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Open House Agenda: 3 Properties With History to See This Weekend

By Emily Nonko | January 7, 2016 5:21pm | Updated on January 8, 2016 7:05pm
 Three open houses from buildings with interesting backstories. 
Open House Insider: 3 Properties with History to See This Weekend
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MANHATTAN — These three properties will appeal to the history buff. Each is in a building with a fascinating backstory, designed by a prominent architect. One even boasts a cannonball buried in the backyard. 

174 Beard St., Red Hook
Two bedrooms/one-and-a-half baths
Approximately 1,555 square feet
$1.275 million
Taxes: $102 a month
Open House: Sunday, Jan. 10, 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

Lowdown: This brick townhouse, located in the waterfront neighborhood of Red Hook, dates back to 1810 and is one of the oldest homes in the area.

Corcoran broker Clare Saliba called the two-story home a “charming little seaside cottage.”

The building was originally used by the Red Hook Cotton Company for cotton storage until the company was seized in 1845 for unpaid taxes. A small window off the stoop, believed to be part of the storage design, is still there.

When the current owners were planting a cherry tree in the backyard, they unearthed a cannonball. After doing some research, they found it was from a British warship that fired in the Battle of Brooklyn during the Revolution.

Although the home has obviously been upgraded since its days as a cotton storage facility, there are still pre-war details. “The tin ceilings probably go back about 100 years,” said Saliba. The original decorative mantel is still in the living room.

The owners updated the mechanicals, kitchen and bathrooms in the past year.

Although it's a cozy townhouse with only two bedrooms, Saliba noted that the second bedroom comes with a spiral staircase leading to a “bonus room” that could be used as a loft or office. From the loft, you have access to the roof and views of the nearby harbor.

This is the second time the townhouse has hit the market; an earlier offer fell through this summer. Saliba said that since re-listing a few days ago, “there have been multiple showing requests.”

Location: Saliba called this “prime Red Hook,” one block from the bars and restaurants on Van Brunt Street, two blocks from Fairway supermarket, and right next to the Pier 44 Waterfront Garden. Living in Red Hook, though, means no easy access to subways: the F/G trains at Smith/9th Street are a 25 minute walk away. Many residents take the bus to the subway or have a car.

Why put it on your open house calendar? “In conjunction with the historical cachet, there are very few townhouses on the market west of Van Brunt Street,” said Saliba.  

244 Madison Ave., #11B, Midtown South
One bedroom/one bath
Approximately 800 square feet
Maintenance: $1,531 a month
Open House: Sunday, Jan. 10, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Lowdown: The building was designed in 1916 by Arthur Loomis Harmon, a Chicago architect who also designed the Empire State Building.

Originally an office building, it was occupied by the Norcross Card Company — one of the first commercial card companies to produce Valentine's Day cards. The poet Ogden Nash also kept an office here and one of his poems, "Spring Comes to Murray Hill" pays homage to 244 Madison.

In 1984, the office building was converted to 180 cooperative units, according to Kleier Residential broker Sharon Barros. The apartments have retained “a very downtown, industrial feel,” she said.

The building's original beamed, 13-foot ceilings are on display in the living room and bedroom. They have since been upgraded with track lighting.

“The high ceilings make the apartment feel bigger,” said Barros.

The seller, who has been there since 2006, also added new wood flooring.

A private terrace off the living room looks down onto a courtyard from the 11th floor. Although it isn't much of a view, Barros says it keeps the apartment quiet.

There's a window facing the courtyard inside the rectangular kitchen, which “is not the typical galley kitchen you find in NYC,” according to Barros. The space fits a small bistro table.

Location: 244 Madison is an ideal location for a buyer who wants to be close to Midtown. Located between 37th and 38th Streets, it is within walking distance of Grand Central Terminal, Bryant Park, Penn Station and Herald Square.

Why put it on your open house calendar? “You get a tremendous amount of space for the price,” said Barros, adding that “the space is amplified by the ceiling height.”

35 East 68th St., #2B, Upper East Side
One bedroom/one bath
Approximately 800 square feet
$1.595 million
Maintenance: $1,900 a month
Open House: Sunday, Jan. 10, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Lowdown: The limestone building at 35 East 68th St. was originally built as a 13,000-square-foot, Beaux Arts mansion for Dr. Edward Kellogg Dunham, well-known for his work in pathology and bacteriology.

It was designed for him and his family in 1899-1901 by Carrere & Hastings, the architects of the New York Public Library in Bryant Park. In 1977, the building was divided into duplex apartments and today it's an eight-unit co-op.

This apartment occupies the original dining room of the mansion. It's one of the smaller and less expensive building units. Apartments in the building typically sell from $3 to $5 million, according to Compass broker Oliver Brown.

Historic details like tall windows, moldings, a mantlepiece and wood-burning fireplace have been left in tact. “The mantlepiece goes all the way up to your shoulders,” said Brown.

Because this apartment is located on the parlor floor, “it has the highest ceilings in the house,” which reach up to 14 feet, he said.

The seller, who has lived here for 15 years, upgraded the bathroom about 10 years ago and renovated the kitchen six months ago. The modern kitchen renovation includes cabinets that reach the ceiling, which can be accessed by a ladder.

Newer finishes in the kitchen are complimented by original bay windows that go up to the ceiling.

Location: It's between Madison and Park avenues, less than a five-minute walk to Central Park. The closest subway station is the 6 at 68th Street/Hunter College, two blocks away.

Why put it on your open house calendar? “It's so rare to find an apartment like this one,” said Brown. “There's just nothing on the market like this.”