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The Charles House

40 East 78th Street

Southeast corner at Madison Avenue

40 East 78th Street

40 East 78th Street seen from the southwest

By Carter B. Horsley

This white-and-gray-brick apartment house occupies the entire block-front on the east side of Madison Avenue between 77th and 78th Streets.

Erected in 1956, it was converted to a condominium in 1986. The 16-story building has 103 apartments.

White/gray-brick apartment buildings have not garnered many architectural accolades, but this one certainly is above average. It has some bay windows, some corner windows and some terraces, but its best feature is that most of its second-story along the avenue is indented, which gives the building an important "visual" lift as it seems to levitate the quite considerable mass of the building above it. The central portion of the fašade along the avenue is recessed above the second floor, which also helps lessen the building's sense of mass.

In the late 1990's, the building created a unified retail frontage that was very clean and handsome and in 1999 was rewarded with one of the world's most glamorous retail tenants, Missoni, which created a two-story store at the 78th Street corner. The Missoni lease was a significant northward thrust by such a major fashion concern that heretofore had not ventured much farther north than 72nd Street on the avenue.  Missoni closed the store in 2020.

The doorman building has a canopied entrance with a polished red granite surround and sidewalk landscaping. The building has a garage, a doorman and discrete air-conditioners.

View from the south

View from the south

The building, which has no balconies, has an excellent Upper East Side location as it is on an attractive and quiet sidestreet but is also very convenient to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art as well as many fine boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. P.S. 6, one of the city's finest public schools, is three blocks to the north and the neighborhood has numerous private schools and religious institutions. There is good cross-town bus service on 79th Street, and there is a local subway station at 77th Street and Lexington Avenue. Lenox Hill Hospital is nearby at 77th Street and Park Avenue.

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