New York, circa 1908-America’s most promising city, in the midst of its great Gilded Age is bustling with vibrancy, panache and a keen sense of art-one could almost mistake the city for Renaissance Milan. In a charming nook on the Upper West Side, William Waldorf Astor, the world’s richest man, marvels at his latest creation, built as a tribute to the Pitti Palace. The largest apartment building for its time The Apthorp opens with much pomp and circumstance. Haute society from around the city converge as its intricate wrought iron gates open for the very first time…
The scene in present-day New York is quite different, as yellow cabs, clean air hybrid electric buses, and a bevy of pedestrians barrel down its streets. The city is now a vertical landscape of massive residential blocks and skyscrapers. But one thing remains the same: The Apthorp’s unmistakable splendor and sheer presence, stretching from West End Avenue to Broadway and 78th to 79th Streets, taking up a full city block. Through majestic vaulted arches those passing by still gaze into a massive 12,000-square-foot interior courtyard that is lushly planted with fountains and statues.
Now undergoing a stunning restoration, The Apthorp is setting out to reclaim its title as New York’s most prestigious address; modern amenities are seamlessly integrated into this turn-of-the-century architectural masterpiece. At the helm of the sales and marketing for these historic condominium homes is Prudential Douglas Elliman. Karen Mansour, Douglas Elliman’s director of sales and marketing, says, “The Apthorp is the preemi-nent building of the Upper West Side; this is a rare opportunity to own a pre-war, architectural gem of this caliber that’s also a condominium.” When asked to identify the key features that set this building apart from others, Mansour continued, “Noth-ing about this building is cookie-cutter. All of the units and floor plans are unique; the ceilings soar up to 11 feet, the windows are eight feet high. The volume of space simply stuns visitors. Formal living and dining rooms and grand entry galleries are unheard of in new developments, but come standard at The Apthorp. There are only a few buildings in New York that have an inner courtyard, and The Apthorp’s is the most memorable. It just takes your breath away-you feel like you’re in another world!”
To help restore and preserve this landmarked wonder, The Apthorp’s team of developers has enlisted the help of Fernando Papale and Ingrid Birkhofer of BP Architects. What cannot be restored to its original condition will be replicated, as is the case with plaster ornamentation and Herringbone floors where intricate design details are being painstakingly recreated. In addition, new homes will come equipped with central air conditioning, while powder rooms and bathrooms are enlarged to suit a modern lifestyle. “The fact that we are able to reinstate a magnificent architectural masterpiece of the ‘New York Golden Age’ and retrofit 21st century amenities to it without altering or disturbing the architectural language and its value is a true honor to us. There are very few examples, if any, in New York where this challenging approach has been taken,” says Papale.
When probing the existing structural elements Papale and Birkhofer discovered a beautiful 6-foot-wide by nine-foot, six-inch-tall by three-inch-thick chestnut hand-carved door that was buried in the thick terracotta walls dividing two great rooms in one of the larger unit apartments. They surmised that the original door was too big to be removed from the building (it does not fit in the elevators) so it was buried for at least 60 or 70 years and found in perfect condition. “The door will be reinstalled in the unit where it was found,” says Birkhofer, noting that every home is spectacular and singular, boasting intricate ceiling plasterwork, moldings, and hand-carved mantels not seen in any other residence.
One of the most “haute” homes is 6J-a three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath apartment with northern and southern sun-filled exposures and a garden courtyard view. The home features a formal living room, grand dining room with seven-foot-high wainscoting, and a separate library. The residence also boasts three fireplaces (one in each social room), a 22.5-foot-long by 10.5-foot-wide foyer with hand-cut, fully restored mosaic tiles, and magnificent ornamental detailing throughout, such as carved-wood mantels with plaster details or appliqués. The near 3,100-square-foot residence is offered at $7.5 million.
In all, there are 32 homes available in the first offering, from one to five bedrooms. These range in price from $2 million to $15 million. They all feature grand foyers with original mosaic tile work combined with modern kitchens and bathrooms. Calacatta Gold marble, Nero Marquina and White Carrara marble finishes seem to effortlessly merge with the period detailing. State-of-the-art kitchens come outfitted with Sub Zero, Wolf, and Miele appliances while master bedrooms now feature large walk-in closets. All of these trappings come with the priceless perk of owning a piece of New York history perched atop West End Avenue-one of New York’s most prestigious locales.
Historic Condominium Residences
390 West End Ave.
New York, NY 10024