Wm. Vail, Plumber, 9 E. 13th St., New York, NY, 2012
New York's Great Industries, 1884, described William Vail as follows, "William Vail, Practical Plumber, etc., No. 64 University Place. - As a sanitary measure for the promotion of health, the plumbing trade occupies a position in the front rank of improvements, and has become a necessity in this utilitarian age of progress. A prominent house engaged in this trade is that of Mr. William Vail, who established this enterprise in 1864 ..."
The Memorial Cyclopedia of the Twentieth Century, 1906, described William Vail in the following terms, "Vail, William, prominently connected with business interests in New York City through a long and honorable career, was born in that city, April 2, 1840, son of William and Catherine (Green) Vail. ... His establishment was located for many years at No. 64 University place, subsequently being removed to No. 108 University place, with a branch house at Tuxedo, N. Y. ... He died at his residence, No. 311 West Eighty-third street, New York City, on the 6th of January, 1905. Mr. Vail married Miss Mary Conway, daughter of Patrick Conway, and is survived by three children: William Vail, who married Mary Murphy, and is his father's successor in business; Mary Vail, wife of John Barry, of New York City, and Lillian Vail."
William Vail (1840-1905), can be found in U. S. census reports from 1870 through 1900. In 1870 he was 28 years old, a plumber, born New York. In 1880 he was 39 years old, a gas fitter and plumber, living at 64 1/2 University Place. In 1900 he was recorded a widower, age 62, born May 1838, living with his daughter, Lilian, at 311 W. 83rd St.
The business, William Vail, Plumber, was listed in New York city directories in 1865 and continued until 1915. The original address was 64 University Place. In 1896 64 University Pl. was renumbered 108 University Pl. The business moved to 3 E. 12th St. in 1913 before going out of business two years later.
In July, 1904, the journal, Domestic Engineering, reported, "William Vail, of 108 University place, is kept more than busy these days with the plumbing for the new Tiffany building at Thrity-seventh street and Fifth avenue, which will amount to about $32,000." This was the McKim, Mead & White Tiffany building constructed 1903-06.
In 1910 William Vail, Inc. was the plumbing contractor on the Gunther Building, 391-393 5th Ave., which adjoined the Tiffany building between 36th and 37th Sts. (also a McKim, Mead & White design). Also reported by Architects' and Builders' Magazine, 1910, was the Saint Faith's House, Deaconesses' Home, West 110th St. (La Farge & Morris, architects). Another distinctive building with Vail plumbing was the Hotel Bossert, 98 Montague St., Brooklyn, N. Y. (Helme & Hubert, 1908-13).
This ad for Willaim Vail, Practical Plumber & Gas Fitter, appeared in Trow's New York City Directory for 1876.
Almost identical is this one from 1890. Only the type face has changed.
A similar ad appeared in The New York City Record and Building Trades Directory, 1892, reading,
Copyright (c) 2013 Walter Grutchfield