991 Fifth Avenue
American Irish Historical Society
Mid-block between 80th and 81st Streets
991 Fifth Avenue

991 Fifth Avenue in 2020

By Carter B. Horsley

An January 27, 2021 article by Dana Schutz at 6sqft.com noted that "Located right across from Central Park and the Met, the Beaux-Arts beauty at 991 Fifth Avenue was built in 1901 and has had only four owners since then."

"Today owned by the American Irish Historical Society, the home’s interior is almost entirely intact, full of carved plasterwork and woodwork, marble fireplace mantles, stately columns, and leaded-glass windows."

The article said it was being offered for sale by the Society for $52 million.

The building was designed by James R. Turner and William G. Killian.

Early photo of block

Early photograph of block with 991 second from the right

The article noted that "It is 25-feet wide and extends 100 feet deep on an unusually deep 110-foot lot," adding that "The limestone and brick exterior is striking for its two-story bowed front that is topped by a terrace and its copper dormers.

"The architects had been commissioned by Mary Augusta King, daughter of former New York Governor John A. King and widow of John King, who had extensive real estate holdings in New York and Newport. He left Mary a $5 million estate, the equivalent of roughly $113 million today, according to Daytonian in Manhattan. Mary died in 1905, and the following year, David Crawford Clark, a founder of the banking firm Clark Dodge & Company, moved in. In 1911, he commissioned pioneering Beaux-Arts architect and decorator Ogden Codman, Jr. to redesign the interiors. Ogden was well known for co-authoring with Edith Wharton The Decoration of Houses in 1897, which became the go-to source for high-end interior design.

"The home was then sold again in 1918, this time to William Ellis Corey, president of Carnegie Steel and the United States Steel Corporation. He had a scandalous marriage to musical comedy star Mabelle Gilman, as Daytonian tells us, and when she divorced him in 1923, he was left alone in the large house until his death in 1934.

"The current owner, the American Irish Historical Society, bought the mansion in 1939 from Corey’s son."

The article said that the building has a library of about 10,000 volumes and "letters from the White House from Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was a member of the Society, adding that "In 2006, the Society hired preservation architect Joseph Pell Lombardi to upgrade and restore the mansion, referring to the original drawings of Ogden Codman, Jr."

Listing agent Paula Del Nunzio of Brown Harris Stevens told The Wall Street Journal that the building could easily be converted back to a single-family residence. “The materials with which it’s made are basically no longer available,” she said.

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