Smith & Lawler

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Smith & Lawler
1955 Park Ave
New York

Smith & Lawler were a short-lived enterprise located at Park Avenue and 132nd St., Manhattan, approximately 1898 to 1902. Of Smith, I can say very little. Trow's 1899 New York City Directory listed "Cath Smith, machinist" at 1955 Park Ave., but otherwise I have not been able to identify her.

Lawler is clearer. He was Hugh J. Lawler (1870-1918), who was in business as an iron founder in New York City from 1898 to 1918, first as Smith & Lawler, then Lawler & Spence, and then the Lenox Iron Works.

Lawler & Spence, like Smith & Lawler, was also short-lived. Begun in 1903, bankruptcy took place a year later. As reported in the Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide, 17 Jan. 1903, "Mr. Peter C. Spence, C. E., formerly examining engineer of the Department of Buildings, and lately consulting engineer for John J. Radley & Co., has associated himself with Hugh J. Lawler, manufacturer of structural and ornamental iron work, with offices and plant at Park av. and 132d st. The new firm will be known as Lawler & Spence, and will continue business at the above address. The firm which has recently enlarged their plant have better facilities for turning out work promptly, and will endeavor to maintain their reputation in that respect. Estimates will be cheerfully furnished; telephone 968 Harlem."

Cheerful as the estimates might have been, the business failed. The New York Times, 16 June 1904, pg. 15, reported in detail on the sale in bankruptcy, as follows, "In the matter of Hugh J. Lawler and Peter C. Spence, individually and as members of the firm of Lawler & Spence, Bankrupts - No. 7,077. To the creditors of the said bankrupts and to whom it may concern, certain assets of the above-named bankrupts, consisting of two horses, two wagons, harness, structural eye beams, channels, forges, blowers, drill press, donkey, rosettes, scrap iron and two bridle iron machines, and other property will be sold under an order of this court as follows: Sealed bids will be received by the undersigned receiver at the office of his attorney, Henry W. Sykes, No. 346 Broadway, New York City, on the 25th day of June, 1904, at 10:30 A. M. Separate bids will be received for the two horses, harness, and wagons, and also for all structural eye beams. All bids to be sent in sealed envelopes directed to Henry W. Sykes, indorsed 'Bids for Lawler & Spence property,' and accompanied by a certified check or cash for ten per cent of the amount of the bid. All creditors are requested to attend at the opening of bids, to advise with the receiver as to the acceptance or rejection of any or all bids. The horses may be inspected at Thomas Leherty's stable, 470 East 149th St., New York City, and the other property may be inspected or examined at 1959 Park Av., New York City, on June 23, 1904, between the hours of 10 A. M. and 4 P. M. Notice is further given that in the event that the receiver shall reject bids submitted in accordance with the foregoing the said property will be sold by Clarence Shongood, auctioneer, on the 29th day of June, 1904, at 1,959 Park Av., New York City, at 10:30 A. M. Dated June 15, 1904. Taylor More, Receiver, 115 Broadway, Borough of Manhattan, New York City. Henry W. Sykes, Attorney for Receiver, 346 Broadway, New York City, N. Y."

Peter Campbell Spence (1869-1939) was a civil engineer with a degree from New York University. In 1921 Building Supply News reported on a later career move, "A recent announcement bears the news that Mr. Peter C. Spence has just been appointed manager of the Construction Department of the National Lime Association, Washington, D. C. ... Mr. Spence is a graduate of New York University in science and civil engineering and also qualified as a mechanical engineer."

Meanwhile, in 1904 Hugh J. Lawler reopened the foundry at Park Ave. & 132nd St. as the Lenox Iron Works. Trow's 1908 Copartnership Directory listed Edward J. Lawler and Hugh J. Lawler as officers in the new company. Edward J. Lawler was Hugh J. Lawler's brother. His involvement with the company seems to have been brief. Later officers at the Lenox Iron Works were Louis Diedrich Winkelman (1876-1965) and Christopher Columbus Keenan (1873-1940).

Christopher C. Keenan received the following obituary notice in the New York Herald Tribune, 3 April 1940, pg. 18, "Christopher C. Keenan, customs attorney and for the last twenty years supreme president of the Catholic Benevolent Legion, died on Monday night at his home, 860 East 175th Street, the Bronx. He was sixty-five years old. Mr. Keenan, a former Deputy Appraiser of the Port of New York had been active in Democratic politics in the Bronx for many years. In 1925 he was designated candidate for Borough President by the forces supporting Mayor John F. Hylan, but he refused to accept the designation. Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Katherine Keenan; a daughter, Miss Kathleen Keenan; a son, C. McCready Keenan, and two sisters."

The New York Times notice on the same date included a few other details, "Christopher C. Keenan, a former deputy appraiser of the Port of New York, died suddenly on Sunday of a heart attack at his home, 860 East 171st Street, the Bronx. Born in Albany sixty years ago, he had resided in the Bronx since 1900. Mr. Keenan, previously a builder in the Bronx, served as a deputy appraiser during the Presidency of Woodrow Wilson. His widow, Mrs. Katharine McNab Keenan; a son, Charles McC. Keenan, and a daughter, Kathleen Keenan, survive."

In its final years the Lenox Iron Works moved from 1959 Park Ave. to the South Bronx at 232 Rider Ave. They were in business at this address approximately 1913 to 1914.

According to 627 West End Ave. was designed by the well-known architect, Clarence True (1860-1928), and built in 1899.

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