|photo by Alice Lum|
Gertrude's husband, Francis Waldo, died in 1878, two years after their marriage. In 1882 she purchased the extensive building lot at the northeast corner of East 72nd Street and Madison Avenue, significantly north of the established Millionaires' Row south of 59th Street on 5th Avenue. She envisioned a mansion that would outshine even Vanderbilt's limestone palace. But then she dragged her feet.
Finally, in 1894 construction began. Gertrude chose architectural firm Kimball & Thompson to design a 16th Century French Renaissance chateau. It was to be one of the largest residences in the city. The commission was a severe departure from Kimball & Thompson's regular commercial designs. The plot Mrs. Waldo provided proved challenging to the firm as well -- the avenue slopes severely from south to north as it approaches 72nd Street.
The street level was reserved, therefore, for reception areas and servants rooms. The main parlor and dining room were on the second floor. The master bedroom occupied the third floor and servants quarters and guest rooms were on the fourth. The rich French Gothic ornamentation included spiky dormers, a steep slate roof and statuary-filled niches.
|photo NYPL Collection|
Interior photographs by D. J. Huppatz