8. The James A. and Ruth M. Bailey House was built for the cofounder of Barnum & Bailey Circus
The James A. and Ruth M. Bailey House is a limestone mansion on St. Nicholas Place and West 150th Street. It was designed for James A. Bailey of Barnum & Bailey Circus and was built from 1886 to 1888. The Romanesque Revival home was designed by Samuel B. Reed, who designed homes, churches, and other buildings across upstate New York, New York City, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Bailey lived at the home nearly two decades after starting the circus in 1871. At the time, the home had a direct view of the Long Island Sound to the east since it was one of the only buildings at the time.
Currently located on the National Register of Historic Places, the home is one of the oldest and most ornate structures in Sugar Hill. Henry Belcher, a cousin of Louis Comfort Tiffany, designed the home’s stained glass mosaic windows, and the home includes a corner tower with a conical cap and Flemish-style gables. The interior includes many types of wood, including oak in the entrance hall, black walnut in the office, and sycamore in the library. Bailey and his family lived at the Harlem home for about a decade before moving permanently to the family estate in Mount Vernon. The home served as a nursing home after it was bought in 1951 by Marguerite Blake. Some residents say that the home is haunted to this day.