By Carter B. Horsley
This attractive, 121-unit, cooperative apartment
building is on the site of four townhouses, one of which belonged
to Ogden L. Mills and had been designed by Richard M. Hunt. Hunt
had been the mentor of Emery Roth, the architect of the high-rise
building now on the site. The other townhouses on the site included
a residence for Mary Harrison designed by C. P. H. Gilbert, a
residence for Maturin Livingston, also designed by Hunt, and a
townhouse designed by Welch, Smith & Provot.
Originally, the building had 134 apartments,
eight of which were duplexes, with a total of 560 rooms.
The buff-brick building, which has a three-story
limestone base, was completed in 1941 and is notable for its streamlined,
Moderne style, highlighted by the glass-brick, rounded corners
of the watertank enclosure. There are rounded bay windows above
the first setbacks on the avenue fašade and also on most
of the side-street fašade. The setbacks are strongly accented
by cornices that nicely punctuate the building's mass.
The building's avenue frontage is not symmetrical
and is nicely modulated by a central section accented by vertical
Roth, who designed many of the most famous
towers on Central Park West such as the San Remo and the Beresford,
was the architect also of 880 Fifth Avenue, just across 69th Street,
and 930 Fifth Avenue, a few blocks to the north.
"A symmetrically placed Fifth Avenue entrance
led to a streamlined lobby featuring red granite walls and a gray
tremolite floor; a second, similarly articulated lobby was approached
directly from Sixty-ninth Street," wrote Robert A. M. Stern,
Thomas Mellins and David Fishman in their fine book, "New
York 1960, Architecture and Urbanism Between the Second World
War and the Bicentennial" (The Monacelli Press, 1995). "Although
the building exuded a sense of up-to-date style and the rooms
were not large," the authors continued, "the layouts
reflected the traditional standards of luxury and service that
Fifth Avenue residents had come to expect; every unit, even those
lacking separate dining rooms or maids' rooms, had a servants'
entrance leading from a vestibule connected to the kitchen."
For more information on 875 Fifth Avenue check its entry at CityRealty.com