Reply To: September 2019 Photo Contest

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Thomas Casey

A cherished piece of Spuyten Duyvil’s past could be in jeopardy. And while the Villa Rosa Bonheur might not be completely obliterated, it could be fundamentally changed.

Kevin McDermott, who’s lived in the neighborhood for more than a decade, wanted to know what was happening to the Villa Rosa Bonheur on Palisade Avenue near the Spuyten Duyvil train station, a charming, stony structure clinging to the cliff side under the Henry Hudson Bridge.

Built in 1924 as a co-operative by John J. McKelvey — a lawyer, writer and developer, who also was the first editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Review — the seven-unit apartment building hit the market last year, according to published reports.

McKelvey — who also built the Villa Rosa Bonheur’s sisters, the Villa Charlotte Brontë and Villa Victoria around the same time — had more than money on his mind when he created what would be Riverdale’s first apartment houses. Alarmed by what he called the encroaching “city ugly” — the wave of high-rise development spreading through northern Manhattan and other parts of the Bronx at the time — McKelvey’s answer, according to the Lehman College Art Gallery, was to construct cooperative apartments resembling villas made up of individually owned duplex and triplex studio homes.

The marriage of Lowell H. Brown, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Archer Brown of East Orange, N.J., and Miss Constance McKelvey, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Jay McKelvey, took place yesterday in Edgehill Church, Spuyten Duyvil, and was followed by a reception at Bonnie Brae, the McKelvey country home.  October 11, 1914, Page 11