A 187-year-old carriage house at 29 Downing Street on a quintessential West Village block has appeared in print for so many reasons it’s hard to name them all–starting with the six-degrees-of-“Hamilton” fact that it was built in 1829 on land owned by third U.S. vice president Aaron Burr. 6sqft featured the historic home owned by artists John Bennett and Karen Lee Grant in early 2015 when it was listed for $13 million. The homeowners’ vision reflected in this remarkable art studio, gallery and living space was featured in House Beautiful, Elle and two coffee table books; the Wall Street Journal called the 25-foot-wide home a “time capsule of development in the West Village.” Not only is it one of the most photographed homes in the neighborhood, it’s also among the oldest. Purchased by Bennett in 1977 for $155,000 with the help of a loan from the previous homeowners, the house recently sold for $6.8 million–about half the original ask–after two years on the market and several broker changes and price chops (h/t Curbed).
First listed in 2014 for $12 million, the distinctive three-story carriage house had been used by the artists for four decades as a family home with Bennett’s studio–a vast, art-filled space with an equally vast skylight above—occupying the ground floor and garage. The home has a curb cut as well, always a plus in the city.
Bennett, an artist, and his wife, Karen Lee Grant, a former art director, purchased the home four decades ago after moving to the city from Paris with a baby on the way. Bennett recounts on his web site for the property, “At that time, there was one DC light bulb on each floor, that’s a total of three light bulbs, one sprocket of cold water in the corner of the front of the garage, no bathroom. Upon seeing it for the first time, seven months pregnant Karen broke out crying and said ‘How could you do this to me?'”
Bennett put his creative and handyman skills to use adding walls, creating rooms and both necessary and whimsical, decorative additions, salvaging bricks from an old schoolhouse, for example, and finding low-cost construction help when necessary. The result is a completely unique three-story home with all the charm and rustic details we love in both lofts and historic houses including exposed beams, brick and original antique wood floors.
The ground floor is currently used as a gallery space while the main living area is on the second floor.
There are currently three big, sunny bedrooms tucked safely on the quiet third floor surrounding a full bath.
A full roof deck offers views of the surrounding Greenwich Village Historic District Extension II.
Bennett asks, “Would you like a chance to build your own home right smack in the middle of New York City. A place that not only you designed or helped design and plan but one that will fit and suit you to human scale living in a city that can overwhelm the human being.” The most recent listing called the home a “perfect backdrop to creating your ideal, unique and historic dream home as depicted in these architectural proposed renderings,” which show a very different vision. The new buyer’s identity is shielded by an LLC, but we’re assuming they have a vision of their own.
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- My 1,400sqft: Inside Puppet Maker Ralph Lee’s Live/Work Space in Westbeth Artists Housing
- This Dramatic Downtown Triplex Loft Tells the Story of a Neighborhood’s Creative Past
Images courtesy of Compass and Bond New York (previous listings).
Neighborhoods : West Village