Graham House 22 East 89th Street New York. When Scottish-born Charles Graham arrived in New York in 1851 he did what he knew best stair building. Fourteen years later he organized the firm of Charles Graham & Co., which not only continued building stairs, but entire buildings. Later the Evening World would say that “he was identified with the building of the metropolis, and “was largely instrumental in the building up of Upper Madison Avenue.” Graham was a staunch opponent of slavery and during the Civil War he was in charge of “a New York station of the ‘underground railway,’” according to The Sun. He was a close friend of Horace Greeley and abolitionist Wendell Phillips and wrote several anti-slavery articles for The Tribune.
Graham had four sons and his heart was broken when son Samuel disappeared in 1869. Two of the other boys learned the building and real estate trade with Thomas becoming an accomplished architect as well. In the 1880s Graham took sons John and Thomas into the firm with him, renaming it C. Graham & Sons.From their office at 305 East 43rd Street the Grahams feverishly designed and built homes in the developing Upper East Side, ranging in price from $20,000 to $100,000. The successful builders even operated their own sash and blind factory. Then in September 1890 Thomas struck out on his own.
Starting out with $15,000 in cash, Thomas Graham aggressively built homes; but he had a grander idea as well. By now the concept of exclusive residential hotels had taken hold in New York. Wealthy residents who would rather not be inconvenienced by the upkeep of a private home and maintaining a staff of servants could permanently enjoy independence and luxury of a hotel.Thomas Graham noticed that there were no residence hotels on the east side of Central Park.
He purchased land on the corner of Madison Avenue and 89th Street for $38,500 and set about designing the Graham Hotel and Apartment House.