Tag Archives: Harde & Short

Alwyn Court Apartments

Alwyn Court Apartments is undoubtedly the most decorated building in New York: Gray terra cotta covers every foot of the 12-story building. When the building opened in 1909 it was as opulent inside as it is outside. Each apartment (two to a floor) had 14 rooms and five baths – except for the 32-room apartment!

The building had a stroke of bad luck just months after opening, when only five apartments were occupied – a fire damaged some of the upper floors. The building was repaired and filled quickly, but dropped out of fashion in the late 1930s. And the Great Depression didn’t help. The bank foreclosed and reconfigured Alwyn Court as 75 much smaller apartments under direction of architect Louis H. Weeks. The main entrance on the corner was converted to retail space (now the Petrossian restaurant); the former service entrance on Seventh Avenue is now the main entrance.

As part of a co-op conversion, the building’s facade was cleaned and restored in 1980 by Beyer Blinder Belle, an architectural firm specializing in historic preservation.

The fire-breathing dragons at the corner entry (and elsewhere) are actually salamanders; a crowned salamander was the emblem of Francis I, King of France. (The same emblem graces Red House, another apartment building designed by Harde & Short.)

Alwyn Court Vital Statistics
Alwyn Court Recommended Reading

Google Map

45 East 66th Street

45 East 66th Street is a striking Gothic-embellished apartment building designed by Harde & Short, built of red brick with white terra cotta ornament. The 10-story Madison Avenue landmark has a distinctive corner tower (like Harde & Short’s Alwyn Court) and a tall cornice; the colors and ornamentation are similar to the architects’ Red House.

Originally, the luxury building had just two apartments on each floor. The building’s entrance was in the base of the corner tower, and there were no stores. In 1928, new owners moved the entry to East 66th Street (where it is now) and converted ground floor apartments to more lucrative stores. A few years later the owners began subdividing apartments – there are now 33 in the 10-story building.

45 East 66th Street Vital Statistics
45 East 66th Street Recommended Reading

Google Map

Studio Building

Studio Building aka Studio Apartments (not to be confused with 140 W 57th Street Studio Building – The Beaufort) has just 32 apartments – but what apartments! At this writing, one of those three-bedroom cooperative apartments is on the market for $15.5 million. The mid-block building overlooks the Museum of Natural History on wide W 77th Street; the views more spectacular because living rooms (originally studios) are double height with floor-to-ceiling windows.

The building’s original facade was even more ornate – there was a massive oriel projecting from the top three floors, and an elaborate cornice that added a story to the building’s height. The New York Times notes that three quarters of the original ornament was stripped in the 1940s.

The architects – Herbert Spencer Harde and Richard Thomas Short – had a brief but showy partnership that resulted in four landmarked buildings: this and Red House, Alwyn Court, and 45 E 66th Street.

Studio Building Vital Statistics
Studio Building Recommended Reading

Google Map

Harde & Short

The firm of Harde & Short designed intricate apartment building facades for nearly a decade – 1901 to 1909 – then abruptly split up with no exceptional buildings between them.

London-educated Herbert Spencer Steinhardt (later shortened to Harde) designed upper west side tenements until 1900; he met Richard Thomas Short in the offices of James E. Ware & Son. Harde, son of a real estate entrepreneur, owned and developed buildings in addition to designing them. In fact, the team’s first significant building – the 1903 Red House – was owned by a Harde subsidiary.

Red House led to a commission for 45 E 66th Street, which led to 44 W 77th Street, which in turn led to a complete change of pace – Alwyn Court Apartments.

Harde & Short Representative Buildings
Harde & Short Suggested Reading