Yesterday George Schindler, dean of the Society of American Magicians, dedicated a historical plaque at 244 East 79th Street in New York City. The building was once Mrs. Loeffler's boarding house, where the Weiss family first lived when they came to New York. The plaque honors the location as "Home of Harry Houdini 1887." It will be placed on the building's facade sometime this week.
Schindler also presented Houdini family member Deborah Hardeen with a honorary plaque on behalf of the S.A.M. and Sojourn restaurant (which is housed in the historic building and hosted the event). Deborah is the granddaughter of Theo Hardeen. She traveled from Connecticut for the event with her daughter.
Deborah said she grew up hearing stories about Houdini in school, but didn't know she was related until she was 12 years old when she discovered a letter addressed to "Harry Houdini Hardeen" and asked her father to explain. She said her father used to roll a coin across his fingers, a trick he had learned from his own father, Hardeen.
George Schindler also performed the annual Broken Wand Ceremony, which is normally held at the site of Houdini's grave in Queens. United States Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, New York State Senator Liz Krueger and New York State Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright attened the event.
Despite Schindler telling stories about how the young Houdini and Hardeen practiced their magic at the boarding house, it's unclear if the entire Weiss family ever lived there. Current biographies say Ehrich and his father boarded there alone while the rest of the family remained in Milwaukee. The Weiss family later moved into a flat at 305 East 69th Street, which today are modern condos. When Houdini bought his brownstone in Harlem in 1904, it became the new Weiss family home.
As reported earlier, Sojourn will also be the site of Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz "Original Houdini Seance" on Halloween.
You can watch video of the press conference HERE.
Photos from DNAinfo and MentalFloss.
UPDATE: Our friend Joe Notaro has found this excellent quote from Hardeen in a November 1933 New York Evening Journal:
“…we trekked to N.Y. Stopping on 79th st with Mrs. Leffler, mother of George and John, but don’t tell these managers that we still owe “Ma” for room rent. During that first Winter, experiencing the Great Blizzard of “1888” and receiving much food from Mrs. Leffler, and studying at P.S 70”