The crimson Venetian plaster-dappled interior walls are gone, done in minimalist white emulsion; the tiger-skinned boho pasha’s palazzo decor has been swapped for restrained, contemporary pasha’s pre-war. The interior’s more impetuous elements have likely been pared down so it doesn’t scare the hell out of anyone, but also to show off the home’s enormous 25-foot arched windows, 360 degree views, and stylized 1920s architecture. The overall effect is loft-meets-Palm-Beach-mansion, and though it doesn’t exactly say Upper West Side, it no longer says magic carpet warehouse—and it’s certainly still unique.
This $2.6 million piece of New York City history sits atop a building that’s even more unique. Known as the Level Club, the building at 253 West 73rd Street served as the 1920s private social club of the Levelers, a group of Freemasons. The landmarked exterior is definitely a conversation starter, with a Romanesque-style facade designed in the image of King Solomon’s temple bearing carved Masonic symbols: the all-seeing eye, the hourglass, the level, the hexagram and the beehive.
The Levelers went bankrupt during the Depression and the building went condo in 1984, after several incarnations including a kosher hotel and a rehab facility.
In 2011, the Times called the triplex penthouse “funky.” The couple who bought the apartment in 1997 for $431,000 lived there for 15 years and they also bought three additional units in the building for their children, which in a way sounds kind of like fun. Fun doesn’t sell multimillion-dollar listings, though, and the Level Club’s sky lounge slid from $5.895M in 2007 through various price chops, disappearances and re-appearances on the market.
According to records the home sold quite recently in March. Now it has just been listed again for $2.595 million. We’re not sure when the apartment received its current makeover, but we’re guessing it won’t take another decade to find a buyer.
To be fair, it’s a fabulous and fascinating home on a number of levels, starting with the prime Upper West Side location near parks and culture and all things classic Manhattan. The 1,700 square-foot triplex actually spans four levels and an interesting range of ceiling heights. There are two large bedrooms and possibilities for more, a private elevator, and up-to-the-minute luxuries like a central heat and cooling system, washer/dryer and soaking tubs, all within a full-service condominium with an opulent restored lobby, a playroom, bike storage and laundry.
The three-story stairway/balcony is definitely evidence of the building’s historic and unusual past, but the living room is lovely, with the aforementioned massive windows and Hudson River, George Washington Bridge and city skyline views. Glossy dark wood floors contrast with pristine white walls and copper pipe frames the ceiling, attempting a tastefully rustic nod to the home’s history.
The kitchen, though a matter of taste to be sure, is spacious and certainly something buyers like to make their own.
There are two separate terraces, always a huge bonus, and these come with some impressive views. The bedrooms are cozy, quirky and cute.
The master bath is luxurious and huge.
The living/dining area and kitchen are on two separate levels, and what could be the main bedroom is next to the kitchen; somewhat odd is the the fact that there isn’t so much as a powder room on that floor. According to the floor plan, it looks as if the lower level bedroom and the mezzanine-like, low-ceilinged “flex floor” above it together form a self-contained sort of bi-level suite.
The detailed granite and brick facade rocks those unmistakeable Masonic symbols, and an ornate lobby has been restored to its former glory. The listing calls this a “special haven for anyone seeking a one-of-a-kind, private castle in the sky,” and we’d have to agree.
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Images courtesy of Sothebys.
Neighborhoods : Upper West Side