By Carter B. Horsley
There are many spectacular apartments in New
York, but few rise to legendary status over the years as did Mrs.
William K. Vanderbilt II's 27-room maisonette at 660 Park Avenue,
Arthur Brisbane's duplex in the Ritz Tower at Park Avenue and
57th Street with a 20-foot-high, 70-foot-long living room, William
Randolph Hearst's five-floor apartment with a triple-height hall
in the Clarendon at 137 Riverside Drive, and Stewart Mott's quadruplex
penthouse at the Galleria on West 57th Street.
Probably the most famous, however, was Marjorie Merriweather Post
Hutton's 54-room, triplex penthouse in this building.
The apartment included a silver room, a wine
room and cold storage rooms for flowers and for furs along with
a self-contained suite of rooms for Mrs. Hutton's parents, Mr.
and Mrs. Post."
In his book, "Fifth Avenue, The Best Address," (Rizzoli,
1998), Jerry E. Patterson wrote that "The decoration, judging
from contemporary photographs, was an uneasy mixture of eighteenth-century,
much of it reproduction, along with homey Americana. The general
effect was hotel-like. Mrs. Post, as she called herself after
her fourth divorce, spent very little time in this huge layout'
the apartment was vacant for many years before it was converted
into six nine-room apartments." A large, arched Palladian-style
window that was part of the Post apartment is still visible on
the building's Fifth Avenue facade.
Mrs. Post did not limit her vistas to New York and also owned
Mar-a-Lago, the impressive estate in Palm Beach, Fla., that was
acquired by New York developer Donald Trump and is now a club.
This 14-story building was built in 1925 and designed by W. K.
Rouse & L. A. Goldstone.
The triple-arch driveway on the sidestreet, which is similar to
the one that is the main entrance at One Sutton Place South, is
not active and its entry is now part of doctors' offices.
The building's canopied and landscaped main entrance is on Fifth
The building's apartments have excellent views of Central Park,
especially since the adjacent building to the south is the low-rise
but palatial Sacred Heart School that was the former Otto Kahn
mansion. This section of Carnegie Hill is extremely impressive.
A long article in the June 12, 2008 edition of The New York
Times by Penelope Green describes a rather curious and fascinating
renovation of one of the apartments on the 14th floor created
out of the Post residence.
It was bought by Steven B. Kinsky, who runs a private equity company,
his wife, Maureen Sherry, a former managing director at Bear Stearns,
and their two sons, two daughters, and LuLu, their dog.
They commissioned Eric Clough to design the interiors of the 4,200-square-foot
apartment with the instructions that they did not want it to be
a "cookie-cutter" space. Mr. Kinsky, who also runs a
charter school company, told him that he wanted a poem he had
written to be put in a wall and Ms. Sherry suggested it be put
in a bottle and hidden "like a time capsule."
Mr. Clough, according to the article, got inspired and contacted
many friends and "before long, his firm, 212box, was knee-deep
in code and cipher books, furnituremakers were devising secret
compartments" and doing research on 40 historical figures.
The renovation took a year and a half and was brought it about
$300 a square foot.
Over time, the family began to discover a lot of unusual things
and eventually Mr. Clough sent Mr. Kinsky a letter with a poem
that directed the family to a hidden panel in the front hall with
a book that led them on a scavenger hunt in the apartment with
"...the finale involved, in part, removing decorative door
knockers from two hallway panels, which fit together to make a
crank, which in turn opened hidden panels in a credenza in the
dining room, which displayed multiple keys and keyholes, which,
when the correct ones were used, yielded drawers containing acrylic
letters and a table-size cloth imprinted with the beginnings of
a crossword puzzle, the answers to which led to one of the rectangular
panels lining the tiny den, which concealed a chamfered magnetic
cube, which could be used to open the remaining 24 panels, revealing,
in large type, the poem written by Mr. Kinsky," the article