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William Colgate

William Colgate

211 Pearl St. belonged to William Colgate, the founder of Colgate-Palmolive. A devout Baptist, Mr. Colgate was a founder of the American Bible Society and Colgate University, a leader in the city's volunteer fire department, active in The Society of Mechanics and Tradesman and also lead a rally in support of religious liberty. In the 1830's, he was offered the nomination for Mayor of New York (which he declined). 211 Pearl St. was the highest valued of the soap maker's real estate holdings and one of two (among approx. twenty properties) that he willed to his six children in equal part, with the stipulation that it be held for at least fifteen years.

Although the property is not believed to have been part of Colgate & Co., he did lease space to prominent merchants and civic leaders of the era. These included Seth Low, a founder of Brooklyn, father of the shipping merchant A.A. Low and grandfather of Seth Low II, a mayor of New York and president of Columbia University; and Joshua Scholefield, who was a Brittish Member of Parliament and instrumental in bringing modern democracy to England in the 1830's.

There is currently no evidence that Mr. Colgate or a family member belonged to a Masonic lodge in New York. His wife, Mary Colgate, was a trained artist who had traveled to England as a young woman. Robert Colgate, Samuel Colgate and James B. Colgate, were also active in religious and civic institutions, helping to found the Museum of Natural History and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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