When location scouts needed the best block on which to film and the finest front stoop and parlor floor for use as a location for their main characters, the production team of an award-winning show chose West 88th Street and specifically number 37 to represent the New York of 1958.
What was elegant in the past remains so nearly 124 years later.
THE LAST TOWNHOUSES TO BE BUILT IN NEW YORK
Townhouses on the West Side of Central Park were built in the 1880's, about 20 years after the construction of those on the East Side of Central Park - enabling the architects and builders on the West Side to benefit from all that had been learned up to that point. As soon as an elevated railway line was underway along Columbus Avenue around 1880, development along Central Park West and the blocks just off Central Park West took off and an impressive building boom began.
"There can be no doubt that this section must become in time the most exclusive part of the city," declared one magazine in the 1880's.
The fashion for mixing several architectural styles in one building swept through these buildings.
"The houses that now characterize the West Side are without doubt the most interesting examples of domestic architecture that New York has to show," wrote Montgomery Schuyler, the architecture critic for The New York Times in 1899.
ARCHITECTS: NEVILLE & BAGGE
This townhouse was designed by the architects Neville & Bagge in the Renaissance Revival style and built in 1892-1894. While its primary style is Renaissance Revival, they added Romanesque and Gothic elements to create unique designs. These architects specialized in townhouses just off Central Park West and also created 36 and 38 West 95th Street, adding their unique embellishments to each building. 37 West 88th Street is now in the Upper West Side Central Park Historic District.
The first sale for the owner/developer of 37 West 88th Street was in October 23, 1894. The present owner acquired it in 1985 and has owned it for 33 years. The parlor floor looks almost exactly as the original architect designed it.
THE TOWNHOUSE TODAY
With a beautifully restored L-shaped front stoop and lush, planted front garden, there are two entries to the townhouse: up to the parlor floor or below to the garden. The elevator serves all levels from the basement to the fifth floor.
The garden floor includes two powder rooms, an office suite in front which could easily become a guest bedroom or large mud room, an enormous eat-in kitchen with views of the north-facing garden, the main staircase, elevator access, basement access, and a double-height wall of glass surrounding the rear stair that leads to the parlor floor.
Featuring restored original woodwork throughout, the parlor floor details complement the incredible scale of the triple-parlor. In front, the stoop entry and a large sitting room with exquisitely maintained ornamental detailing on the ceiling as well an original wood-burning fireplace. In the rear, a large living room overlooking the garden and filled with light from the double-height windowed space surrounding the kitchen stair. These rooms are joined by a large center room with wet bar and elevator access.
The third floor features two bedrooms and two baths. With three bedrooms on the fourth floor and two more possible on the fifth floor, the entire third level could be converted to a master suite.
FOURTH AND FIFTH
Influenced by a passion for Japan and its artisans, the owners created a Japanese-inspired studio on the fifth floor complete with rice paper door panels, a Japanese shower and steeping hot tub, and several spaces for quiet study and creativity. As this floor includes a powder room on one end and a sauna on another, it is possible to create two more bedrooms on this floor. Whether used as a studio, office, or bedrooms, the effect created by opening up the fifth floor is that of a two-story atrium that floods the core of the house with light, emphasizing the already superb natural scale of this particular townhouse.
What cannot be changed about this house is already perfect: a handsome block off Central Park West, exemplary original scale to the rooms, and 21 feet in width which enhances the volume of the already gracious rooms. This is simply an uncommonly beautiful West Side townhouse. A rare find.