Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Henry Goldman House - 26 West 76th Street

photo via streeteasy.com
Born in Philadelphia in 1857, Henry Goldman entered Yale with, no doubt, the high hopes of his parents.  But, as he recalled in 1901, he "left college second half of Frenchman Year, honorably discharged."  Although his defection from school was officially attributed to poor eyesight, the young man was possibly eager to begin his business career.  In 1875 he found a job as a clerk in a dry goods house, where he remained for nine years.  Then, in 1885, Henry's father, Marcus, took him into the banking firm he had founded in 1869.  Two years earlier Marcus had taken his son-in-law, Samuel Sachs, into the firm, changing the name to M. Goldman & Sachs.

Henry Goldman (original source unknown)
In 1890 Henry married Babette Kaufman.   The couple had three children, Florence, Robert J., and Henry, Jr.  Following his father's retirement Henry and Samuel Sachs were put in charge of Goldman Sachs & Co. 

Henry purchased the 25-foot wide vacant plot at No. 26 West 76th Street in 1896 and commissioned the architectural firm of Schickel & Ditmars to design a home for his family.  Before the end of the century the block would be lined with some of the most lavish residences on the Upper West Side.  The Goldman house would hold its own among them.

Construction took nearly three years.   Faced in limestone, present day architectural historians sometimes call its style Renaissance Revival.  But Schickel & Ditmar's profuse use Beaux Arts decorations--ornate French style iron balcony railings and window grills, and a carved cartouche backed by palm fronds, for instance--makes that designation essentially technical.

The entrance was centered within the rusticated first floor, slightly below street level.  At the second floor, or piano nobile, three sets of French doors were fronted by a full-width balcony.  A three-sided oriel supporting another French-style balcony distinguished the third floor.

Henry and Babette were generous with their fortune and were highly involved with charitable causes--most notably the Free School for Crippled Children.  In 1906 Babette was president of the organization when Schickel & Ditmars was hired again, this time to design two five-story buildings on Water Street for the institution.  In her report at the school's annual meeting in December that year, she announced the new home "will be equipped with provisions for dispensary, bathrooms, shower baths, a roof garden, light and airy classrooms."

The Goldmans completed a new summer residences in South Elberon, New Jersey in 1908.  The New-York Tribune reported the cost of construction at $100,000--more than $2.8 million today.  It was not far from the new Summer Home for Crippled Children at Oakhurst, New Jersey.

Babette Goldman - from the collection of the Library of Congress
In 1909 the couple donated $18,000--just over half a million in today's dollars--to the Summer Home.  In announcing the gift, Babette explained to the press that the school helped to train disabled children to make a living.  "Here in the school the crippled children can work and earn money, with none of the bad surroundings of factory work.  They are individually looked after, and helped in every way."

The 1912 summer social season at Elberon began with "the vaudeville and dance in aid of the Summer Home for Cripple Children at the West End Shore Club" on June 27.  The Sun reported that "dinners were given in advance at the club at at some of the villas."  Among those hostesses, as would be expected, was Babette Goldman.

Seven months later, in January 1913, the Goldmans sold No. 26 to Thomas Arthur Ball and his wife, the former Edna Josphine Sayre.  The couple had two sons, T. Arthur Ball, Jr. and Harrison.  Ball was vice-president of the department store Best & Co. on Fifth Avenue at 35th Street, of which his father Ancell Ball was president.  The family's summer residence, Pepperidge Point, was in Southampton, Long Island, near the Ancell Ball estate, Top Notch Farm. 

It appears the Balls leased the house for the winter season of 1920-21 to Mrs. Emilie H. Maynard.  In their absence the address appeared in city newspapers as Emilie became embroiled in a law suit against her broker.  Earlier she had entrusted Colonel Glenalwyn Stuart with $16,500 (more in the neighborhood of $210,000 today) and a power of attorney "for purposes of investment."  When she received no confirmation that the funds were invested, nor was able to retrieve her money, she sued.  Upon Stuart's arrest, according to the New-York Tribune, he "said the money was safe and would be returned to Mrs. Maynard when possible."  Based on that assertion, the grand jury cleared him of any charges in January 1921.

Following the death of Edna's father, Edward Sayre, her mother, the former Martha Perry Hewes, moved into the 76th Street house.  She died here on March 18, 1925.

The Balls left West 76th Street around 1930, when Dr. Henry S. Pascal, an obstetrician, moved in.  A renovation completed in 1958 resulted in a total of eight apartments within the former mansion.  

But in 2006 developer Adam Gordon purchased the property for $5.6 million and hired architect Sancho Panza to return it to a single family home.  With the renovations complete in 2009 it now boasted a glass-enclosed rooftop solarium, unseen from the street.  

When it was placed on the market, according to the Observer, the six-bedroom, seven-bathroom mansion attracted interest in potential buyers like Matt Damon and his wife, and Alex Rodriguez.  

photographs by the author

1 comment:

  1. Schickel & Ditmars designed a delightful home for the family in 76th Street, but I wonder why they didn't want a detatched house in 1896. Money wasn't the problem, and the block had been empty before the building began.