The charming wooden houses time forgot in Carnegie Hill

You won’t notice anything unusual at first as you walk along quiet, unassuming 92nd Street between Park and Lexington Avenues.

122 East 92nd Street

But in the middle of the block, amid the quaint brownstones and apartment houses on the south side, stand two startling architectural anachronisms: side by side wood-frame houses with clapboard shutters, low iron fences, and deep front porches more countryside than Carnegie Hill.

120 East 92nd Street

Of course, these houses went up when this neck of the Upper East Side was mostly countryside. Number 122 is the older of the two. The charming Italianate-style home was built in 1859 by Adam C. Flanagan, a custom house officer, according to Andrew Dolkart’s Guide to New York City Landmarks.

120 and 122 East 92nd Street in the 1930s

A little more than a decade later, Flanagan had next-door neighbors. “In 1871, Flanagan sold adjacent land to John C. and Catherine E. Rennert,” wrote Dolkart. “John Rennert, a wine merchant, commissioned No. 120.”

Getting down to the city center involved something of a commute. By the 1850s, horsecar lines ran up and down Second and Third Avenues. By the end of the 1870s, elevated train service on Third Avenue made the trip shorter.

The 92nd Street wood houses in 1976

Both houses were constructed before the city banned wood frame houses below 155th Street in 1882, deeming them a fire hazard. (Wood houses were first prohibited below Canal Street in 1816, and as the city expanded northward, the ban was extended, explained Village Preservation’s Off the Grid blog.)

By the turn of the century, once-sleepy Carnegie Hill and neighboring Yorkville had transformed into an urban part of the cityscape. Strangely, the two wood houses barely changed. Photos from the 1930s and 1970s, above, show them to be well preserved, almost untouched by time.

A handful of other wood houses similar to these survive on the Upper East Side, remnants of a semi-rural city. Number 120 was available for rent for $18,500 back in the 2010s, per; here’s a peek at the gorgeous historic interior.

[Third image: NYPL; fourth image: MCNY/Edmund Vincent Gillon 2013.3.1.782; fifth image: Google]

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8 Responses to “The charming wooden houses time forgot in Carnegie Hill”

  1. Lawrence P. Schnapf Says:

    there is also a wooden structure on east 84th street

  2. countrypaul Says:

    Gorgeous. As The Rutles sang, “All you need is cash.”

  3. Jason Says:

    Those two houses are beautiful and seemingly so well maintained.

    As a note though, the first two photos and some of the article text has the addresses swapped. The house on the left is #120 and the one on the right is #122. I double checked with google street view which has a fairly good view of each.

  4. chas1133 Says:

    Great to see some of the most interesting homes from that period have been left alone too ring the past

  5. velovixen Says:

    Ironically, I find myself thinking about Superstorm Sandy. In places like Beach Channel, Coney Island and Atlantic Beach, one house might be all but destroyed but the house next to it could have been untouched.

    That storm is like the cycles of development and redevelopment. How do houses like the ones in the photos “survive.” I am glad they do.

  6. Andrew Porter Says:

    This looks amazingly like 135a Joralemon Street in Brooklyn Heights.

  7. Joanne Flaster Says:

    I lived in a massive building complex called: Ruppert/Yorkville Towers on 3rd Ave/90th Street build in the 70’s on the site of old Ruppert Brewery .It’s has as much charm as a penitentiary. While this wonderful house I’ve passed many times wishing I owned Glad it’s been preserved..

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