Today as I walked by this building (it’s, literally, right around the corner from my mine) I was reminded of someone telling me once that Houdini lived there. As it turns out, that’s not true…but it is an unusual little house placed in a very peculiar spot in between buildings. Here’s a little bit about it:
One of the urban legends about Inwood is that the great early-20th century illusionist Harry Houdini once lived in a small Victorian-looking building. This mysterious two-story dwelling is built on a slant near the most provocatively-named street corner in Inwood (Seaman Avenue and Cumming Street).
In reality, Houdini’s wife Bess (1876-1943) bought the house in Inwood after his death. She lived there during the last ten years of her life in the 1930’s and ‘40’s.
After her husband’s notorious death in 1926 having shared 32 years of marriage, Bess was left alone for the first time in her life and she planned to honor her husband’s request to attempt contact with him. She announced that she was waiting for a secret message from her husband and offered $10,000 to any medium who could deliver a true message from Houdini. Hundreds responded. In 1928 medium Arthur Ford announced that he had a message for Bess from Houdini’s mother which consisted of a single word; ‘forgive.’ Bess claimed that Ford’s message was the first that she had received which “…had any appearance of the truth.” Bess continued to hold séances, but the last official Houdini séance was on Halloween night 1936, on the tenth anniversary of her husband’s death. It, too, was unsuccessful and Bess announced “Houdini did not come through. My last hope is gone. I do not believe that Houdini can come back to me - or to anyone….It is finished. Good night, Harry!”
I think I might just say, “Good night, Harry!,” every time I pass by now.