I always admit to being a sucker for historical plaques. Recently I was walking through SoHo and found myself on Sullivan Street. As I walked by the below house, I spotted a plaque and had to check it out.
It runs out that Sullivan Street is named after Revolutionary War General John Sullivan. He’s also the source of the names of several counties in a couple of states.
I hadn’t heard of him before. The Wikipedia entry is rather amazing on this guy. He apparently was a tough guy and had as many enemies in the Continental Congress as he did on the British side of the conflict. He was continually blamed for a number of failures and the entry indicates that he took a lot of the flack that would have normally gone to George Washington, except that criticizing him would have risked failure in the war.
He was also tough on his own men and the enemy. There’s a town in NY called “Horseheads” that’s named for the slaughter of pack animals in Sullivan’s army that were pushed to their limit. Rather than leave them behind, he had them killed and their bleached skulls became the namesake of the town.
And he is remembered for a total war against the Iroquois who had sided with the British.
The plaque reads: “116 Sullivan Street – Sullivan Street, named for the Revolutionary War general, John Sullivan, has three surviving Federal Style town houses. This building was erected in 1832 on what was once part of the farm belong to Nicholas Bayard, Peter Stuyvesant’s brother-in-law. It features an elaborate door surrounded with unusual sidelights that are divided by carved wood enframements which simulate cloth sash curtains drawn through a series of rings. New York Lardmarks Preservation Foudation 1989”
After all that, the house and the plaque have nothing to do with John Sullivan. Instead, the plaque notes that the historical item of note is the three surviving federal style buildings that are there. Build in 1832, Sullivan had been long dead at that point.
But, to be honest, I like the story behind John Sullivan more than the details on the plaque.