The gingerbread carriage house of 38th Street

Every once in a while, you see a building in New York City that’s so whimsical, it looks like it stepped out of a fable.

Take a look at this Dutch Revival–style carriage house, with its brick facade, spirals, stepped gables, and fan-like stonework surrounding the door and windows.

Ornate and unusual, the little stub of a building on East 38th Street in Murray Hill seems inspired by a fairy tale—you almost expect it to be made from gingerbread.

Adding to the carriage house’s beauty are the two stone horse heads looking out between the first and second stories. Then there’s the growly bulldog keeping an eye on things up top.

For such a fanciful structure, its backstory echoes that of other New York City carriage houses—built for wealthy New Yorkers who resided in nearby mansions and could afford to spend money on the place they housed their horses.

Named for a banker who worked with J.P. Morgan, the George S. Bowdoin Stable was completed in 1902 by architect Ralph Townsend. He designed it for Murray Hill landowner and real estate developer William Martin, according to Exploring Manhattan’s Murray Hill.

“The carriage house was acquired by Bowdoin in 1907, converted to a garage in 1918 by Mrs. Bowdoin, and later converted to a single-family residence, eventually yielding to commercial use.”

This homage to the whimsy of early 20th century architects was up for sale in 2016—check out the ultra modern interior, courtesy of 6sqft.com. (The price at the time: $8.35 million!)

[Third image: MCNY, 1976, 2013.3.2.252]

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5 Responses to “The gingerbread carriage house of 38th Street”

  1. beth Says:

    wow, whimsy is right!

  2. Shayne Davidson Says:

    Beautiful! Thanks for lifting my spirits!

  3. VirginiaB Says:

    So very glad buildings like this can still be found in NYC and that our intrepid Ephemeral NY sleuth finds them to share. Thank you!

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you and I’m glad you enjoy it!

  5. Bill Wolfe Says:

    I love the exterior – somehow that bulldog head is my favorite feature – but the interior strikes me too sterile, and a complete mis-match for the exterior. So I guess I won’t be spending $18 million to buy it!

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