Charles Henri Ford died in 2002. He was survived by his elder sister, actress Ruth Ford, who died in 2009. Upon her death, Ruth Ford left the apartments she owned in the historic Dakota Building on the Upper West Side to Indra Tamang, Charles Henri Ford’s caretaker, along with a valuable Russian surrealist art collection, making him a millionaire.
Address: 1 W 72nd St, New York, NY 10023, USA (40.77652, -73.97614)
Type: Private Property
Phone: +1 212-362-1448
National Register of Historic Places: 72000869, 1972 Also National Historic Landmarks.
Built between 1880 and 1884, Design by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh (1847-1918)
The Dakota (also known as Dakota Apartments) is a cooperative apartment building located on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. It is famous as the home of former Beatle John Lennon from 1973 to 1980, as well as the location of his murder. The Dakota is considered to be one of Manhattan’s most prestigious and exclusive cooperative residential buildings, with apartments generally selling for between $4 million and $30 million. Henry Janeway Hardenbergh was commissioned to create the design for Edward Clark, head of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. The firm also designed the Plaza Hotel. The Dakota was purportedly so named because at the time of construction, the Upper West Side was sparsely inhabited and considered as remote in relation to the inhabited area of Manhattan as the Dakota Territory was. However, the earliest recorded appearance of this account is in a 1933 newspaper interview with the Dakota’s long-time manager, quoted in Christopher Gray’s book “New York Streetscapes”: "Probably it was called “Dakota” because it was so far west and so far north.” According to Gray, it is more likely that the building was named the Dakota because of Clark’s fondness for the names of the new western states and territories. Beginning in 2013, the Dakota’s facade was being renovated. In the 1970s, the co-op board refused to admit playwright Mart Crowley, who wrote "The Boys in the Band," apparently because Crowley was an out gay man.
Notable queer residents at The Dakota Building:
• Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist. Arthur Laurents (Bernstein’s collaborator in “West Side Story”) said that Bernstein was "a gay man who got married. He wasn’t conflicted about it at all. He was just gay."
• Bob Crewe (1930-2014), songwriter, record producer, artist. Crewe was portrayed as "overtly gay" in "Jersey Boys,” but his brother Dan told The New York Times he was discreet about his sexuality, particularly during the time he was working with the Four Seasons. "Whenever he met someone, he would go into what I always called his John Wayne mode, this extreme machoism."
• Charles Henri Ford (1908–2002), poet, novelist, filmmaker, photographer, and collage artist best known for his editorship of the Surrealist magazine View (1940–1947) in New York City, and as the partner of the artist Pavel Tchelitchew. Ford is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery (Brookhaven, MS 39601).
• Judy Garland (1922-1969), actress. Garland had a large fan base in the gay community and became a gay icon. Reasons given for her standing, especially among gay men, are admiration of her ability as a performer, the way her personal struggles mirrored those of gay men in America during the height of her fame and her value as a camp figure. In the 1960s, a reporter asked how she felt about having a large gay following. She replied, "I couldn’t care less. I sing to people."
• Judy Holliday (1921-1965), actress, comedian, and singer, she was a resident of the Dakota for many years. She inhabited apartment #77 until her death from breast cancer at age 43 on June 7, 1965. She is interred in the Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.
• William Inge (1913-1973), playwright and novelist, whose works typically feature solitary protagonists encumbered with strained sexual relations. “The Last Pad” is one of three of Inge’s plays that either have openly gay characters or address homosexuality directly. “The Boy in the Basement,” a one-act play written in the early 1950s, but not published until 1962, is his only play that addresses homosexuality overtly, while Archie in “The Last Pad” and Pinky in “Where’s Daddy?” (1966) are gay characters. Inge himself was closeted. Inge is buried at Mt Hope Cemetery (Independence, KS 67301).
• Carson McCullers (1917-1967), novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist, and poet. Among her friends were W. H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, Gypsy Rose Lee and the writer couple Paul Bowles and Jane Bowles. After WWII McCullers lived mostly in Paris. Her close friends during these years included Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams.
• Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993), dancer. Depending on the source, Nureyev is described as either bisexual as he did have heterosexual relationships as a younger man, or gay. Nureyev met Erik Bruhn, the celebrated Danish dancer, after Nureyev defected to the West in 1961. Bruhn and Nureyev became a couple and the two remained together off and on, with a very volatile relationship for 25 years, until Bruhn’s death in 1986. Nureyev’s grave is at a Russian cemetery in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois near Paris.
Who: Alfred Corning Clark (November 14, 1844 – April 8, 1896) and Lorentz Severin Skougaard (March 10, 1887 – January 18, 1965)
Alfred Corning Clark (November 14, 1844 – April 8, 1896) was an American heir and philanthropist. His father, Edward Cabot Clark (1811–1882) was an American businessman and lawyer, founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, along with his business partner Isaac Merritt Singer. Together, they began investing in real estate in the 1870s. They built The Dakota. Determined to escape from his family Alfred Corning Clark went abroad and studied the piano in Milan. He confessed later to an intimate companion, that away from home he felt free “to worship at the shrine of friendship.” Among these friends, all male, was Lorentz Severin Skougaard, a young Norwegian tenor whom he met in Paris. It became an all-consuming relationship that lasted until Lorentz’s death nineteen years later. Although Alfred did the right thing by marrying and siring four sons, he did not give up the private half of his life. Summers he sent his family to the country— to a large farm he owned in Cooperstown, New York, his mother’s birthplace. While they enjoyed the fresh air, he continued his travels in Europe: France, Italy, and Norway, this time with Lorentz. And becoming bolder after his father’s death, he bought Lorentz a house in New York almost next door to the house where he lived with his wife and children. When Lorentz died he commissioned a marble memorial from George Grey Barnard, a handsome young indigent American sculptor he picked up in Paris. Brotherly Love is a highly erotic work showing two muscular athletic naked men with broad shoulders, triangular torsos, perfect buttocks, and powerful legs, groping toward each other: a perfect metaphor for Alfred and Lorentz and their love. After Alfred’s death Barnard, now rich, famous, and the toast of New York and Paris, thanks to his patron’s munificence, helped Alfred’s sons Sterling and Stephen Clark build their collections of art, now the glory of three museums: the Metropolitan and the Modern in New York, and the Sterling and Francine Clark in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Queer Places, Vol. 1 edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: July 24, 2016
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