|No. 1016 Madison Avenue was the centerpiece of the three mansions -- photo by Alice Lum|
In 1902 speculative developer Jeremiah C. Lyons began work on three harmonious residences at Nos. 1014 to 1018 Madison Avenue, adjoining the Fish mansion. The architectural firm of York & Sawyer designed the houses to appear as a single, grand French palace. The five-story Beaux Arts style residences were completed a year later, creating an elegant and imposing presence on the block. No. 1016, the central mansion, was perhaps the most eye-catching, with its expansive centered windows rising three stories.
Despite the exclusive location and the quality of the mansions, Lyons had difficulty selling Nos. 1018 and 1016; and the advent of the Financial Panic of 1907 did not help. On February 8, 1910, seven years after the homes were completed, The Sun reported that the two properties were to be sold in foreclosure. The auction took place the following month and on March 20, 1910 the sale of the two handsome structures was announced in the New-York Tribune.
|The New-York Tribune pictured the houses on March 20, 1910 (copyright expired)|
No. 1016 was purchased by Philadelphia art collector and explorer Thomas Cardeza. It would seem that Cardeza purchased the property as an investment, for he never lived in the house; choosing instead to lease it.
The 34-year old son of wealthy heiress Charlotte Drake Cardeza apparently preferred the gentleman’s lifestyle to being grounded to a regular job. In March of 1912 he was staying in a hunting lodge in Hungary when he headed back to the United States to receive medical treatment. He met his mother in Cherbourg, France and on Wednesday, April 10 they boarded the new ocean steamer, the R. M. S. Titanic.
Mrs. Cardeza and her son shared one of the two deluxe B-deck parlor suites—reportedly finer accommodations than John Jacob Astor and his new wife enjoyed. The sitting room was outfitted with a marble fireplace and there was a 50-foot private promenade deck with potted plants and Tudor woodwork. (The other deluxe parlor suite was taken by J. Bruce Ismay.)
Mrs. Cardeza needed the expansive suite, for she boarded the liner with fourteen trunks, three packing crates and four suitcases. Reportedly Thomas Cardeza spent much of the voyage playing poker. Along for the voyage were Cardeza’s manservant, Gustave Lesueur, and Charlotte Cardeza’s maid, Annie Moore Ward.
|Thomas Cardeza and his stylish mother pose on deck -- http://alhambralibrary.blogspot.com/2012/03/library-commemorates-100th-anniversary.html|
Within the year Cardeza sold the house at No. 1016 Madison Avenue to Henry Ingersoll Riker. The 41-year old New York City native had received his law degree from Harvard and was admitted to the bar in 1894. But three years later he left the legal profession to join the banking firm of Redmond, Kerr & Company. After serving in the Spanish-American War as a member of Troop A, New York Cavalry and then in Puerto Rico, he married his cousin May Riker, in 1903.
By then he was the head of his own brokerage firm at No. 74 Pine Street. Henry and Mary moved in to No. 1016 with their three children, John Lawrence, age 9; and twins Henry and Mary, age 5.
The Rikers would remain in the house until 1926 when it was sold to Francis H. Lenygon. The English-born Lenygon was a world-renowned authority on period interiors and furniture. He had arrived in New York in 1910 to decorate the mansion of Whitelaw Reid. One commission followed another and he finally established a branch of his London firm Lenygon & Morant, Inc. in New York.
After purchasing No. 1016, Lenygon moved his business from No. 16 East 60th Street. He lived in the upper floors without actually converting the house to a dual-purpose structure. Lenygon & Morant was responsible for the interior decoration of the homes of Harry F. Guggenheim, Colonel M. R. Guggenheim, Percy R. Pyne, Guy Fairfax Cary and other millionaires.
More importantly, Francis Lenygon lectured on fine arts at New York University, and on period furniture and interior decoration at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He wrote three important books used by instructors and designers: “Decoration and Furniture of English Mansions,” “Furniture in England,” and “Decoration in England.”
When John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller became involved in the rescue and restoration of Williamsburg, Virginia they searched for a leading expert in English 17th and 18th century interiors. They chose Francis Lenygon.
Lenygon served as consultant on the restoration and traveled to England to choose the furnishings for the Governor’s palace.
The same year that Lenygon purchased No. 1016 Madison, he married Jeannette Becker. The couple lived together in the house for nearly two decades. Then, in 1943, the 66-year old Lenygon’s health failed and he died in the house on Saturday evening, June 12.
The mansion became home to the Perls Galleries in 1954. Run by Klaus G. Perls and his wife Amelia (better known as Dolly), the gallery originally sold works by European artists like Utrillo, Maurice de Vlaminck and Raoul Dufy. The Perls branched into modern American art and the same year that they moved into No. 1016 they began representing Alexander Calder.
During the 1960s and ‘70s Calder boarded in the house and the artist designed the stone walkway that serves as the sidewalk in front of the three York & Sawyer mansions.
By the 1990s the aging couple began donating important collections to museums. In 1991 they gave 153 pieces of African royal art to the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art—carved ivory tusks, musical instruments, bronze figures, jewelry and decorative masks among them. Four years later they gave the Metropolitan Museum thirteen important works—the largest donation ever received to date by its department of 20th century art—including works by Pascin, Picasso, Braque, Modigliani, Leger and Soutine.
The Perl Galleries remained in the Madison Avenue mansion for forty-three years, closing its doors in 1997. The Arader Gallery moved into the house shortly afterward, continuing the tradition of upscale art. The house has still not been structurally divided. The remarkable mansion was put on the market a few years ago for a jaw-dropping $75 million.
|photo by Alice Lum|
Thanks to reader R. Steuber for requesting this post