An East 10th Street townhouse inspired by India

The building materials of New York’s row houses don’t vary very much: brownstone, brick, mason, glass.


But teakwood? This hearty wood native to South Asia is a rarity in the city, which makes the gorgeous 1887 townhouse at 7 East 10th Street so noteworthy.

TeakwoodhouseacrossstreetThe house itself isn’t remarkable, but the beautifully carved teakwood on the bay window and trim attracts many admirers.

Who made the house such a show stopper? Lockwood De Forest, an artist and decorator who worked with Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Asian-inspired artifacts were a popular design motif at the time, and De Forest himself was enamored with Indian woodcarving, arranging for craftsmen in India to make wood carvings that could be shipped to America.

While Asian decorative elements were often found inside late 19th century parlors, De Forest made the unusual decision to incorporate them outside on the facade.


“His elaborately carved teakwood projecting bay and trim on the otherwise ordinary town house is one of this city’s marvels, both for its intricate artistry and for its having so heartily survived the elements all these years,” wrote Francis Morrone in Architectural Guidebook to New York City.


For reasons lost to history, teakwood trim also ended up next door at 9 East 10th Street, built in 1888, a building called the Ava.

In 1900, House Beautiful magazine called it the “most beautiful Indian house in America,” according to These days, the dazzling and well-preserved home is owned by New York University.

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6 Responses to “An East 10th Street townhouse inspired by India”

  1. Penelope Bianchi Says:

    OMIGOD!!!! I am so glad I subscribe to this! Lockwood de Forest moved to Santa Barbara shortly after he lived in New York City; and became the foremost landscape architect and designer of the gardens of Montecito!

    He lived here and designed the landscapes of the most beautiful estates….and his son is still alive and kicking@

    He helps all of us who try to preserve the loveliness of the past here! And we are mostly successful!

    His name is Kellam de Forest….and he went to the lovely boarding school where my granddaughter goes in Ojai, Ca. (nearby to Montecito)!

    I will print this out and send to him….I know he will love it beyond!! Think of it!!!!

    Thank you so much for this magnificent blog!!!!

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    So interesting, and what a strange coincidence.

  3. Timothy Grier Says:

    Lockwood de Forest items went on the auction block recently in Sydney Australia where a grandson lives. I believe that for tax purposes the grandson thought it better to sell down under rather than bring the items to the US for sale.

    As an aside the townhouse is in the neighborhood where I grew up. I’ve been fascinated by the design ever since my childhood in the fifties and sixties.

  4. Carol Hunt Says:

    I, Carol Hunt, the teacher at Richard R. Green was planning on using your products as a teacher.  I will do anything you tell me to as long as it is not illegal or in my vision of the world against my principles. Carol Hunt1102 Main StreetNiagara Falls, NY  14301 P.S.  I will purchase $150 worth of products from you every chance I have. 

  5. kathyfroberts Says:

    Amazing architecture and what a hitory lesson I have gotten from the comments! Thank you all for sharing this information!

  6. Tracing a Village writer through her apartments | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] A year later they relocated to 9 East 10th Street (right), with its intricately carved teakwood facade. […]

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