Samuel Cocks, grocer, builder of Grove Court

Grove Court

One of my favorite places to show visitors to NYC is tiny beautiful Grove Court. First laid out in 1848, Grove Court is set off of Grove Street between Bedford and Hudson Streets in the West Village.  It is entered through an iron gate and its garden is decorated for every season.

In 1848, the merchant Samuel Stryker, who had been leasing the land from Trinity Church, sold to Samuel Cocks the backyards of numbers 6 and 8 Grove Street along with all of number 10.

Cocks was a partner in the law firm of Cocks & Brown, located nearby at 18 Grove Street.  At the time of the transaction, Cocks already owned a small strip of land to the East of 10 Grove Street, providing for the perfect passageway to his newly acquired lot.  According to the designation report for the Greenwich Village Historic District, “The present six connected houses on the rear of this lot were built for Cocks and finished in 1854;  It was not until 1921, when the lot was subdivided by Alentaur Realty and the six houses sold and altered individually, that Grove Court took on its present delightful appearance and name.”

Mr. Cocks left law practice and became a grocer in the area. The three-story Federal houses  were for the working class.  Mr. Cocks felt that by populating this enclave with working class people he would be guaranteed patronage of his store.  The alley was first known as “Pig’s Alley” or “Mixed Ale Alley,” a reference to the drinking habits of those living there.

It wasn’t until the 1920s that the homes were converted to 2 family homes and “spruced up” that the area began to change. The hope was that it would become an artists homestead. Instead, it became an enclave of single women who were teachers, office workers and widows.

Mr. Cocks could never have imagined the homes he built for tradesmen and laborers becoming some of the most sought after property in the West Village with one selling for $4.2million.

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Cherie

NYC tour guide -- licensed and starred with Dept of Commerce

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