The most spectacular mansion on Sutton Place

When developers created Sutton Place in the 1870s, they started with a one-block strip of 24 brownstones between 58th and 59th Streets and the East River and Avenue A (which ran uptown at the time).

But it wasn’t until the 1920s when Sutton Place, now stretching from 57th Street to 60th Street, became synonymous with extreme wealth and privilege.

This couldn’t have happened if a group of New York’s richest and most notable women—such as Anne Morgan, daughter of J.P. Morgan, and society decorator Elsie De Wolfe— didn’t decide to turn this out of the way street into the city’s new corridor of exclusivity.

Among these influential women was Anne Harriman Vanderbilt (left).

Anne Vanderbilt was the widow of William K. Vanderbilt, a grandson of Commodore Vanderbilt and ex-husband of Gilded Age society doyenne turned suffrage supporter Alva Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt’s announcement that she was relocating from her Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street mansion to a part of Manhattan known for its proximity to slaughterhouses and factories was quite shocking.

It marked such a shift among the society set that the news made the gossip columns and bold type headlines.

“Mrs. W.K. Vanderbilt to Live in Avenue A,” proclaimed the New York Times in 1921, in an article that chronicled the movement of “society leaders” to this “new colony” of Sutton Place that sought to blend the three “classifications of life—social, artistic, and professional.”

Vanderbilt was a philanthropist who helped finance a development of open air tenements for tuberculosis sufferers not far away on Avenue A (today’s York Avenue) and 77th Street.

Though devoted to her charitable endeavors, Vanderbilt apparently pulled out all the stops when it came to her  new digs.

Instead of building a luxury townhouse or moving to a ritzy apartment residence, she commissioned architects to create an expansive Georgian-style mansion on the corner of Sutton Place and 57th Street.

Christened “One Sutton Place North” and completed in 1921, the mansion was a 13-room (plus 17 servant rooms) ivy-covered home with a bright blue front door.

Stately shutters flanked enormous windows, and shady trees swayed gently across the front facade.

Perhaps the mansion’s most impressive features were the terraces, gardens, and the lawn sloping down to the East River.

Vanderbilt only lived on Sutton Place until 1927, after which she relocated to a triplex on Park Avenue.

Her magnificent house still stands on this lovely corner today, one of the last single-family mansions in Manhattan on a street that isn’t trendy but still has its air of exclusivity.

Want a sneak peek? It was up for sale in 2018 for $21 million bucks.

[Third photo: Wikipedia; fourth photo: MCNY 1921, X2010.11.14511; fifth image: New York Times headline 1920; sixth image: New York Daily News 1920; seventh image: Berenice Abbott, 1926]

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5 Responses to “The most spectacular mansion on Sutton Place”

  1. Kenny Says:

    Girlfriends and mistresses lived almost as opulently as heirs to the fortunate. 57 Park Ave, once the Guatemalan consulate and now a church, was also once the love nest of JP Morgan and his side squeeze.
    It was a convenient stroll from the Morgan mansion / library with a handy secret entrance.

  2. Tom B Says:

    The staircase is the same style and curve as the Beverly Hillbilly’s mansion from the sixties.

  3. ironrailsironweights Says:

    The NYPD guard booth on the corner is not for the Vanderbilt house, but for the adjoining building at 3 Sutton Place, the UN Secretary General’s official residence.

    Peter

  4. Bob Says:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-05/un-chief-laments-he-can-t-sell-manhattan-mansion-to-raise-funds

    “The UN’s cash flow problems are so severe the secretary general says he wishes he could sell his official residence in Manhattan’s stately Sutton Place neighborhood. But he can’t even do that.

    “Antonio Guterres said he learned the Manhattan mansion with sweeping views of the East River can’t be be put on the market because the U.S. has a claim on it.

    ” ‘The first thing I did when I arrived was to ask if I could sell the residence,’ he told diplomats on Tuesday. ‘I am not joking. It is a true story. I discovered that I couldn’t, because the residence can only be sold to the United States of America when we close the doors in New York.’ […]

    “The Manhattan house was built for Anne Morgan, the daughter of the banking titan J. P. Morgan and a woman’s rights advocate early in the 20th century. […]

    “[3] Sutton Place was donated to the UN in 1972 and has been home to every secretary-general since Kurt Waldheim.”

  5. Two Civil War homes laying low on the East Side | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Industry took over the neighborhood. In the 20th century, factories were gradually replaced by wealthy enclaves like Sutton Place and postwar luxury apartment […]

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