Just Off Fifth: 4 East 79th Street, The Nichols-Harriman Mansion
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 hired to tone down the façade somewhat. The result is a peon to hammered stonework, crowned with one of the city’s most dramatic mansard roofs – sheltering a rooftop conservatory.
Lucas was best known for suave apartment house designs; fronting Gramercy Park, One Lexington Avenue is perhaps his best known work.