A St. Bernard named Rex Moore has been gracing the entrance to 2500 University Avenue in the Fordham Manor neighborhood of the Bronx since 1922.
Ever since the Manhattan apartment boom of the late 1800s, New York City architects and builders have been assigning names to apartment buildings. Many apartment names reflect their surroundings or neighborhoods, while others, such as The Dakota, were inspired by favorite places. The Rex Moore, a five-story brick apartment building on the southeast corner of University Avenue and West 190th Street in the Fordham Manor neighborhood of the Bronx, may be the only apartment building in New York City named for a dog (but let us know if you know of others!)
According to Elizabeth Hawes, the author of New York, New York: How the Apartment House Transformed the Life of the City (1869-1930) building names in Old New York added respectability to what was considered a radical new way of city living. After all, it wasn’t so bad if you didn’t have a mansion if you were living at the Eldorado or San Remo – or the Rex Moore.
University Avenue takes its name from the hill on which New York University’s Bronx campus was built in the 1890s (today’s Bronx Community College). Once occupied by farms, mansions, and detached single-family homes, University Heights and its neighboring Fordham Manor rapidly developed into an urban community of low-rise apartment buildings when the IRT Jerome Avenue Line began shuttle service between 149th Street and Kingsbridge Road in 1917.
Several mansions and single-family homes were still standing on University Avenue when this photo was taken just north of Burnside Avenue in 1914. Photo via the Museum of the City of New York.
One of the men responsible for developing this section of the West Bronx was William M. Moore, a millionaire real estate developer and builder who constructed numerous five- and six-story brick walk-up apartments along University Avenue from West 190th Street to Kingsbridge Avenue.
Although he specialized in brick walk-ups, William Moore lived with his family in a frame house at 2508 University Avenue. The frame house and stable, as well as the Rex Moore and Dan Moore (at 192nd Street), are shown on this G.W. Bromley 1923 map. Thanks to this article, the great grand daughter of William Moore, Pamela Pearce contacted us and shared with us the above photograph.
It’s not clear how William Moore got his start in real estate, but one of his first recorded transactions was in 1909, when he purchased several vacant lots on West 139th Street in the Hamilton Heights section of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. William constructed two six-story elevator apartments at 508-516 and 518-524 West 134th Street, and named these buildings the MarthMoore (for his second wife, Martha Elizabeth Hentz) and the BillMoore.
Over the years, William Moore constructed numerous apartment buildings in the Bronx, including the LouMoore (1914) and DanMoore (1918) — named after his daughter (Louise) and son — at 2512 and 2600 University Avenue, the BillZan apartments at 2725 Webb Avenue and 2719 Sedgwick Avenue (1925), 2714-2734 University Avenue, 104 West 190th (1915), and 111 and 115 West 190th Street (now a parking lot), to name a few.
Today, Rex Moore is also still standing guard over the decorative fireplace in the lobby of 2500 University Avenue.
Although his St. Bernard died in 1919, most of William Moore’s apartments, including the Rex Moore, are still providing housing for Bronx residents today.
Rex Moore was buried at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery (Westchester County, New York) in 1919.
For another look at the architecture on University Avenue, check out The Elegant Houses Built by the Bronx’s Millionaire Cop and 10 Pre-War Apartment House Gems of the South Bronx. Get in touch with the author @HatchingCatNYC