Maud Stoutenburgh Eliot was one of our original founding members of the Stoutenburgh-Teller Family Association. She wrote the note shown below to President Roosevelt on August 29, 1940 and sent it along with the gift of the old brass knocker from the door of the Blackwell house. The note said “I am sending you this old knocker with my love and great respect. May it ever bring brightness to your door.” It was accompanied also by a short, typed manuscript seen in this image in the background underlying the note. The following was transcribed from that typed page:
Col. Walter Graeme Eliot was for many years connected with the Topographical Bureau of Queens. Chief Engineer, he was appointed by Mayor Gaynor as first Park Commissioner of that borough. He was greatly interested in the preservation of old landmarks. Among others he worked to save the fine old Barclay house, but the Board of Estimate refused to appropriate funds for the preservation of old buildings. A house, the old Blackwell house on the Island, had many years previously been modernized, I am told. The old front door which originally had the brass knocker had been removed and replaced by a new door. Col. Eliot found the discarded door in a junk pile and purchased the knocker from the junk dealer and saw to it that the door was cared for. When the Museum of the City of New York was opened at Gracie House, we lent the knocker to the Museum until it moved to Fifth Avenue when it was returned to me by Mr. Scholle (…1,2,3). The old door had upon it the mark of saber cuts made in the Revolution by the British–an accolade of distinction.
When the Fair came to Flushing, Mr. Madison Blackwell asked me to lend the knocker so it, together with the door, could be exhibited. I did grudgingly say “yes” but when I heard he was not the owner of the door, I suggested that insurance be put upon it. Truth to tell, I felt we owed a civility to the British who were at the Fair at our invitation. The knocker was not exhibited.
Most sincerely your friend,
Maud Stoutenburgh Eliot
520 East 87th Street