Manhattan’s Last Gilded Age Mansion is Back on the Market

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The last of Manhattan’s Gilded Age mansions is back on the market—for $50 million. The 20,000-square-foot mansion at 854 Fifth Avenue is listed at the same price as was asked before a devastating fire in 2018. The building, which previously housed Serbia’s Mission to the United Nations, had heavy fire damage on the third floor, which was used as an office space. Three people were injured in the incident. [Souce: townandcountrymag.com]

After renovations following the fire, the home is now back on the market. While the third floor had to be throughly remodeled, the home still remains quite traditional. Buyers be warned: the home lacks modern features including central air-conditioning.

However, the fire brought about an opportunity for the home to be meticulously restored. In addition to the third floor remodel, “the rest was thoroughly cleaned, restored and painted — and brought back to its original glory,” said listing broker Tristan Harper, of Douglas Elliman. According to the New York Post, the parts of the facade damaged during the fire were restored with matching stone and carvings and given approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

It was important that remodelers were careful during renovations, as this newly restored mansion comes with serious history. As the Post originally reported, the six-story Beaux Arts limestone townhouse was once owned by the granddaughter of railroad baron Cornelius Vanderbilt.

The mansion was built in 1905 for R. Livingston Beeckman, a stockbroker and future governor of Rhode Island, and was designed by Warren & Wetmore, the firm that worked on Grand Central Terminal. A working stove from 1905 is still in place, and the interior is essentially unchanged from the way it looked during the era when Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner coined the term Gilded Age.

The dining room, adorned with gold detailing and crystal chandeliers, will surely impress any dinner party guest.

 

The house cost $60,000 to build and was sold in 1912 for $725,000, setting a Manhattan real estate record for the time. It next traded hands in 1925, when Emily Thorn Vanderbilt Sloane White and her husband, Henry White, paid $450,000 for it. The granddaughter of “Commodore” Vanderbilt added ceiling frescoes and gilded touches, including the gold leaf-coated cherubs that adorn the ceiling moldings of the second-floor dining room.

 

The entryway features a white marble staircase, modeled after Versailles.

 

The Landmarks Preservation Commission classified the Upper East Side property a New York City landmark in 1969, recognizing the house for its “palatial scale” and “elegant grandeur,” which “reflects the influence of the Eighteenth Century classic period of Louis XV.”

During Vanderbilt’s ownership, the Post reports, it was “the first Manhattan residence to feature front-and-back electric elevators, and the children who lived there were told to use them sparingly because each ride cost 25 cents.” (There are now two elevators, eight bathrooms, 32 rooms, and a white-marble staircase modeled on Versailles.)

In 1946 Vanderbilt and her husband sold what the New York Times called at the time “one of the finest private homes remaining on Fifth Avenue” to the Republic of Yugoslavia for $350,000. Since then it’s housed world leaders and reportedly still contains “a secret top-floor, metal-padded room known as a Faraday Cage that allowed officials of the Soviet ally to converse or make calls without the risk of being wiretapped.”

Finally, after months of renovations, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia—the five states that came out of the the former Communist state—are selling the townhouse fully furnished (along with a Park Avenue co-op that was once the UN ambassador’s residence and other property the countries own in Japan and Switzerland). Souce: townandcountrymag.com]

 

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