Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Monday, March 16, 2009

2009 House Tour: 873 President Street

873 President Street is another of the many houses in Park Slope that retained a lengthy association with a single family through multiple generations. Built in 1878 and one of the oldest houses on the block, 873 President Street was designed by Stachlin & Steiger in a style reminiscent of a small country villa, which it must have resembled when the rest of the block was largely empty. It has a "stick style" overhang with wooden struts in the front gable.

873 President Street - Park Slope Historic District

873 President Street - detail

Francis O. Affeld, a native of Germany, was the first owner of this house. Affeld was a Civil War veteran who had been shot in the leg at the Battle of Kenesaw Mountain and was in numerous other military engagements. He is listed at this address in the 1879 Lain's Brooklyn Directory, where his occupation is given as "insurance", and he resided here with his wife, one son, Francis Jr., and three daughters, Antoinette, Louise, and Caroline ("Carrie").

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle records that the three girls attended Miss Rounds' School, later the Rounds Institute, in Clinton Hill. Antoinette Affeld graduated from Miss Rounds' School in 1897, and the Eagle account of the graduation ceremonies noted that "Miss Affeld will enter Vassar in the fall." However, Antoinette ultimately graduated from Columbia University in 1902 with a degree in secondary education.

Francis Jr. excelled in both baseball and tennis, and played for the Crescent Athletic Club, a former elite country club in Brooklyn (Fort Hamilton High School was later built on its Bay Ridge playing fields, and the St. Ann's School occupies its former downtown clubhouse). The New York Times, among its many accounts of the Crescent Athletic Club teams, noted on August 17, 1900 that Affeld Jr.'s batting average was .328.

In 1903, Francis O. Affeld Jr. became engaged to a neighbor, Miss Edith Keiser of Carroll Street:

New York Times, October 11, 1903

Edith died in 1914, aged 34, leaving two children including Francis O. Affeld 3rd. In 1917 Francis Jr. remarried, to Bertha Lilian Bacon, a graduate of Vassar College who was active in the League of Women Voters:

New York Times, June 10, 1917

Bertha Bacon Affeld, a founder of the Vassar Club of New York, died in 1927, aged 48, leaving her husband twice a widower.

By 1930, Francis O. Affeld 3rd had married Elizabeth Namack of Balston Spa, New York, a graduate of Wellesley, and he was serving in the legal staff of Governer General Dwight F. Davis of the Phillipines. While there, the couple were blessed with their first child, a son, Francis O. Affeld 4th. By 1933, they were back in the United States, and were living in Great Neck, Long Island, when Elizabeth, aged 25, was killed suddenly in an automobile accident.

All this time, the family patriarch, the original Francis O. Affeld, remained at 873 President Street. It seems that his daughters Louise and Carrie never married, but remained living with their father in Park Slope. Francis O. Affeld finally died in 1939, aged 96 years, at 873 President Street:

New York Times, July 18, 1939

At some point his son, Francis O. Affeld Jr., returned to live at 873 President Street until he, too, died there, in 1953, at age 77.

New York Times, February 12, 1953

The Park Slope Historic District designation notes that Louise Affeld lived at 873 President Street for more than 90 years, having moved in at age two in about 1878.

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