and interesting Beaux Arts-style mansion was originally built
in 1901 on speculation by W. W. & T. Hall and designed by
Alexander Welch of Welch, Smith & Provot.
It first owner was Benjamin N. Duke.
It has more visibility perhaps than any other townhouse in the
city because it is directly opposite the large stairs at the entrance
of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Depending upon one's attitudes,
this is a fabulous location because of its proximity to the museum
and its treasures, or a terrible location because of its proximity
to the museum and its tourists.
(One's attitude should be the former!)
A confection of fašade details, this red-brick building
has large curved bays on its avenue and side-street frontages
topped by balustraded balconies, a very handsome rusticated limestone
one-story base, limestone quoins, a handsome fenced moat, and
a delightful mansard roof capped with finials that were replaced
in 1985 when the building was renovated and subdivided into apartments.
his excellent book: "Streetscapes,
Tales of Manhattan's Significant Buildings and Landmarks,"
(Harry N. Abrams, 2003), Christopher Gray devotes a chapter to
this building and notes that "it was actually one of a group
of four houses, 1006-1009 Fifth," adding that "In late
1901, the critic Montgomery Schuyler ridiculed this building and
others in an article in the magazine Architectural Record
entitled "The Architecture of the Billionaire District.'
Schuyler conceded some competent touches in the thouse but generally
dismissed 1009 Fifth Avenue (and other mansions on Fifth), singling
out the sheet-metal cornice painted to imitate stone."
Gray also wrote that
it is not clear why Benjamin Duke "bought 1009 Fifth Avenue
instead of building a house of his own design. In addition, census,
city directories , and other sources list no occupant of the house
until 1907, when Benjamin Duke moved in from the old Hoffman House
Hotel. He moved to the Plaza Hotel in 1909, and his brother replaced
him at 1009 Fifth. In 1912, James built his own mansion at 1 East
78th Street, now owned by New York University, and Benjamin built
one on the southeast corner of 89th Street and Fifth Avenue that
was demolished years later for the Guggenheim Museum. Other family
members moved into 1009 Fifth; they were followed in 1922 by Anthony
J. Drexel Biddle Jr., and his wife, Mary, Benjamin's daughter.
Mrs. Biddle died in 1960, and her daughter, Mary Biddle Semans,
took over the home."
building was owned by
Alex Sapir who acquired it for about $40 million. It was put
on the market in January, 2010, for about $50 million and an article by
at wsj.com July 28, 2010 said it was sold for about $44 million to
Carlos Slim, a wealthy Mexican.