Monday, January 19, 2015



   The panelled pilasters and delicate mouldings of cornice and pediment in moulded brick show great refinement and skill in handling.

   In this beautifully proportioned and detailed doorway adapted from the entrance to No. 2 King's Bench Walk, Temple, London, is found a perfect example of the adaptability of English precedent as developed by Wren and others for modern architecture.

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The Vanderbilt house, with its red brick facade modulated only by cornice and windows, is extremely restrained. So as not to interrupt the texture and monochrome quality of the facade, the pilasters and pediment of the front door are of brick. SOURCE

A foot-scraper with urns of yellow brass, stands sturdily at the front door of Mrs. Vanderbilt's house.  Harper's Bazaar 1922
    The houses of Sutton Place represent the first milestone in Mott Schmidt's career. In 1920 he was retained by Elizabeth Marbury, the literary and theatrical agent, to remodel a 19th century rowhouse at No. 13. Named for Effingham B. Sutton, who tried to develop the block in 1875, the riverside houses had little of the elegance then that we associate with the name today. Marbury persuaded several of her influential friends - notably Anne Vanderbilt and Anne Morgan - to buy other parcels on the block, thereby establishing a "society" enclave on the river's edge, away from Fifth AvenuSOURCE

Ladies and Not-So-Gentle Women: Elisabeth Marbury, Anne Morgan, Elsie de Wolfe, Anne Vanderbilt, and Their Times

    Effingham B. Sutton (1817–1891), a shipping merchant and entrepreneur, was one of the few prospectors who succeeded in building a fortune during the California Gold Rush of 1849. In 1875, Sutton built brownstones between 57th and 58th Streets in hopes of re-establishing a residential community. By the turn of the century, however, the neighborhood along the waterfront had become neglected, suffering from poverty and blanketed with substandard tenement housing. Stanley Kingsley’s 1935 play about the area, Dead End, inspired several films depicting the area and the gangs. 

Anne Harriman Sands Rutherfurd Vanderbilt was the daughter of New York City businessman Oliver Harriman. Her first husband was sportsman Samuel Stevens Sands, who was killed riding to hounds in 1889; her second, Racquet Champion Lewis Morris Rutherfurd, died in 1892; her third, yachtsman William Kissam Vanderbilt, died in 1920.

   Sutton’s venture was saved by the arrival of  Vanderbilt and Morgan in 1920, which began the neighborhood’s transformation into a wealthy enclave. One of New York City's smallest and most exclusive neighborhoods, Sutton Place, is loaded with regal townhouses and lovely pre-war apartment buildings.

   A "Sutton Place address"a generic term indicating that you had migrated as far east as possible somewhere in the Fifties—placed you among the knowing who considered Fifth Avenue absurdly passe and Park Avenue vulgarly ostentatious. It was here, on the northeast corner of Fifty-seventh Street, that Mrs. W. K. Vanderbilt chose to erect a handsome Georgian residence when she abandoned her Fifth Avenue chateau. Her friends Miss Anne Morgan and Miss Elisabeth Marbury bought and rebuilt the adjoining houses.


  1. Must have surely helped to be a widow three times over. Presumably there was a relation to the Harriman's who built Arden House, an immense mansion in upstate NY?

    1. My understanding they were cousins. Her father was an uncle to E. H., who built Arden House.

  2. this is the chicest neighborhood in New York City today. 45 years ago my parents in law lived across the an apartment with a divine view of the east river...and I wandered by these townhouses......with the shared garden at the back....(1970, when New York City was bankrupt) and wished I could have bought them all!
    Brilliant post!

    Now I live in Santa Barbara, California.....and before my one year stay in NYC......I picked that small enclave as my favorite! Fifth Avenue overlooking the park is certainly wonderful....but I decided at 20; Sutton Place townhouses with the shared gardens over the river were for me! divine small enclave in the big city!!
    I bet they are over 50 million today!

    The man who owned Steuben Glass owned one of them.....and Mrs. Chiang-Kai-C(you know) or someone like her) another!

    If I had to live in NYC; I could survive there!!!