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Magnificent mansions that are gone


The Firestone home in Columbus, Ohio.

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by Anonymousreply 17202/23/2021

Sad, OP. But there are so many gorgeous old houses still on Broad Street, especially to the east of 71 as you go towards Bexley. I remember a few that were tottering and dilapidated in the 90s have been sold and nicely restored. My all-time fave is the W. H. Jones House right near the highway entrances (with the terracotta sea monster face on the second floor).

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by Anonymousreply 102/03/2021

SF had many over the top mansions, which did not survive the quake. The Mark Hopkins mansion burned in the fire.

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by Anonymousreply 202/03/2021

The Palmer Mansion, constructed 1882–1885 at 1350 N. Lake Shore Drive, was once the largest private residence in Chicago, Illinois, located in the Near North Side neighborhood and facing Lake Michigan. It was designed by architects Henry Ives Cobb and Charles Sumner Frost of the firm Cobb and Frost and built for Bertha and Potter Palmer. Palmer was a prominent Chicago businessman who was responsible for much of the development of State Street. The construction of the Palmer Mansion on Lake Shore Drive established the "Gold Coast" neighborhood, still one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the city. The mansion was demolished in 1950.

My parents still talk about driving by this house when they were kids

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by Anonymousreply 302/03/2021

Just as sad are the surviving mansions that have gone to ruin, like the Widener "Lynewood Hall". He had a special room for his Raphael and Vermeers. Not to mention the 14 Rembrandts.

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by Anonymousreply 402/03/2021

I'm going to like this thread!

by Anonymousreply 502/03/2021

After this we can discuss all the stately homes in England that were demolished after the war. So many people with no sense or love of history. I must admit it is my weakness. I get why they felt the need to do it and they were probably right but I even wanted the Germans to preserve historical places from the Third Reich but I don't want to be accused of being the n word.

by Anonymousreply 602/03/2021

Richard B. Mellon built this pile on a hilltop near my house, lived in it for thirty years, then had it torn down. The site is now a park. The only features that remain of the house are the walls that enclosed the walled gardens, and the carriage house, which is now an educational center.

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by Anonymousreply 702/03/2021

Ante-bellum grandeur.

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by Anonymousreply 802/03/2021

This blog has thousands of pictures of now-ruined or vanished stately British homes. Plus genealogies of the families that owned them.

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by Anonymousreply 902/03/2021

Two entire blocks of fabulous mansions, Vandeventer Place in St. Louis, obliterated in the 1950's in the name of progress: a god awful looking Veterans Hospital on the eastern half, and an equally atrocious juvenile detention center on the western half.

It should be noted that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch led the charge to destroy Vandeventer Place. It claimed the owners were living in the past, refusing to acknowledge that they were living in the 20th century, not the 19th century. It also accused the homeowners of being unpatriotic, since this was in the immediate aftermath of WWII and there was a critical need for a new VA hospital (as if there wasn't other available land to building the VA in the metro STL area).

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by Anonymousreply 1002/03/2021

Makes me sad.

by Anonymousreply 1102/03/2021

Thank you, R9. I love you. And thanks to all the other contributors in this thread. Another delicious rabbit hole for me to waste time on - those messy closets will just have to wait.

by Anonymousreply 1202/03/2021

Have you ever seen the doc Flag Wars, r1?

by Anonymousreply 1302/03/2021

One of my favorite California hikes is in Sonoma to see the ruins of Jack London’s Wolf House. It was this magnificent mansion he built for his huge collection of art and artifacts from traveling all over the world. It was almost finished and they were working on a few last details when it caught fire and burned to the ground. The whole project was quite secret and only a few people close to him knew about it and it looked like it must have been arson, and was done by someone he knew. It just about killed him and his already fragile health was hit hard and put him into decline leading to his death.

A new house nearby and not on the ruins, and 1/3 of the scale was built and his collections, which luckily had not been moved into the other house yet were put on display. But he did die believing that one of his friends was an arsonist and burned down his house. It was only many many decades later through forensic examination that it was determined that rags, soaked in linseed oil from polishing the floors and thrown into a corner, has spontaneously combusted and started the fire.

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by Anonymousreply 1402/03/2021

Frost Mansion, Detroit.

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by Anonymousreply 1502/03/2021

Frost Mansion, Detroit, 1994, right before demolition.

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by Anonymousreply 1602/03/2021

Pickfair was an 18 acres (7.3 ha) estate in the city of Beverly Hills, California, originally designed by architect Horatio Cogswell for attorney Lee Allen Phillips of Berkeley Square as a country home. Phillips sold the property to actor Douglas Fairbanks in 1918. Coined "Pickfair" by the press, it became one of the most celebrated houses in the world. Life Magazine described Pickfair as "a gathering place only slightly less important than the White House... and much more fun."

In 1988, it was purchased by actress Pia Zadora and her husband Meshulam Riklis. They announced they were planning renovations to the famous estate, but revealed in 1990 that they had in fact demolished Pickfair and a new larger "Venetian style palazzo"

... and the tacky mess is still the blight of Beverly Hills :(

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by Anonymousreply 1702/03/2021

What is so odd about these "You can't fight progress" arguments is that if you hand someone a copy of one of those "New York, Then and Now" or "Philadelphia, Then and Now", very few people would look at "Now" and say "I'm really glad they did that". The "progress" argument is just a developer's tool and it has nothing to do with progress.

by Anonymousreply 1802/03/2021

Rockwood Hall, a magnificent Rockefeller mansion on the Hudson River that was once the second largest house in the United States after Biltmore.

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by Anonymousreply 1902/03/2021

Schandein mansion, Milwaukee

After Emil died, his wife’s magnificent 40,000-square-foot, 43-room mansion on 24th and Grand (Wisconsin) Avenue, was finally completed in 1889 at the cost of $300,000. It was the first German Renaissance mansion built in Milwaukee — specially modeled after a Viennese villa — and the first Wisconsin home with an indoor furnace. Decorated in rare (and now extinct) woods, and featuring one of the most extensive private art collections in the world, the house was specially designed to be Milwaukee’s showplace for famous guests — ranging from President Cleveland to the Crown Princes of Europe.

Demolished around 1928.

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by Anonymousreply 2002/04/2021

Boy! Why do American mansions often look so fucking creepy? Like they're fucking haunted?

This is not the case here in England.

by Anonymousreply 2102/04/2021

On both sides of the Atlantic these old barns of family piles were expensive to heat and staff post WWI and certainly WWII when costs of everything was going up. Then you had the no small matter of what it cost to keep those piles from falling down around one, it is an never ending saga, soon as you fix one thing something else goes...

Downton Abbey was best thing that happened to Highclere Castle. Revenue from allowing filming plus added new publicity has allowed undertaking of major structural work that needed doing.

It was the imposition of income taxes and high death duties that really did many of these old mansions in; families just couldn't afford to keep them up, an when owner died the heirs couldn't either and wanted nothing to do but sell.

Similar to the landmark preservation movement in USA in UK things got so bad with so many stately homes having the "roof taken off", that government was finally prompted to step in. In addition to heritage protection owners of stately homes can receive funds from government if they open their homes/grounds to public.

Still things aren't all bad for great piles; Biltmore Estate is still standing and owned by the Vanderbilt family (largest private residence in United States), and they seem to have been able to make a go of the place. Though like stately homes in UK and other parts of Europe Biltmore is very much a "working" estate.

by Anonymousreply 2202/04/2021

Noel Coward called it back in 1938.....

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by Anonymousreply 2302/04/2021

@r21, "Boy! Why do American mansions often look so fucking creepy? Like they're fucking haunted?

This is not the case here in England."

Yeah, sure...

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by Anonymousreply 2402/04/2021

^^ that place is very unusual, R24 - in fact it's near where I live.

by Anonymousreply 2502/04/2021

[quote] with the terracotta sea monster face

Do you mean one of these, R1?

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by Anonymousreply 2602/04/2021

@r25, "^^ that place is very unusual, [R24] - in fact it's near where I live. "

Still, the house and the owner are creepy as hell

by Anonymousreply 2702/04/2021

The Severance Estate in Cleveland Heights. Built in 1910 and demolished in 1961 for a mall that was demolished around 2000 for a strip shopping center that’s scheduled for demolition too.

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by Anonymousreply 2802/04/2021

R28 that's exactly the sort of thing I meant by "progress". This was the Walton Hotel in Philadelphia, it lasted until the 1960s when it was demolished and it became a parking lot. And then, someone thought it would be a great spot for hotel. So they built a generic concrete slab hotel, which is what is there now. It is a constant cycle of degradation. During the late 50s and 60s in the frenzy of urban renewal many mid-size and small towns demolished their old business centers and replaced them with "modern" buildings. They lost their look and history and made their towns look like every other.


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by Anonymousreply 2902/04/2021

[quote]Still, the house and the owner are creepy as hell

I didn't know he was creepy...but he's lived in some very odd places over the years.

by Anonymousreply 3002/04/2021

Fair Oaks in Minneapolis, once the pride of the mansion district.

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by Anonymousreply 3102/04/2021

Cornelius Vanderbilt II mansion on Fifth Avenue at 57th Street. Then again, it's pretty unlikely that a house this grandiose would have survived to this day as shops, hotels and office buildings were being built in the surrounding neighbourhood in the 1920s.

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by Anonymousreply 3202/04/2021


History of Manhattan was that about every generation or two "uptown" moved further north. Each time this happened remnants of once great upscale areas still remain.

Area around Washington Square Park once was "uptown" hence the "Heiress" being set in that area. When it became too commercial wealthy families moved again to area around Murray Hill and Gramercy Park (20's and 30's from Fifth to Fourth (Park) avenue.

As lower mid-town became increasingly commercial the wealthy again fled Fifth avenue area below 57th street for the newly fashionable Upper East Side. Between Central Park being constructed making Fifth Avenue above 59th highly desirable, New York Central RR covered over their tracks on Park avenue from Grand Central Terminal to 96th street. Park Avenue above 57th street soon gave way to fashionable townhouses and mansions that in turn were torn down for high end co-op and rental housing.

My favorite blog on Manhattan architecture is Daytonian in Manhattan. You can search archive posts by area of city, street, etc..... What is really amazing is despite how much we've lost in Manhattan, so much from 1800's and early 1900's still remains.

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by Anonymousreply 3302/04/2021


Sad thing about Vanderbilt family in general is they blew away large portions of their money on homes and interiors that barely lasted three or so decades before they were torn down.

Sad thing not just with Vanderbilt mansions but everywhere else was the vast amount of priceless interiors and furnishings that were often just rubbished. Work of craftsman that you just cannot get today lies rotting in landfills somewhere. Yes, some things were saved with often auctions helping to disburse these grand interiors far and wide, but still...

Castles and palaces of Europe were looted (if that is the right word) by wealthy Americans often buying up entire rooms that were dismantled and shipped to these shores. Again what didn't sell at auction, gifted to a museum or something simply got rubbished when building was torn down.

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by Anonymousreply 3402/04/2021

R34, I read an old newspaper description from the 20s about the demolition of a mansion on Rittenhouse Square, the reporter describes axes used on the mahogany panelling and breaking up a marble staircase.

by Anonymousreply 3502/04/2021

No, whoever heard of a creepy, haunted home in England?

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by Anonymousreply 3602/05/2021


"Still, the house and the owner are creepy as hell"

"I didn't know he was creepy...but he's lived in some very odd places over the years."

Jimmy Page has had scandalous relationships with underage girls = Creepy

by Anonymousreply 3702/05/2021

One thing to remember is that often by early 1900's or maybe after WWI many US cities made zoning changes in good part to deal with shortage of housing, and or to accommodate growing need for factory, office or industry space. Once this happened land that those grand old piles sat upon often was worth far more than what currently sat on property. Those zoning changes were meant largely to encourage development, and that is what they did.

Case in point was NYC who changed zoning early in 1900's to help ease the chronic shortage of housing. By then new technology like elevators made high rise apartment houses or commercial buildings a more viable option.

Much of the rezoning was in areas of Manhattan and concentrated along the avenues and main cross streets. If you look at Daytonian in Manhattan blog links above you'll see time and time again great mansions of Vanderbilts and others were torn down and replaced by office buildings or apartment houses.

If you walk up any avenue in Manhattan from say 14th Street to midtown you'll often see a few scattered remaining townhouses or mansions sandwiched between larger buildings. Same on Park, Fifth and Madison avenues above 57th street.

When you think about overall society benefits having one family occupy a townhouse or mansion that took up lots of square footage at a time when those below them in rank needed housing was wicked. Shed no tears for the Vanderbilts or whoever sold their grand piles to developers, they got plenty of cash from the transaction.

by Anonymousreply 3802/05/2021

I wish someone would buy this place before it crumbles.

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by Anonymousreply 3902/05/2021

"Alice Vanderbilt died the year the Conservatory Gardens were being planted. Five years later, in 1939, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney donated the grand carriage gates to the Park where they now serve as the entrance to the Conservatory Garden."

"The frescoed ceilings, the marbled-arched vestibule and the stained glass dome over the white marble stairway of Cornelius Vanderbilt's 5th Avenue mansion are all gone. Other than a few scattered relics--like the magnificent fireplace by Augustus Saint-Gaudens which is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and bas relief panels by Karl Bitter in the Sherry Netherland Hotel-- nothing remains of the Vanderbilt chateau but the grand wrought iron gates in Central Park."

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by Anonymousreply 4002/05/2021

For the record it wasn't just magnificent mansions that were torn down and largely ended up in landfills, but great office buildings as well.

Sadly NYC did not have landmark laws to save the Singer Building downtown. Much of that great structure lies buried in same landfills in NJ along side remains of Penn Station.

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by Anonymousreply 4102/05/2021

More on Singer Building..

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by Anonymousreply 4202/05/2021

I could look at the house at #20 all day. It just looks magical.

by Anonymousreply 4302/06/2021

The Hervey Bates mansion, 1305 North Delaware Street, Indianapolis. The inspiration for Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons. Demolished late 1950s/early 1960s.

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by Anonymousreply 4402/06/2021

R33, I also really like the "Daytonian in Manhattan" blog. The author is very thorough.

Of course, the site of the Cornelius Vanderbilt, Fifth Avenue at 57th Street, is still really prime real estate. You probably know that it's where Bergdorf Goodman is now, though the way things are going, with many famous department stores going out of business, I wonder if any of the traditional department stores will be around in 20 years.

I think the odds of such a big mansion surviving till today were really slim, especially through the Great Depression. I've read that many of New York's wealthiest families invested heavily in the stock market because they assumed, despite the occasional recession, that it was a great way of making money. They weren't prepared for the big crash of 1929 and the prolonged, deep recession afterward.

From what I understand, the movement to preserve historic landmarks and houses didn't have a lot of momentum till the 1960s in the U.S.

Of course, some big mansions in the neighborhood have survived, eg. the Morton F. Plant house at Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street, which is now the flagship Cartier store in New York.

There are some older townhouses in midtown near the Museum of Modern Art, eg. the Lehman house at 7 W 54th Street and the adjacent houses, but these buildings are of a more reasonable size than the demolished Vanderbilt mansion.

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by Anonymousreply 4502/07/2021

Whitemarsh Hall in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, built in 1921 and demolished in 1980. It was the third largest residence in the U.S. If it was in Palm Beach, the Hamptons or Greenwich, Connecticut, maybe it would still be around.

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by Anonymousreply 4602/07/2021

Good thing the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC is still around.

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by Anonymousreply 4702/07/2021

I'd like to see this dump razed and a Covid-19 Memorial Park put in it's place

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by Anonymousreply 4802/07/2021

A lot of the great mansions were built before there was an income tax which became mandatory in 1913.

by Anonymousreply 4902/07/2021

Sylvester T. Everett mansion, Cleveland, Ohio. Built in 1885 and demolished in 1938. Site currently occupied by a parking lot.

This place was huge, looked more like a public library or hotel than a house. Guessing Richardson Romanesque.

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by Anonymousreply 5002/07/2021

Cliff House in San Francisco

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by Anonymousreply 5102/07/2021

This still exists (just about) about 5 minutes walk from my house, it's located in a public park (since 1902) and nobody knows what to do with it?

It's called Buile Hill Mansion and is 200 years old, the park is 86 acres and was the site of a late 16th century Plague pit.

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by Anonymousreply 5202/07/2021

R26, the face on the Jones Mansion in Columbus might be some sort of "green man," surrounded by leaves, but my impression is that it's more of a sea monster, with horns, tusk-like teeth, and gill-like things around its face.

by Anonymousreply 5302/07/2021

US population in 1900 - 76 million

US population now - 331 million

by Anonymousreply 5402/07/2021

Creepy old piles is us.

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by Anonymousreply 5502/07/2021

Pictures like this remind of all the destruction urban renewal did to our cities--think of how much great architecture was destroyed and how many neighborhoods were ruined thanks to it.

by Anonymousreply 5602/07/2021

840 Fifth Avenue - home of THE Mrs. Astor.

The mansion was completed in 1896 and demolished in 1926. It gives you an idea of how quickly New York was growing at the time.

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by Anonymousreply 5702/10/2021

840 Fifth Avenue

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by Anonymousreply 5802/10/2021

840 Fifth Avenue

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by Anonymousreply 5902/10/2021

The William A. Clark House at 962 Fifth Avenue and East 77th Street. It was demolished in 1927 and replaced with a luxury apartment building (960 Fifth Avenue).

It was ridiculously gaudy but I still think it's a shame that it was demolished.

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by Anonymousreply 6002/10/2021

Isn't it amazing that some of these houses were only around for 30 years? After all of the work put into them?

by Anonymousreply 6102/10/2021

The Reagan's Bel Air house. It was bought up and demolished by the owner of the neighboring Chartwell/Beverly Hillbillies estate. Why someone wouldn't want the Reagan's house as an outbuilding, I don't know.

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by Anonymousreply 6202/10/2021

LA is the prototype now. Amazing how quickly massive, insanely expensive houses are built and then torn down. But because most of it is crap post-war “architecture”, no one tends to care. It helps me understand how people allowed these beautiful - in retrospect - mansions to be torn down.

by Anonymousreply 6302/10/2021

That Reagan house in Bel Air was a nice house. Normal MCM rather than vulgar and supersized.

by Anonymousreply 6402/10/2021

R62, somehow the Reagan foundation (or whatever) run by the son managed to spend many millions of dollars buying Reagan's childhood home (which is a shack).

by Anonymousreply 6502/10/2021

Huge buildings are still erected and torn down in short order in New York. After decades of fund raising the Museum of Folk Art constructed its first home designed just for the collection next to the Museum of Modern Art. Thirteen years later is was torn down as “the only option” for MOMA to expand. It was a beautiful cutting edge building and the only one in the city by the architects. The museum, which is supposed to champion Modern and Contemporary architects and architecture saw no need to preserve it.

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by Anonymousreply 6602/10/2021

[quote]Isn't it amazing that some of these houses were only around for 30 years? After all of the work put into them?

The Clark House at R60 took 14 years to build and was demolished 16 years after completion. Boggles the mind. Construction costs were $190 million in today's dollars.

by Anonymousreply 6702/10/2021

With homes I prefer symmetry so seeing a lot of these places from the US, including the hideous McPalaces the Vanderbilts constructed in NYC doesn't make me weep.

A lot of these mansions were built during the Victorian or Edwardian era. A look that did not age well, at all. Especially from the Victorian Era. Look at the EEOC building started in that era. Sticks out like an ugly old thumb. Yuk. Just too much of everything. The homes with balance and restraint seem to last longer.

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by Anonymousreply 6802/11/2021

r29 hotels like that aren't going to stand for long once potential customers learn that they don't have basic necessities such as AC. God knows renovating the plumbing and electricity for a hotel outside of a major major city is not an easy task. I'm sure room sizes hardly met developing standards. I think a lot of these places were destroyed because they weren't in desirable enough locations to compensate for their lack of modern amenities and the land was worth more than a drafty or sweltering pile of bricks.

by Anonymousreply 6902/11/2021

It makes a difference whether you have a historical board with enough power to save particular buildings. It also helps if the population has a connection to the city or the building. There's a reason there are still 4-story residential buildings from the 1700s in London--of the same style and quality. There is a legal structure in place to long-lease land or building. And in only certain areas can developers build skyscraper-type garbage.

We Americans are so transient--we don't really have attachments to cities or our architecture. Even the Municipal Arts association (and others that have roughly the same goal) in NYC is relatively weak.

by Anonymousreply 7002/11/2021

R68 - couldn't disagree with you more. I love those Victorian/Edwardian mansions! And the building on that book cover, too.

by Anonymousreply 7102/11/2021

That's not true, R69. London saved Gilbert Scott's St. Pancras hotel, many places like that have been saved and reused. That is an argument developer also use to facilitate demolition.

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by Anonymousreply 7202/11/2021

R68, I'm sure there are plenty of buildings you would consider ugly that have historic landmark status in Britain and the rest of Europe.

by Anonymousreply 7302/11/2021

The Chateau de Blois doesn't look symmetrical to me, R68. I'm not in favour of knocking it down.

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by Anonymousreply 7402/11/2021

Charles M. Schwab, Riverside Drive at 73rd Street. It was demolished in 1948......

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by Anonymousreply 7502/11/2021

.... and replace by this apartment building.

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by Anonymousreply 7602/11/2021

Ballroom and art gallery of William Backhouse Jr. and Caroline Astor house at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, ca. 1887.

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by Anonymousreply 7702/12/2021

Grand Salon of Cornelius Vanderbilt II house, 1894 (R32).

It looks like many of the rich people who built New York mansions during the Gilded Age were heavily into the Versailles style.

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by Anonymousreply 7802/12/2021

Some interesting pics.

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by Anonymousreply 7902/12/2021

Marion Davies' Santa Monica beach house.

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by Anonymousreply 8002/12/2021

Oh wow, that is impressive R80.

Nice to see you here, Ms. Madoff.

by Anonymousreply 8102/12/2021

Wealthy Americans of the Gilded Age turned to largely France or Italy for architecture and interior design.

What wasn't taken directly from great castles or grand homes of Europe (entire rooms from furniture to wall paneling was taken down, packed up, and shipped to USA), was commissioned or purchased from French interior design firms such as Jules Allard and Gilbert Cuel.

Everything from walls to other furnishings were made in France, then packed up and shipped to USA where they would be installed.

As have stated repeatedly so much from these grand mansions ended up being rubbished, you can't save everyone or everything I suppose. But some bits were saved and if one has the eye and is diligent in tracking things down...

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by Anonymousreply 8202/13/2021

Of course one reason why so much of this frou-frou either was rubbished or ended up stashed in collections or whatever is styles and tastes in interior design changed post WWI and certainly after WWII.

Aside from some matrons of UES, Palm Beach and select other enclaves no one was doing all that fussy heavy French stuff any longer. Even those who had genuine articles (furniture or furnishings from Versailles or other French palaces) were finding it hard to unload. The Metropolitan Museum of Art at one point had to put out a quiet word saying they weren't accepting any further donations of French furniture. They had more than was sufficient and space to store it all was getting tight.

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by Anonymousreply 8302/13/2021

Business card for Cuel Gilbert

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by Anonymousreply 8402/13/2021

For those fortunate to have been inside, some interiors of Metropolitan Club were done by Gilbert Cruel's firm.

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by Anonymousreply 8502/13/2021

Another bit of Cornelius Vanderbilt II's wonderful Fifth avenue mansion that survives is this piano by Steinway & Sons – Th. Kammerer (Cuel & cie).

IIRC the piano was moved to that other grand Vanderbilt residence, The Breakers at Newport.

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by Anonymousreply 8602/13/2021

One grand mansion that escaped (narrowly) being demolished is the Elms in Newport, RI.

Property was sold by last owner of the Berwind family and slated for demolition with property turned into a shopping mall and parking lot. Happily it did not happen. Though much of the original contents of home had been auctioned off, efforts were made to buy things back which had great success.

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by Anonymousreply 8702/13/2021

While not grand as the Vanderbilt pile further down Fifth avenue, Edward J. Berwind's house at 2 East 64th Street—or 828 Fifth Avenue, has managed to survive.

Linked article gives insight as to how the Berwind house on Fifth escaped fate of so many other Gilded Age piles, but also how what happened to others did, and why those that still managed to survive... did.

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by Anonymousreply 8802/13/2021

I was watching the Urbanist's live-streamed walk around the Upper East Side on YouTube. One of the viewers asked if any of the Vanderbilt mansions in Manhattan have survived till today.

The only one I'm aware of is at 647 Fifth Avenue and is now a Versace store. Surely all the bigger, grander ones have been demolished. Does anyone else know?

by Anonymousreply 8902/13/2021

Yes, 647 Fifth avenue is last of "Vanderbilt Row" mansions, rest were demolished.

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by Anonymousreply 9002/13/2021

Full list of Vanderbilt homes, and what happened to them can be found here:

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by Anonymousreply 9102/13/2021

That being said there are still standing on UES two "Vanderbilt" houses, but they aren't on Fifth avenue, nor did a member of that family actually commission the houses. Ironically both are former homes of late Gloria Vanderbilt; 39 East 72nd street, and 12 East 77th street.

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by Anonymousreply 9202/13/2021


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by Anonymousreply 9302/13/2021

Charles M. Schwab (no relation to that other Charles Schwab....)

Now that was really a rags to riches back to rags story that breaks your heart.

Riverside Drive had been intended to rival Fifth Avenue for the homes of wealthy and influential. It had everything going for it in some ways; beautiful views along North River, wide drive for walking or carriage rides, and in late 1800's/early 1900's plenty of empty land, or lots that could be cleared out.

To further cement this idea of a great avenue to rival any on UES originally lots along Riverside Drive came with deed restrictions which prohibited anything but private homes from being built. Sadly one by one as owners of properties fell upon hard times especially after Great Depression, WWI, and changing tastes along with times meant those restrictions were smashed. The grand apartment houses that went up along Riverside Drive didn't have long heyday on average either.

Charles Schwab barely got thirty years living out of his grand French chateau along Hudson River. Great Depression wiped him out financially and no longer was able to pay taxes on what was by 1939 a huge white elephant. Schwab family moved out (to Park Avenue), and that grand pile sat empty for ten years. Developer finally got it, torn down Mr. Schwab's beautiful castle and replaced it with an apartment building.

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by Anonymousreply 9402/14/2021

More about Charles M. Schwab..

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by Anonymousreply 9502/14/2021

Fifth Avenue may have lost many of its grand houses, but for those who like that sort of thing head over to Riverside Drive. A good number of large homes and mansions have managed to survive on Upper West Side.

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by Anonymousreply 9602/14/2021

Bob Vila's list

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by Anonymousreply 9702/14/2021

Stanford White had the most fascinating scandal!

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by Anonymousreply 9802/14/2021

There's another Vanderbilt house standing at 1 Sutton Place. Built for Anne Vanderbilt.

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by Anonymousreply 9902/14/2021

I wanted to share another Gilded Age “residence” lost, but then restored that Charles M. Schwab had, though there isn’t great presentation about it on the web. It’s his second custom built Pullman Car called the Loretto II, which were like the private jets of their day. It’s in a train museum in Altoona, PA not far from his home in Loretto, PA where his former mansion is now a home for Franciscan monks. No long after the museum acquired it, vandals set it on fire causing $100,000 in damage. It was painstakingly restored. This website, though updated in 2017, has graphics interface circa 1999, but it does lay out the whole story. Unfortunately, even the museum website doesn’t seem to have anything on it.

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by Anonymousreply 10002/14/2021

R100, thanks for all the great links.

Are you in that area of PA?

by Anonymousreply 10102/14/2021

There's actually a website I used to look at that has old boats that have some historic value but need restoration. (Like certain types of Mississippi Riverboats and the kinds of things that were used for shows in the 1920s and 1930s.) The boats are usually sitting in some water being held up by large inflation devices--and volunteers "adopt" them, get them on the hard, and then restore them (for fun) to be donated to a museum or something.

It's kind of fascinating. If I had a group of friends interested in this--and not just me by myself--I would totally be part of a weekend team like this.

by Anonymousreply 10202/14/2021

The Loretto site is fantastic. Look at all these cute old guys--OLD, FUCKING OLD--getting together for restoration parties.

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by Anonymousreply 10302/14/2021

R101 I went to school at IUP and Pitt about 15 years apart, but a friend worked for the conservators who oversaw the restoration, though I’ve never seen it in person.

by Anonymousreply 10402/14/2021


Took some time but One Sutton Place finally sold for $13 Million USD

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by Anonymousreply 10502/14/2021


Stanford White's love nest in near Madison Square Park (22 West 24th Street) was recently demolished (2007 IIRC), and now is being redeveloped.

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by Anonymousreply 10602/14/2021

New York City real estate being what it is, of course there is scandal on that front as well...

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by Anonymousreply 10702/14/2021

One beautiful fall day in 1990 I took Metro North from Grand Central Station and after checking with the porter on the train made arrangements for the train to stop a few miles outside the town of Cold Spring. There is a hiking trail there that takes you over the mountain and down into the town on the other side. On the way are very grand stone ruins of a great house. At the time little was known about it other than it had burned in the late 1950s. It was the home of Edward Cornish who was president of the National Lead Company and they called the house Northgate. Apparently, in 2010 images of what it looked like finally were discovered with a relative. It’s a very unusual, but spectacular looking house. At the bottom is a link to the ruins.

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by Anonymousreply 10802/14/2021

Thanks, R90, R91, R92.

by Anonymousreply 10902/14/2021

I can't understand why if the new owner is just going to erect apartments, why the original mansion can't be remodeled into units? Just makes you sick.

by Anonymousreply 11002/14/2021


As explained further up in thread one main reason old mansions in NYC (and elsewhere) were torn down was that the land they sat upon was worth more than current structure.

Technology changed by early 1900's and certainly after WWI making it possible to build taller buildings, which in turn gives greater sales or rent per square foot.

In 1911 NYC adopted first zoning laws in nation which sought to balance development with other things. But one thing it did do was encourage higher buildings in some areas (Mid-Town, along avenues and certain cross streets,,,), but left density lower along side streets.

It was simply a waste of valuable "air rights" to keep those large squat piles of mansions in mid-town or even along Park, Fifth, Madison, Central Park West, and other avenues.

This is the Schwab House, a co-op building that sits where Mr. Schwab's grand mansion once stood. You can see far more housing was generated by the taller new building than ever could be had from previous chateau.

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by Anonymousreply 11102/14/2021

For one thing, bathrooms.

If you're going to divy a house up into apartments, then every little apartment needs its own bathroom--which is a pain in the ass to retrofit. Lots of apartments in New York used to have a tub in the apartment, then a shared toilet in the hall--but then you can't charge high rents for that sort of thing.

by Anonymousreply 11202/14/2021

The 1922 Italianate house built by William Jenkins at 641 South Irving Boulevard (at the corner of Wilshire Blvd.) in Los Angeles. J. Paul Getty bought the house in 1936 supposedly for ex-wife #4, or possibly for future wife #5, but mostly as a real estate investment. However, the house sat mostly empty until 1950 when Paramount Pictures installed a swimming pool for its most famous resident...

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by Anonymousreply 11302/14/2021

^^^ ... Norma Desmond.

Exteriors for Sunset Blvd. were shot on location at the Getty mansion and interiors were duplicated on a soundstage. The house was also used in Rebel Without A Cause. It was demolished 1957, after a protracted fight with the neighbors, to make way for a Getty oil company office building.

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by Anonymousreply 11402/14/2021

This entire grand Park Avenue prewar co-op is set for demolition soon.

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by Anonymousreply 11502/15/2021

This awesome apartment and 20-30 others are awaiting the wrecking ball.

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by Anonymousreply 11602/15/2021
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by Anonymousreply 11702/15/2021

The H. O. Havemeyer House (on 5th Ave. and 66th St.) was torn down after the wife's death in 1929, but collectors swooped in to rescue the Louis Comfort Tiffany interiors, much of which is now on view in the University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor.

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by Anonymousreply 11802/15/2021

That Park Avenue co-op was put up for sale by shareholders, and had been on market for awhile IIRC. City recently changed zoning for mid-town which made properties in that area with extra air rights very valuable. Believe it wasn't long after rezoning became official building was sold.

by Anonymousreply 11902/15/2021

Thanks for depressing me, Ruthie.

by Anonymousreply 12002/15/2021

R80 Marion Davies' beach house was sold in 1947 to hotelier Joseph Drown, who renovated it into an exclusive hotel called Oceanhouse, which opened in 1948. Below are photos of the interiors taken at the time the hotel opened. The hotel only lasted a few years and plans were made to replace it with a beachfront motel. The main building was demolished in 1956 but no new building ever replaced it. It has remained a parking lot since the city of Santa Monica purchased the property in 1960. The swimming pool and the 7000 square foot guest house are the only remaining parts of the original estate.

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by Anonymousreply 12102/15/2021

Tagging onto R119

Those who know NYC especially mid-town along Park Avenue from Grand Central Terminal to 57th street likely can see why shareholders of 417 Park were anxious to sell.

That stretch of Park Avenue was vastly different in early 1900's when 417 Park went up. New York Central RR had covered over their ROW from 42nd depot to 96th street making living on Fourth Avenue (now Park avenue) less down scale. Things got even better when smoke and soot belching steam locomotives were replaced by electric.

Gradually as was happening to east and west of Park avenue, mid-town below 57th was becoming increasingly commercial. One by one the grand residential buildings gave way to office towers that we associate with that area. 417 Park was one of the last hold outs.

Pre-war is fine far as that goes, but the area is noisy and wholly commercial. Far cry from the quiet and stately Park Avenue north of 59th street to 96th.

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by Anonymousreply 12202/15/2021

Given everyone rips out interiors now, those old apartment buildings lost their luster. The square boxes of Park Avenue were never much to look at and they have no real view - it was the proportions and detail of the apartments that were unique. Now that every apartment is ripped out to the studs, there isn’t much worth saving in them. The old houses were works of art - the apartment buildings rarely were.

by Anonymousreply 12302/15/2021

View along Park avenue looking north taken early part of prior century. If you try hard enough can barely make out 417 Park in upper right of some images.

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by Anonymousreply 12402/15/2021

R121 Lol, anyone notice that in picture 17 they have the Martinique wallpaper most infamously associated with the Beverly Hills Hotel?

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by Anonymousreply 12502/15/2021

Can you imagine what nightmares those highrises would become if the electricity went off for weeks or months? Walking down 73 floors every time you needed to get out? The crime and dead bodies. Suffocating heat or brutal cold, depending on the season (shudders).

It's all so lucrative and efficient if everything runs perfectly.

by Anonymousreply 12602/15/2021

[quote]R9 This blog has thousands of pictures of now-ruined or vanished stately British homes. Plus genealogies of the families that owned them.

I don’t know where else to post this - but when I was visiting England a few years ago, I had a cab drive through the gates of a small castle out in the country I’d read about in my favorite book. We rolled through parklands, turned a corner, and were suddenly in front of its very door!

The driver said, “I think someone’s watching us from that window,” and I said “I’ll say we’re lost!”

But when the owner came to the door I crumbled and told him the truth, that I had read about that building and always wanted to see it. He said, “Well, would you like to look around?” (!!!)

I prowled around the exterior a bit... then when I went to say thank you he said, “Would you like to see the inside?”

I was so pleased : ) I can’t believe he was so hospitable! But I guess it just goes to show - nothing ventured, nothing gained. And you never know who’s going to surprise you.

by Anonymousreply 12702/15/2021

You wonder how much it would cost to build one of these today.

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by Anonymousreply 12802/15/2021

A lot of these guys seemed to go broke during the Depression. I suppose, if you want to build a house like this, leave relatives and children wealthy enough that they don't have to sell the minute you drop dead.

by Anonymousreply 12902/15/2021


In ending scene of Gosford Park Constance Trentham on taking her leave after a very exciting weekend (to say the least), turns her newly widowed niece (Sylvia McCordle), and says "what will you do about the house?". Mrs. McCordle gives and exasperated sigh and says "Oh I don't know... does anyone really want the bother nowadays..."

That was in years between the wars and referred to a country estate in Great Britain, but all over the UK and United States people were having the same thoughts or conversations.

Those grand piles were not only getting old, earliest ones built only twenty or thirty years old, but cost a fortune to staff and maintain. Even those with most resilient fortunes often began to feel the pinch of keeping one or more of those grand homes up. Mr. Carnegie's grand home on UES (now a museum), consumed *two tons* of coal per day to heat in winter. That was one of the more forward designed and built mansions. But there was more...

Starting around 1920's or so and certainly after WWI economic and social changes added yet more pressure to keeping these grand mansions. New labor laws covered domestic servants including minimum wage. Servants became expensive to keep, and that was even if you could find them which wasn't easy. Men and women began leaving domestic service for work in factories, offices, shops, department stores, etc.. The hours were regular, pay perhaps slightly better, and you didn't have to kiss Mrs. Vanderbilt's behind or empty her slop jars.

Quite simply the Gilded Age was over. People thought there was a glimmer of hope things would go back after WWI was over, but it didn't. Things only got worse as class feeling grew and that reached into various levels of government. Tax (more like soak) the rich became the new mantra and those who once were used to paying rather paltry rates round themselves not only subjected to hefty rates during their lifetimes, but equally painful death duties on estates.

What did in grand mansions in New York City and other urban areas was the increasing acceptance of wealthy to apartment living. Once considered louche and very suspect the new grand apartment buildings and residence hotels began filling with well off to even wealthy. Accommodations offered almost as much space compared to a townhouse or all but largest mansion, but best of all staff wages were built into the rent.

Things got even better in Manhattan when co-op multi-family took off. Now people could form corporations that made multi-family living every bit as exclusive and restricted as Newport or Fifth avenue mansion areas.

Time and time again persons or families who sold their Manhattan mansions to developers secured for themselves choice apartments (often at very good rates) in whatever multi-family building that replaced. Havemeyer family mentioned up thread did this, and they weren't alone.

by Anonymousreply 13002/15/2021

R118 Speaking of Louis Comfort Tiffany - His 1905 Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall, was a showcase for the artistry of Tiffany Studios. In 1918 Tiffany created a school for artists on the property. After his death in 1933, the estate went into decline and ultimately burned in 1957. Fortunately, one of his former students bought as much of the remaining contents that survived and had it shipped to Florida where it is now in the collection of the Morse Museum. Surviving architectural elements, including the entrance portico seen below are on display at The Metropolitan Museum in NY.

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by Anonymousreply 13102/15/2021

R130 well they might get their way again soon enough. Don't get me wrong, I love old buildings and luxury too, but the upkeep is insane. They show what it takes to keep these buildings going and you really do need servants. Maybe that's why wealth is so out of control, they miss those good old days.

by Anonymousreply 13202/15/2021

I remembered this story about a woman with a Fifth Avenue house who sold it to developers with the caveat that they "recreate" her house on the top floor. Marjorie Merriweather Post it was. I'm sure someone will find a photo of the house. The apartment is shown below.

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by Anonymousreply 13302/16/2021

Thank you r121. I've never seen those photos. =))

by Anonymousreply 13402/16/2021

R131 Insider info, during cleaning of the lamps with a cherry picker, there was an accident when someone hit the wrong button and the platform moved into one of the lamp shade and shattered it basically into dust. The restoration team gathered all the shards up and painstakingly restored the shade and it is impossible to tell, even looking closely, which one it was.

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by Anonymousreply 13502/16/2021

The Billings Estate in Upper Manhattan. Now the Cloisters museum. Lots of hot sex in the tunnel and on the trails that surround it.

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by Anonymousreply 13602/16/2021

Ah memories, R136!

by Anonymousreply 13702/16/2021

Preservation is still a dirty word today.

I was in Chicago as one of the neighborhoods west of the city had a boom in the last decade, and several old homes dating to the late 1800s were torn down so a bunch of cheap, shitty condo buildings could go up.

by Anonymousreply 13802/16/2021


George A. Fuller himself had long been dead, but his company went on to build some of the most well known and greatest buildings in USA. The Flatiron Building in Manhattan, NYC along with the Plaza Hotel, and Pennsylvania Station were built by the Fuller Company.

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by Anonymousreply 13902/16/2021

Floor Plan Porn!

Article from The Observer echos what has been stated often in this thread; era of grand mansions died with the rise of pre-war apartment buildings.

From early 1900's until stock market crash and then Great Depression pretty much a stop to things these new luxury apartment buildings replicated what wealthy had in private mansions, and more. On the flip side renting an apartment (or even later buying in a co-op) still came out cheaper for many than keeping a huge pile in Manhattan.

Costs for water, heating, and so forth were paid in common with other shareholders or included in rent, ditto for property taxes.

Yes, you often have more square footage in a mansion or townhouse, but it is spread out over several floors. Hiking up and down five or six stories gets old. When you see floor plans of grand old pre-war buildings everything flows easily from private to public spaces.

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by Anonymousreply 14002/16/2021


What's left of grand mansions in NYC, in particular Manhattan are largely either landmarks, or in historical areas. Either way any sort of renovation much less demolition is not very easy nor likely.

Poor Frick Collection, each time they wished to make sensible and some would say needed changes to that Gilded Age pile things were far from easy.

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by Anonymousreply 14102/17/2021

If anyone has $52 million USD one of the last remaining Gilded Age mansions on Fifth avenue is up for sale.

American Irish Historical Society has put Mary Augusta King mansion at Fifth avenue and 80th street up for sale. It is across from the MET museum and Central Park.

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by Anonymousreply 14202/17/2021

R141 it was just announced that the art collection will be opening in the Bruer Building, the former home of the Whitney Museum of Art, next month as the Frick undergoes restoration and expansion for the next few years. I’m kinda excited to see the art in a different context, especially in a modernistic building. It will also be hung by region and chronologically and will give a whole different feel to everything.

by Anonymousreply 14302/17/2021


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by Anonymousreply 14402/17/2021

Well some lessons have been learned.

"New York City-based architectural salvage dealer The Demolition Depot has announced that numerous treasures that make up the historic interiors from two Upper East Side mansions–set to be demolished for a condo development– will be available for sale, by appointment on a first come first served basis. A trove of original architectural ornaments is being offered by the dealer, including “magnificent complete paneled rooms, finely carved marble mantels, elegant stair railings in iron or carved wood, leaded glass windows, parquet flooring, and so on.”

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by Anonymousreply 14502/17/2021

What's a dog room?

(The new development going up will have something called a dog room.)

by Anonymousreply 14602/17/2021


Exactly what name implies, a room dedicated to the pooch.

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by Anonymousreply 14702/17/2021

But there's just one in the entire building? For all the dogs to be together?

Is this a NYC thing?

by Anonymousreply 14802/17/2021


Likely one room for all dogs in building. Instead of residents sending Fido out to one of the doggy gyms on UES, they can just send the pooch down to whatever space this building is setting aside as a "dog room".

by Anonymousreply 14902/17/2021


It is a "NYC thing" to add lately all sorts of bizarre amenities that developers believe will justify their lofty sales or rents per square foot prices in new buildings.

There is so much new construction atm in NYC, and in particular on the high end for Manhattan and areas of Brooklyn. Developers need as many angles possible to rope people in.

As it relates to this thread nothing is exactly new. Back in late 1800's and early 1900's developers of new upscale residential hotels or apartment buildings offered all sorts of amenities. Things like electric refrigeration (not everyone even well off had back then), vaults for storing jewels and other valuables, laundry service, maid service, in house restaurants and or room service, and so it goes.

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by Anonymousreply 15002/17/2021

Tagging onto R145 my favourite blog covered 107 and 109 East 79th street mansions that were demolished for new construction.

Am not sure but *think* Dick Cavett may have lived in one of those buildings....

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by Anonymousreply 15102/17/2021

R149 and R150

Thank you for responding. I suppose it's kind of nice to have a doggie daycare in the building.

by Anonymousreply 15202/17/2021

The Pacific Coast Club in Long Beach Calif was a private club with separate dining rooms for men and women. Torn down in the 80's for a luxury high rise.

Circa 1926

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by Anonymousreply 15302/17/2021

It is odd to hear old guard Gilded Age WASPs or other whites complain about a "servant problem". But then again in north east and other select areas white households largely did not hire blacks as domestics. Of course in the south things were different, but many in NY, NJ, Conn, MA, etc... preferred European staff.

What they didn't get as immigrants they brought back from Europe or otherwise hired maybe via an agency. Even today maybe the Jewish households are big on AA domestic staff, but others still largely turn to Europe (when they can) or maybe Filipino.

Am speaking of families at or above a certain wealth level. Average UES "middle class" housewife often takes what she can find.

by Anonymousreply 15402/17/2021

I've always wanted a place to store all my dogs. 😩

by Anonymousreply 15502/18/2021

I’m sure Candy Spelling is the progenitor of the dog room or more likely rooms.

by Anonymousreply 15602/18/2021

Does anyone think the master (and sons) of the used the help as sort of harem? We've all heard of stories like Strom Thurmond.

by Anonymousreply 15702/18/2021

R153, fortunately the Villa Riviera (built 1928) which is right next door was not torn down.

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by Anonymousreply 15802/19/2021

R158 This building always made me so happy to see as I drove through downtown everyday, interspersed with all the new construction. It was like the grand dame at the end of the strip.

by Anonymousreply 15902/19/2021

Yes R158, it is very special. I used to live there and it has a certain magic to it specially at night when the roof is lighted. When you walk around inside it's like you got zapped into another place in time.

by Anonymousreply 16002/19/2021

OPs pic reminds me of Bishop's Palace in Galveston . As a child I just knew a vampire lived there. It has the same kind of architecture.

by Anonymousreply 16102/19/2021

Wow--what a great looking building. It makes me smile just to look at the wikipedia photos.

by Anonymousreply 16202/19/2021


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by Anonymousreply 16302/20/2021

The Krueger-Scott mansion in Newark, NJ gets a second chance at life.

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by Anonymousreply 16402/22/2021

R158, That building used to specifically ban Jews. It was on the books there until the 80s.

by Anonymousreply 16502/22/2021

Charles Crocker Mansion SFO. Destroyed in the 1906 earthquake

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by Anonymousreply 16602/22/2021

R166, you can see a bit of the spite fence Crocker built around 3 sides of the house the Chinese owner refused to sell to him (he wanted to own the entire block for his estate). Crocker was a vile, petty piece of work, but that house was beautiful.

by Anonymousreply 16702/22/2021

The astounding Louis Comfort tiffany mansion, NYC. Built 1885, demolished 1936.

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by Anonymousreply 16802/22/2021

Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones Wyndclyffe

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by Anonymousreply 16902/22/2021

Place has not an entirely happy history. One of few interesting things than can be said is it is supposedly source of oft quoted remark "keeping up with the Joneses".

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by Anonymousreply 17002/22/2021

Its a pity. Would have made a nice little school or a adjacent building for Bard.

by Anonymousreply 17102/23/2021

What remains of the exterior of Wyndcliffe is worthy of restoration, even if the interior wasn't a recreation.

by Anonymousreply 17202/23/2021
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