of the city's grandest
luxury apartment houses, 1 Sutton Place South is a freestanding
structure overlooking the East River between 56th and 57th Streets.
The 13-story cooperative
apartment house has
an elegant triple-arched entrance driveway that opens to a lobby
that, in turn, opens to its private garden facing the East River.
Passersby on the street can
peer through the
arches and glimpse the garden, providing a degree of transparency
that is quite rare.
The very handsome building,
which has Italian
Renaissance detailing, was completed in 1927 and was designed
by Rosario Candela and Cross & Cross.
Candela is widely considered to
have been the
country's greatest designer of luxury apartment buildings and
he collaborated with many of the city's most famous architectural
Cross & Cross is best
known for its design
of the former RCA Victor tower on Lexington Avenue at 51st Street
overlooking St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church on Park Avenue.
Candela also collaborated with Cross & Cross on the design
of 720 Park Avenue.
Candela's buildings, "it is
the grandest of the decade that was itself the greatest,"
wrote Elizabeth Hawes in her book, "New York, New York, How
The Apartment House Transformed The Life Of The City (1869-1930)",
published by Henry Holt in 1993.
"He had a respect for privacy
and an eye
for significant detail. He was a complete thinker. He added duplicate
water connections to street mains and multiple switches for ceiling
lights as well as beautifully turned staircases and separate wine
cellars. More significantly, he designed buildings from the inside
out. He placed windows where they received light, balanced a room,
or allowed a graceful arrangement of furniture. Candela also invested
unusual energy in the entry hall. In a typical apartment, he made
it a full-sized room with rich views into the interior because
he thought it was important to greet a visitor with a full sense
of a home. Candela liked puzzles. During the Depression, he took
up cryptography, and during World War II, he broke the Japanese
code," Hawes wrote.
1 Sutton Place South is the
finest and most
prestigious apartment building on Sutton Place and its only rivals
along the East River in terms of grandeur are River House and
1 Beekman Place, a few blocks to the south.
Born in Sicily, Candela came to
States in 1909 and graduated from the Columbia school of architecture
in 1915. His other famous buildings include 834 Fifth Avenue (see
The City Review
and 960 Fifth Avenue (see The
City Review article), 720, 740, 775 and 778 Park Avenue, and
19 East 72nd Street (see The
City Review article), all considered among the most glamorous
addresses in the city.
The building is topped by the
in the city, a 17-room unit that has 5,000 square feet of interior
space and 6,000 square feet of terraces that wrap entirely around
it. The apartment is notable for having two very large "drawing
rooms" with curved bay windows at their north and south end
of the building. The spectacular rooms had very tall ceilings,
one of which contains a skylight.
The building was built in 1927
by the Phipps
family and the penthouse was created originally for Amy Phipps
as a duplex. When her son, Winston Guest, the famous polo player
and husband of C. Z. Guest, the garden columnist, took the apartment
over, the lower floor was subdivided into three separate apartments,
one of which was occupied by Bill Blass, the designer. The Guests
lived on one side of the penthouse and one of their sons, Alexander,
lived on the other side for several years and sold the apartment
in 1963 about the time that their daughter, Cornelia Guest, was
The apartment was then acquired
by Janet Annenberg
Hooker, the philanthropist who died in late 1997 and was a sister
of Walter Annenberg, the communications magnate and art collector.
The legendary apartment was put on the market in early 1998 with
an asking price of $15 million, then highest price for an apartment
in the city.
Mrs. Hooker had lived formerly
at 895 Park
Avenue and had purchased a 60-inch dining table from French &
Co., and ordered six 24-inch leaves for it. Robert Samuels Sr.,
the director of the famous antiques store asked why she got the
leaves when she had no space. "One day I will," she
was said, by her son, to have replied and indeed she used them
all to create the 18-foot-long table in the penthouse's 28-foot
The plot behind 1 Sutton
Place is "one of the most
contested green spaces in the city, with a nine-year turf war raging
the star-studded East Side co-op and city officials over use of the
according to an article by
Haddon published in The New York Post December 19, 2010.
"City and state
officials accuse the co-op of illegally
squatting on a section of the secret gated garden, arguing that a
deal from the city for exclusive access to the roughly half-acre plot
more than a decade ago. The high-strung co-op board (which once made
Bill Blass promise to not have overnight guests) appears to be ready to
a quarter-acre strip of the garden for a public park, according to
to the negotiations," the article said.
1 Sutton Place and its gardens over FDR Drive, left
The article said that
Mark Thompson, the chair of Community
Board 6, said that "The city has really treaded very gingerly about it,
but this is too important to wait,"
"In 1939, the city gave
the building exclusive access
to the East River
waterfront garden for a buck
a year, and, in exchange, the co-op gave up a chunk of its land to
FDR. That deal expired in 1990, and officials started making a stink
in 2003, when renovations to the FDR brought the ownership issue to
the article said.
The residents of the
building sued the city in 2007 to
"to keep their precious urban oasis - or get $10 million in
the article continued, adding that Peter Neger, the co-op's lawyer,
expects the board to eventually sign off on an agreement" and "a
spokeswoman for the city Law Department said they were 'actively trying
resolve the matter.'"
One Sutton Place South,
one of New York's most exclusive
co-ops, has tried for years to keep the public out of its backyard
its stunning East River views, but city officials expect to reclaim the
shortly, according to an article February 4, 2011 by Amy Zimmer at
Councilwoman Jessica Lappin told Community Board 6 last
month she has already secured $1 million to transform the gated oasis
public park, the article said.
"There is still one
outstanding issue that needs to be
hashed out, according to people familiar with the negotiations between
building and various government agencies," the article said, adding
"after that's resolved - which insiders say is likely - it's just a
of crossing 'T's and dotting 'I's before the new park can be built."
ongoing,' Elizabeth Thomas, of the
New York City Law Department said of the land deal. 'We remain hopeful
matter will be resolved amicably.' The co-op's lawyer, Peter Neger,
according to the article.
"The spat over the
land," the article continued,
"stems back to a complicated deal worked out in 1939 when the city gave
the tony building a 50-year lease for the outdoor space for $1 a year
exchange for building the FDR Drive,
which the green space now sits atop. No one
paid much attention when the lease expired in 1990, but the ownership
garden attracted scrutiny when the FDR's renovation came up for review
2003. A ploy four
years ago by state and
city agencies to retake roughly half of the land to build a
didn't go over well with residents of the 13-story elite enclave at
Street, once home to the likes of socialite C.Z. Guest, fashion
Blass and actress Sigourney Weaver. Public officials accused the
co-op of squatting on the open space. The co-op filed a lawsuit to
groundbreaking and sought $10 million in compensation for the property,
according to reports."
Community Board 6, which
has a dearth of open space and has
been working on reclaiming its waterfront, clamored for the land to be
transferred to the public. "Community Board 6 fought hard to make sure
that this public space was returned to the people of New York,"
the CB6 Chair Mark Thompson
told DNAinfo. "We're proud of the work we've done and look forward to
enjoying the new park in a few years."
Lappin, who has been
working with the neighborhood on
securing the space, also said she looked forward to the day it opens.
park, while small in size," she said, "is a huge and critical piece
of our efforts to build a continuous loop of green space around the island
A June 19, 2007 article
in The New York Times by Charles V.
Bagli said that "the owners of an exclusive co-op on Sutton Place
South have taken to the
barricades, or at least to State Supreme Court in Manhattan,
in an attempt to block the city
from seizing a swath of their emerald green backyard for a public park.
The owners of the
13-story building at 1 Sutton Place South
have long regarded the quiet, grassy oasis, which stretches over
Roosevelt Drive and offers strictly private views of the East River, as
the most compelling amenities in a building where apartments routinely
many millions of dollars.
The city and the state
notified the co-op in May, 2007 that
the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation was about to start
of a fence and park “on Parks property adjacent to 1 Sutton Place South.”
The residents, including John Fairchild,
the retired publisher of Women’s Wear Daily; and Carl H. Tiedemann, the
president of the investment banking firm Donaldson, Lufkin &
to defend their piece of Manhattan against all intruders.
The co-op sought to
extend the lease before it expired in
1990. Later, the owners took steps to keep the matter from becoming
requiring prospective buyers to review the legal status of the backyard
sign a strict confidentiality agreement.
The question of
ownership came to a head in 2003 when the
state’s Department of Transportation began a $147 million
rehabilitation of F.D.R. Drive
between 54th and 63rd Streets and had to tear up the garden to fix the