Margaret (Maggie) Walsh Petersen

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Joseph Walsh

Photos of the children of Joseph Walsh and Maggie Langan


June 12, 1899, New York City


Margaret married Louis Petersen circa 1942.

Peggie Goehle Edgar told me in November 2005 that Margaret lived with Lou for at least 20 plus years before they married. They did not marry until after his mother had died.


She worked as a secretary for several brokerage houses.

She became a minor New York celebrity in the mid 1960's for her fight to preserve "Historic Old New York" and prevent her little house at 16 Moore Street, which dated from before 1732, from being demolished to build new office buildings.


Margaret and Lou had no children.

Death of Margaret Walsh Petersen

July 1982.

The Social Security Death Index indicates that Margaret Petersen, born 12 June 1899, died July 1982 SSN 091-03-7803, issued in New York. Death Residence Localities: 10463, Bronx, Fieldston, Kingsbridge, and Spuyten Duyvil (all in the Bronx)

More on Louis W Petersen

Louis (Lou) Peterson was born to Mary E ___ and __ Petersen on July 3, 1897

Julius Petersen and Mary E _________

Birth: circa 1869 New York

Marriage: Mary E ______ born circa 1872, New Jersey


  1. Francis X Petermann

    Birth: January 22, 1896

    WWIDR: Francis X Petermann, 547 Carleton Avenue Brooklyn January 22, 1896, NY, credit investigator Natl Park Bank, 214 B'way NY, single, Mother (with brother), medium height, slender, hazel eyes brown hair

    Passage: From Southhampton, England 16 Sept 1932, Petersen, Francis, age 36, single born New York 22 January 1896 to 174 Harrison St, East Orange, NJ,

    Death: Baltimore Md 21204, #063-07-3524, issued NY before 1951, born Jan 22, 1896 died December 1969

  2. Louis Walter Petermann

    Birth: July 3, 1897 New York

    Marriage: Margaret Walsh circa 1942

    WWIDR; Louis Walter Petersen, 547 Carleton Ave Brooklyn age 21, born July 3, 1898, New York, Banker's Trust Co. 16 Wall Street, NY, mother Mary E Petersen tall medium build grey eyes brown hair


    • Vermont Deaths: Born July 3, 1897, died Jan 3, 1990, Brattleboro Vt, Residence NY age 92, widower

    • SSDI: born July 1897, died Jan 3, 1990, 088-03-8485, issued NY before 1951,

1900 Census: Rutherford New Jersey, Hawthorne Ave, Petersen, Julius, head, July 1869, age 30, married 5 years, born New York, clerk, father born Germany, Mary E wife, age 28, 2 children 2 still living, born New Jersey, father born Germany, Francis son Jan 1896, age 4, born New York, Louis son July 1897, age 2, born New York

1920 Census: Park Place Brooklyn, Mary E Petersen head age 48, born NJ, Francis X son age 23, born NY, investigator bank Louis W son age 22, born NY, investigator bank

Margaret Walsh and Peachy O'Neil
Collection of Joan O'Neil Donovan

Maggie Walsh Peterson and Her Fight for the Preservation of Lower Manhattan


The first article that I have about Maggie's fight for the preservation on lower Manhattan is from 1958. Copies of this short piece were given to me by both Peggie Goehle Edgar and Maria Lahiff Pedulla. It was part of the New York Times, column About New York by Meyer Berger dated February 26, 1958 and reads

"Maggie Walsh Petersen, implacable foe of builders who destroy historic relics in the city, has more than 200 ancient clocks in her quaint century-old brick house at 16 Moore Street, just off the downtown waterfront. The dwelling is heated with old woodstoves and most of the furnishings are from one to two centuries old. Coziest spot in town, even in a freeze. The moment you cross the threshold and the door closes you have stepped from the twentieth century into the early nineteenth.
Already in 1958 she was called "Implacable foe of builders who destroy historic relics in the city"


The first article I have to mention her house per se was in a Herald Tribune article dated Sunday, June 9, 1963 which included photos and in which she was quoted as saying

"Oh, yes! people have been trying to buy my house. But there's not enough money in the Chase Bank, and David Rochefeller (he's the president of the Chase Manhattan Bank) and all his brothers put together haven't got enough money to buy this place. In a sense it doesn't even belong to me. It belongs to the history of the American people"
The article says that the site was planned to include a new home for the New York Stock Exchange to cost an estimated $50 to $78 million. Maggie was called the "The Lady of Protest" who protested
"every time they demolish a historic building or a bit of old New York to make way for one of those modern glass and steel buildings, or a tunnel, or highway or to widen a street"
There was another article in the Indianapolis Star on Sunday, November 24, 1963 which covered they same material as the Herald Tribune article.

These two articles indicate that she was pretty much alone in her fight and that her letters to various officials, including President Kennedy and New York City Mayor Wagner, went unanswered. Both articles talked about her clock collection and the coziness of her home.


By the time of a brief article in the Sunday News, dated Sunday August 5, 1965 there was a group of private property owners called the "Water St. Business Association" who had begun legal action to "prevent a scheme to forcibly take their properties". The "scheme" was for the city to widen Water Street thereby allowing the City of New York (according to a quote by Sadler Morgan) to use

"its power of condemnation to forcibly take the property of those owners who would not sell out to them. Then these same parties told the city to keep the part the city 'needed' for city street-widening and to sell the remainder of these properties to them and 'remnants'."
Maggie, her house, and clocks were featured in this article. There is also a photo of Lou Petersen, Maggie and Sadler Morgan.


Her house was still standing in the summer of 1967. That was the summer I got married and my husband, Tom, and I went to visit her. At time the house was reachable only by a cat walk across the middle of a hugh excavation pit that was surrounded by a construction fence. I don't know when she was forced to move out. However, by December 1969 she was living at 5 Stone Street.


In an article dated in New York Downtown News dated December 22-28, 1969 Maggie and Lou were living at 5 Stone Street and

"Moore Street, or most of it was gone. In its place was a gaping excavation covering a good four blocks"

This article says that Maggie was still writing to the

"President, cabinet officers, members of Congress and various industrial moguls, telling them the march of progress, so-called, is rapidly destroying landmarks that can never be replaced"
Most often her letters were turned over to an agency.
"Nothing like a nice letter from Urban Renewal", says Maggie, "when my my object is not to "renew' anything. I merely want to conserve the few treasures we have left so that future generations of New Yorkers can enjoy them".
This article also mentions her clock collection.

References to Her Parents and Ellis Island

There are several reverences in the articles to Maggie's parents having stepped off the Ellis Island boat onto Moore Street. Maggie's mother, Maggie Langan arrived in NYC before Ellis Island opened. Her father entered the US through the port of Philadelphia. Her grandparents, Mathias Langan and Penelope Byrne Langan did arrive through Ellis Island in 1892. They may have walked up Moore Street but they kept going. Their first known address was in the 20th on the East Side. The Walshes were in the 70s on the East Side from an early date.

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