| New York City and The Wolfe Pack will honor writer Rex Stout and his fictional eccentric private detective Nero Wolfe with a bronze plaque at 454 West 35th Street on Saturday, June 22.
In Rex Stout’s 73 Nero Wolfe mysteries, the street address of Wolfe’s West 35th Street brownstone wanders as far east as 9th Avenue and as far west as the middle of the Hudson River. The Wolfe Pack—donating a bronze plaque to New York City to honor Stout’s work—has identified 454 West 35th Street as the probable site of the fictional brownstone. The actual building now at the location is an apartment building renovated and managed by Clinton Housing Development Company.
Clinton Housing Development Company is a not-for-profit, community-based organization dedicated to preserving and creating affordable housing in Clinton. The apartment building is maintained by the group for mentally ill and elderly people. The nationally recognized group also sponsors the Clinton South Community Center for children and teenagers in the surrounding neighborhood.
With an international roster of more than 450 members, the Wolfe Pack, founded in 1978, is a non-profit organization for aficionados of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mystery novels. The group publishes a newsletter called The Gazette, and annually awards the “Nero” to an outstanding work of current American detective fiction. In honor of Stout’s orchid-loving, corpulent detective, Nero Wolfe, the Wolfe Pack meets regularly for gourmet meals including the annual “Black Orchid Banquet” and “Shad Roe Dinner.”
The plaque reads: “On this site stood the elegant brownstone of the corpulent fictional private detective Nero Wolfe. With his able assistant Archie Goodwin, Mr. Wolfe raised orchids and dined well, while solving over seventy cases as recorded by Rex Stout from 1934-1975.”
It was donated to the Wolfe Pack by English producer Harry Towers, who is currently developing a television series for Showtime based on the Wolfe mysteries. Prior to the 1:30 p.m. dedication of the plaque, The Wolfe Pack is hosting a party for the community center’s children, including lunch and a non-violent interactive mystery game created especially for the event. The Wolfe Pack also is donating a selection of Nero Wolfe books to the community room at 454 West 35th Street, and a collection of children’s books to the community center, including reference works and autographed copies of books by New York children’s authors Bonnie Bryant and Elizabeth Levy.
Rex Stout’s grandson, Reed Maroc, who is also a writer, will attend the event. “I know it would mean a great deal to my grandfather that his Nero Wolfe stories are still read 20 years after his death, and that there are people who so appreciate his work that they want to put up this plaque in his honor. And donating books to children in this neighborhood, encouraging them to read, that would please him tremendously. Aside from the fun he had with life in general, reading was his greatest pleasure.”
©1996 The Wolfe Pack