The 20th Annual Spring House Tour Benefit on May 6th, 2018 featured an array of homes unlike any others in the tour’s twenty year history. Tour goers and volunteers alike were delighted by the variety and depth of interest in each and every dwelling. Today we have a round up of those gorgeous homes.
The Greek Revival Style Chadwick Van-Wagenen House was built at a time when this part of the Village brimmed with people of means. By the early 20th century, however, this row house was modified to house multiple families, reflecting the area’s change in demographics and fortunes. During the 1930s, the area, and the house, changed again. A top floor penthouse with north–facing artist studio window was added, and the parapet was modified to its stepped design still seen today. The front stoop was removed making way for a basement entry, which was a common ‘modern’ modification to row houses at the beginning of the 20th century.
By the time the current owners bought the Chadwick Van-Wagenen House in 2007, all of the original Greek Revival interior details had been stripped away, providing a blank canvas for an extensive renovation by architect Stephen Harris. On the exterior, respect was paid to the original 1847 façade, and the front stoop was restored. However, the early 20th century modifications at the roof including the studio window were maintained, paying homage to that chapter of the house’s history as well.
The Aldrich Home was built in 1855 as part of a row of eight Italianate houses along the south side this West Village Street. By 1850 much of this area was developed with Federal and Greek Revival row houses, but this stretch of the Street was occupied by a florist’s garden, and thus developed later than its surroundings.
Many of the house’s original Italianate details are intact on the façade, including the high front stoop, brownstone rusticated base, segmentally arched parlor floor windows, profiled lintels, and bracketed cornice. The impressive entry with brownstone segmentally arched surround, and dignified double wood doors with arched lights framed by elaborately carved wood molding, also remains intact from the house’s period of construction.
The owner bought the home in 1993, and preserved all these intact exterior historic moldings and details.
The William G. Haycock House is a Federal style row house built in 1831 for Mr. Haycock, a resident of the Bowery who worked as a notary. The house retains many of its original Federal-period details, including the Flemish bond brick on the front façade, the low front stoop, and its handrails. Later 19th century alterations included the full-height third floor replacing a gabled half story, the bracketed cornice, and the pediment with Neo-Grec brackets atop the entry. Interestingly, in 1940, this townhouse was home to the Simon family, headed by Richard Simon, co-founder of the publishing house Simon & Schuster, and father of famed singer and song writer Carly Simon.
The Mason’s Row House is a brownstone townhouse that was built in 1860 as part of a row of four Italianate houses. The original owners of the houses were thought to be members of the building trades, hence the name, “Mason’s Row”. The current owners bought the house in 2012 and undertook what would be a three year renovation, the result of which is a serene modern interior set amidst the beautifully restored 19th-century spaces and details.
The owners, one a builder and the other an artist, were very much involved in the renovation with the help of architect William O’Neill, Dutch interior designer Piet Boon, and landscape designer Roger Miller. This renovation was a collaboration amongst all. Little remained of the original plaster work on the ceilings in 2012. However, there was enough remaining for Palladio Moulding to replicate it, and once again the intended plaster artistry now adorns the home’s ceilings throughout.
Rounding out the tour were two artists’ lofts in the buildings at 827-831 Broadway, the buildings where, among others, Willem and Elaine de Kooning lived and painted during the burgeoning years of the Abstract Expressionism movement in painting.
831 Broadway and its twin at No. 827 were designed in 1866 by Griffith Thomas, one of New York City’s most prestigious and prolific 19th century architects. The structures were built when cast iron was in its infancy as a building material, and 827 and 831 were constructed combining cast iron and masonry elements since architects at that time were still dubious about the material’s dependability. From their opening through the 20th century, both buildings housed various commercial uses, such as Wilson Sewing Machines, the Mechanical Orguinette Company, which sold mechanical reed organs, and A.A. Vantine & Company, a purveyor of Japanese goods. Later, during the second half of the 20th century, these buildings would become homes and studios to some of New York City’s leading artists of that time.
The long and varied history of these two buildings includes a central role in the New York art world starting in the 1950s. At this time, artists began to rent space for both homes and studios in this area, near a cluster of galleries between 3rd and 4th Avenues known as the Tenth Street artists’ enclave. It was at this time that New York City would become the center of the art world, and Abstract Expressionism would reign supreme. Artists including William and Elaine de Kooning, Paul Jenkins, Jules Olitsky, Herbert Ferber, and Larry Poons, and MoMa Director William Rubin, were drawn to 827-831 Broadway in the late 20th century due the buildings’ central location within the downtown art scene and the cast iron lofts’ open layouts, ample space and abundance of natural light. The Poons-Deluccia Studio offers the extraordinary opportunity to step into a New York City artist space rooted in this era, once ubiquitous in this area and now rare.
The tour began at the original Whitney, now the New York Studio School, at 8 West 8th Street. The room where Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney began it all was open to tour goers. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named the studio a National Treasure in 2014. It had been designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992.
The beautiful day culminated at the present Whitney Museum of American Art. The two locations were perfect bookends to a day that was filled to the brim with art, artists, and the incomparable culture of the Village.