Have you ever wondered about the building next to Harry’s Shoes, between 83rd and 84th on Broadway? 2307 Broadway is a beautiful old American Georgian-inspired building that looks like a private mansion, but if you haven’t seen it before, it’s worth taking a look. Once I did, I was curious to know the history.
In 1897, Broadway was called The Boulevard. What is now 2307 Broadway was constructed by architect Julis A. Scheweinfurth, and the owner was Frederick Prentiss Forster. Forster, at the time, was a known real estate developer on the Upper West Side.
Tom Miller, who researched 2307 Broadway back in 2016, found that Scheweinfurth built 2307 Broadway to look like a distinguished private mansion. Miller describes how above the two stories of pink wash brick is trimmed white stone. There are splayed lintels and 18th century themed-windows. The focal point of the building is the Palladian balcony and columns with iron railings.
This beautiful building was the home of the West Side Republican Club.
Like many clubs of its time, it was the central hub for planning and campaigning for important political issues. It also served as a high-end social club. Miller found out that the club was used for recreation as well and had rooms for billiards, cards, and even a bowling alley. In 1900 the club had 450 members, and differentiated itself by allowing females to join. There were 250 female members in 1900.
Many important events occurred at 2307 Broadway while it was the West Side Republican Club, including when John Sergeant Wise attacked William Randolph Hearst for trying to pit class against class to “promote his selfish ends” as the Tribune wrote in 1906. In 1908, the president of the club had correctly predicted that William Taft would become president and he made a huge banner that flew above the club just moments after he won the election. This banner was known as the first campaign flag to fly in New York.
Thanks to Miller’s research, we know the club was not only used for political purposes.
For example, the Columbia-Yale-Harvard-Princeton chess tournaments were held there starting in 1891. These tournaments were all day, for three full days held each December.
In 1913, the building was sold and the new owners gutted and converted the front of the building into a storefront. J. Fields, an upscale women’s fur and dress shop moved in. Dresses at the store cost $20, which would be $490 today! The upstairs of the building was leased to a dance school called Newberger, which was known for creating the “New Hawaiian Trot.”
Not too many years later, in 1917, the building was leased to Jorgenson & Sons, who ran a jewelry company. Eventually in 1921, the jewelers purchased the building. They continued to run the jewelry shop and rented the upper floors to B’nai B’rith, one of the oldest Jewish organizations in the U.S.
In 1940 the West Side Republican Club came back to its original location. The building, still owned by Jorgenson & Sons, leased the space to them, and the storefront changed to a children’s shop. The building was later sold, and the tenancy and retail store changed hands many times over.
In 1973, Selma Weiser purchased the building. The storefront was a grocery and drug shop. The current owner, as of 2014, is Joel Schreiber’s Waterbridge Capital. The storefront is currently vacant, but an employee at Harry’s Shoes for Kids told me that an art gallery will be moving into the space in about a month.
A special thanks to Tom Miller for finding these dates and facts. If you want to learn the history of buildings on the UWS and all over the city, check out his blog: Daytonian in Manhattan.
More Upper West Side History:
- Architects Who Defined The Upper West Side
- Inside an Upper West Side Sex Cult
- Oldest Buildings of the Upper West Side