before 1873, only U.S. soldiers who died as a result of injury or disease during the Civil War were eligible for burial in a national cemetery. But that year, eligibility was extended to honorably discharged veterans who served during the war, making more space a necessity. In 1884, 15 additional acres were purchased. Today, the cemetery’s 18 acres contain not only veterans of the Civil War, but those of the Vietnam and Korean Wars, as well as the American Revolution and Spanish-American War. Cypress Hills National Cemetery has long been closed to new interments, but…

Abraham Abraham

Founded in Brooklyn, in 1865, Abraham and Straus was one of the most popular department stores in New York. Boasting over a dozen locations,  A & S (as it was commonly called) became synonymous with elegance and style. Company co-founder Abraham Abraham died in 1911, and his funeral was emblematic of the esteem in which he was held. On that day, allA & S and Macy’s (owned by his business partners Isidor and Nathan Straus) locations were closed. Fifty honorary pallbearers, which included the Straus brothers, former Brooklyn Mayor Charles Schieren and New York City Mayor Jay Gaynor, accompanied Abraham's casket into the synagogue. It was Mayor Gaynor, a close friend of Abraham's, who also gave the eulogy. “I never knew a more just and equitable man than Abraham Abraham,” Gaynor told the congregation. 
Abraham is entombed in Salem Fields Cemetery within a stately mausoleum.