The Songbird’s Nest

Luxury Listings NYCNovember 01, 2013
When Michael Feinstein climbs the stoop to his Upper East Side brownstone and walks through the front door, he steps into another world — a quiet one, a more genteel one.

The five-time Grammy nominee can’t hear honking taxis, or ambulance sirens, or shouts from the sidewalk. Somehow, almost magically, the 19th-century townhouse on 63rd Street keeps out all the sounds of modern Manhattan.

Through the grand foyer, into the front parlor, the dining room, the living room and even up the spindle staircases to the six bedrooms, there are architectural touches from more than 100 years ago: ceiling crown moldings, herringbone floors, chandeliers, intricate details on the eight fireplaces. No one would be surprised if Barbra Streisand, as Dolly Levi, burst into “Hello, Dolly!”

And a tune from one of Broadway’s greatest musicals would be more than fitting for Feinstein, the pianist and singer who has found fame outside the cabaret as host of “American Songbook,” the popular PBS series that ran three seasons. The artist will have a new series next year, but network officials declined to disclose the name or details of the show.

Feinstein and husband Terrence Flannery split their time between the city and the wealthy Indianapolis suburb of Carmel, where the two have projects of their own. Feinstein is artistic director of the Center for the Performing Arts and oversees his Great American Songbook Initiative, which he launched in 2008; Flannery tends to his chain of health-care clinics, scattered across the Midwest.

The couple has spent nearly a decade at 143 East 63rd, finding a solace that they haven’t found anywhere else. Still, they have decided the time has come for a change, to settle somewhere smaller. Early this fall, the 57-year-old Feinstein and Flannery, 54, put their home on the market — for $17.9 million. The listing is an exclusive for Mickey Conlon and Tom Postilio of CORE, and Maria Torresy and Sami Hassoumi of Brown Harris Stevens.

“Instinctively we know that it is the time to sell,” Feinstein told Luxury Listings NYC. “As far as exactly where we’re going, what will come next, we don’t know, but we don’t have any anxiety about it.”

The five-story manse is twice the size it was when the men bought it in 2004 for a little more than $3 million. They added on by buying the townhouse next door — $3.8 million — when it went up for sale only a year after they moved in. Joining the homes took about 18 months — and a sum that Flannery can’t remember because, he joked, it was so long ago; today, the number of rooms totals 18, including a gym, two kitchens and, of course, a music room. Across from the gym, which takes up nearly half of the top floor, is a terrace — and the den and dining room on the first floor open onto a 25-foot garden. The basement has rows of closets.

“To me, the most important part of a home is the storage space,” Feinstein said. “This house is absolutely filled with thousands of recordings and tapes with memorabilia — none of which is evident — but the reluctant part is having to move and deal with all of that.”

All of the extra space upstairs has come in handy for entertaining. Two Thanksgivings ago, their eight-person gathering grew to 40. The drop-ins included Liza Minnelli and Elaine Stritch, both legends of the Great White Way.

“It became the night of the divas,” said Feinstein. “That’s not even counting the women!”

Quipped Flannery: “That’s the advantage of having a townhouse. You can stay up until 3 in the morning playing music and that’s okay.”

A musical evening

Selfishly set aside one night of the busy winter season and revel in joyous sounds.

Michael Feinstein has a two-week run in late December at the Birdland Jazz Club, 315 West 44th. And you can be sure he’ll perform a few of your favorite holiday tunes.

The showtimes: 8:30 p.m., Dec. 17-19; 8:30 and 11 p.m., Dec. 20 and 21; 9 p.m., Dec. 24-26; and 8:30 and 11 p.m., Dec. 26-28.

A place in the front row costs $200. There are less expensive seats — $75 for the bar, $100 for the side and $150 for the center. Also, you need to know that there’s a $20 food or beverage minimum on top of the ticket price.

For more information or reservations, call the Birdland at (212) 581-3080 or go to