Office for Metropolitan History

Specialists in the Architectural History of New York City

The "Dow-Jones" House, 325 West XXth Street

The rowhouse at 325 West XXth [exact addresses are concealed] Street was built in 1892 as part of a row of five houses, 323-331 West XXth, designed by the architect Charles T. Mott, who was particularly active on the west side. The first owner was J. Ralph Burnett, a lawyer, but soon the house was occupied by Edward David Jones - one of the founders of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal.

Rowhouse development on the far west side was delayed until the late 1880's, when near-mansions began to go up on Riverside Drive. In 1891 the developers William Jacob and Reuben Skinner, both active in west side building, retained the architect Charles T. Mott to design the row of Renaissance revival style houses at 323-331 West XXth Street. In the late 1880's Mott had designed wildly Victorian rowhouses like 246-266 West 73rd Street, but by the early 1890s his work had become more orthodox, like 315-325 West 75th and 308-332 West 77th.

The notoriously picky critic Montgomery Schuyler, writing in The Architectural Record of 1899 remarked that this row was "particularly interesting" because of the way in which Mott attempted to differentiate the houses from each other, particularly with the use of the open loggia at 325. But the writer did note that the open loggia "is more theoretically than practically a desirable adjunct of a city house. For while it would be as useful as it is agreeable in a house that was lived in all the year, it is evident that he inhabitants of houses of this class abandon them at the season when the loggia would be a pleasant resort."

The house sold quickly to just such inhabitants, the family of lawyer J. Ralph Burnett; it is not clear where he was living immediately prior to his purchase, but in 1884 Burnett was living in Astoria, Queens. Burnett was a member of the Colonial Club, whose building still stands at the southwest corner of 72nd and Broadway. Established by the new cadre of businessmen on the growing west side, the Colonial Club unified many of the families in the area; Skinner himself (who lived at 314 West XXth Street) was among the founders of the club, which had been organized in his office.

The Burnetts did not sell until 1902, so the occupants listed in the 1900 census must have been renting the house. It was a family of four, headed by Edward D. Jones, 43, and including his wife, Sarah, 41, son Arthur, 15, and Jones' mother in law, Lydia Conkling, 72.

The Joneses were reasonably prosperous: they had three servants, Alfred Horner, 37, his wife Amelia, 32, and Mary Hanke, 24. All were black, and born in Virginia. African-American servants were common in post-slavery New York before 1840, but had gradually been replaced by European-born servants; those in the Jones household are unusual.

The census taker listed Jones' occupation as editor, but that hardly indicates his important position in the history of American finance and journalism. With Charles Dow, he established Dow, Jones & Co. in 1882 to provide financial news, handwritten sheets delivered by messenger to subscribers in the Wall Street area. In 1883 introduced their "Customer's Afternoon Letter", and in 1884 established the Dow Jones Average, at first covering mostly railroad stocks. In 1889 the partners recast the 1883 "Letter" as The Wall Street Journal, the first issue appearing on July 8th, 4 pages for two cents.

An 1899 article in The New York Times noted that Jones had retired from the firm, and gone over to a brokerage house. An article on the website says that Dow was troubled by Jones' "profane outbursts in the newsroom". The publisher Clarence Barron took over the company in 1902.

The 1910 census records the family of Edward L. Shipman, a Chambers Street stationer, in the house, including his wife, two sons and a daughter; they also had African-American servants, Lizzie Watson, 25, born in South Carolina, and Clara Mafro, 30, born in Kentucky.

By 1925 325 West XXth Street was operated as a rooming house by the Hungarian-born Bertha Berger, 55, who had eight roomers, like Jeanne Ferrout, 30, a Belgian pianist and Gustave Walther, a violinist who had trained with the Belgian star Eugene Ysaye. A review of a recital by Walther in The New York Times noted that his playing was "not on a level with his ambition. His tone is powerful, but it is not without roughness... [although] the vigor of his bowing was often to be commended." In 1933 the Times carried an advertisement offering rooms at 325 West XXth and stating what were apparently weekly rates, "sunny front double, single, bathroom, shower, convenient, $5-$7."

Alteration permits of the 1940's repeat the description of the building as "rooming house", although in 1962 it was converted to apartments and in 1984 it was included in the West End-Collegiate Historic District.

Christopher Gray; Research by Suzanne Braley