Friday, May 16, 2008

UPDATE: Aimee de Heeren

According to a report in last week's Big Deal column in the New York Times, the swanky Spence School has gone to contract to purchase the spectacular Wanamaker-Munn mansion on Manhattan's East 90th Street that was owned by international socialite Aimee de Heeren until she died in 2006 at the ripe old age of 103. Your Mama discussed the legendary 12,000+ square foot townhouse in mid-February.

Although no one in the know–including listing agent Kirk Henckels, who is Miz de Heeren's cuzzin by marriage–is speaking on the record yet, it's rumored that the deal is for an amount "in the high 20s," which is perhaps considerably less than the blistering $33,000,000 asking price.

A representative of the all gurls school, which costs fancy folks upwards of $20,000 to matriculate and educate their daughters, told Mister Josh Barbanel at Big Deal that she didn't know what sort of plans the school had for altering or preserving the original details and layout of the dee-vinely dignified and elegant 7 story house that includes 10 working fireplaces, 5 bedrooms, 4 full and 2 half bathrooms as well as an entire floor devoted to 5 staff bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.

Your Mama can only hope they will treat it with some kindness and care.

For those who care, the Spence school has graduated many well known rich and famous ladees such as Jade Jagger, Gwyneth Paltrow, Serena Altschul, Kerry Washington and Elizabeth Montgomery, who y'all surely know as the blond actress who twinkled her nose on Bewitched.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

What an incredible townhouse. Her other homes were nothing to sneeze at either. The woman lived like royalty to be sure.

StPaulSnowman said...

From a utilitarian standpoint, a school makes sense but all too often institutional needs are the death knoll for these great houses. Quite simply, it will no longer be a home. At least is doesn't sound like it will be torn down to build a Best Buy. Let's hope someone will have the opportunity to photograph it as it is for posterity.

Anonymous said...

sad to hear it may become a school as it will clearly be altered to accommodate it's needs. Have to say, $20,000 is the norm for private schools. I almost pay that for PRE-SCHOOL!

Alessandra said...

While the building will no doubt be altered, it would not be impossible for a historic preservationist to come in and restore it to its former glory should Spence ever tire of the property. I agree that this is a better alternative than it being bulldozed for a big box store or something similarly atrocious.

Anonymous said...

Spence tuition is about double your estimate.

pch said...

No clue about Spence (day school, right?) but I just checked the tuition at both of my old schools (junior high and high) in New England -- each in the low 40s annually. Includes room/board, but not books, laundry, et al. Day students pay less, more like the mid-to-high 20s.

This is almost triple what it was when I was a student back in the 80s. A lot of money, especially if you have multiple kids, but well worth it in my estimation.

Anonymous said...

They're going to connect the above property to their current buildings on 91st so it will be an entire block deep - According to NYMAG school guide, tuition for Spence is indeed $22,000 so Mama is correct ...

Anonymous said...

pch, I agree with your persective. I attended private schools in New England growing up too, but lived at home rather than board. I wasn't exactly thrilled about it at the time, and envied my public school friends. In hindsight, I can now appreciate the benefits I couldn't then.

lil' gay boy said...

It's a sad tradeoff, to be sure; converting it to an institution of higher learning will mean it (hopefully) isn't razed (although there's no guarantee), but the land it stands on is just too valuable.

Perhaps the Spence School will put it to some good use, such as executive offices, where the impact will be structurally and cosmetically limited.

Many see such private schools in the 21st century as an anachronism, but as long as there are parents out there with the money to burn, they will continue to thrive.

My Catholic High School tuition per semester was more than my college . . .

Anonymous said...

Wow...$20k for preschool. That really says something sorry about the state of our country, don't it?

Anonymous said...

I could understand spending that much on boys, but on girls by themselves? What are they thinking?

Grosse Pointe Brat! said...

What a shame, as if...but I guess it's better than the American way, 'Tear it down and install a parking lot'...

StPaulSnowman said...

Nah, it would certainly be a parking ramp...$$$$$$... I would have wished for a house museum with happy bluehaired docents telling visitors how the Old Girl used to live and entertain.

Anonymous said...

Spence is def. close to $40k per year for middle/upper school.

Anonymous said...

I forgot, PLUS required donations that you MUST give.

bentley said...

I think Mama is closer. It's a day school, so there are no boarding fees to take into account.

Both the lower school on 93rd and the upper school on 91st are in historically significant buildings. Of course there will be alterations, but I'm sure every effort will be made to preserve the de Heeren home's architectural beauty and detail.

Anonymous said...

As a current Spence student, who has talked with both the President of the Board of Trustees and our highly esteemed head of school, I can nearly promise you that MANY period details will be left in place. No athletic facilities are anticipated, so no worries that a sacred bedroom shall become a wretched gym. Most likely, the rooms will become classroom and office space (our entire business office has been annexed to a tiny Park Ave studio since around 2000), and perhaps, if we're lucky, a lecture hall.

We've already conquered adversity to the restoration of the 93rd street mansion, which although modernized, still retains many of its beautiful original details.

And for your reference - upper school tuition is currently $32,500, and expect to pay at least $5,000 more, depending on how much you donate to the annual fund.