The Building That Inspired Only Murders In The Building Has Its Own Wicked Past

Hulu's hit murder mystery series, "Only Murders in the Building," adds a laughable twist to the phenomenon of true crime and grisly homicide. The show, which stars comedy legends Steve Martin and Martin Short (we're just one of the "Three Amigos!" short of a perfect cinematic reunion), chronicles the investigative efforts of three true crime podcast-obsessed individuals who find themselves at the center of a chaotic barrage of murder and deception. It's like "Clue" meets noir crime drama. "Only Murders in the Building" just entered into its second season and is rapidly accumulating popularity amongst viewers. 

The show's setting — an archaic and elegant apartment building on New York's Upper West Side known as the Arconia — is sardonically sinister and tactfully appropriate for such an outrageous venture into the realm of the murder mystery genre. However, what some fans don't know is that the fictional building was actually inspired by a real-life structure called the Ansonia. The Ansonia, historically located on Broadway between 73rd and 74th streets in New York City, has a rather dark past that stretches back decades, as Vanity Fair reports. 

Murder at The Ansonia

Apparently, The Ansonia was once a popular hub for organized crime leaders and other insubordinates of all types. According to New York magazine, criminal kingpin Al Adams (who was nicknamed "The Policy King" and "Meanest Man in New York") was one of the former hotel's more notorious and influential occupants back in the day. It was in 1906 that Adams, a known racketeer and former Sing Sing Correctional Facility inmate, was found dead in his suit with a gaping bullet wound in his head. 

Authorities and investigators initially deemed Adams' self-inflicted, though further questioning and a subsequent exhumation revealed details that started to point toward murder. The coroner assigned to the case claimed that it was the Ansonia's owner, William Earl Dodge Stokes, who carried out (or at least ordered) the killing on behalf of a debt owed to him by the deceased cutthroat crime leader (via The New York Times). 

Other scandals to hit the Ansonia

The secrets and scandals that stalk the halls of the Ansonia are hardly secrets at all. According to The New York Times, William Stokes was once shot by one of his unruly mistresses inside the building, though he managed to survive the assault. The young woman apparently tried to blackmail him for $25,000, and when he refused to deliver the bounty, she expressed her discontent in the form of three bullets in his leg (per Vanity Fair). Love really does hurt, it would seem. 

Additionally, The Ansonia was built on a plot of land that once housed hundreds of orphans. Stokes reportedly purchased the property once belonging to the New York Orphan Asylum and kicked out its inhabitants in order to build his lavish hotel. The infamous Black Sox Scandal, which turned out to be the most notorious scandal in professional baseball history, was also conceived within its walls by Chick Gandil and Arnold Rothstein in 1919, as Vanity Fair reports.