Is this the East Side’s most hideous brownstone?

It might be if you favor classic 19th century New York residences: cornices, wide stoops, decorative ironwork.

But if you’re a fan of Modernist architecture, you’d probably consider the house in the center of this photo, at 211 East 48th Street, to be strikingly beautiful.


The 1934 home was designed by William Lescaze, a Swiss-born architect who brought Modernist style to the East Coast. It was in the vanguard during its time; perhaps that’s why Berenice Abbott photographed it in 1938.

Bereniceabbottlescazehouse“The way the second-floor bay curves beside the “stoop” is distinctly reminiscent of the of the sleek curve of the base of the pioneering Philadelphia Saving Fund Society skyscraper, completed two years earlier, that Lescaze codesigned with George Howe,” states The Architectural Guidebook to New York City.

“House designs have been blown up to skyscraper proportions, but the Lescaze house may be the first time a skyscraper design was ever scaled down to fit a house.”

Recently up for rent ($6,400 a month!), the house’s interior can be seen in this listing.

It’s hardly the only untraditional-looking residence on a brownstone block in New York. The “bubble brownstone” on East 71st Street is in a class by itself.

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9 Responses to “Is this the East Side’s most hideous brownstone?”

  1. Lady G. Says:

    Gorgeous inside, very spacious and bright. But outside it’s most hideous and boring! :/

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    With an interior like that, I could deal with it!

  3. John Gulino Says:

    More the visage of a primitive god from some advanced tribe, A king among the tenements.

  4. Uppereast Says:

    I worked in that building in the 80’s pre-dating the renovation. One has to look at in the context of when it was built, and considered a
    modernist marvel. It is by far not the most hideous townhouse on the UES. One is on E.73 btwn Park and Lex. on the South side of the street. A brownstone that has been refaced with alpine style wood paneling, another is on E. 70th btwn 3rd and 2nd with fish eye windows.

  5. Al Says:

    I find the changes made to the brownstone on its left to be more appalling.

  6. Says:

    Does not fit but is so distinctive at the same time. I wonder how the neighbors felt ? Beautiful inside.

  7. Marc Says:

    Is that a sewage pipe in the living room ceiling? Gross.

  8. Is this the ugliest brownstone in Chelsea? | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] this Modernist example in Turtle Bay, the concrete grill townhouse in the East 60s, and the futuristic bubble-window brownstone in the […]

  9. Chris Helenius Says:

    It looks like a bathroom turned inside-out.

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