New York Daily Photo Analytics

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

121 Charles

I have been virtually obsessed with this place and looking forward to posting photos and the story behind one of the most amazing properties in the entire city. Here we have a 200 year-old farmhouse on its own piece of land, with a yard and driveway; the six-room wood-frame house stuck against a neighboring brick building. Click here for more photos. The first time I encountered this tiny house at 121 Charles Street, I couldn't believe it. An anomaly and a time warp in a bucolic setting. There is little information on this place, so I had to dig. This house was originally on a rear lot at 71st and York Ave. The exact date of its origin is unknown. The house was occupied in the 1940s by Margaret Wyse Brown - author of ''Good Night Moon". In 1960, it was occupied by Swedish-born Mr. and Mrs. Sven Bernhard, who after extensive renovations, won ownership in 1966. However, the land was owned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, who intended to demolish the house for the building of a new Mary Manning Walsh Home for the Aged. Wanting to keep the home, the Bernhards decided to move the entire house intact. With the help of architect William C. Shopsin, they located a vacant 3600-square-foot lot on Charles Street. On March 5, 1967 the entire house was moved five miles (at a cost of $6500) from its Upper East side location down Second Avenue and across 14th Street to its new home in the West Village, with the Bernhards following by car. In 1988, Suri Bieler and her husband Eliot Brodsky began a restoration of the property with architect George Boyle. A room for their 7 year old, Jack Brodsky, was added. You won't find anything like this in Manhattan, trust me. I understand it's not for sale ...

19 comments:

RamblingRound said...

Quite a prize! No wonder it isn't for sale.

Prokur said...

funny place :)
Looks like a joke

Brian said...

The first time I saw the place, they had a swingset in the yard! Crazy.
Brian

Sonia A. Mascaro said...

Such a lovely place!

susan said...

I know exactly what you mean about a time warp!

I, too, found a similar thing in Atlanta and was FASCINATED by it! Here is a link to this unusual house in the middle of skyscrapers.

So...I can relate totally to your reaction. Wouldn't it be so nice to own that house (the one in Manhattan...or Atlanta for that matter)?!?

Brian said...

There are a number of other small free standing buildings, but all are in back lots or gardens behind larger buildings so they are not visible from the street. I know of a few where access is down a narrow alley, opening to the rear gardens.
Brian

Nicole said...

Amazing sanctuary in the middle of such a crazy place.
By the way I LOVE your blog and I look forward to each window into your world.
Nicole

Abraham Lincoln said...

An amazing photo and your story was interesting too. I can guess the land it sits on is worth a small fortune.

Today is the third episode in One Day in the Life of a Robin. It is about the toilet issues -- the poop sack. Tomorrow will be the end of the series with an unforgettable set of pictures. Hope you can see them.

Abraham Lincoln
Brookville Daily Photo

Hide said...

There aren't many places like this in Manhattan. This place could be in Cape Cod. It's also amazing that it has a driveway.

Sally said...

There are the most amazing places tucked away in NYC. You really couldn't believe it - from farmhouse to Chrysler building in one city!
How you dug and found the story also intrigues me. What did you do? Pulic records, or knocking on the door?

Brian said...

Thanks to all. Yes, this place could easily be in Cape Cod.
Sally - I use a number of sources. I have a good library and use online references of course. This takes time. I do speak to people who own businesses whenever possible. I do not knock on anyones door however - this would be ill received in NYC.
Brian

Anonymous said...

I live in two apartments in the West Village, one of which is a few doors down from this amazing house. I always see the owner working in the yard and clipping the vines,seeing this is always a momentary mental escape from the city. My other apartment faces Christopher Park which is in yesterdays post. That park is maintained by very loyal and avid gardeners and residents of my building, there is a real neighborhood spirit and pride in these small neighborhood enclaves. It's also wonderful to watch the tourists "discover" these quiet jewels of the city.

This blog is truely great!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Ultra Cool! I lived in Manhattan and never saw this.

Mary, Detroit Photoblog

Anonymous said...

There is another house like this somewhere downtown and I forgot where it is and have been searching for it ever since...with no luck! Phantom house I suppose. : (

Anonymous said...

This house is featured in the New York Times Homes Section today.

MuchLoveandPeace said...

My Brother and I lived next to this home when we were growing up.
We lived at 115 Charles St back in the late 60's, Early 70's.
We played around and near that house when we were kids although I remember it differntly..Structure wise it's exact. But when we were children the house had Beautiful towering Sunflowers all over the yard mixed in with wildflowers..
There was a very large and menacing black Doberman dog that used to charge at You when You tried to peek through the wrought iron gate.. This place was like a fairytale to me.. Imagine a little child surrounding by concrete and cement and this little tiny slice of Heaven was just next door..
I LOVE Sunflowers because of this home.. I am so grateful and happy to see it has been preserved as an historic landmark..
I still have an old picture of the house with the Sunflowers towering over the stucco'd walls.. with our friends standing in front of the gate... Great memories ....

Anonymous said...

You got the owner's name wrong. It is not Sue. I'm not going to tell you what it is.

Brian Dubé said...

Anon - correction noted and change made. Thanks.

Nancy said...

Thanks for giving the history of this adorable little house! I I just saw it for the first time today and found your blog in my google search to find more info on the "crazy little house on Charles St". Looking forward to reading more.