Just Off Fifth: The Barbey Building at 15 West 38th Street

15 West 38th Street

An astonishing tour-de-force of red terra cotta, the Barbey Building at 15 West 38th Street was built in 1909 to designs by Delano & Aldrich, a firm better known for subdued Colonial Revival work.  Here they produced a startling early skyscraper design that terminates with a vast Baroque cartouche. Despite the austere clarity of much… Continue reading

Just Off Fifth: 4 East 39th Street

4 East 39th Street

One of the few remaining small-scale commercial works by the great New York architect George B. Post, 4 East 39th Street was originally the home of Keppel & Co., a renowned art gallery that alternated exhibitions of Old Masters with those of contemporary American artists – thus the remarkable likenesses of Rembrandt and James Whistler… Continue reading

Just Off Fifth: The Cathedral of St. Nicholas at 15 East 97th Street

St. Nicholas Cathedral

One of the most flamboyant ecclesiastic structures in Manhattan, the small but elaborately massed Cathedral of St. Nicholas at 15 East 97th Street brings an unexpected echo of the Arbat to the Upper East Side.  Criticized when built as “ugly and freakish” by the architectural critic Montgomery Schuyler, it is at least as striking as… Continue reading

Just Off Fifth: 4 East 79th Street, The Nichols-Harriman Mansion

4-east-79th-street

Perhaps the most opulent house on the Cook Block not actually fronting Fifth Avenue, 4 East 79th Street was originally designed by C.P.H. Gilbert in a Beaux Arts style for James E. Nichols that contrasted with the Chateauesque Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion next door.  After its purchase in 1916 by the Harriman Family, architect Herbert Lucas was… Continue reading

Just Off Fifth: The Lotus Club, 5 East 66th Street

5 East 66th Street

A private club with a focus on arts & letters, the Lotus Club was founded in 1870 and has counted Mark Twain, Orson Welles, Margaret Mead and Wynton Marsalis.  The organization takes its name from the poem “The Lotus Eaters” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who describes a land “in which it seemed always afternoon”.  Its… Continue reading

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