Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Phyllis Cerf Townhouse

SELLER: estate of Phyllis Cerf
LOCATION: East 62nd Street (btw. Park and Lexington)
PRICE: $9,400,000
SIZE: 7 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: (shortened from listing agent's website) This exceptionally gracious house has for many years been the home of legendary New Yorkers. Elegant and capacious room, arranged and appointed for comfortable living and entertaining, make this a most desirable residence...The house has many fireplaces with fine mantles, multi-zoned A/C and a large elevator to all floors. As currently configured there are five bedrooms plus a full floor master suite and six baths plus a powder room.

YOUR MAMAS UPDATE: Oh children, we made a bad. We didn't look this listing up this morning before we posted, which we should have. One of our kind readers thoughtfully let us know that that price is no longer $9,900,000 but has been reduced to $9,400,000. So Your Mama would like to say thanks to our anonymous reader and that we're sorry to all the children for not being as thorough as we should have been.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Children if houses could speak, this one would tell hundreds of stories about the cultural and political elite of New York who through the years were wined, dined, and entertained in the casually elegant rooms of this Upper East Side townhouse. This house was for many years the home of the inestimable Phyllis Cerf who passed away in November of 2006 at the wizened age of ninety.

Now children, unless you live in New York or follow the comings and goings of the East Coast upper crust, you may not know anything about this lady. So let Your Mama give you a brief edumacation. This cousin of Ginger Rogers spent a few years in Hollywood as an ack-tress before moving to New York City and taking a job writing advertising scripts at McCann Erickson, a huge advertising agency. It was at McCann that Miss Phyllis met and befriended a co-worker named Theodor Seuss Geisel, who later became famously known as Dr. Seuss.

Miss Phyllis and Dr. Seuss collaborated on a series of children's books that continue to be widely read favorites of the kiddies including one of our favorites, Green Eggs and Ham. They parted ways after 10 years due to professional differences according to an obituary in the International Herald Tribune.

Miss Phyllis eventually met and married a man named Bennett Cerf whose name some may recognize as the co-founder of the venerable and vast publishing company Random House. The couple lived and raised a family in this townhouse until the early 70s, when the Mister Cerf died.

Miss Phyllis then went and married Mister Robert Wagner who was the former mayor of New York City. Gal sure did know how to pick them. The couple remained married and living in this townhouse until Mister Wagner died in 1991.

Now y'all know Your Mama does not like to speak ill of the dead, so we're not going to discuss some of the more frightening and/or bothersome details of this house such as its location East of Park or the mirrored ceiling in the dining room which is something we expect to see in the Russian consulate and not in the townhouse of a legendary New Yorker society queen.

The style of decor we see in this big ol' house could not be farther from what Your Mama appreciates and understands, but we actually think the place appears to be more comfortable than not. There is a certain literary sophistication and elan seen in this house that can only be found in New York and there's really nothing catty to say about that, is there?

The floor plan. Well, in some ways it's pretty standard issue New York City townhouse, kitchen at the bottom, staff and children's rooms at the top. But there are a couple of nice features we would like to point out. First of course is the large elevator that lifts up and down to all floors. Your Mama could not imagine living up in a house like this if it did not have an elevator. Imagine having to ask the maid to schlep the laundry up and down all those stairs day in and day out. Babies, that would be crueller than Cruella DeVille.

If the children look close enough you'll see a small box with an "x" ion the right side of the first three floors of the building. This would indicate the dumb waiter. Now there is an invention Your Mama can get behind. This contraption was surely invented for the rich, the lazy, and the old and infirm. And we love it even though we find the name of the thing a little derogatory.

The dumbwaiter means never having to carry your late night crackers and ice cream from the kitchen all the way up to the bedroom. Gorgeous. It also helps to get hors d'oeuvre up to the living room and library when having a party without having to pay the staff extra for climbing stairs laden down with trays full of cucumber sandwiches.

Your Mama would like to offer our belated condolences to all the Cerf family and friends. We hope the new owners will allow all those associated with Miss Phyllis to take one last spin around her house before ripping the place up and replacing everything with Versace linens and a collection of pedigreed Biedermeier furniture.

The house is being listed by the very swanky and hoity-toity brokerage Edward Lee Cave, who Your Mama would like to note did not provide us any information and nor did we ask for any.

Source: International Herald Tribune

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The price was reduced to $9,400,000... maybe they want a really quick sale.