Harry Houdini's Harlem Home is on the market for $4.6million- People love to drive by the house on my Harlem Tours- 278 West 113th Street

Legendary magician Harry Houdini’s Harlem brownstone is on the market for $4.6million. The address is 278 West 113th Street…built 1904 and measures 4,600 square feet. He bought the 4-story home in 1907 for the princely sum of $25,000 and lived there with his wife Bess until his death in 1928. It was said to be the grandest house that any magician has ever owned. It was the site where he would develop some of his greatest illusions. When he moved in, he did everything he could to turn the place into the ultimate "magician's lair."
The home has since been divided into three individual apartments, but could be re-combined into a single-family home. Houdini (born 1874 in Budapest as Ehrich Weisz) lived here with his wife Bess and mother Cecilia Weiss and immigrated from Hungary at the age of 13 with his parents.
Houdini employed a librarian to manage his huge collection of books on magic and mysticism…the main floor parlor was called “the trophy room” and was the jewel of the house. The tin ceiling was painted black and he installed secret doors and rooms in the house. He used "eerie" lighting to enhance the mystical decor. The house has a rear garden and there is a huge flower planter which is said to be the over-sized bathtub Houdini used to hold his breath under water for his famous escape trick. After his Mother’s death he didn’t like staying in the house and was perpetually on tour with his magic act. It was always said that he actually had “the gift” of predicting the future. In 1926, he found himself in Manhattan one day on a short break from his perpetual touring schedule and Houdini called fellow magician Joseph Dunninger and asked him to drive him on some errands. As related in “The Secret Life of Houdini”, it was raining hard and Houdini asked that they double back to his townhouse. Dunninger complied and upon arriving, Houdini stepped out into the downpour, stared at the building and began crying.
Back in the car, he said, “I’ve seen my house for the last time Joe.”
A few months later, in October 1926, backstage at the Princess Theatre in Montreal, a student from nearby McGill University wanted to test Houdini’s “strong as steel” abdominal muscles. Before Houdini was prepared to take the blows, the student sucker-punched him multiple times. This resulted in a ruptured appendix and Houdini died soon after of peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdomen’s lining.
Bess sold the house the following year and disposed of her husband’s effects. Books went to the Library of Congress, love letters from various women were returned to their senders and many of Houdini’s trick handcuffs and other objects from his famous illusions were given to other magicians and the junkman. A friend and fellow magician said that the famous magician would be “rolling over in his grave” if he knew.


n  From Michael Kaplan’s piece


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