Builder John Sares erected a row of four high-stooped houses in 1870, on the northwestern corner of Madison Avenue and 54th Street. Typical of the brownstones going up in the neighborhood, they were handsome yet understated when compared to the palaces that would appear within the decade--like the Vanderbilt houses a block away on Fifth Avenue.
Construction of each of the residences cost Sares $10,000, about $205,000 in today's money. It is generally agreed that architect Mortimer C. Merritt designed the Italianate style structures. Four stories tall, their arched entrances and parlor floor windows were enhanced by classical pediments. Molded lintels topped the architrave surrounds of the upper openings, and individual bracketed cornices crowned the design.