In society in the 19th century, Jones was a grand name of the first order. The daughter of the president of Chemical Bank, Mrs. Jones was considered remarkable in her day: she was an early traveler on the Erie Canal, voyaged through Europe on a sketching tour, and in 1818, after her marriage to Isaac Jones, had the first bathtub in New York installed in her house on Chambers Street. She and two sisters had a triple house on Broadway near Waverly Place; the houses could be thrown together for entertaining.
In 1868, Mrs. Jones began work on another unusual house, at the northeast corner of Fifth and 57th, a part of the city then still on the drawing board, with streets laid out and little more.
The New York Times noted that the two-story mansard roof was carried to “a fabulous height.” That was not the only distinctive aspect: Mrs. Jones also built a neighborhood, an entire row of houses taking up the rest of the block on Fifth Avenue. She had her architect, Robert Mook, clad them in brilliant white marble.
Numbered 741-753 Fifth, they were quite a spectacle in brownstone New York. The marble set off the green grass in the front gardens, the gray slate of the mansard and the green copper trim.
In 1871, a writer for The New York Evening Telegram found the year-old row reminiscent of a church, with Mrs. Jones’s grand house as the front, facing 57th Street, and the rest of the row, stretching back along Fifth, like a nave. Four years later, The Real Estate Record and Guide, while admiring the whole, was able to find fault, saying, “The poverty of the deck cornice spoils the whole when you look more closely.” Apparently this referred to the simplicity of the projection where the main wall meets the mansard.
Mrs. Jones rented out the row, and the 1870 census indicates that her tenants were her equals, at least financially. One was Cyrus Clark, later to be important in developing the Upper West Side, and another was Henry Havemeyer, the sugar merchant, who went on to build a grand house at Fifth and 66th.
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