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27 West 67th Street: Review and Ratings

between Central Park West & Columbus Avenue View Full Building Profile

Carter Horsley
Review of 27 West 67th Street by Carter Horsley

The 12-story, red-and-black-brick “studio” building at 27 West 67th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue was erected in 1903 and converted to 32 cooperative apartments in 1973. 

It was designed by Sturgis & Simonson and is the oldest of the 8 buildings that comprise the West 67th Street Artists’ Colony History District for the United States Department of the Interior’s National Park Service on the block.  

Bottom Line

One of the better “artist’s studio” buildings on one of the city’s most impressive residential streets that is very close to Central Park and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Description

The building has a very unusual arched stone entrance surround with its address emblazoned in wavy limestone beneath a spectacular, though small, light fixture suspended by an elaborate cast-iron element. 

All the studio buildings were built in the first three decades of the twentieth century and are unified by their façade materials and design. According to Andrew Scott Dolkart’s 1985 report on the district for the National Park Service, “the five contributing apartments on the north side of West 67th street were all built to contain artists’ studios and all have large two-story studio windows on the north faces overlooking West 68th Street..." 

“On the street façades are smaller multi-paned windows, except at No. 1, the Hotel des Artistes, which also has studio windows facing south on to West 67th Street,” according to Mr. Dolkart’s report. 

“The apartments on the south side of West 67th Street lack the two story studio windows, but similar fenestration gives the illusion of studios. All of the residential structures are approximately the same height and all are built of brick trimmed with limestone and/or terra cotta ... Almost all of the buildings in the historic district have limestone bases with dark brick above. With the exception of the Colonial Studios ... at No. 39, all of the contributing buildings in the historic district have Neo-gothic detail on their façades. The gothic-derived forms include pinnacles, crockets, pointed arched, canopied niches, and bosses,” Mr. Dolkart observed.

Amenities

The building has an attractive roof deck and a 24-hour elevator operator. The building also has a laundry and permits pets.

Apartments

Apartment 5FW is a three-bedroom unit that has 17-foot ceiling, a wood-burning fireplace in the 29-foot-long living room, and stained-glass windows.  The lower level has a 25-foot-long dining room, a 19-foot-long kitchen and 16-foot-long foyer and the mezzanine with the bedrooms as well as a separate maid’s room and a storage unit.  The apartment was purchased in 2013 for $4,800,000 by Bonita Roche, the architect ex-wife of Charles Bronfman. 

Apartment 6FW has a 7-foot-wide foyer that opens onto the 31-foot-long living room with a wood-burning fireplace that opens onto a 16-foot-long dining room off a 13-foot-wide open kitchen with an island, all on the lower level, and two bedrooms and a 9-foot-long den on the upper level. 

Apartment 6RW has a 20-foot-living room next to an enclosed, 11-foot-wide kitchen and a 10-foot-wide bedroom.

History

The earliest of the studios, the Sixty-Seventh Street Studios, established the form common to the block.  The building is notable for the sophistication of its molded brick window enframements and for the Gothic detail and multi-paned windows of its street front.  Shallow rooftop gables have been removed.  

In his September 10, 1995 “Streetscapes” column in The New York Times, Christopher Gray wrote that his building “is one of the most important apartment houses in the history of New York City, but even after a million-dollar restoration project, it still looks like a factory,” adding that “the original artist-owners didn't mind, however, because all they wanted was studio space - the idea of making money came later.” 

The landscape painter Henry Ward Ranger conceived of a plan to build a high-rise studio/co-op but was rebuffed by speculative builders. 

According to Mr. Gray, he finally persuaded nine other artists - including Childe Hassam, Frank Dumond and Walter Russell - to do it themselves. “In 1901,” he wrote, “they chose West 67th Street, off Central Park West, a ragged block of stables, a…mill, a warehouse and vacant lots. But it was next to Central Park and it backed up onto the rowhouses of West 68th Street, where restrictions effectively prohibited tall buildings. Assurance of light and proximity to an established residential district and Central Park made it a smart real-estate move.” 

The artist syndicate's architect, Sturgis & Simonson, refined the duplex/studio plan that had been used in the 1880's, matching a double-height studio in the rear - facing north - to single-height living and sleeping rooms doubled up in the front. Completed in 1903, the building had 14 studios, plus smaller rental apartments. 

But, Mr. Gray continued, the industrial Gothic exterior of red and black brick with green window frames was "not a thing of beauty," said The New York Times, which called it "a somewhat ornate factory . . . tall, bulky and sad." 

This, too, fit in with the artists' scheme, avoiding the cheap tin cornices and tawdry catalogue ornament that speculative builders used to dress up their buildings. The lobby, with its plain marble wainscot, simple Classical mural by Sewell, cramped spaces and low ceiling, would have puzzled a commercial builder, but the absence of show suited the tenants just fine, according to Mr. Gray. 

IT appears that the original 10 artists split the total cost of $350,000, and there is no evidence that they sought anything but a roof over their heads - at first. But later reports indicate that they returned a 23 percent profit on their investment, and of course they had their apartments. 

“In 1905 a related syndicate, this time with more than shelter on its mind, successfully built 33 West 67th Street, this time with a more decorated front, and everyone saw that the game had changed. Ranger, Dumond, Hassam, Russell and others spread out and built co-ops at 130 and 140 West 57th Street, 2, 15 and 40 West 67th Street, and 44 West 77th Street. 

Another co-op they put up, the Hotel des Artistes, at 1 West 67th, firmly fixed the block's position as an artistic center, and Noel Coward, James Montgomery Flagg, Fannie Hurst and other writers and artists moved to the street,” according to Mr. Gray. 

The other buildings in the district include the famous Hotel des Artists at 1 West 67th Street designed in 1918 by George Mort Pollard, the Central Park Studios at 15 West 67th Street and the Atelier Building at 33 West 67th Street, both designed in 1905 by Simonson, Pollard & Steinam, the Swiss House at 37 West 67th Street designed in 1905 by John E. Scharsmith, the Colonial Studios at 39 West 67th Street designed in 1907 by Pollard & Steinam, 40 West 67th Street designed by Rosario Candela in 1929 and 50 West 67th Street designed by Shape & Bready in 1917.  Mr. Dolkart’s report notes that “there is one intrusion in the historic district, No. 17…designed in 1931 by Gronenberg & Leuchtag.  This apartment house was not designed in a manner that blends cohesively with the neighboring studios.  It is the only residential building on the north side of West 67th Street that is not a studio structure and its pale brick façade lacks the decorative detailing of its neighbors.” 

Rating

19
Out of 44

Architecture Rating: 19 / 44

+
30
Out of 36

Location Rating: 30 / 36

+
16
Out of 39

Features Rating: 16 / 39

+
9
=
74

CityRealty Rating Reference

 
Architecture
  • 30+ remarkable
  • 20-29 distinguished
  • 11-19 average
  • < 11 below average
 
Location
  • 27+ remarkable
  • 18-26 distinguished
  • 9-17 average
  • < 9 below average
 
Features
  • 22+ remarkable
  • 16-21 distinguished
  • 9-15 average
  • < 9 below average
  • #34 Rated co-op - Central Park West
 
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