Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Welcome to the Wanamaker-Munn Mansion
SELLER: Estate of Aimee de Heeren
LOCATION: East 90th Street, New York, NY
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)
Posted by Your Mama at 5:13 AM