Whitney built a more spectacular mansion on the present site of
the Bergdorf Goodman store overlooking Central Park at
Fifth Avenue and 58th Street, and Henry Clay Frick built a very
elegant home and garden to house his very great art collection
on Fifth Avenue at 70th Street and Andrew Carnegie built a massive
house with a very large garden directly across 91st Street from
this structure, but only Otto Kahn built a palazzo of which the
Medicis would be proud.
This large and very impressive Italian Renaissance-palazzo style
mansion is modeled after the Cancelleria in Rome and was designed
by J. Armstrong Stenhouse and C. P. H. Gilbert.
In his fine book, "Touring
The Upper East Side, Walks in Five Historic Districts" (The
New York Landmarks Conservancy, 1995), Andrew S. Dolkart provides
the following commentary:
"At the Kahn house, the architects adopted features of the
Roman palace in a somewhat literal manner, using them in the creation
of an individual work appropriate for the lifestyle of a wealthy
early 20th-century New York family. Especially novel features
are the enclosed drive which allowed family and guests to arrive
in their new automobiles without public scrutiny and the impressive
interior courtyard. The enormous house was commissioned by Otto
Kahn, a partner in the banking firm of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. During
their lives, Mr. and Mrs. Kahn were best known as lavish patrons
of the arts; the Metropolitan Opera was a favored recipient of
their largesse. As at the Carnegie House across the street, the
Kahns had a large staff. In 1925, Mr. and Mrs. Kahn and their
two children were served by fourteen live-in employees, but unlike
Carnegie's staff, the Kahn's servants were a multinational group,
including people from Scotland, England, Ireland, Norway and Switzerland.
Shortly after her husband's death in 1934, Addie Kahn sold the
house to the Convent of the Sacred Heart which uses the building
as a school for girls. The building was cleaned and restored in
The Sacred Heart school is the most exclusive Roman Catholic school
for girls in New York. It also owns the Duchesne School in the
very handsome mansion that abuts this, the former James A. and
Florence Vanderbilt Sloan Burden Jr. house designed by Warrren,
Wetmore & Morgan. These two properties are to the west of
the Consulate of the Russian Federation at 9 East 91st Street
that originally was the John Henry and Emily Vanderbilt Sloan
Hammond house that was designed by Carrère & Hastings
and this mansion "row" is perhaps the most impressive
in the city, especially as they face Andrew Carnegie's enormous
This building was the setting for the movie, "The Anderson
Tapes," and has been often rented for weddings.
Otto Kahn erected a huge estate in Dix Hills on Long Island.
C. P. H. Gilbert was the architect of several other important
mansions on Fifth Avenue's "Millionaire's Row." One
block to the north on the avenue, for example, he designed the
townhouse for Felix and Frieda Warburg that is now the Jewish
Museum (see The City Review article).
In his book, Mr. Dolkart noted that "Apparently, Felix and
Frieda Warburg, prominent members of New York's German-Jewish
aristocracy, were so impressed with the François I chateaux
that C. P. H. Gilbert had designed for the Fletchers [at 2 East
79th Street][see The City Review article]
and Woolworths [formerly at 990 Fifth Avenue]farther south of
Fifth Avenue, that they commissioned a similar house for themselves."