Tag Archives: American Da Vinci Code

An American Da Vinci Code

211_Pearl_Street_Symbol[1]

This week I’d like to share with you a bit of intriguing Americana with an unusual religious twist. It’s a true story about a famous Christian soap maker of early America and his brick cipher which The New Yorker magazine called the “Mystery on Pearl Street”.

To give you a sense of this story, New York’s own Historic Districts Council called this brick symbol an “American Da Vinci Code”, The New York Times headline ran, “Three Cryptic Shapes Pose a Puzzle” and USA Today proclaimed “Symbol on NYC building a History Mystery”.

Our story begins with William Colgate, one of America’s early success stories. When you think of Colgate you’re probably thinking of toothpaste, but Mr. Colgate actually began his entrepreneurial endeavors as a soap and candle maker in Baltimore, Maryland. Eventually Mr. Colgate moved to New York and became one of the most influential and wealthy men of that era. But that is only the most well-known part of the story. Continue reading

A True “American Da Vinci Code”

 The New York Historic Districts Council called this symbol the “American Da Vinci Code” . The New Yorker magazine headlined: “Mystery On Pearl Street”. Several other major news papers wrote articles on this mysterious brick symbol. It was found on the building built by a devout Baptist in 1832 – and no, I’m not kidding. Many have tried to solve this early American cipher but they have failed.  Can you solve this true American “Da Vinci Code”: The 13th Enumeration is the key!

Below is some more background information on this great American enigma.

The New York Times – Three Cryptic Shapes Pose a Puzzle”
USA TODAY “Symbol on NYC building a History Mystery”
Historic Districts Council ” American Da Vinci Code”
The New Yorker“Mystery on Pearl Street”
The Sun (New York) – History Mystery:
Tribeca Trib – Pearl Street Symbol is Center of Mystery
Gotham Center – The Perils of Pearl Street
Downtown Express –Pearl St. block to get history boards
Colgate University History and Traditions
Alan Solomon’s
Pearl Street Revival

William Colgate (1753-1857) Early American entrepreneur and soap manufacturer. (Colgate/Palmolive)

Colgate was a Devout Baptist who helped found the Baptist Education Society in 1817 with 13 men, 13 dollars, 13 prayers, and 13 articles. This organization later evolved into Colgate University located at 13 Oak Drive in Hamilton, NY, 13346. As part of Colgate tradition, alumni are encouraged to wear Colgate apparel every Friday the 13th. The senior honor society, Konosioni, is composed of 13 women and 13 men.

William Colgate’s power and influence extended into banking and politics through the efforts of himself and his sons. James Colgate was a founding member of the New York Gold Exchange which was instrumental in getting a gold standard established in America. The Colgates were also part of the Triennial Baptists who were instrumental in getting Abraham Lincoln elected. During the panic of 1873, J.B.Colgate & Company Bank under James Colgate’s direction loaned the United States money which helped avert an economic collapse.

The brickwork symbol above was discovered on a building at 211 Pearl Street. This building was built by William Colgate in 1832.  211 Pearl Street was one of Colgate’s most valued properties and was willed to his children with the stipulation that it could not be sold until 15 years after his death. Due to the dedicated efforts of Alan Solomon, the brickwork symbol was preserved, even though the building was eventually torn down several years after the discovery of the symbol.

 

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