Nathan Hart

220 King Street

Hardware merchant and opponent of religious reform

Nathan Hart and his heirs managed a successful hardware store on this corner for decades. Until the great fire of April 1838,Late in the evening of Friday, April 27, 1838, a fire began near the corner of Beresford (today’s Fulton) Street and King Street. It was driven by wind from the southwest to East Bay Street and beyond, destroying more than 1,100 structures—dwellings, tenements, boarding houses, stores, workshops, kitchens, stables and sheds, and four houses of worship, including Synagogue Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, a fixture of the city skyline since its completion in 1794. Nearly 70 of the 560 homes and businesses that burned were owned or rented by Jews. Hart (1784–1840) ran the business in a rented building. By the time of his death, he had bought the lot, built this substantial brick store, and reopened Nathan Hart & Son, Hardware, in partnership with his son Samuel Nathan Hart.

Nathan Hart was an active member of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. He was on the adjunta and remained president of the congregation until his death in September 1840, but by then he had emerged as a leading opponent of reform. He died from “country” (yellow) fever, just as the traditionalists seceded from KKBE. Hart explicitly requested that Rev. Poznanski not preside at his funeral. He was eulogized instead by Dr. Jacob Canter DeLaMotta, acting hazan of the breakaway congregation, Shearit Israel.

220 King Street, 2016

220 King Street, 2016

Nathan Hart (1784–1840) built this brick building and established a hardware business here with his son Samuel. Photo by Jack Alterman.