Featuring Chris Kann, Jennifer Ireland Kubis, and Robby Browne's listing at 154 East 63rd Street, Upper East Side:
The house, which comes with a two-car garage, is being sold for $21.8 million by the estate of Diana King, a daughter of Charles King, the founder of King World Productions.
The grand Upper East Side townhouse where Fiorello H. La Guardia was sworn in as New York mayor in the 1930s, and where several prominent residents lived, including the architect who crafted the home from two rowhouses, is re-entering the market for the first time in more than a quarter century.
The asking price for this 32-foot-wide, five-story mansion at 154 East 63rd Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues, is $21.8 million, according to Chris Kann of the Corcoran Group. (He is listing the property with his colleagues Robby Browne and Jennifer Ireland.) Annual property taxes are $136,039.
The 8,000-square-foot building, which also includes a rare two-car garage, is being sold by the estate of Diana King, a daughter of Charles King, the founder of King World Productions, which syndicated television hits like “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Jeopardy!” Ms. King died in January at age 69.
She bought the house in 1992 for around $3.7 million and used it primarily as a pied-à-terre and meeting place for the charitable organization she set up in honor of her parents, the Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation, according to Eugene V. Kokot, an executor of the estate and a foundation board member. Part of the proceeds from the sale, Mr. Kokot said, will go to the organization, which supports education in television and film production.
Over the years, Ms. King spent millions of dollars (Mr. Kokot couldn’t say exactly how much) restoring the townhouse’s early-20th-century grandeur. Throughout the house are elaborate crown and dentil moldings; floors of intricate inlaid wood; stained- and leaded-glass windows; custom wall and ceiling embellishments; and numerous built-ins and paneling.
There are also eight fireplaces, four kitchens (two are more like kitchenettes), two dining rooms, two solariums and more than a half-dozen salons, studies and sitting rooms, in addition to the four bedrooms, three full baths and four powder rooms.
“This home was made for entertaining,” Mr. Kann said of the sprawling space.
The house is a product of the architect Frederick Sterner’s “block beautiful” makeovers of the early 1900s, which involved remodeling blocks of rundown buildings in Manhattan. In 1914, Sterner focused on 63rd Street, starting with what would become his own home and eventually Ms. King’s — No. 154. He joined two rowhouses, refaced the facades and added a fenced areaway, among other things. Four years later, he combined two buildings across the street, at No. 153. (The burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee lived there, and now the filmmaker Spike Lee.) The architect F. Burrall Hoffman Jr., best known for designing the Villa Vizcaya estate in Miami, also worked on No. 154.
Other notable residents of No. 154 have included Samuel Seabury, a state judge who famously led the corruption investigations that ended Tammany Hall politics in New York City. La Guardia was sworn in for his first term as mayor in 1934 in Seabury’s paneled library on the second floor. A photo of the swearing-in ceremony is displayed there now.
The 63rd Street mansion, now part of the Upper East Side Historic District, is entered through a limestone gallery at the garden level. Near the entry is a small kitchen/butler’s pantry and a laundry room. The gallery leads to the first formal dining room, a massive space anchored by a wood-burning fireplace and with floors of mahogany, walnut and maple.
The room opens to a central courtyard, 24-by-25 feet, lined with tumbled marble. The area, with a mahogany bar and retractable awnings, is landscaped with boxwoods, ivy, hydrangea impatiens and dogwood trees. On the other side of the courtyard is a paneled great room with 19-foot ceilings, stained-glass windows and a gas fireplace. Both the dining room and great room can also be reached via a marble hallway with arched mirrors.
On the second level is a black granite kitchen with brass-railed countertops and banquette seating. It connects to a second formal dining room, which has printed linen wall coverings and a fireplace of Vermont green marble flanked by ornate wood relief sculptures. This floor also contains a sitting/reading room with an attached miniature solarium by Marston & Langinger, and the paneled library.
The master suite and a guest bedroom with an en suite bath and cozy window seats encompass the third floor, where there are two more fireplaces.
“It’s like a chic European hotel,” Mr. Kann said.
Occupying the fourth floor is a separate apartment that Sterner created for his sister, Maude, who was an interior designer. It contains two sizable bedrooms, one and a half baths, a small kitchen and a large living room with a fireplace.
The top floor has another Marston & Langinger solarium, along with a tiny kitchen, media room and study.
And for would-be buyers concerned about navigating this massive space, there is also an elevator to all five floors and the basement, in addition to two sets of stairs.
Copyright © 2019 The New York Times Company. Reprinted with Permission. Anthony Costa/Guillaume Gaudet/The New York Times.
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