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Open House New York Weekend to Unlock Architectural Gems

By Amy Zimmer | October 3, 2011 12:42pm
A tour of the construction site of FDR Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island is part of Open House New York Weekend on Oct. 15 and 16.
A tour of the construction site of FDR Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island is part of Open House New York Weekend on Oct. 15 and 16.
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Open House New York

MANHATTAN — It’s time to get ready for Open House New York Weekend, which will give an all-access pass into often-closed architectural and historical gems across the city on Oct. 15 and 16.

The listing of private homes, architecture studios and other sites on this year’s roster goes live on Tuesday.

One of the Upper East Side's historic buildings with an interesting backstory featured on the list of behind-the-scenes tours is the Roosevelt House, at 47-49 E 65th St. at Park Avenue. Now housing the Public Policy Institute of Hunter College, it had been built in 1906, commissioned by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s mother as a wedding present for him and Eleanor — which she promptly moved into along with the new couple.

Besides a house where FDR once lived and many other landmark buildings that will be part of the Ninth Annual Open House New York Weekend, the event will also give a glimpse of what’s in the works for the city’s future landscape, like the construction site of a park rising at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in honor of the late president.

Even though the well-known architect Louis Kahn created the plans for Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park just before he died in 1974, the designs were shelved until recently. The park is expected to open next year.

“We open sites and offer programs that span the history of architecture and design in New York City —  past, present and future," Renee Schacht, executive director of OHNY, said in a statement.

More than 200,000 people are expected to participate in the events, organizers said.

They include a peek into several other stately Upper East Side institutions, such as Temple Emanu-El at 1 East 65th St. at Fifth Avenue, an ornate Romanesque Revival structure famous for its mosaics; the Park Avenue Christian Church at 1010 Park Ave. at East 85th Street, a French Gothic building inspired by Sainte-Chapelle in Paris; and the American Irish Historical Society, a townhouse at 991 Fifth Ave. across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose library contains rare books like the famous Bedell Bible published in the 17th century.

Other tours that are bound to fill up fast include a rare look at what the one-day home of Moynihan Station by Skidmore Owings and Merrill will look like after the transformation of Midtown’s James A. Farley Post Office into a new train station, and a walk on the High Line’s third —  and as of yet, undeveloped — section of the elevated rail that has become a popular park.