Former Home of Glenn Close Returns to 1830s Glory
New York, NY – An historic 1835 Chelsea mansion has just gone on the market.
Located at 436 West 20th Street, the five-story, 10,000-square-foot home is being listed for sale by Douglas Elliman at $18,950,000.
The house, developed by Don Alonzo Cushman and built for the estate of John N. Smith, is on the same block as the famous Cushman Row, between 9th and 10th Avenues. The mansion is situated directly across from the picturesque Episcopal Seminary gardens and on a block with the last remaining row of continuous Greek Revivals in New York City.
Number 436 holds a special position on this treasured street. It is over twice the size of the other houses on the row, and it is more Federalist than Greek Revival. “It is one of just a few houses like this in New York – an extra wide, double deep, late Federal brick house that is amazingly intact,” says architectural historian Carl Black, who is a consultant on the project. This home is 25 and half feet wide, 87 feet deep and was built on a 110-foot lot. Houses of this period were almost never built this large (they are generally 3,000-4,000 square feet) and usually incorporated brownstone, but number 436 is made of pure brick and white marble. “Number 436 was decidedly old-fashioned when it was built and it is a study in the evolution of residential architecture in the City,” says Black.
This 9 bedroom, 13 bathroom home now showcases its original pilasters and ceiling medallions (stripped of 10 layers of paint), 13 working wood-burning fireplaces (every floor has at least 2), restored grand mahogany doors and original chandeliers, all Czechoslovakian crystal dating from the 1830s. “No effort or expense has been spared in the process of saving every possible architectural element,” says the property’s developer and broker Michael Bolla, who specializes in historic preservation.
Seven months alone were spent on restoring the plaster moldings on the parlor level. The floor boards from the house which could be salvaged were re-milled and hand finished to perfection, while those that could not – 4,400 square feet worth of boards – were replaced after a several month country-wide search for the same Eastern White Pine, dating from the same time period. The exact match ultimately was found from a barn in Danielsville, Pennsylvania. Over 19 different architectural paint tints have been utilized. “We spent 40-50 hours watching light in each area and picking historically exact neo-Classical colors,” explains Bolla.
One of New York’s grandest rooms is the mansion’s parlor floor, which houses the original ballroom and can entertain up to 120 people. The home’s formal dining room is approximately 30 feet in length, and can seat 24 comfortably. A magnificent 1200-square-foot master suite on the fifth level has 3 skylights and direct access to a south facing outdoor garden. Ceilings throughout the house range from 10 to 17 feet high. A valuable addition to the parlor floor includes a butler’s pantry and three English water closets, while a 500-square-foot office that has been added to the fifth floor will lead by ladder to a rooftop garden with spectacular views of the Hudson River. A third outdoor space is directly off the garden level.
21st century amenities — such as a large elevator that fits five people and video security – have been seamlessly integrated into the mansion. Each bedroom comes equipped with its own Bosch washer and dryer. Appliances include Miele dishwashers, Liebherr refrigeratorsand stoves and wine coolers by Viking Range. In addition, every room has a floating wall and floor system buffered with three layers of state-of-the-art insulation called QuietRock (a technology from Quiet Solution) and copious amounts of plaster. “It is rare to find true quiet in the heart of New York City, but this house provides it,” says Bolla.
Actress Frances Gaar, who resided in the house for 54 years (and who rented the parlor floor to her close friend Glenn Close, who lived there for 8 years, during which she filmed Fatal Attraction). In 2008, she sold her beloved home to Bolla and Daniel through their development entity Chelsea Square, LLC. “She entrusted us with the task to restore her home to its original glory,” explains Bolla. The proceeds of the sale were bequeathed to The Actor’s Fund, where she was a Trustee from 1995 until her death in 2008.