Edward Mooney House

At 18 Bowery in Chinatown (on the corner of Pell Street) stands the Edward Mooney House. It was built between 1785-1789. The land was seized from British Loyalist James Delancy and sold at auction for around $50,000. Edward Mooney was a wealthy merchant and ran a wholesale meat business and was a race horse breeder. He lived in the house until his death in 1800.

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In the 1820s it became a tavern and has had many transformations – a general store and hotel, a pool parlor, a brothel and then a restaurant and a Chinese club. Most recently it was a bank. In 2013, this Revolutionary War era property sold for $5.4 million and will be converted back to a residence (read on this site).

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Built in Georgian with some Federal style, it’s a rowhouse that still has it’s original hand-hewn timbers inside.

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To give you an idea of how old this place is – Collect Pond existed, George Washington was sworn in as President in 1789 and he drank at the Bull’s Head Tavern which stood at 50-52 Bowery where a new hotel is being built. The notorious slum Five Points didn’t exist yet. Mooney house is about a block south from the old Bull’s Head.

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Whole block from Bowery view, Doyers Street on the left, Pell and Mooney House to the right. Tall building being built to the right is a new hotel on Bowery and sight of Bull’s Head Tavern.

In 1966, NYC designated it a landmark and in 1976 it was added to National Register of historic Places.

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The Mooney House is one of the last survivors of the Colonial Era.

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This little building is a block away from where I grew up. After all these years it has a name! Was very happy to find it’s story. I’ve been reading into the history of Five Points (think Martin  Scorsese’s Gangs of New York), the notorious slum that use to exist in the Civic Center/Chinatown area in the 1800s. My goal is to find out what buildings stood and still stand today from that era and before. And this house has seen it all.

*The Edward Mooney House was around during the infamous days of “Five Points,” the notorious slum which existed around the 1820-1890s. America’s original melting pot, the first African American settlement, a neighborhood that invented tap dance, a neighborhood very rich in history. The African Americans, Irish, Germans, Anglos, Jewish, Italian and Chinese have all left their mark. Five Points is now part of the Civic Center and Chinatown area. The old slum is another childhood passion seeded by my Dad. I’ve been mapping what streets and buildings exist and/or look the same when Five Points used to exist. 

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10 thoughts on “Edward Mooney House

    1. I’ve heard about tiny bits from my dad’s family and one day decided to really dig in and learn. Never knew how deep the history is there. Then I remembered NYC started downtown and expanded uptown as the city grew.

    1. It may be a bit brighter from me tweaking the photo. The colors have been horrible the times of day I’ve been out.

      I realized my Dad is 80, he knows the area before it was developed with high rises. He has dementia (due to his heart disease but he’s ok) and taking him on walks talking about the history and his childhood helps his brain and helps me put together old NY. I feel terrible bringing him out in winter but I ask ever 15 min if he’s ok or if he’s cold. So far I’m the one whose been freezing. I’ve noticed his memory is more stable lately. Sometimes I think – ok this is his memory he’s probably making up a story. Then I go home and fact check and he gets it right!

      1. People with dementia can often remember things they learned when they were younger, as opposed to recent events, names, and short-term information (“Where did I place my housekeys?”). It’s why I pumped my parents for their memories of their childhoods and families. They could talk about those things for hours, but asking them about more recent happenings, like the birth of their grandchildren, became a lot more problematic as they got older. 😦

        What’s inside the Mooney House now? I’m a little jealous of the person who bought it to turn into a residence, even though old homes are a pain to restore, especially if they’re designated National Landmarks. You have a observe all these rules and regulations regarding their preservation. (No acrylic frame, double hung windows! Must use wood-framed glazed, multi-pane windows!). But that’s what I like about New York: there’s so much old history there, a historian could stay busy there all year around.

      2. When we walk buy there’s guys inside that look like they are fixing things.
        There use to be more Federal row houses on Bowery some in great condition but most have been been bulldozed. The next one in about to mee the wreaking ball was the homo of artist Ava Heese and a spot on the underground railroad. I think 134 or 136 Bowery.

        I thought of a project for my Dad and I last night. I’m going to journal with him about his childhood and we’ll walk around taking pics. I have a spare point and shot for him. His short term memory has been better than usual. I asked for a chan bow (plain bun kinda sweet) from Mei Lay Wah. My Dad likes coffee from the bakery across the street. Last week I stayed at his place while he went out and he remembered my bow!

        As for Five Points, I think the only buildings left standing are the late 1880s tenements surrounding the park. From what I’ve read the core of the neighborhood was Columbus Park and part of the Civic Center area.

        I just found out the new hotel, where the Bull’s Head Tavern is rumored to be. I never knew it was a heavily renovated tavern GW drank and slept at. It looked like a dinky new low rise to me. The pics were fabulous. They showed pics of the basement before it was demolished with tin ceilings. I always knew there was history but never realized how much.

        How was San Diego? See any mission? I love the old Spanish missions.

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