771 West End Avenue at 97th Street
Circa 1915 // ARCHITECT: Schwartz & Gross // BUILDER: Undetermined
I had the good fortune to be contacted by the owner of an Edwardian 5 at 771 West End Avenue, who was hoping to determine an accurate construction date for the building — his own research led him to either 1908 or 1915. After looking into it myself, I can’t really confirm either date. I suspect that, based on the architecture and Schwartz & Gross’ work history, the later date is more likely. I, also, suggested that the owner contact Christopher Gray at the New York Times, who writes the “Streetscapes” column. Christopher was able to confirm that Schwartz and Gross took out a building permit for the building in 1914 — so the mystery seems to be solved.
[ **View photos of — and read a little more about — 771 WEA in "A Prewar Afterthought: The Maid's Room" ]
My new friend was gracious enough to invite me over to see the building and his apartment. The building is beautifully maintained and the apartment, wonderfully restored and modernized. 771 West End Avenue has a recessed entryway, or what is sometimes called an “open court,” at the front. This design convention was somewhat popular during the nineteen-teens, and then, faded away for the most part. My experience with buildings designed this way is that the apartments often have awkward layouts, characterized by long hallways and oddly placed rooms. There are exceptions, of course, and 771 WEA is certainly one of them.
The typical floor is built around two elevator cores, the southern one opens onto just two apartments, both with good floor plans and exposures — a Classic 7 and a Classic 6. The north side of the building is home to three apartments, two Classic 6 layouts facing WEA, and an Edwardian 5 in the back. To clarify, an “Edwardian 5” consists of Living, Dining, Kitchen, Maid, and Master Bedroom whereas a “Classic 5” consists of Living, Dining, Kitchen, and two Master Bedrooms. In this building, most of the south apartments are intact, but the two northern Classic 6 apartments have mostly been broken up, which is unfortunate. As originally conceived, both apartments had very nice floor plans. The Edwardian 5 is, also, very well-planned.
WHAT A BUYER CAN EXPECT TO PAY: A Classic 7 will start at around $2M, and a Classic 6 at around $1.4M — very reasonable, in my opinion, for these large, well laid out units.