Saturday, December 4, 2010

Grand Central Station and The Campbell Apartment. Once the impressive office of John W. Campbell

Grand Central Station in New York City has always been one of my favorite places. Perhaps because it was the first place I saw in New York as a very, very, young sailor in World War II. The size of the building with its great open space and that wonderful clock in the middle was overwhelming for a kid from Oklahoma who had never been any place. At that time the Campbell Apartment was a storage room where security police stored their guns.

I have returned numerous times and I always visit Grand Central Station. The most poignant visit was a few days after 9/11 and they had turned Vanderbilt Hall into a memorial for the dead and missing. Thousands of letters, notes, pictures and flowers adorned the walls of that great Hall. The Campbell Apartment was open by this time.

The Campbell Apartment is an upscale bar tucked away in the south-west corner of Grand Central Station. It is a single room 60.x 30 with a 25-foot ceiling. There is a massive fireplace at one end which contains a steel safe.

Once, the entire floor was covered with a Persian carpet worth 3.5 million. There was also a pipe organ and a fine piano. The tables and chairs were 13th century Italian. There were flowering vases, fine statuary, rare books, petrified wood and uncut precious stones. An art collection worth a million dollars adorned the walls. It was the actual office of Mr. Campbell.

In 1920, at the age of 40, “he married the former Rosalind D. Casanave, nicknamed Princess, who was once listed in the New York times as a ‘patroness’ of a Monte Carlo party at the Westchester Country Club.” Mr. & Mrs. Campbell turned the office into a reception hall at night and there entertained 50-60 of their closest friends They actually lived a few blocks away at 270 Park Avenue. The office contained a pantry and kitchen with a permanent butler named Stackhouse.

Who was John W. Campbell? The man who conducted business during the day behind a massive desk never attended college. At the age of 18, he started working with his father who owned a business called the Credit Clearing House. We know the company today as Dun & Bradstreet. He must have been a Scot with a name like Campbell, but I do not know that for sure. Perhaps someone can help with this.

The bar is presently owned by Mark C. Grossich but no one knows what happened to all the valuable possessions that once resided in the Campbell Apartment. John W. Campbell died in 1957.

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