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1021 Park Avenue

Northeast corner at 85th Street

1021 Park Avenue

By Carter B. Horsley

One of the most distinctive and elegant buildings on the avenue, this very attractive apartment building was erected in 1929 as a cooperative.

The 14-story building has only 27 apartments and was designed by Rosario Candela and Kenneth M. Murchison and erected by John and Joseph Campagna, the son of Anthony Campagna, one of the city’s most important developers of luxury residential buildings. Candela was the leading architect of luxury apartment buildings of his era.

It is just to the south of the charming former town house at 1025 Park Avenue of Reginald deKoven, a composer, designed in 1912 by John Russell Pope in Jacobean style (see The City Review article). DeKoven on his wife composed "Robin Hood," a light opera in 1890 that featured a song, "O Promise Me," and he also help built the Lyric Theater on West 42nd Street. That small building is a designated city landmark and has been subdivided into cooperative apartments.

This red-brick building with a three-story limestone base, gargoyles and a handsome enclosed rooftop watertank enclosure. It is notable because its asymmetrical design makes it appear to be more than one building and because it is also very compatible with the very handsome former townhouse of Reginald de Koven, and it is also directly across the sidestreet from another very interesting mansion, the former New World Foundation building at 100 East 85th Street (see The City Review article) that was originally the Lewis Gouverneur Morris house designed by Ernest Flagg in 1914.

This apartment building has considerable "light-and-air" because of both the mansions and the Park Avenue Christian Church, designed by Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson in 1911, diagonally across the avenue.

In his excellent book, "Park Avenue, Street of Dreams," (Atheneum, 1990), James Trager provides the following account of the site’s history:

"Quite a few Park Avenue houses went up in the years before World War I. A private residence designed by Hunt & Hunt for Amos R. E. Pinchot was finished in 1910 at the northeast corner of 85th Street. Pinchot, a lawyer, was the brother of Gifford, the conservationist who superintended the 119,000 acres of forest that surrounded Biltmore House, designed by Richard Morris Hunt for William Henry Vanderbilt’s youngest son, George Washington, and completed in 1896. Gifford headed the U.S. Forest Service but was fired by President Taft after joining others in charging the Secretary of the Interior, Richard A. Ballinger, with conflict of interest - a cause celebre in 1910. The Pinchot house was later occupied under lease by Mrs. Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, Vincent Astor, and Joseph C. Baldwin before being purchased by Edward R. Stettinus, a J. P. Morgan partner, who occupied it until his death in the late 1920’s."

Trager also noted that Amos Pinchot had sold Lewis Gouverneur Morris the lot on the southeast corner at this intersection, directly across from the sidestreet entrance of 1021 Park Avenue (see The City Review article). Morris had the building on it razed and replaced with a building designed by Ernest Flagg that he moved into from his former residence at 77 Madison Avenue. The new, gable, dark red-brick house had hip-roofed dormer windows, a cupola over its elevator tower, and a garage in its east wing. Trager wrote that the daughters of Morris sold the townhouse in 1967 to the New World Foundation, "established in 1954 to carry out the testamentary wishes of the reaper heiress, Anita McCormick Blaine."

This building, which has a doorman, but no garage, adjoined the garden of Mrs. Reginald de Koven, widow of the composer, and also backed up on the garden of the Park Avenue Methodist Church on 86th Street.

The building is not far from to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue and there are numerous schools and religious institutions nearby. Cross-town buses run on 86th Street and an express subway station is at Lexington Avenue and 86th Street as well as major stores such as Barnes & Noble. The area also has several movie theaters.

 

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