The 1773-built South Street Seaport townhouse has a fascinating history
You wouldn't know it from its contemporary interiors, but a Seaport duplex that just hit the market is in one of the oldest buildings in Manhattan. The duplex is located in the Captain Rose House that's believed to date back to 1773, making it the third oldest building in Manhattan (behind St. Paul's Chapel and the Morris-Jumel Mansion, per the Times.)
273 Water Street's history is as well-documented as it is fascinating. The Times summed it up in a 1998 article, just as the aging structure was being reborn as condos,
The first occupant was Capt. Joseph Rose, a mahogany trader who kept his brig moored out the back door. It was Christopher (Kit) Burns who put No. 273 on the map in the 1860's by offering dog and rat fights as entertainment to the patrons of his tavern.
'It is simply sickening,' Edward Winslow Martin declared in The Secrets of the Great City, an 1868 tract. 'Most of our readers have witnessed a dog fight in the streets. Let them imagine the animals surrounded by a crowd of brutal wretches whose conduct stamps them as beneath the struggling beasts, and they will have a fair idea of the scene at Kit Burns's.'
The townhouse fell into deeper disarray after two fires ravaged the building, the first in 1904 and the second in 1974. History site Daytonian in Manhattan notes that the city seized the building in 1976, and held into it until 1997 when they sold it to small-time developer Frank J. Sciame.
Sciame converted the burnt-out shell into the four-condo development that stands at the site today. The duplex, asking $1.95 million, includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and has a lovely rooftop terrace. Nowadays it's recognizable only to history as a former home to "one of the foulest grog shops within staggering distance of the East River wharves."
- Listing: 273 Water Street 3F [Elliman]
- A Scruffy Old Tavern Is Now Luxury Apartments [NYT]
- "The Rat Pit" -- Captain Joseph Rose House [DiM]
- The 20 Oldest Buildings in New York City [Curbed]