By Carter B. Horsley
This mid-block apartment building may be small,
but it has a prized location along one of the nicest and quietest
stretches of Fifth Avenue.
The city’s first Zoning Resolution, enacted
in 1916, permitted buildings to rise 150 feet along Central Park
on the avenue, by in 1920 the Real Estate Board of New York, the
City Club and the Fifth Avenue Association successfully campaigned
to lower that height limit to 75 feet.
"Many property owners viewed this portion
of the zoning law as an unwelcome invitation to real estate speculation
and chaotic physical change," noted Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory
Gilmartin and Thomas Mellins in their important book, "New
York 1930, Architecture and Humanism Between The Two World Wars,"
Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., (1987).
"An amendment to that effect was enacted
in November 1921, only to be immediately challenged by other landholders
and real estate speculators, including Vincent Astor, as well
as by J. E. R. Carpenter, who had begun to serve not only as an
architect but also as a developer of apartment houses. In 1923
the decision of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of
New York to overturn the seventy-five-foot restriction and return
to the 150-foot limit was upheld by the Court of Appeals, clearing
the way for the nearly complete reconstruction of Fifth Avenue’s
park blocks, a reconstruction that would begin barely ten years
after the completion of the last great mansion, Delano & Aldrich’s
house for Willard Straight of 1914 [on the northeast corner at
94th Street]....Only one apartment house was built under the seventy-five
foot restriction: Henry Otis Chapman’s 952 Fifth Avenue of
1923, which rose only eight stories on a previously vacant site."
The original, Italian-Renaissance-palazzo-style,
limestone-clad building designed by H. 0. Chapman and erected
in 1923 is the oldest building on this blockfront, which also
includes apartment buildings designed by J. E. R. Carpenter at
950 and Rosario Candela at 955.
After World War II, several floors were added
to the building in a setback tower.
What really sets this modest building of mostly
small apartments is its rental status as there are very few such
buildings left on Fifth Avenue.
The building has a canopied entrance and a
doorman. It is not close to subways and has no health club and
no concierge. The building is convenient to several art galleries
and restaurants and many of the apartments have views of Central