Most of New York City’s grand and historic homes have been altered for modern-day use as apartments, libraries, hotels, diplomatic buildings and the like. And when it comes to those that have remained as opulent single- or multi-family homes, most have changed hands so many times that we don’t know much about their history. That is not the case for this massive 9,300-square-foot townhouse across the street from the Morgan Library.
The home was originally the residence of J.P. Morgan‘s attorney John Trevor, Sr. and is currently in use as a 10-unit apartment building–albeit a rather special one with some unique spaces like a private office and a gorgeous rear parlor with symphony-ready acoustics and 13-foot ceilings. Whoever purchases the home, on the market for $14 million, could create a vast five-story mansion (there’s already an elevator), or any number of alternate configurations–but they’ll still have great sound in that back parlor.
According to the listing, in 1894 the J.P. Morgan residence (now the Morgan Library) anchored the block. Morgan’s abode was the first private mansion in the city to have electric lights, as the robber baron had been instrumental in funding Thomas Alva Edison’s Electric Illuminating Company. So between the mansions and the electric light show, the neighborhood was definitely lit in the 1890s. Prominent New York attorney John Trevor, Sr., who worked for Morgan, engaged architect David Robins to construct an Italianate mansion at 21 East 37th Street.
This 25-foot-wide townhouse is recognizable by its beautifully-restored original L-shaped front stoop, original massive wooden door and unique mosaics at the entryway. As mentioned, the house is now configured as ten apartments, so it will take some doing if a new owner wants to create a grand family manse. That aside, the home’s impressive parlor and a handful of fascinating spaces are worth noting.
The front parlor has impossibly grand 13.5-foot domed ceilings with endless intricate detailing, unique wainscoting, a marble wood-burning fireplace (there are nine in the house in total) and two large windows facing 37th Street. To the rear is the aforementioned music room. According to the listing, the building’s present owners have discovered the space to have “exceptional concert quality acoustics. Musicians heading to Carnegie Hall recitals have been invited to come here over the years to test out their programs,” which does, in fact, conjure images from the height of the Gilded Age. On a more practical note, there’s a kitchenette off the music room and a full bath in the extension.
On the third floor is a well-appointed superintendent’s apartment facing the Morgan Library on 37th Street including a large bedroom with a walk-in closet and built-ins.
The fourth floor is configured similarly and includes a washer-dryer unit. The fifth floor gets light from an enormous skylight and offers a large space with a rear master bedroom, an office, ample closet space, a large full bath and a kitchenette. A curved stair to rooftop offers breathtaking views of the the Morgan Library and the Empire State Building. On the garden level there’s a separate entry below the stoop; down here there’s a private office with a full bath and additional storage; this floor would be a great spot for a single-family townhouse kitchen, opening up to the garden in back.
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Images courtesy of Brown Harris Stevens
Neighborhoods : Murray Hill