in 1907 by Franklin
and Samuel Haines and designed by Charles W. Romeyn and Henry
R. Wynne, the Prásáda originally was a delightful
French Second Empire-style apartment house.
1919, however, its mansard
roof was removed and the top floor slightly expanded to its current
configuration which is relatively flush with the next two highest
floors. As a result, the building's composition has been seriously
tampered with and truncated, although the alteration does not
leave visible scars as in some of the more outrageous instances
of cornice removal in the city.
charm of this structure, however, remains otherwise largely intact.
by its grand entrance that has four large, two-story banded columns
that support a cartouche with the engraved name of the building
above the entrance steps that lead to a semi-circular loggia entrance.
The first-floor windows are arched and very large and the ground
floor has a "dry" moat. Most of the fourth floor has
balustraded balconies. The fourth through the ninth floors have
angled bay windows at the edges of the building.
his fine book, "Luxury
Apartment Houses of New York, An Illustrated History," (Dover
Publications Inc., 1992), Andrew Alpern finds the architects to
have been "heavy-handed at best" in this building, which
may be true as far as being pure to French Second Empire style
but perhaps far too critical a judgment by New York City standards
as this is a very impressive structure.
at the third
floor and going up," Alpern wrote, "the facade presents
stiffly academic interpretations of classical French detailing
in inelegant combinations....The upper floors offer pseudo-French
casement windows with vestigial iron balcony railings, pressed-steel
spandrels and a cornice supported on voluted and floriated consoles.
Above the cornice are two more stories. Originally there was an
elaborately detailed mansard roof embellished with ornamental
cresting that concealed the top-floor apartments."
was also lavishly designed, but with a defter touch than on the
outside....At the center axis of the loggia are the entrance doors
to the building, which open onto a succession of spaces culminating
in a spectacular Palm Room....This waiting space and visual enhancement
was designed with a barrel-vaulted, leaded glass skylight roof
supported by four large carved classical caryatids. It also boasted
an elegant stone fountain backlighted by a wall of leaded stained-glass
windows. With the marble benches, the potted palms and the immense
oriental rug, the Prásáda's Palm Room was a rival
of the public spaces of the finest of New York's hotels, albeit
on a smaller scale."
had three apartments per floor and only a few have subsequently
been subdivided. Each rear apartment consists of eight rooms,
while each of the two in front has ten. According to Alpern, the
spacious apartments did not have many bathrooms but their dining
rooms, libraries and parlors were aligned with "sliding pocket
doors" so they could be combined into larger spaces. There
was a mail chute on each floor.
notes that a newspaper
report in 1918 indicated that Penrhyn Stanlaws and Walter Russell,
who had developed some "studio" apartment buildings
nearby such as the Hotel des Artistes on West 67th Street, were
planning to spend $1,350,000 on this building and rebuild it into
a club, hotel and apartment facility, according to plans by Starrett
and Van Vleck, with dining rooms on the first floor, a pool in
the basement and room service.
the only change
made was to the roof and a plan to convert the rental apartments
to cooperatives was abandoned at the time. It finally was converted
to a cooperative building in 1988.
In his August 20, 2000 "Streetscapes" column in
The New York Times, Christopher Gray noted that the building was
designed "with typical turn-of-the-century ebullience, with Beaux-Arts
detailing capped by a two-story-high mansard roof," adding that "the
origin of the name Prasada is not clear."
Mr. Gray, surprisingly, maintained that while
"the four banded columns at the entrance make an impressive
statement...., overall the result is tepid." From the street,
the pedestrian is not aware that the building has lost its mansard roof
and is likely to be very impressed with the large, arched windows and
the grand entrance with the banded columns.
Mr. Gray's article went on, however, to document
the building's lavishness:
"On the inside, the Prasada is organized around a
central open court, illuminating three broad stained-glass skylights
over the lobby - designated the 'Palm Room' on an early plan -
originally with a fountain facing the front doorway. The
typical floors were divided into three apartments each of eight to 12
rooms, renting from $190 to $300 a month. They showed the
typical quirks of apartment planning at the time. None of the
bedrooms had private bathrooms, and many rooms had sinks set inside
closets, presumably to reduce the load on sanitary facilities.
Each apartment had a long hall - visitors generally made a
substantial trek past kitchens and bedrooms until they got to the
entertaining rooms. On the other hand, the stair hall had
three large windows giving natural air and light, and the layouts often
introduced 45-degree angles and odd-shaped rooms that give an interest
and charm which the later, more efficient planning of the 1920's could
According to Mr. Gray, prominent residents over
the years included Moses Stroock of the law firm Stroock &
Stroock & Lavan and Edna Ferber.
its fine location and
magnificent entrance, the 49-unit Prásáda is one
of the premier buildings on Central Park West despite its sadly
altered roof. It has sidewalk landscaping, but no garage, inconsistent
fenestration and no health club and there is considerable traffic
as the building is at the entrance to an eastbound Central Park