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1025 Park Avenue

1025 Park Avenue

By Carter B. Horsley

There are not too many townhouses left on Park Avenue and this handsome Jacobean-style mansion is one of the most impressive, although it has been subdivided, nicely, into 11 cooperative apartments. It is also only half a block away from another attractive former mansion, the former Lewis Gouverneur Morris house designed by Ernest Flagg at 100 East 85th Street (see The City Review article) that has a short frontage on the avenue and had been used for many years as the headquarters of the New World Foundation.

1025 Park Avenue

1025 Park Avenue is low-rise, mid-block building

While the Morris/New World building is quite eclectic and charming, this building, which was designed in 1912 by John Russell Pope, is quite formal and impressive. It was designed for Reginald de Koven, a composer. Reginald de Koven, a composer, designed in 1912 by John Russell Pope in Jacobean style. 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. It is a designated city landmark.

It is notable for its great two-story-high bay windows, its wrought-iron fence and its bent drain pipes. It has a two-step-up entrance and no garage.

Mr. de Koven had bought its 60-foot-wide plot from Amos Pinchot who had acquired it to protect his own house at the corner at 1021 from potential commercial development.

In his excellent book, "Park Avenue, Street of Dreams," (Atheneum, 1990), James Trager provides the following account of the history of Pinchot's real estate activity at this location:

"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."

The building at 1021 Park Avenue, which was erected in 1929 as a cooperative and 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 14-story building 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.

1025 Park Avenue seen from the south

1025 Park Avenue is low-rise, mid-block building

This 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.

In their excellent book, "New York 1900, Metropolitan Architecture and Urbanism, 1890-1915" (Rizzoli International Publications Inc., 1883), Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin and John Massengale, provide the following commentary about this building:

"John Russell Pope designed a more characteristic Elizabethan style house for Reginald de Koven....Two large bay windows on Park Avenue marked the room de Koven called the Great Hall, which had at one end a double-storied stone mantel and a replica of a plaster ceiling from the Reindeer Inn at Banbury, England, and at the other a carved oak screen and minstrel gallery modelled on the Great Hall at Hatfield House. The stairhall was carved and painted in the manner of the staircase at Knowle Park, but some rooms came from later periods. Woodwork in the style of Sir Chrisopher Wren was used in the library, connected with a dining room with woodwork adapted to frame a set of French paintings owned by de Koven."

 

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