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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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The monsignor and I sat talking for awhile. I liked him more and more. He was a wonderful man. About fifteen minutes later the phone rang and they told him that Joe Kennedy was playing golf at Palm Beach. He said blithely, “Get him off the golf links.” My eyes were popping. About fifteen minutes later Kennedy called up from Palm Beach: “What's the matter? What's going on?" This monsignor, who I had just met for the first time, said, “One of our good young friends is in trouble and needs a building, and we want you to give him that building across the street from the Cathedral for what you paid for it.” Well, we could hear Joe Kennedy fuming over the other end of the phone. He didn't think that this was a good idea at all.

It turns out that this north wing had been owned by the Fahnstock family.


You mean the stock brokers?


Yes. The stock brokers.

The entire building had been built by Henry Villard, the father of Henry Garrison Villard, in 1888. It was intended for the whole family. He built these four wings. At that time, it was almost in the country. Just before it was finished, Villard was wiped out in one of those Wall Street panics and so the Villards never occupied the structure. He had to sell the whole thing. It was sold to four different families. The Reids bought the south wing.

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