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The story has it that the houses were built by a sea captain who had two feuding daughters.
The daughters wouldn’t speak to each other, so he built identical houses for them with the shared garden, hoping they would get along again.
Who doesn’t want to believe a story like that? Unfortunately, no evidence supports it.
A New Jersey milkman named Jacob Huyler is credited with building the twin houses, which originally stood only two stories high.
“Huyler never lived in New York, but he did not sell the buildings—he held them for rental,” wrote Christopher Gray in the New York Times in 1996. One of those renters was listed at the time as a captain.
By the end of the 19th century, the mansard roofs and a third floor were added, and both homes were carved up into rooming houses for artists and working-class residents.
Today in a pricier Greenwich Village, the houses are single-family residences again. They retain their 19th century loveliness, and strollers often stop and stare.
These twin beauties are emblems of a much different New York, when a legend about a sea captain using real estate to help bring two sisters together doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to believe.
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