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The COS surprises keep rolling in: first, the news that the minimalist H&M-owned brand was landing in the States, then the reveal of the store's Soho address, and now an interesting tidbit about that address. A 2011 article in the Wall Street Journal tells the tale of 129 Spring Street—formerly the Manhattan Bistro, soon to be America's first COS store—and the 18th-century murder that has haunted the venue since.
The story begins December 22, 1799 when a young woman, Gulielma Elmore Sands, leaves her Greenwich Street boarding home to elope with follow boarder, Levi Weeks. All bundled up, Gulielma headed out to meet her secret lover, never to be seen again. Eleven days later, her body was found with marks on her neck, suggesting she had been strangled. Her corpse was discovered at the bottom of a well in Lispenard's Meadow, which is now Spring Street.
Her lover Levi was suspected of impregnating her and then killing the girl. The story bubbled in the press, being called The Manhattan Well Murder. Levi was arrested and tried in the first murder trial in American history to be fully documented by a court stenographer. While the public viewed him as guilty, Levi's incredibly badass defense team included Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr (!!!) and he was ultimately acquitted. Weeks flew the city after the verdict, Casey Anthony-style.
129 Spring Street was built in 1817, just south of the murder well. In 1980, the building's owner decided to excavate and did, in fact, uncover a seven-foot tall well. The address has since been named one of Travel Channel's 10 most haunted places in America.
· In SoHo, a Historied Haunt [WSJ]
· A Primer on COS, Opening in Soho Next Spring [Racked NY]
· Bombshell: H&M's COS Is Coming to NYC! Specifically, Soho! [Racked NY]