What’s a farmhouse doing on East 29th Street?

Tucked just inside Third Avenue on a Kips Bay block near a noisy country and western bar is this wooden clapboard beauty.

The more you look at the lovely home, the easier it is to imagine it as a lone farmhouse on one of Manhattan’s vast estates in the late 18th and early 19th century.

That’s before the street grid, dreamed up in 1811, carved up the city, and houses like it were torn down (or just as likely, burned down, as wood structures had a habit of doing).

Historians can’t seem to agree on the year the house, at 203 East 29th Street, was built, but it may have been as early as 1790, when the neighborhood was known as Rose Hill.

Fast forward a century. Here it is, looking rather rundown, in a 1915 New York Public Library photo.

Since then, it’s been renovated, obviously—the roof, windows, and siding are all reproductions.

So what would it cost you to make this East Side farmhouse your home?

A Streeteasy listing says it was rented in 2010 for $5500 a month—quite a bargain for one of the city’s oldest houses. Check out the photos of the interior.

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19 Responses to “What’s a farmhouse doing on East 29th Street?”

  1. focusoninfinity Says:

    As a child, my parents, Lelia and Al, lived in the post WWII, London Terrace Apartments; of which I remember little. It was on the 43rd Street side. On my first adult return visit over a decade ago; across 43rd Street from London Terrace, towards the river end; was an old two, three, maybe four-story small home, compared to adjoining larger structures.

    I espied no historical sign which would give a clue as to why it survived so long, and long I’ve wondered the “why” of it? If you recognize the home; please tell us I hope-or at least me-more?

    • wildnewyork Says:

      Do you mean 23rd Street? London Terrace spans 23rd to 24th.

      • Joe R Says:

        There are still a couple of old wooden buildings on 9th Avenue, just a couple of blocks south of London Terrace. These may be what focusetc. may have been thinking about.

      • focusoninfinity Says:

        You are likely correct as I was back only one time in my life, and that was twenty years ago. If I remember correctly, I walked several blocks down that street to see that old hotel that “artists” once stayed in cheaply and is written about every other year in my beloved NYT. Sorry for the mistake.

  2. Parnassus Says:

    These survivals boggle the mind, and as you point out give the imagination a glimpse into a city’s earliest days. In Cleveland, the Dunham Tavern, an early stagecoach stop, sits in restored splendor among desolated factories and brownfields.
    –Road to Parnassus

  3. one Says:

    The building next to appears to be a carriage house associated with the house. Interesting that in the old picture it appears to be a store. Now it is an apartment.

  4. Old Sheepshead Hand Says:

    Is the country western bar you’re referring to, the club Rodeo?

  5. Farmhouse Rental in NYC | dreamlifenewyork.com Says:

    […] with 2011 prices. You can rent out this beautiful home for around $5,500 a month. Head over to Ephemeral New York to learn more about this home and to take a look at some pictures of the […]

  6. buzzdome Says:

    I lived around the corner for nine years and an old lady in my building (who grew up there) claimed that it had once been an icehouse. I have no idea if that is true.

  7. Catherine Says:

    So interesting! I lived on that block for two years and always wondered how it was still standing. I’m surprised the rent is just $5500!

  8. Lisa Says:

    I work nearby, and have often wondered about this house, so thanks for this post.

    SHOCKED to learn it’s so old, guess I’d imagined it an oddity built in the 1950’s, or thereabout.

    I suppose $5,500 is a relative bargain for Manhattan, but if I was spending that much lettuce every month, I’d expect a little more charm. (This is the sort of suburban architecture that most of us moved to New York to ESCAPE!)

  9. petey Says:

    there’s a clapboard house at 85th and first, but i don’t know its history.

  10. Maureen Hagan Says:

    As a child in the 50’s we walked by the wooden structure many times. My Mom always told us that one match stick would take it up in flames. Amazing to see the renovation. Twenty -ninth street in the 50’s was a very Italian neighborhood. Dippilitos was the butcher across the street and the block had a fish market and fruit stands. Savastanos was a candy store on the north side of the street a few houses east of this structure.

  11. focusoninfinity Says:

    I was about age five when we left LTA for N.J., so correct street names are vague. The old three or four story house was opposite the up-river side of LTA, and towards the end nearest the river.

  12. The twin wood houses time forgot in Turtle Bay | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] beauties are two of just a handful surviving in Manhattan, like this one in the West Village and this farmhouse wedged into 29th […]

  13. aformerresident Says:

    Seeing these pictures brings back memories. I lived in that carriage house for 4 years with an ex and it was so much fun to have people over.

  14. Steve Baer Says:

    I lived in that wonderful crazy place 1996-2001. It was the reason I moved to NYC–it was an adventure! Noises with a fire station on the street, but so much fun!

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