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The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

(Originally Francis F. Palmer residence, then George F. Baker Jr. residence)

67, 69 and 75 East 93rd Street

Northwest corner at Park Avenue

Church complex was formerly George F. Baker Jr. residence

Church complex seen from southeast was formerly George F. Baker Jr. residence

By Carter B. Horsley

This very handsome, red-brick, Georgian-style complex houses the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia since 1958.

Sidestreet courtyard

Sidestreet courtyard

Its main building at the Park Avenue corner was built for Francis F. Palmer in 1918 and designed by Delano & Alrich, the architectural firm noted for its "American Colonial" style projects that include the Knickerbocker Club at 2 East 62nd Street at Fifth Avenue (see The City Review article), the Colony Club at 564 Park Avenue at 62nd Street (see The City Review article), and the Third Church of Christ, Scientist at 583 Park Avenue at 63rd Street (see The City Review article). Delano & Aldrich also designed the superb Georgian-style mansion at 1130 Fifth Avenue at 94th Street for Willard Straight, which subsequently housed the National Aubudon Society and then the International Center of Photography until 2001 when it a new purchaser decided to reconvert to residential uses.

In his fine book, "Touring The Upper East Side, Walks in Five Historic Districts" (published by the New York Landmarks Conservancy, 1995), Andrew S. Dolkart offers the following commentary about this complex:

"A decade after construction began the house was sold to .... [George] F. Baker Jr., then vice-president of the First National Bank (now Citibank), and his wife, Edith. For the Bakers, Delano & Aldrich designed a series of additions, all of which harmonize with the original work. The ballroom wing to the west and the two-story garage at No. 69 form a spacious courtyard. The garage features the boldest architectural element of the complex, a colonnade of paired, fluted marble Ionic columns. Farther west, at No. 67, Baker demolished a brownstone rowhouse in corder to build a house for his father...., the main force behind the creation of First National Bank, but he died before its completion; at the senior Baker's death "young Mr. Baker," ..., inherited $60 million and became chairman of the board of the bank. The nautical motifs that ornament each addition - a conch shell at the ballroom, scallop schells at the garage, and a pair of dolphins at No. 67 - may be associated with Baker's yachting interests; in fact, he died on his yacht Viking in 1937."

Courtyard detail

Detail of courtyard

The Baker complex has two very distinguished mansion neighbors on the same sidestreet: 56 East 93rd Street, a Regency-style mansion designed by Walker & Gillette in 1931 for Florence Loew, the sister of George F. Baker Jr., which eventually was owned by Billy Rose, the showman, and then used by the Smithers Alcoholism Center and finally was acquired in 2000 by the Spence School; and 60 East 93rd Street, originally the Virginia Graham Fair Vanderbilt house designed by John Russell Pope in 1931, which eventually became the Permanent Mission of Romania to the United Nations and then part of the Lycée Français, and in 2000 was sold again, this time as a private residence.

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