Friday, March 8, 2024

Emery Roth & Sons' 1950 40 Park Avenue


As the Great Depression waned, in 1938 Samuel Rudin's Northwest Realty Corporation hired the architectural firm of Emery Roth & Sons to design a 19-story-and-penthouse apartment building at 294-295 Central Park West.  Eleven years later, the two firms were working together again, this time on an 18-story-and-penthouse apartment building on the northwest corner of Park Avenue and 36th Street.

Completed in 1950, Emery Roth and Sons' Mid-Century-Modern design relied heavily on balconies for visual interest.  Above the 14th floor, the beige brick facade erupted into a series of setbacks and angles that provided outdoor space and stunning views. 

Among the initial residents were Dr. Charles G. McCormick and his wife, the former Selma Hansen.  Dr. McCormick was a member of the American Group Psychotherapy Association and in 1951 was slated to be editor of The International Journal of Group Psychotherapy.  (He withdrew his name, "finding himself unable to undertake the task," according to the periodical in October 1971.)

Selma McCormick was an instructor in the Dale Carnegie schools.  She died in the couple's apartment on March 26, 1961 at the age of 38. 

There was little scandal or intrigue among the white collar residents of 40 Park Avenue.  But that changed on October 28, 1970 when resident stockbroker Fred Hesse was indicted with seven others who "allegedly engineered a stock swindle that victimized brokerage houses and individuals across the country," as reported by The New York Times.  The newspaper noted, "It was the second such combined operation since the Joint Strike Force on Organized Crime was organized here in July, 1969."

More typical of the residents was Harry Prager, an insurance broker since 1927.  A widower, he was the past president and supreme master of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, founded at New York University in 1913.

Mrs. William H. Stockton's name appeared in newspapers for her work with organizations like the World Council of Christian Education and the Haarlem Philharmonic Society.  When, for instance, a benefit card party for the Haarlem Philharmonic Society was held in the Waldorf-Astoria on February 14, 1973, The New York Times reported that tickets could be obtained from Mrs. Stockton here.

A somewhat colorful resident was Colonel James V. Demarest, who lived here with his wife, the former Mary Holland.  Born in 1890, the advertising man had served in both World Wars.  After serving overseas in World War I, he became president of the Advertising Men's Post of the New York State American Legion.  He was still president of the organization in 1952 when it was responsible for arranging the national convention in New York City.

With America's entry into World War II, Demarest was recalled to duty.  He served throughout the war in the Quartermaster Corps as executive officer of the New York purchasing office.  The New York Times noted, "when he retired from the Army in 1949, [he returned] to advertising and public relations."  Demarest died on March 7, 1976 at the age of 86.

In 1996, 40 Park Avenue was added to the Landmarks Preservation Commission's long list of properties considered for individual landmark designation (where it presumably still sits).  After 74 years, the Rudin organization still owns and manages the striking midcentury building.

photographs by the author
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  1. Is this your first postwar article?

    1. That's an interesting question. I don't know, but with over 4,300 posts to date, I imagine there have been others. (I was actually unaware I was being so narrow!)