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.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Notable Homes: Guignécourt

The entrance to Guignécourt.
"Notable Homes" is one of the re-occurring series of posts for The Devoted Classicist that features an architecturally significant residence and its furnishings.  The stylish San Francisco-area estate Guignécourt, also known as Guigné Court, and decorator Anthony Hail was the subject of a popular previous post, here.  And there was a second post here.

Image: Sotheby's
The eccentric owner Christian de Guigné, 4th, listed the property for sale at $100 million with a contingency for life residency; after no takers, the price was reduced to $39.9 million with the exclusive-use condition removed.
Christian de Guigne, 4th, left, with his parents and brother Charles, 1961.
Photo via Yahoo!
Built 1913 to 1916 to designs by architects Walter Danforth Bliss and William Baker Faville, the gardens were later refined by Thomas Dolliver Church and the interiors were improved by Anthony Hail in the early 1960s.  According to the Guillixon listing, the property offering at 891 Crystal Springs Road, Hillsboro, is still active.  But the story for those interested in the decorative arts is the Christie's auction of contents coming up in New York on March 24, 2016.

There are a number of very handsome rooms, but none are more stylish than the Pavilion at the swimming pool.  Although the furnishings from the Anthony Hail era are worn and the décor is not entirely intact, it is still a space worthy of note.

The Pavilion at Guignécourt, 2015.
Image: Christie's.
The walls of the Pavilion at Guignécourt are covered with
hand painted Chinese wallpaper dating from the 18th or 19th century
figured with a mountainous landscape.
Image: Christie's.

A pair of gray-green velvet sofas.  Lot 134.
Image: Christie's
A pair of Chinese black lacquer and gilt tables
with pierced fretwork and a plinth base.  Lot 137.
Image: Christie's
A Ningxia carpet from West China, 18th century.  Lot 141.
Image: Christie's

A set of four Italian chairs, grain painted and parcel gilt,
black leather upholstery, early 19th century. Lot 148.
Image: Christie's.

A pair of console tables with a terracotta dolphin-form support
and green marble top and base.  Late 19th/early 20th century.
Lot 139.
Image: Christie's.
A Chinese model of a garden pavilion,
gilt-metal and cloisonné enamel.
19th century. Lot 147.
Image: Christie's.
A George II longcase clock,
blue and gilt-Japanned, circa 1730.
(The works and case associated).  Lot 149.
Image: Christie's.
Despite the high quality of architecture and the numerous beautiful rooms, there is no guarantee of ever finding an appreciative buyer for the house.  Certainly the land is desirable, but this sale of the furnishings is not a good indication that there has been interest in the house itself.  Judging from the seemingly senseless demolition around the country lately, there is a hunger for opulent mansions that lack patina and any history of former owners.  Perhaps this sale at Christie's will attract the attention of a buyer that sees the potential of this Sleeping Beauty.