By Carter B. Horsley
One of the most elegant apartment
buildings on Madison Avenue, the Leonori originally had its entrance
on the avenue but when retail space on the avenue became very
valuable it replaced the entrance with store space and created
a new entrance on the sidestreet. (The apartment building at 45 East 66th Street also moved its entrance off the avenue
for the same reasons.)
The building's original entrance
on the avenue had a very handsome portico that was somewhat similar
to that of the apartment building at 667 Madison Avenue that was
unfortunately demolished for an office building (see The City Review article). The 10-story apartment building
at 667 was built in 1900 and the next year plans were filed by
Maximilian Morgenthau for this 12-story building, which would
be the avenue's tallest on the Upper East Side at that time.
This limestone-clad building
was completed in 1902 when its address was 701 Madison Avenue.
It was designed by Buchman & Fox. It was designed as an apartment
hotel with a rooftop dining room. Morgenthau leased it in 1902
to Charles L. Leonori, after whom the building was named.
In a February 14, 1988 article
in The New York Times that is reprinted in his fine book,
"Changing New York, The Architectural Scene" (Dover
Publications, Inc., 1992), Christopher Gray noted that the 1922
replacement of the avenue lobby with storefronts with iron Ionic
pilasters was designed by Jardine, Hill & Murdoch, "the
best work of its type on the avenue."
"In 1925," Mr. Gray
continued, "the dining room was moved to the ground floor
and opened to the public as a restaurant, freeing space for penthouse
apartments, then coming into vogue. By this time the major elements
of the building had been changed execpt for the rooms and the
late Victorian finishes - sliding doors, dark wood trim, heavy
ornamentation - now out of fashion in an era of light colors and
neo-Georgian detailing....In 1981, a real-estate investment group
headed by David Berley bought the Leonori and converted it to
condominium ownership in 1983."
The building was included in
the Upper East Side Historic District, given it landmark status,
but incredibly the building at 667 Madison Avenue was not and
it was demolished by Leonard Stern to make way for a new office
building that is attractive but in no way as elegant as the apartment
building with its great caratyd statues above its portico that
The building has 67 apartments,
a three-story rusticated limestone base, a marquee sidestreet
entrance with a walk-up lobby, some arched windows, and sidewalk
landscaping, but no garage and no health club.