A listing broker for this 1848 former local firehouse told the Wall Street Journal that its $5.5 million asking price was “aspirational,” but the neighborhood certainly has changed since its owner purchased the three-story, 3,500 square-foot converted townhouse in 1981 for $115,000. Long Island City turned fancy and this Federal-style firehouse got an architect-led overhaul that gave it three bedrooms, a 17-foot vaulted ceiling, a home office/library, a garden, a terrace, a garage, an elevator, and a sliding glass wall.
The Chelsea Firehouse at 323 West 21st Street would be an historic icon based on its origins alone, beginning in the late 19th century as an actual firehouse, built to accommodate a shiny new horse-drawn steam pumper engine (h/t Daytonian in Manhattan). The mid-Victorian era structure not only survived the ensuing decades, but in 1999, Architectural Digest featured the duplex shown here, by then one of three luxury apartments, calling it “indisputably one of a kind.” In the years between, the building was home to free-spirited performers and artists, including Andy Warhol and Philip Pearlstein who sought refuge here from seedy lodgings in the East Village. The designer-renovated, uniquely-configured 4,000 square-foot duplex in this storied building is now on the rental market for $33,000.