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Archive for the ‘Townhouse’ Category

101 E. 63rd St. (Halston’s townhouse)

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This townhouse was once the home of the legendary fashion designer Roy H. Frowick, better known as Halston. It is now being sold by the estate of the late photographer Gunter Sachs, for a mere $38.5 million. Any takers?

A carriage house built in 1880 once stood on these grounds. The architect Paul Rudolph was hired by the real estate lawyer Alexander Hirsch and his partner Lewis Turner, to do a complete renovation. In a sense what Rudolph really did was build a new townhouse without there being any landmark official to stop him. The new townhouse was finished in 1967 but its fame would come in 1974 when Halston purchased it. He would own it until 1990, the year he died.

Photo of Halston: By Bob Colacello

Photo of Halston with Bianca Jagger: by Ron Galella

Halston was born in 1932 in Des Moines, Iowa. He lived in Indiana as a youth where he graduated from high school. After just a semester at Indiana University, he packed up his bags and headed to Chicago where he originally got his start assisting a milliner and taking night classes at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. His fame would come in New York after he designed the pillbox hat that Jacqueline Kennedy wore to her husband’s 1961 Presidential inauguration. From then on everyone knew who Halston was especially the jet set crowd that came to his house parties. From Mikhail Baryshnikov to Liza Minnelli, Fred Hughes, Diane Von Furstenberg, Truman Capote, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Bianca Jagger, Gianni Agnelli, the list goes on and on. Steve Rubell would leave behind Studio 54 and come to Halston’s parties along with a few of his bartenders, aka the coke boys.

Known simply as “101”, Halston’s townhouse definitely stood out on E. 63rd Street, but it was never an eye sore. Rather, it knew how to blend in. I’ve walked by this townhouse many times never noticing it. I’m glad I now know its story. But there’s a bit more.  Halston sold it in 1990, two months before his death to Gunter Sachs and Gianni Agnelli who bought it together. No they were not romantically involved, in fact Gunter Sachs was Brigitte Bardot’s third husband and Gianni, well he definitely liked women. Gunter and Gianni probably thought it was a  good business opportunity to do together. The price paid in 1990 was $5 million. Gunter quickly bought Gianni out and owned it solely until his recent death in May 2011. His estate is now trying to sell it for $38.5 million. With a three story living room, 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths and 10,000 square feet, most of it great entertaining space, this town-home seems like it might sell to a very wealthy bachelor.

Written by agnesbstanton

February 16, 2012 at 10:43 pm

4 E. 75th St. “The Harkness Mansion”

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Larry Gagosian is the new owner of the Harkness Mansion, a very historic and especially wide (50Ft.) townhouse just off Fifth Avenue. It can be sometimes confused with the Harkness House which is the more grand mansion located at 1 E. 75th St. and home to the Commonwealth Fund. Gagosian bought this half gutted mansion from J. Christopher Flowers who needed to sell due to his divorce and financial issues at hand. Flowers originally paid $53 million in 2006 and put in a couple million towards his renovation project which did not get completed. Gagosian paid $36.5 million, a steal, even in today’s down market. A local resident told me that in the 80’s this mansion’s second floor was being used as a dance studio with a cafe down below. Gagosian will probably not be able to turn his mansion into a gallery space due to stricter zoning laws these days. His neighbors, undoubtedly, do not want a Chelsea scene, but I’m predicting many parties will be thrown at 4 E. 75th Street.

Written by agnesbstanton

September 21, 2011 at 8:54 am

11 E. 73rd St. The Pulitzer Mansion

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Joseph Pulitzer was a self-made man who was originally born in Hungary but came to the US as a teenager. He became a famous publisher who owned the New York World as well as the St. Louis Dispatcher. Pulitzer owned a townhouse on 10 E. 55th St. that unfortunately burned down, so he purchased a large plot of land on E. 73rd St. just off of 5th Ave. What he wanted to build was a grand home without too many frills. He hired the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, and in 1903 had his completed, specially soundproofed villa, ready for occupancy. Pulitzer was almost blind at the time and therefore, in compensation, had a very acute sense of sound. He wanted his home completely silent, but as we all know, that is a difficult feat to accomplish in any metropolitan city. What Stanford White, who specifically worked on this project, did was make Pulitzer a very insulated bedroom towards the back garden on the west side of the townhouse. Along with a squash court and even a swimming pool in the basement, Pulitzer’s mansion was a feat onto itself.

Pulitzer only spent a few years in this home before he died in 1911, after which the townhouse sat vacant for a relatively long time before the developer Henry Mandel started the conversion of this mansion into a 17 unit apartment building in the 1930’s. He hired the architect James E. Casale to do the conversions while trying to keep many original details such as the ceiling height in tact. Mandel’s plan ended up being carried out by the Pulitzer heirs as Mandel’s lease on the property fell through. Once the conversion was finished, the Astor Family Estate bought the townhouse in 1937 as an investment property. The trustees sold it in 1952 at which point it was converted into a co-op and has stayed this way ever since. The conversion allowed for Pulitzer’s “silent” bedroom to be given a private entrance through the garden which utilizes a grand entry gate.

Stanford White was inspired by Venetian architecture when he designed the Pulitzer Mansion specifically Palazzo Pesaro from 1682 as well as Palazzo Rezzonico from 1667.

Palazzo Pesaro, Venice, Italy.

Palazzo Pesaro, Venice, Italy. Venice; Pesaro Palace. Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection (S03_06_01_027 image 3323).

The actress Sylvia Sidney once lived in the Pulitzer Mansion as well as the writer Emily Kimbrough who along with Cornelia Otis Skinner, wrote “Our hearts were young and gay”. Even though co-oped these days, this townhouse is a lasting memorial to the great newspaper man who also gave us Columbia University’s School of Journalism.

Written by agnesbstanton

March 19, 2011 at 10:05 am

70 Willow St. (Brooklyn)

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Karen Heyman of Sotheby’s International Realty has the listing on this tranquil Brooklyn home for $18 million. The highest price ever paid for a single residence in Brooklyn was $12 million, so this home can in fact set a new record when it is sold. The townhouse is roughly 9,000sf with 11 bedrooms and 8 baths. It is the home where Truman Copote lived during the 1950’s/60’s. Copote never owned the house, but rather rented out the garden apartment. Having access to such a fantastic backyard with a Charleston porch and loads of greenery could sure inspire a writer-in-residence. In fact Capote penned many of his books while living in this Brooklyn Heights enclave. One such book “A House on the Heights” is little known, but clearly draws its inspiration from the neighborhood that Capote was so overjoyed to live in. He always said that he lived in Brooklyn “by choice”.

I decided to spend a little time on this lazy sunday, getting to know what makes Brooklyn Heights so special. There is definitely a twinkle, a little glimmer, especially during the evening hours when the sun is setting on one of the best views of Manhattan. Standing on the Promenade,  which I entered from Montague Street, I encountered a view like no other, and thankfully, a long row of benches stretching for 3 city blocks where one could sit down with a cup of chai and find some solace. I wanted to know if Truman Capote decided to live on Willow St. because of its close proximity to this view. I sure wouldn’t mind waking up to this in the morning.

The Henry Pierrepont Mansion located at one of the entrances to the Promenade “#2-3 Pierrepont Place” designed by Richard Upjohn in 1857

Written by agnesbstanton

January 16, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Posted in Brooklyn, Townhouse

161 E. 70th St.

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Watch out for all the goals and goblins, witches and ghosts.

Written by agnesbstanton

October 27, 2010 at 8:56 am

The “Black & White” Townhouses: 527,531,535, 541 East 72nd St.

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This unique set of four pre-war low-rises, built in 1894, housed some of the New York’s most interesting characters, especially in the field of literature. A few notable literati include Winston Groom who wrote Forest Gump, Adam Shaw son of Irwin, and the most famous of all the residents, George Plimpton who lived in 541 and also had his Paris Review offices in the same building. That sure made his commute to work easy. I would have loved to have George Plimpton’s job as it entailed stepping into the world of various occupations and writing about the experiences. He was known as the Professional Amateur. Some of his more memorable experiences include training with the Detroit Lions football team and playing in one of their off-season games, race-car driving the Indianapolis 500, and rehearsing with the Rolling Stones. Apart from such fun endeavors George had a serious job as an author and publisher as well as being the founding partner of the Paris Review. He was a great storyteller and he will be missed.

Ron Dante, a well-known music producer and song writer, also lived in one of the townhouses as well as Mary Gimbel, the department store heiress. According to Christopher Gray’s Streetscapes article, these townhouses were known as the “Social Register tenements” since many of the residents were in fact in the Social Register and enjoyed keeping a chic pied-a-terre on hand when in the city.

Today these townhouses stand alone amidst a flood of high rises and other luxury branded buildings. The neighborhood has drastically changed especially after 1980 when Sotheby’s Auction House moved into their new space on the corner of 72nd St. and York Ave. What was once a little sleepy nook, has livened up a bit. Unlike the rest of the cul-de-sac neighborhood, the four townhouses haven’t changed in the least. They have always been and will continue to be impeccably well-kept with true-red painted doors that always catch one’s eye. The major downside is that they do not offer an elevator as my husband remembers well. As a college student at NYU he lived in 535 E. 72nd St. all the way up on the fifth floor. When you’re young, walking up five flights of stairs won’t kill you, but it’s sure a drag after a late night out, especially when one has had a bit too much to drink. To make up for that inconvenience, his apartment living room had a view of the East River, from all of its five windows.

Written by agnesbstanton

October 23, 2010 at 3:07 pm

75 1/2 Bedford Street

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Mentioned in the news upon its recent sale last december, this is the skinniest townhouse  in all of Manhattan. It was listed by Alex Nicholas of the Corcoran Group for $2,499,000, about half of the going rate for a regular sized townhouse.

It’s been around since 1873 or even possibly earlier according to Christopher Gray’s article in his book “New York Streetscapes” which mentions that “Tax records first specifically refer to the 9.5 foot-wide structure at 75.5 Bedford Street in 1873, but the assessed value of the entire parcel did not change, suggesting that the house had been built before then but simply not noted.”

From the inside, this townhouse measures 8.7 ft. wide although it’s 30 ft. deep. One can imagine the difficulty of creating a comfortable living room as it seems that there would hardly be any space for guests and one’s TV would be too close for proper vision unless at an angle. Well I guess the new owners don’t mind. The taxes are only $9,660 per year which any real estate agent will tell you is pretty good for a 3 story townhouse, with basement, in the heart of Greeenwich Village.

Provenance:

Over the years this townhouse has been home to many notable residents but got its start as a cobbler’s shop and then a candy factory. This area of Greenwich Village was a very Italian neighborhood according to the 1920 census. Starting in 1923 many artists began to move in to the neighborhood and 75.5 Bedford was converted to apartments and  leased to members of the Cherry Lane Theater which was just around the corner at 38 Commerce Street.

Between 1923-24 the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay lived here and during this time wrote “Ballad of the Harp-Weaver” for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, making her the first woman to be honored so highly for poetry. She also is know for writing”First Fig” which starts of with the famous line; “My candle burns at both ends”. This she wrote at Romany Marie’s cafe in the village famous for being a salon catering to bohemian intelligentsia.

During the 1930’s the cartoonist William Steig, his wife, and her sister the anthropologist Margaret Mead, lived in the house.

Written by agnesbstanton

April 21, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Townhouse, West Village