12 West 129th Street House

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark

12 West 129th Street

ARCHITECT: Unknown

DATE: 1858-1868

Harlem Manhattan

The house at 12 West 129th Street, erected when the village of Harlem was undergoing development as a suburban center, stands as a rare survivor of Harlem’s early history, prior to its rapid development as an urban neighborhood. Built for two carpenters, William Paul and Thomas Wilson, and their families, it was a two-and-a-half story frame structure characteristic of suburban architecture. Subsequent changes to the house reflect adaptations by new owners to their needs, as well as changes in the surrounding community.

In 1883, piano merchant John Bolton Simpson, Jr., added the distinctive Moorish-inspired porch, the most significant architectural feature of the house, with its perforated ornamentation created by the use of a scroll saw. In 1896, the house was acquired by an order of Franciscan nuns which was expanding its mission in the greater New York area. In order to accommodate a new use as a convent and children’s home, the building was enlarged to a full three stories. Since that time, the building has continued in institutional ownership.

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark

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