But before there was even a wall to hang paper on, the lot at 127 East 62nd Street was passed around the Treadwell family a hundred years earlier. Prominent merchants from the city bought and sold the land along with several adjacent building lots on the block throughout the mid-1800s. Finally, in 1872, the land came into the hands of William G. and Joseph E. McCormack, a real estate developer and builder respectively. A three-story brownstone built as part of a row of houses, designed by John G. Prague, was completed about 1874 bringing number 127 East 62nd Street into being. Anderson Fowler, a provision dealer (food merchant) and his young wife became the first owners, taking up residence for a short time before moving to Madison Avenue just before the birth of their first child. By the turn of the 19th century the building had been bought and sold several times. The last sale of the 1800s was by Marie Mende who sold the house to the famed Colonel William N. Amory for just over $16,000 in June of 1899.
Colonel William Amory was a well-known financial expert in New York tantamount to Alan Greenspan and Warren Buffett. When Amory made a statement everyone listened from Wall Street and beyond, extending across the nation. Amory was involved in many of the railway expansions over-ground and underground alike. He was acknowledged as one of the most successful judges of railway conditions on the continent. Amory stated that the metropolitan traction companies were insolvent five years before such insolvency was acknowledged. Though the best accountants in the United States declared him wrong, according to The Toronto World newspaper, events ultimately proved him correct.
So, given Amory’s character, one would wonder why he would wallpaper his library with stock certificates. Being the renowned financial wizard that he was, it was a surprise to many. The Chicago Chronicles quoted Amory as saying that the certificates were from a company which he had become interested in just before the Panic of 1893. As you may have guessed, the company went under during the panic, and in this case, before the company even “had fairly been launched.” The wallpaper had once been worth $440,000.00 according to the Colonel, or nearly 12 million dollars in today’s inflationary calculations. The frieze was made of coupons representing $72,000.00 or nearly 2 million dollars today. In Armory’s opinion it was the only way he could use the worthless certificates and as with most of his actions, he seemed very proud of his decorating creativity.
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