The West 42nd Street Coterie was a bohemian group that often gathered at Ada Clare’s home. Clare, the “queen” of the Bohemian circle at Pfaff’s, played a pivotal role in maintaining the Bohemian society during this time. She provided a congenial atmosphere for the Pfaffians during her Sunday night receptions: “Ada Clare was magnetic in addition to her mental brightness and store of maternal treasures inherited from her family, and with her wealth and beauty she attracted the higher grades of men and women” (Rawson 103). Rose Eytinge recalls that “there, of a Sunday evening, could be found a group of men and women, all of whom had distinguished themselves in various avenues,--in literature, art, music, drama, war, philanthropy. The women were beautiful and brilliant, the men clever and distinguished” (21). Many members of the coterie may also have been frequenters of Pfaff’s, such as: Stephen Pearl Andrews, Anna Ballard, Joel Benton, Myron Benton, Albert Brisbane, Charles Elliott, William Fry, Benjamin Masset, Christopher Oscanyan, Dr. Edward Ruggles, Charles Seymour, and Mary Freeman Goldbeck.
Eytinge mentions the gatherings at Ada Clare's house and identifies many of the members of this Bohemian group. She writes that at Clare's house on West 42nd Street "of a Sunday evening, could be found a group of men and women, all of whom had distinguished themselves in various avenues, — in literature, art, music, drama, war, philanthropy. The women were beautiful and and brilliant, the men clever and distinguished" (21).
She goes on to remember about this group that "of those who live in my memory are John Clancey, owner and editor of the "Leader," then a popular weekly paper; Stephen Fiske; William Winter and his wife, Lizzie Campbell, — then boy and girl, bridegroom and bride; Peter B. Sweeney; Mary Freeman Goldbeck; Fanny Brown; Walt Whitman; Henry Clapp; William Stuart; Ed H. House; and many others" (21-2).
She characterizes these unique gatherings and Ada Clare's role in them by explaining, "This was Bohemia, and our fairy-like, beautiful young hostess was its queen. A veritable queen she was, receiving from her subjects their love and loyalty, which she won by her quiet sincere and unpretentious, unconscious dignity, and drawing from each member of her court, by her gracious presence, all that was best in them of brilliancy, kindliness, courtesy, and wit" (22).[pages:21-22]
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015