he Queens were housed in
one of the West 87th Street's
lingering brownstones, a relic of late Victorian
Times.1 A brownstone is a red or brown-colored type of sandstone, found in the Connecticut River Valley and central New Jersey.
Since it was so plentiful around New York, it was a popular building material for middle-class townhomes in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The choice of coming to live there was largely due to the
powerful influence of son upon father. They lived three high on the top floor of the
sprawling old mansion. "You walked up the heavily
carpeted stairs through seemingly endless halls of dismal rectitude."1
It appeared a dreary place1
until you reached their huge time-softened oak door labeled
"The Queens". A motto lettered neatly and
In The Last Man Club
(1941), a story based on
one of the early radio plays, we hear Ellery state a house number: "Ellery
212-A West Eighty-Seventh Street". Most likely,
because of the
all too obvious (dare we say logical) reference to the world famous
Baker Street address this little piece of information is not repeated in
the bulk of the Queen stories. But it's occurrence here does remain a fact.
Once passed this door one would be overwhelmed by the odor
redolent of old leather and masculinity. There was a small, narrow "Gothic" anteroom
or foyer which was so small and so narrow that it appeared
In it hung a tapestry,
depicting the chase1, which
was a gift
of the Duke of - in return for the Inspector's discrete services
(saving his son from a noisome scandal1).
Both detested it heartily1
but it was Ellery's will
which prevented the Inspector from consigning it, period furniture and all, to the auction
rooms. "Beneath the tapestry stood a heavy mission
table, displaying a parchment lamp and a pair of bronze bookends bounding a
three-volume set of the Arabian Nights' Entertainment. Two mission chairs an
a small rug completed the foyer. When you walked through this oppressive
place, always gloomy and almost always hideous, you were ready for anything
except the perfect cheeriness of the large room beyond..."1
The Living Room
Three walls were hidden by books
up to the paneled, oak-ribbed ceiling. Ellery's collection of books of
violence and the Inspector's precious snuff-box
contrasted with the jolly living-room and library. The fourth wall had a huge natural fireplace with a
solid oak beam as a mantel and curious
gleaming old ironwork. Above
the fireplace were the swords crossed martially above,
a gift from the old fencing master with whom Richard had lived
in Nuremberg during his studies in Germany. Old lamps, brassware, massive furniture,
a pipe rack1...Chairs,
divans, footstools, leather cushions, ash stands. There was a excellent
portrait of father and son done by
even ate breakfast around the old walnut table and the Inspector had a favorite
armchair. There was a telephone on a night-table. Beside the living-room window
"a creaky, cranky old machine" stood where Ellery did his
In Challenge to the Reader
(1940) JJ McC described one room of the
Queen apartment - the largest room - for private use with a armchair before
the fire. They left no room for the hanging of the customary English hunting
prints and the mounting of sad-eyed deer's heads, since every inch of the
available wallspace from floor to ceiling was lined with shelves. Mr. Queen
had gathered about him the most complete library of crime literature and
detective fiction in the world. Scotch was always at hand.
And beyond ...
Off the living-room were the bedrooms for each of the Queens and a small
room for Djuna. The kitchenette was considered Djuna's territory. In some of the later
works we find a study behind Ellery's bedroom. In which
an extension to the telephone was kept. Since, at this moment in
time, the Queen household
didn't use the services rendered by Djuna we suspect it to be Djuna's old
room. On the table beside his bed he keeps a brass ashtray (King is Dead).
Cat of Many Tails mentions an ongoing dispute
with the landlord about the "lunar topography" of Ellery's study's ceiling.
During their stay in Italy (JJMcC)West
87th Street remained a semi-private museum of curios collected during their
Ellery's Duesenberg was serviced in a
garage situated in West 87th street.
On New York's West 87th Street in a store-front carved out of a parking garage, with floor
space the size of three parking spaces. Dilys Winn, a New York writer and mystery fan, who
got tired of patronizing looks from general bookstore clerks and fellow customers, founded
Murder Ink, the world's first mysteries-only public bookshop, in 1972. Today, there are
dozens around the world.
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