A while back at a John Sloan show at the Westmoreland Museum of Art in Greensburg, I noticed a tall brick Victorian tower in one of the paintings. I had been to “The Village” many times yet hadn’t noticed this building. I wondered if it had been taken down, but somehow I had the sense it was still there.
This morning I was far away from New York in the days of the Ashcan School, having first visited the Thomas Hope show at BARD Graduate Center and then off to the New York Historical Society for a tour of some objects in the visible storage. On the way back it was early enough for the Village to be a stop. Only minutes before I had mentioned the building as seen in the Sloan painting and leaving the A train at Washington Square, there it was. As luck would have it, it’s a library and so inside and up a winding staircase we went.
I’m not sure if Sloan ever went up those stairs, but chances are he had. I do recall that he and other artists would sometimes climb an interior staircase in the nearby Washington Square Arch when door hiding it was left unlocked.
A while back I wrote a chapter in a book called Literary Trips about Ayn Rand’s life in New York. How many stories there must be.