Pricey Brooklyn Heights rowhouse, just sold, once was home of banking pioneer

Wells was a founder of AmEx and Wells Fargo

July 6, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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A 19th century Brooklyn Heights townhouse that topped Brooklyn’s luxury market when it sold last week, asking $6.6 million, was once owned by a banking pioneer who helped found both Wells Fargo and American Express, published reports say.

The house is 158 Clinton St., between State Street and Aitken Place, and it was built in 1847 or 1848.

Henry Wells, born in 1805, was the seventh generation of his family in America. He became a freight agent on the Erie Canal, then started his own express business. In 1844, he, William Fargo and several others formed a company known as Western Express. He then founded another company called Wells, Butterfield and Co. The two firms merged into American Express.

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Then, when several other directors of American Express objected to Wells’ plan to extend the company west to then-booming California, Wells, William Fargo and others in 1852 founded a second company — Wells Fargo.

About the house, The Real Deal, an authoritative real estate publication, wrote, “Much of the 4,200-square-foot home’s original detail has been preserved, including an etching of Wells’ name he scratched into a third-floor window in 1861.”

The house has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, 12-foot ceilings, a wood-burning fireplace, an oval staircase, built-in cabinetry, a separate garden apartment and more, according to both The Real Deal and 6sqft.  The building’s mechanical systems are in an unfinished basement.


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