Remsen House, Owned and Operated by “The Remarkable Colored Woman,” Elizabeth Gloucester

1 Posted by - June 10, 2018 - BLACK BUSINESS, BLACK WOMEN

The Remsen House was considered an upscale boarding location which was located in Brooklyn Heights, New York. It was on the corner of Remsen and Clinton Streets which is now called Brooklyn. It also was formerly called The Hamilton Club after the Revolutionary War Leader and first U.S Secretary Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.

At first the Hamilton Club was exclusively available to men. The men were of elite status and would gather to discuss politics, eat and drink. By the 1860’s the members had grown and the building could no longer accommodate them. So, they moved the club, but the building was sold to African-American entrepreneur, Elizabeth Gloucester, and her husband the Rev. James Gloucester.

The Gloucester purchase the building with $150,000, money they had from selling property which they owned in Manhattan.  The building was opened in 1878 after reconstructing the building into a boarding house under the name Remsen House. The boarding house was Elizabeth’s main source of income, however she often held meetings for the Freedman’s Friend Society, Ladies National Union Fair, and Union Soldier Association. She also would host the stay of her good friend Fredrick Douglass, when he was in town. Although, Elizabeth allowed these meetings to take place, she did not let it interfere with her main business.

There were white people who frequented Remsen House on a regular basis as well. People such as Henry Ward Beecher and his sister, Harriet Beecher held meetings at the property as well. Elizabeth died in 1883, her property was worth about $300,000 which today is about 7 million dollars. Her property was divided among her husband and children. The newspapers from all over the world reported that Elizabeth Gloucester was “the remarkable colored woman.”  It was said that she was the richest woman of her race during that time.  The property stayed open for a few years after her death, however, it was eventually sold by to the Hamilton Club, and was later demolished in 1936.

Source: Remsen House



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