Sketch of Murray Hall in the New York Times, January 19, 1901.
Murray H. Hall (1840-1901) was a Tammany politico who lived as a man for over 30 years but after death was revealed to have been a woman, creating an international press furor and attracting the attention of pioneering sexologist Havelock Ellis.
According to one source, Hall (née Mary Anderson) was born in Scotland and around age 16 began dressing as a male, taking the name John Anderson. Anderson married young, but had a roving eye and a jealous wife who disclosed Anderson’s gender to the police. Fearing arrest, Anderson fled to America in 1870 and assumed the name Murray H. Hall.
In 1872, Hall married Cecilia Florence Lowe, a schoolteacher, and by 1874 Hall had established an employment agency chiefly representing domestic help. The couple moved several times but remained close to the Jefferson Market police court (now the Jefferson Market Library) since Hall was also a bail bondsman. Hall’s last home and office was an upper-story apartment at 457 Sixth Avenue.
As a Tammany figure, Hall played poker and pool with city and state officials and political leaders and was often able to secure appointments for friends.
“[Hall was a] ‘man about town,’ a bon vivant, and all-round ‘good fellow’…never exciting the remotest suspicion as to her real sex.”
The New York Times, January 19, 1901
Architect or Builder: Unknown
Year Built: 1852
Christopher D. Brazee, Gale Harris, and Jay Shockley, “150 Years of LGBT History,” New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (June 2014).
“Murray Hall Fooled Many Shrewd Men,” The New York Times, January 19, 1901, p. 3. [source of pull quote]
Paula Martinac, The Queerest Places: A Guide to Gay and Lesbian Historic Sites (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1997).
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