|Robert M. Catts and Associates, Who Last Week Acquired Control of the Structure Occupying the Block Bounded by Forty-sixth to Forty-seventh Street, Lexington Avenue and Depew Place, Propose to Erect New Hotel or Commercial Structure on Vacant Plot Adjoining the Palace on Park Avenue and Remodel the Palace Into Modem Office Building.|
PROPOSED ADDITIONS TO GRAND CENTRAL PALACE
|August 13, 1922|
|Park-Lexington Building 247 Park Avenue|
The view is south towards Grand Central Terminal before the 1929 construction of the New York Central Building(Helmsley Building).
|Penthouse Apartment of Robert M. Catts on Top of the Park-Lexington Building|
In the nineteen-twenties Robert M. Catts, was described in newspapers of the period as the most "spectacular" real estate operator of the day. Mr. Catts may have been spectacular in his operations, but according to the newspaper reports he was also insolvent during most of his career. At one time he barricaded himself in the penthouse to avoid being served court papers.
Among the enterprises with which Mr. Catts was associated at various times, either as builder or owner, or both, were the Marshall Field Building, an unusual combination of apartment house and office building at 200 Madison Avenue; the Medical Arts Building at Fifty-seventh Street and Sixth Avenue, and the Cheney Silk Building. He was the originator of the plan by which Calvary Baptist Church on West Fifty-seventh Street became a combination apartment house and church.
In 1899 Mr. Catts eloped with Miss Ola McWhorter of Millington, Md., six months after he called at her house to solicit orders for pictures. They were divorced a few years later and in 1911 he secretly married Dorothy Tennant, actress, who scored a hit as the original widow in George Ade's comedy, "The College Widow".
Mr. Catts sold his interest in the buildings to August Heckscher, another large real estate owner, in 1923. The penthouse having several tenants until converted into offices.
|July 17, 1960|
The apartment was a relic of the lavish Nineteen Twenties. Its first occupant, in 1922, was the late Robert M. Catts, a well known real estate operator and the owner of the building at No. 247.
The building is just north of Grand Central Terminal, on the east side of Park Avenue between Forty-sixth and Forty-seventh Streets.
Before World War II, the apartment had a number of tenants who succeeded Mr. Catts, among them Jascha Heifitz, the violinist.
When office space became scarce after the war, the apartment was rented out for offices by William A. White & Sons, agents for the office structure. The duplex was recently leased to Wright Long & Co., accountants, and the law firm of Saul S. Silverman, and has been redesigned by Dallek, Inc., interior design firm.
The first floor of the duplex had two master bedrooms, a living room measuring 35 by 64 feet, a studio, dining room and gallery, all surrounded by a terrace.
The interior design of the duplex — a melange of French Gothic, which predominates, Italian Renaissance, and a touch of old Spain and the Far East— has been kept intact.
New walls, however, were built to divide the great rooms into offices, and some passageways were closed to re-route the traffic pattern. All the offices have been air-conditioned, and a new lighting system has been installed throughout.
The old dining room is now a conference room. Oak paneling and the ceiling which had been painted to resemble a medieval tapestry, have been retained and the travertine floor has been renewed by sanding.
|The roof of his house has been transformed into a gorgeous garden, containing rare plants and statuary. The great East River bridges, in the background, supply striking contrast. Popular Science 1924|
Mr. Catts died April 22, 1942, at the age of 63. He had remained active in the real estate business long after he gave up the Palace. A business associate was quoted saying that "Mr. Catts had more vision and initiative than any other New York realty operator and builder of his time."
|Grand Central Palace|
A view of the Catts penthouse can be seen at the top.
For years the Grand Central Palace was one of the best known and heaviest trafficked buildings in the city. It provided the largest exhibit space available here until the completion of the New York Coliseum in 1956.
Thousands of New Yorkers and out-of-town visitors attended the annual flower, automobile and motor boat shows that made the Palace famous.
During World War II the Government took over the Palace's exhibition hall as an Induction and Enlistment Headquarters for the armed services.
After the war it was decided that the city needed a larger and more modern central exhibition center, and plans got
underway for the Coliseum. The Manhattan district office of the United States Internal Revenue Service occupied the Palace's exhibition space from 1953 until its demolition, and every year, at the approach of April 15, the old building was nearly as crowded as it was in its old exhibition days—but with taxpayers, not flower lovers.
In 1963, 52 years after Grand Central Palace opened and a decade after the last show was held there, the building was demolished. A 44-story office tower, 245 Park Avenue, took its place. The adjoining Park-Lexington Building was taken down at the same time.