Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Welcome to the Wanamaker-Munn Mansion


SELLER: Estate of Aimee de Heeren
LOCATION: East 90th Street, New York, NY
PRICE: $33,000,000
SIZE: 12,200 square feet (approx.),
DESCRIPTION: Built in 1917-1919, this unusually grand mansion was designed by F. BurrallHoffman, Jr. for Charlotte Winthrop Fowler. In the early 1920's it was acquired by Fernanda Wanamaker de Heeren Munn, whose family has occupied the house for 4 generations. Like a large, elegant Parisian "hotel particulier", the effect is extremely grand with staggeringly high ceilings and voluminous, highly decorated rooms and 10 period marble fireplaces. Thankfully, the house retains all its original details and truly represents a "moment in time". Indeed it was a very grand moment when, after Carnegie built his house, now the Cooper Hewitt Museum, such illustrious people as Otto Kahn, the Burdens, Van-derbilts, Warburgs, Whitneys, Bakers and Carharts all followed suit with their own large mansions in the East 90's.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We are hardly the first real estate gossip to discuss this Manhattan townhouse (that pleasure goes to Josh Barbanel at the New York Times), but recently our pal The Social Butterfly brought this magnificent mansion to our attention once again and we thought the churlish children might need a break from all the sun baked behemoths in Los Angeles and appreciate viewing and discussing a legendary and palatial pile in New York City.

Iffin you happen to be a hedge fund honcho, international industrialist or a billionaire biznessmen with $33,000,000 to shell out for a Manhattan mansion, you might just want to perk up your ears and pay attention. And Madonna, all due respect gurl, you might want to pay some attention too. Your Mama understands that you were indeed able to acquire the unit above your already colossal crib on Central Park West, but it wasn't so long ago that you were driving all the New York real estate gossips krazee looking at tremendous townhouses on the Upper East Side. Did you see this one? Because hunny, it is fa-bu-lus and it may make you reconsider rolling that little place upstair into your already big digs.

Anyhoo, the Wanamaker-Munn mansion on East 90th Street was erected in 1917-1919 and was acquired by the very well married Fernanda Wanamaker de Heeren Munn in the early 1920s and has been in the same family of East Coast blue bloods ever since. The original Wanamaker fortune is derived from the the eponymous Wanamaker's department stores (which was absorbed into Hecht's, now the mass retail juggernaut Macy's).

The humongous house, measuring in at a whopping 12,200 square feet according to listing information, was last owned and occupied by Aimee de Heeren, the daughter-in-law to Fernanda W.dH.M and a well known fixture on the international high society scene with important homes New York, Palm Beach, Paris and Biarritz. The Brazilian born Madame de Heeren, who passably spoke six languages and possessed an impressive jewelry collection, passed in September of 2006 at the grand old age of 103. With the house currently for sale, Your Mama assumes, sadly, there is no one in the Wanamaker/de Heeren/Munn/Noble family with the inclination (or funds?) to take over and maintain a house of this plus size proportion.

According to the mouth watering floor plan, the house is extraordinarily wide at 29 feet and the perfectly proportioned public spaces include a ball room sized stair hall, a 720 square foot living room with "staggeringly high" ceilings, a 30 foot long paneled library, a dee-voon dining room capable of seating well over 20 people comfortably, a huge kitchen with a serving kitchen one floor up and adjacent to the dining room, and a small reception hall off the foyer is perfect for greeting guests not important enough to warrant an invitation to climb the spectacular curving stair case to the second floor.

On the upper floors are five family bedrooms, and Your Mama counts 4 full and 2 half bathrooms. An additional 5 bedrooms a 2 bathrooms for live in staff are located on the sixth floor and behind the kitchen sits a servant's hall for additional staff who are brought in daily and/or for special events such as when all the conservatively coiffured and immaculately dressed ladies who lunch came by to nibble on crustless sandwiches and discuss the doings at Doubles.

The children will note that Mme. de Heeren was well known in her upper crust circle as an excellent housekeeper, and as such we imagine that every one of those staff rooms was occupied by live-in people paid to wash windows, greet guests, shine the parquet floors, scrub the terlits and cook exquisite meals. Because let's face it, such a large and lavish house is not kept spit shine clean by a high cost service that drops in just 2 or 3 times a week. Oh no puppies, the owner of a house like this will surely require a few gurls who are well paid to dust and wax silently in the middle of the damn night so as not to disturb the slumbering ladee of the house.

Although the house is both gracious and elegant with such necessary townhouse appointments as an elevator serving all floors and a dumb waiter for efficiently getting hot food from the main kitchen to the massive dining room one floor above, this old bird will likely require some updating by the new owner. Mister Barbanel's report from October 2007 indicated that several through-window air conditioners protrude from the windows on the front of the house. While this is not unusual in even some of the finest buildings in New York City, most current day buyers with $33,000,000 to dump on a house are gonna want some central heat and air.

As the children know, Your Mama is loathe to speak ill about the day-core of the dead, and in this case, we have gotten lucky because we got nothing negative to say. While the interior spaces are indeed a bit fussy and French for our personal aesthetetic, it's impossible not to recognize that Mme. de Heeren's exquisitely dignified rooms reveal a timeless sophistication and a soupçon of high class whimsy. The (blessedly) monochromatic color scheme seen in each of the rooms spares them from looking like decrepit, dusty and outdated mausoleums of interior design, and Your Mama could not be more thrilled that Mme. De Heeren and her team of nice gay decorators did not clutter up the rooms with too much furniture and cover the windows with that horrid funeral home style drapery all too common in the homes of less elegant and less cosmopolitan rich people.

There are 10 period fireplaces, elaborate plaster moldings and impressively maintained wood work. Be assured that any number of world class crafts people are required to keep a house looking as superbly maintained as this one does. Remember children, Mme. de Heeren died at 103 years old...the fact that this house looks as meticulous as it does is a great credit to her breeding, fortitude and flawless housekeeping.

In addition to her great house in New York, Mme. de Heeren is said to have owned an Paris apartment, an estate in ritzy Biarritz on the West coast of France near the border with Spain, and she famously owned and meticulously maintained the Addison Mizner designed Louwana estate in posh Palm Beach.

The great sums of money to be paid in real estate commissions by the sale of Mme. de Heeren's hoity toity house in New York City will apparently be staying in the family. Our pal The Social Butterfly kindly drew us a little family tree which indicated that the listing agent, a well educated Mister Henckels, is married to plucky socialite Fernanda Munn Kellogg, and Miz F. M. Kellogg's well bred mommy was none other than Fernanda Wanamaker Munn who was Mme. de Heeren's half sister-in-law.

The House of Munn (New York Social Diary)
End of an Era... (New York Times)

29 comments:

so_chic_darling said...

WOW!

rstalbans said...

Oh, Mama. Not to my aesthetic, either, but juz give me a second or two to find a billionaire and I'll take it!

Love the proportions, love the detailing, hell, can even live with the damn furniture. It'd be a hardship, but I could make do....

Thank you, Mama, for bringing this to us.

Cheers,
Neurophilly

Anonymous said...

Wow, this truly reminds me of a fabulous Parisian hotel. Not quite my taste, but remarkable all the same. Loved the pictures, it's always interesting to see how those on the other coast live. And, I still am amused that people balk at L.A. prices because at least in L.A. you get land/yard/grass with your purchase.

average joe said...

I have $76.34. Can I make an offer

average joe said...

average joe said...

I have $76.34. Can I make an offer

February 19, 2008 10:50 AM


That was not me, for the record I am going on vacation for a while..... anymore comments are not by me but by some other loser who really needs to get a life and a job

Average Joe

Anonymous said...

Mohair dining room chairs....YUMMY. The colors in some rooms a little bright, some of the furniture tired; BUT, I wouldn't change a thing. OLD MONEY DAHLING!

Anonymous said...

Impressive. Right out of "The Age of Innocence," when massive East Coast mansions were built by robber barons. Today, they're built by hedge fund honchos instead. Sometimes on the West Coast too.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who successfully lives that long is entitled to decorate their digs any way they choose. Don't covet it, but fun to look at. Thanks, Mama!

Anonymous said...

TOTALLY OFF TOPIC but re the DeGeneres estate on Cabrillo: the Jade Mills house next door has now been demolished (nice to be able to afford to buy $8M recently renovated houses and tear them down!) Anyone care to speculate whether (i) it's to improve the view, (ii) the house had bad feng shui, or (iii) it's to add on to the already huge main house?

Anonymous said...

Wow, is right. Anon 10:49, if you got land/yard/grass with this, it wouldn't BE in NY. Those who want that for their 33 mil go a bit east, north or (west) to the better burbs!

Anonymous said...

She looked much younger than her 103 years. In her 90's she looked like she was in her late 60's - very beautiful & sophisticated.

It will be interesting to see how much interest this property generates. Not everyone wants to be up in the 90's.

sandpiper said...

This is like a little box of gems. The floor plan (sigh)...a service kitchen and dumbwaiter? So cool.
Thank you Mama.

lucy said...

Those were the days.

Top drawer.

Anonymous said...

http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/listinmemoriam.php

Babe Parish said...

here i go again with the food analogies...this place is like g*damn creme brulee eaten off the inner thigh of marion cotillard! and i'm not even gay! f*cking gorgeous.

(sorry for the cursin', Mama.~BP)
:P

Anonymous said...

Epitome of high style and grace of a bygone era. And she kept it in meticulous perfection! This is a truly a rare property. I wonder if Dick Fuld is is kicking himself for buying that dump at 640 Park Ave?

aunt mary said...

Oh, Mama, you shouldn't have! I can feast on this for a week. Superlatives fail me.

Viva! said...

Aimee de Heeren was just...to say she was fabulous doesn't do her justice. She maintained her homes the same way she maintained her looks, she was a beauty and stayed that way through discipline and decisive judgment. The townhouse on East 90th...well what can you say except THAT is how you do it.

Anonymous said...

Nice Place.

Has anyone heard from LGB? Hope everything is ok with BGD.

Anonymous said...

7:54=LGB

pch said...

Still chuckling at the odd phrasing of "staggeringly high ceilings" and "highly decorated rooms" -- but, good god, the joint is swell.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:27, what 7:54? I'm the poster from 7:55 and no, I'm no LGB. I seriously was wondering since he has said he emails with other regulars and that BGD is ill.

bentley said...

Wow - everything about the place is incredible. I frankly don't know that a home of that caliber can be decorated any other way.

It is interesting to note, however, that the staircase leading to the upper floors does not appear to be as impressive as they usually are in such grand homes. I wish there were pictures, I may be way off, but you can see them ascend through a small archway in the third floor gallery. Perhaps they are simply dwarfed by the gargantuan proportions of the main stair halls!

Old New York stunner, without a doubt. I drove by it last night, I was so impressed with Mama's post. I rarely go that high on the UES, but it is incredible.

Alessandra said...

It could be decorated in another way, Bentley, but its current decor certainly suits it.

This is a home that could get me to move to Manhattan in a heartbeat. It is the perfect brownstone. I love all the details, not just from the architecture but also from the living perspective (the fifth floor mini kitchen is inspired---you now have a lovely guest suite or a children's floor or your own little pied-a-terre within your own home).

Perfect!

bentley said...

What are your thoughts, Alessandra?

Anonymous said...

is this considered a brownstone?

Alessandra said...

Oh, Bentley, I'm not a talented gay decorator, so perhaps my thoughts are less valid, but I could see two distinct possibilities: One is sort of Ottoman Empire meets Victorian library. Lots of overstuffed pieces and books and objets d'art and some rooms embracing and cocooning you and other rooms opening you up to the outdoors.

The second possibility is doing something very classical but minimal. Sleek but not impersonal. Perhaps French pieces from the 30s and 40s but using very clean and spare lines to enhance the architecture.

I'm not well-versed in decorator speak, especially on the sparse amount of sleep I've gotten in the past few days. Heavy client load, traveling husband and sick baby are making for a slightly less than coherent me. But can you see my vision a little? The current decor is fine, of course. But the bones on that house are so spectacular, you could have a lot of fun with it.

bentley said...

I get you on fronts, Alessandra.

As neither gay nor a decorator, I tend to haver ideas that no one in my house listens to.

The French 30's/40's stoked me, though. Nice. Very Auntie Mame.

Anonymous said...

is this considered a brownstone?


No, brownstone is a material not a type of structure. This is simply a townhouse or a city house as