Sophistication meets charm in Manhattan’s historical brownstones. Some of the most sought-after real estate in the city, these properties offer owners an opportunity to escape from the noise of the city into the quiet of a private oasis. Inside these elegant residences are expansive rooms, high ceilings and plenty of wall space for personal art collections. Not to mention lush gardens and beautiful stoops for decorating every season.
Experience Turtle Bay With A Terrace
Built in the late 1800s, the private home at 225 East 48th Street has had only two owners in more than 40 years. On the market for $3.7 million, the current stewards are a married couple who have lived in the brownstone since 1975. The previous owner was a French chef, who filled the home with the scent of delicacies that the current residents enjoyed long after they first moved in.
The property’s architectural appeal begins at the door with a lovely stoop entrance. Highlights in the living room include a wood-paneled bookcase and three floor-to-ceiling windows. The first level, also known as the garden level, opens to a secluded retreat in the Turtle Bay Gardens, a common area of trees and shrubs and a perfect place to shed the stress of city life.
A trip up the main staircase in the center of the house leads to a powder room, eat-in kitchen and formal dining room. Open the doors in the dining room for a breathtaking view of a terrace that overlooks the gardens. This provides the perfect backdrop for multi-course dinner parties. The master bedroom dominates the third floor with a private bath and a view of the gorgeous floriculture in the backyard. Another bedroom with full bath resides on the same floor, but the current owners converted it into a library. The top floor is comprised of another bedroom, bath, laundry room and additional closet space.
Katharine Hepburn, June Havoc, Tyrone Power, Garson Kanin, Stephen Sondheim, Leopold Stokowski, Maxwell Perkins, Henry Luce, Dorothy Thompson and E. B. White are a few of the famous who have lived in this private enclave, designated the Turtle Bay Gardens Historic District in 1966.
“For many people, owning a brownstone is much more appealing. You control your own destiny,” says Beatrice Ducrot, senior vice president at Stribling & Associates. “Special kinds of people desire these homes. The owners are more independent. They don’t want to be part of the mold and do things their own way.”
The Art Collector’s Townhouse
For a newly renovated space with a flexible layout, tour the 10 rooms and 5,000 square feet at 109 East 81st Street. With an asking price of $10 million, the Upper East Side property has four bedrooms and four and a half baths across four stories with 20-foot wide proportions. Exposed brick, floor-to-ceiling windows and hardwood floors give the space a classically comfortable feel. A fitness room, chef’s kitchen and central air conditioning compliment timelessness with modern conveniences. Sunlight comes through the many windows, showering the home in natural light.
On the first floor, an inviting lush garden comes complete with a large outdoor fireplace — this brownstone actually has three fireplaces — and a Lynx gas barbeque. “The garden is one of nicest I have seen,” says Michael Pellegrino, senior vice president and associate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty. “When you are in the center of the garden looking east, it is like looking in the middle of the park.”
The kitchen has windows that overlook the garden and the dining room and powder room fill out the rest of the garden floor. A second-floor library has three south-facing windows, while the living room has a fireplace and windows that offer a view of the landscaped retreat out back. The master bedroom is on the third floor and an additional bedroom, two bathrooms and a dressing room are also available. On the fourth floor, the central skylight offers a rare Manhattan glimpse of the heavens in a just-off Park Avenue residence.
“This property is for people who are looking for a very sophisticated lifestyle,” Pellegrino says. And for art lovers, adds Pellegrino, “There is an immense amount of space for hanging artwork. It’s ideal for people with massive art collections.”