Sunday, February 28, 2016

Manhattan Double Wide

128 East 73rd Street, NYC, began as two houses
dating from the 1880s faced in brownstone.
Architect A. Wallace McCrae put them together
in a 1928 Georgian Revival renovation.
Photo: Brown Harris Stevens.
While most of the clients of John Tackett Design have no interest in having their homes published, on-line real estate listings ultimately get around those objections.  In this case, the death of the gentleman soon after the house was complete and now the lady just last November has led to a former architectural project coming on the market complete with photos and floor plans.
More accurately, the lowest level would be the Cellar; it was further
excavated, the elevator service extended, and fitted for archival storage.
The level below the sidewalk would be the Basement; the clients were
not interested in the garden accessed through the butler's room.
Image: Brown Harris Stevens.
This was one of my first commissions after opening my own office.  The planning and construction for renovation was undertaken from 1987 to 1989 with help from my former Parish-Hadley colleague Paul Engel and Hannington Engineering Consultants.  The general contractor was Crawford Construction, one of the best builders in Manhattan at the time for high-end residential renovations. 

The Entrance Hall received a new marble floor but the
wall treatment of applied moldings was extant.
Photo: Realtor.
The interior designer was hired after construction was already underway, but some revisions were made to the drawings to meet the designer's demands.  Otherwise, the designer had complete carte blanche for the furnishings in terms of both concept and budget with the results as shown here.

The 30 ft wide Living Room is where the unusual
width of the townhouse can be fully appreciated.
The paneling dated from the 1928 renovation but
the lighting and climate control systems were new.
Photo: Brown Harris Stevens.
The clients and their two young sons brought only their clothes, their art, and a few recently acquired antiques from their previous residence, a contemporary penthouse that had been decorated by John Saladino.

The niches flanking the chimney had shaped shelves for display
that were removed to realize the designer's scheme.
The closed door opens to the Pantry.
Photo: Brown Harris Stevens.
The house is located on a particularly attractive block and had last been decorated by my former employer, Albert Hadley of Parish-Hadley.  The owners sold only because the new wife wanted a "fresh start" at a new address.  (A detail of their River House apartment appeared on the dust jacket of PARISH-HADLEY: SIXTY YEARS OF AMERICAN DESIGN, by the way).

The Pantry, between the Living Room and the Dining Room,
was fitted as a full kitchen with custom mahogany cabinets.
A rolling library ladder allows access to the upper
cabinets. A secondary stair, just out of view on the left,
allows direct access to a full kitchen on the Basement level.
Photo: Realtor.
Much of my design work focused on bringing the systems of the house up to date and the auxiliary spaces as the architectural design of the primary rooms remained unaltered.
The Dining Room with marble bolection chimneypiece
and paneling from the 1928 renovation.
Not seen are a pair of angled closets that, along with
the angled windows, give the room an unusual plan
for a townhouse.  The floor was supplied by the
interior designer.
Photo: Realtor.
The Stair Hall gives an idea of the limitations of the original house.  Because of the width, there would have been only a primary room at the front and back with the stairs in between.

The Stair Hall on the Parlor Floor.
The clients' collection of bronze sculpture by Aristide Maillol
required planning for structural support in the old timber structure.
A crane brought in the sculpture before the painting, etc., was
complete and sat in place inside its crate.
Photo: Brown Harris Stevens.
Although it may be difficult to determine in this photo, the Master Bedroom had been handsomely detailed in a revival of the Louis XVI style during the 1928 renovation and a wide opening breached the party wall of what had been the two separate houses.
The Master Bedroom with a sitting and sleeping area.
Photo: Brown Harris Stevens.
The Master Dressing Room was an existing space that was updated with new closets as mirror glazed French doors.

The Master Dressing Room millwork dates from the
late 1980s renovation.
Photo: Brown Harris Stevens.
The Master Bathroom was also an existing space with a pair of gilded mahogany lavatories supplied by the interior designer who also provided the black and white marble floor.  (Despite my warning that the effect would be optical, the installation went ahead; it was immediately covered with a rug).

Master Bathroom with the bathtub flanked by a
water closet on the left and a shower stall (beyond the
shirred curtained door) on the right.
Photo: Realtor.
The Library on the same floor as the Master Suite serves as a Family Room.  The Tudor Revival oak paneling dates from the 1928 renovation.

With the exception of the television, the Library retains the
late 1980s décor.
Photo:  Realtor.
The wonderful frosted glass lens over the skylight, a detail that I have repeated over the years, was a feature dating from the 1928 renovation.  Exterior flood lights were added on the roof so that it becomes a recessed light fixture in the evening.

The top floor Stair Hall.
Photo: Realtor.
The top floor was reserved for use by the sons.  The front had been a suite that was reconfigured into two bedrooms, both with mahogany trim and inset panels upholstered in fabric.

The front, west bedroom on the top floor.
Photo; Realtor.
The boys' bathroom was also mahogany.  In the photo, the French door on the left opens to a closet and the one on the right opens to reveal the shower stall. 

The boys shared this bathroom on the top floor,
benefitting from the natural light of the skylight.
Photo: Realtor.
Not shown in photos, but seen in the plan was a playroom/sitting room created for the boys.  A structural steel beam was hoisted up by a crane to allow a wide doorway in the central structural wall.  French doors that are hinged to fold back on each other was devised to give privacy to the grandmother to sleep over on occasion in the space to the east.

The pin marks the property in this aerial view to the south.
Although the garden faces south, the tall apartment buildings
on the next street block the sunlight.
Image:  MapQuest.
The house is offered for sale at $42 million by the agent who specializes in the best Manhattan listings, Paula Del Nunzio, of Brown Harris Stevens.  Additional photos were provided by the listing at  In some cases, the images are distorted, sometimes compressed or stretched to fit the real estate company's template, so try to take that into account when the proportions seem off.  And it was intentional that the interior designer's name does not appear in this blog.  See the regular web version of The Devoted Classicist, if this is being read in an alternate format, to scan the Labels categories for posts on other Manhattan townhouses.


  1. The renovation looks splendid, but I do wish the floor plans were easier to see.

  2. Wonderful. I really love the colour scheme in the master bedroom.

  3. There is nothing better than seeing one's vision maintained, loved and cared a child that must be adopted out, finding adoring caregivers is a dream. You are so right that the marble floor is optical, but today that is hip as witnessed at The Mark and other spaces created...though there is allusion to Ancient days. You must be smiling to see your baby all grown and yet still the same!

  4. Skylights are wonderful, but sadly their effects on art, particularly drawings and watercolours, not so much. The house looks splendid in all its original TDC form.


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