In 1899, William Waldorf Astor had two five-story mansions constructed at 723 and 725 Fifth Ave.
In October of that year, Marcus Daly took out a ten-year lease for the property at 725 Fifth Ave. Unfortunately, Daly would not enjoy his Manhattan mansion for long.
In late 1900, Daly developed a severe heart condition. The millionaire consulted three New York physicians who warned him to "forsake active business life." Refusing their advice, he traveled to Bad Nauheim, Germany to take to the restorative baths.
While there, German doctors examined him and told him that death was imminent. He immediately boarded a steamship to take him back to America. Told he could die at any time, he accepted his diagnosis stoically, hoping only that he could stave off death until he could be with his family in his New York City mansion.
However, that was not to be. With his two daughters by his side, he died at a hotel in the Netherlands, uttering his final words, “Only a little while more, only a little while more and then peace.”
Daly’s body was taken to the Fifth Avenue residence. The funeral included a solemn high requiem mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral. He was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn.
Less than two months after Daly's death, the wedding of daughter Margaret was held in the Fifth Avenue mansion. The groom was Henry Carroll Brown, a Baltimore stockbroker and partner in H. C. Brown & Co.
Because the family was still in mourning, the marriage was a simple affair with no attendants other than her sister, Mary, and no ushers. Only the members of the families of the bride and bridegroom were present at the ceremony.
Only five months later, on June 4, another wedding took place in the mansion at which Mary Augusta was married to attorney James W. Gerard. There were about 125 guests at the wedding, which was considered small by society standards because the family was still mourning the death of patriarch Marcus Daly.
After a brief honeymoon, the Gerards moved into the Fifth Avenue house with her mother Margaret and the still-unmarried Harriot and Marcus, Jr.
At the time, extensive repairs were being made to the Gerard family mansion in Gramercy Park. It was thought that after the renovations had been completed, the couple would move into that estate. However, the Gerards would remain at the Fifth Ave. mansion until Margaret moved out.
On February 27, 1906, at one in the morning, a call was placed to the local police headquarters and a whispering female stated, “Burglars are trying to get into the house. Please send someone around at once.” Supposedly, the sergeant on duty exclaimed "Gee whiz! That's Daly, the copper man's widow. Get busy! Notify the East Fifty-first Street Station."
Three officers rushed to the residence on foot, followed shortly by a patrol wagon. Just as the officers were arriving, a carriage pulled up and two women dressed in evening dresses stepped out.
While the butler insisted there must be some kind of mistake, the officers, with raised clubs, brushed past him to search the mansion. They ultimately found nothing and no one in the house could explain the call.
Next week – 725 Fifth Ave and Donald Trump.