In 1840, James Condie arrived in New York City from Scotland at the age of 18. The young man brought with him what the American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record called “a good knowledge of the drug business, having served his apprenticeship in Glasgow.”
Condie opened a pharmacy at No. 165 Eighth Avenue in Chelsea; and then moved to the corner of Ninth Avenue and 22nd Street. A garden to the rear separated his shop from the Chelsea Presbyterian Church, completed in 1843. When the church was demolished in 1871, Condie leased the garden plot from Maria T. B. Moore, the daughter of Clement Clarke Moore, and erected a striking 25-foot-wide residence on the site.
Condie had served as his own architect for his drugstore, so it is feasible that he designed 363 West 22nd Street as well. The name of the architect is uncertain. Whoever it was, he chose the emerging neo-Grec style, one unusual in Chelsea and much more popular far uptown.