New York, NY, USA
163 East 78th Street
HIGH, WIDE AND HANDSOME This house has it all: 36 feet in width, gated garden entry, a massive rear garden and six windows across the front facade. It has been an exemplary residence since its conception, created by a family of entrepreneurs. BORN ELINOR STEINER The daughter of Sadie and Samuel Steiner, the largest hop distributors in the United States at the turn of the last century, Elinor Gimbel was a politically active leader in women's rights during and after World War II. A graduate of the Calhoun School, she founded a powerful women's committee to support FDR's third term and the Committee for the Care of Children in Wartime which drew attention to the lack of government support for working mothers during wartime. THE GIMBEL LEGACY Bavarian-born Adam Gimbel immigrated to the United States in 1835, eventually settling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he purchased a four-story elevatored building on Wisconsin Avenue for his dry goods department store, the largest in the city with nearly 75 employees. Later he expanded to Philadelphia and formed The Gimbel Brothers Company. Adam and his wife, Fridolyn, would go on to have 11 children with 7 working in the family business, most notably Louis, Sr. whose son Louis, Jr., would go on to marry Elinor and make 163 East 78th Street their home for many years. BUILT IN 1861, COMBINED IN 1911 Following the 1861 opening of East 78th Street, painter John Turner brought his vision to architecture and engaged builder Henry Armstrong to construct 11 rowhouses in the brick Italianate style, only five of which remain today. Fifty years after they were built, numbers 163 and 165 were combined into the 36-foot-wide townhouse which stands today. Combining two 18-foot-wide townhouses with three window bays each created a magnificent faade of six window bays, bringing light into every facet of this townhouse. 157 East 78th Street would later be owned by S. Stinor Gimbel, one of Elinor and Louis, Jr.'s three children. THE RESIDENCE TODAY Immediately the six window bays of this 36-foot-wide facade capture your attention before entering this magnificent single-family home. Currently built approximately 6,157sf above grade with an approximately 1,514sf basement and a total of over 2,200sf of outdoor space which includes the front garden, rear garden and parlor level terrace. From the outer wrought-iron gate, this four-story single-family townhouse begins with a deep forecourt of terra cotta stone shaded by mature trees that create an etching of light against the faade when they are in full leaf. With a center door and eastern service door, the at-grade entry to this residence opens into a massive front hall with a coat closet and powder room. There is a guest bedroom with full bath facing the forecourt and East 78th Street. Past the main stair, enter the large dining room with fireplace which is open onto the living room with fireplace. On the eastern side of the garden level is the large chef's kitchen with center island which is open to both the living room and dining room. There are two doors leading to the astounding north-facing garden which measures 34 x 37 feet at its deepest points. With a stair leading to the basement level, a full-size basketball hoop, mature plantings and walls of ivy, as well as two doors leading back into the garden floor, this garden is completely unique. The parlor floor includes a 36-foot-wide living room facing south with six window bays and two fireplaces. There is a sitting room with access to the wide parlor floor terrace overlooking the garden, as well as a large library replete with built-in bookshelves. Each of the six windows measures 8'3" and ceilings are 10'3" on the parlor floor. Floors three and four offer five to six bedrooms depending on how each floor is used. The third floor includes the master suite with a marble bath, fireplace, as well as a separate office and second bedroom with a second full bath off the hallway. The fourth floor includes three bedrooms with en-suite baths and a large "hang-out room" joining the bedrooms together. With its comfort and privacy, this is the kind of townhouse you can wait decades for. And here it is.