The Doll House

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s mom was born and raised in Newburgh, New York, long before I knew it existed. There he is, posing with Eleanor and other family members on the Newburgh waterfront in the photo above. Newburgh has good bones.

This was 1906, and I’m certain 109 Chambers Street had already been built. The tiny house is barely standing now but it must be saved. There is no way around that. 109 Chambers Street is in Newburgh’s historic district, surrounded by much larger buildings. The house was built on a lot that is just 400 s.f. The house itself was just 684 s.f. (spread over two floors) before the second floor and the stairs leading to it collapsed into the basement sometime over the last year. Snow will do that.

Before its slide into disrepair, 109 Chambers was the home of many working-class people employed at local factories and in other jobs in Newburgh. I’ve been able to trace just a few of them.

Anna E. Doll had been living with her family at 96 Lander Street as far back as 1900 and she was a weaver. But in 1920 she was hired by the “Shipp & Osbourn” company and she moved into the house in 1921, where she lived alone until 1932 when she moved next door to 111 Chambers. There she took boarders.

When Anna moved out, Edward D. Hasbrouck and his wife Agnes moved in. Edward was employed by Bertram Fletcher as a sheet metal worker and 109 Chambers was home for both of them for five years.

And then the little house stood empty for a year until Martin and May Eden moved in. Martin worked as a painter and they lived in the house for a long time, 11 years, from 1938 – 1949.

Joseph, a presser, and his wife Mary Masarachia, lived there for the next six years, followed by Mary E. Grace who stayed another 11. In 1966, Louis L. and Beatrice Getter moved in and that’s when we lose track. Louis was employed at Magnetic Core Corp.

I’m going to buy 109 Chambers Street any day now and over the next few months put it back into good use. It deserves that. And I’m calling it the Doll House.

(Thanks to Johanna Yaun, Orange County Historian, for some of the historic guidance.)