Silver Monuments Departing the LES After More than 60 Years in Business

Posted on: August 31st, 2015 at 5:00 am by
This image has been archived or removed.

And so it goes, the last gravestone business on the Lower East Side is leaving. We knew eventually the day would come when Silver Monument Works would depart, but are in mourning nonetheless. Oh, that awesome antique store signage.

Neighborhood documentarian Clayton Patterson informs us that owner Murray Silver is gearing up for a move to Woodside, Queens. That’s apparently where the shop is (not to mention, the cemeteries), so relocating the showroom from 125 Stanton Street makes sense. Yet still sad. The tombstone purveyor has operated at this address since the 1940s, a five-story tenement in the family’s possession for decades.

Word on the street is that the operation will ship out within four weeks. Also, that Mr. Silver prefers to “rent the storefront to a ‘quiet’ business, not a restaurant; perhaps a gallery” after the departure.

Silver Monuments is itself a monument to the bygone gravestone district in this area. It thrived when this part of town was a Jewish enclave. Silver inherited the business from his late father Samuel Silver. His mother, Minnie, was the first woman on the Lower East Side to run a monument showroom.

However, this designated district began to decline in the 1950s when the population dispersed to the suburbs and rents subsequently rose. Because the Silver family owned 125 Stanton Street, they were able to gobble up the competition (including Forsyth, Weinreb & Gross).

The New York Times profiled Silver Monuments back in 2006. Here’s an excerpt:

The store is filled with examples of their work. On one family monument, a mother who was a seamstress was remembered by a spool of thread. On others, a feather in an inkwell for a son who was a writer; the scales of justice for a lawyer; an “Rx” for a pharmacist. Gravestones have been adorned by a deck of cards, a slot machine and a tennis racket.

Many customers have bought an engraving of candlesticks for their mothers because they were the ones who lighted the Shabbat candles every Friday night. Others would bring in a photograph of challah bread, which an artist reproduced. Tears came to Mrs. Silver’s eyes as she recounted one of the many difficult visits and a woman’s screams from half a century ago, which she still could hear. The woman came in with her husband and her parents to choose a monument for her 5-year-old son, who had been killed in a car accident.

[h/t The Villager]

Recent Stories

Demolition Begins at Fire-Stricken Dim Sum Palace Building in Chinatown

Demolition started this week at 6 Chatham Square, which, until this month, housed neighborhood favorite Dim Sum Palace. Early morning May 1, a fire in the kitchen spread throughout the building, triggering a five-alarm response from the fire department. All told, five firefighters were injured battling the inferno over several hours. And according to Red […]

Eldridge Street Development Sells for $19.24M

A major real estate deal to report on Eldridge Street. It took three years, but the eight-story mixed-use building at 165 Eldridge traded last week for $19.25 million. Just under the initial 2019 asking price of $21 million. Buyer of record is Meng Lee and Karim Elsayyad of FREO Management. The transaction is not yet […]

The ‘Barrier Reefs’ Coming to Clinton Street Bike Lane

The Department of Transportation has chosen a winner to decorate the traffic barrier protecting the Clinton Street bike line. The city agency awarded artist Alison Cynamon as part of the ongoing Barrier Beautification mural project. The concrete slab runs from Delancey Street to South Street; an 840-foot stretch with roughly 1,980 square-feet of canvas to […]

Redlining the LES: How Discriminatory Lending Policies Solidified Pre-Existing Inequalities

The following was written by Anna Sargeantson. All photos courtesy of Anna Sargeantson, except where otherwise noted. Home to dimly lit restaurants and bars frequented by NYU students and young professionals, the Lower East Side remains in many ways the epitome of New York City’s youthful heart. Under the surface, though, the neighborhood has historically […]

Ed Higgins Gets ‘Mail Art’ Retrospective at Van Der Plas Gallery on Orchard Street

Fresh off featuring his art in Ludlow Coffee Supply, the Van Der Plas Gallery of Orchard Street is now dedicating a full artist retrospective to the late Ed Higgins. Higgins, known as a pillar of the “Rivington School” movement in the 1980s Lower East Side, and for his unique “Mail Art,” died last December at […]