Millionaire William E. D. Stokes turned to real estate development in the late 1880's, focusing on the Upper West Side. For three years, from 1887 through 1890, his rows of homes were designed by architect Joseph H. Taft. In 1889 Taft designed a row of four brown-fronted residences on the fashionable block of West 88th Street, between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue. As he often did, the sometimes eccentric Stokes listed the owner of record not as himself, but as W. Gunn and A. Grant.