Old Spuyten Duyvil – Memories and photos of childhood

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    • #1935
      ndembowski
      Keymaster

      I just came across interesting letters written to the founder of the Kingsbridge Historical Society, The Reverend William Tieck.  They were written in 1988 by George Bolint, who was then an elderly man living in Florida.  He
      wrote:

      A resident of Spuyten Duyvil while a youngster, we lived in one of a small row of houses [possibly Edsall Ave?] overlooking G.M. Roden and Sons coal yard, which was adjacent to the Spuyten Duyvil RR station.  Mr and Mrs Perry ran a taxi service for commuters, and Fred Lutz was the station agent.

      I attended PS 24 on Kappock St. thru the sixth grade, and then PS 7 in Kingsbridge thru the eighth grade.

      While Isaac G. Johnson and Sons might have been an iron foundry, it became a steel mill making steel castings.  My father operated one of the Bessemer furnaces.

      You might get a kick from the enclosed pictures.  I am taking the geese for lunch at the nearby lawn.  Circa 1918.  FYI goslings are the most awkward and homely birds in captivity… As a youngster I climbed every tree in town.  I also climbed every high structure in town, including a water tower overlooking the Johnson foundry and adjourning tenement building…  I don’t know if they still exist, but enclosed are pictures of the Spuyten Duyvil RR station and the Hendrick Hudson monument.  The other picture is a view of the Hudson River from atop the monument.  The reproductions are much larger and clearer than the originals taken with my Brownie 110 box camera.”

    • #1936
      Thomas Casey
      Participant

      Interesting story and photographs,  especially the walkway to the rail platform which I never seen before.

    • #1937
      tljones2020
      Participant

      Nice!

    • #1938
      garrett
      Participant

      gonna look for some lumps of coal next time I’m down there

    • #1939
      T_Carey
      Participant

      I wonder where on Kappock St. PS 24 was located? I only know it as being on 236th near Independence Ave.

    • #1940
      Thomas Casey
      Participant

      Wonder no more…  PS 24       Kappock St

    • #1941
      ndembowski
      Keymaster

      P.S. 24 was once the most visible landmark atop Spuyten Duyvil Hill–being a relatively large building with no other tall buildings around it.  This 1930s map shows where it was:

      It was a red brick building with a green copper cupola.  The building is visible in many old photos and paintings with the hill in the background.  In this Ernest Lawson painting, you can see it on the right hand side (the view is from Inwood):

      In this Vernon Howe Bailey sketch, you can see it on the left (that’s the Columbia Boathouse in Inwood on the right):

      Here is a family photo taken from about the same spot (PS 24 is on the left):

      Here is a shot taken from about where the Kennedy Campus is today:

      I believe it was torn down in 1940.  The students must have had a heck of a view of the city with no tall buildings blocking visibility.  I bet they could have seen the Empire State Building being built from the 2nd floor windows.

       

       

    • #1942
      ndembowski
      Keymaster

      I just happen to be in the area today and I drove down Edsall Avenue just to see if I could spot the house that George Bolint is standing in front of in the photo with the geese.  I am pretty sure it is 2253 Edsall Ave (the house on the left):

      Nowadays, the houses on Edsall Ave routinely sell for over one million dollars.  But they were working class houses in the past as George Bolint’s memories would suggest.  Several years ago, the house at 2251 Edsall Avenue was put up for sale and I went to see it.  Despite being over 100 years old, it only had a couple of owners and had never been renovated.  It was in pretty rough shape honestly.  The front door fell down the stairs when someone tried to open it to greet me.  It was sold to a house flipper for $275,000, who fixed it up and sold it for $750,000 a year later.  But when I visited, it was like a house that was frozen in the early 20th century.  The kitchen was in the basement and the older woman that lived there offered to make me tea, which she did on this old stove:

      The stove could be heated by gas or coal. Speaking of which, the coal yard that George Bolint wrote about was a well-known area business: G.M. Roden’s.

      Here’s their motto and logo:

       

       

       

    • #1943
      Agumelen
      Participant

      I love the trip down memory lane.  Does anyone know why the school was demolished?

    • #1944
      ndembowski
      Keymaster

      There is some information in the Rev. William Tieck’s book, “School and School Days in Riverdale – Kingsbridge – Spuyten Duyvil.”  Apparently, the original P.S. 24 was closed in 1940 due to low attendance.  The Iron Foundry had been shut down in the 20s and this greatly reduced the student population as the foundry workers and their families moved on.  The P.S. 24 visitor’s book recorded this last entry, written by the principal of P.S. 7.

      Friday, Nov. 29, 1940

      P.S. 24 Bronx closes to-day–rather sudden though expected!

      Records from 1865 indicate that P.S. 24 & its forerunner in this locality have done an excellent service.  Perhaps other school activities may be assigned to P.S. 24–a wonderful building in a historic & beautiful setting.  Henry Hudson anchored just across the water; that famous Dutchman who swam the water “in spite of the devil” gave the name to this locality & to this school–“Spuyten Duyvil.”

      After a long & useful career the march of time, & the trend of population have combined to close the “school on the hill”–truly a “little red school house.”

      Now I know the full meaning of Kilmer’s “The House with nobody in It.”

      What can be more desolate & more saddening than an abandoned schoolhouse!  Think of the thousands of happy voices, the stamping feet, the busy hum of work!

      “Sic transit gloria.” Farewell “24.”

      – Joseph T. P. Callahan

      The building was built in 1891 without indoor bathrooms (there were separate outhouses for girls and boys) and before school buses.  Check out the below article from “School” magazine, written in 1899:

    • #1945
      Agumelen
      Participant

      Ah, most interesting research!  Thank you.

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