By Carter B. Horsley
One of the handsomest
on Fifth Avenue, this 23-story tower was erected in 1927 and its
tall, red-tiled, hipped roof has since been a key element on the
Central Park skyline. It was developed by Joseph Paterno as
an apartment hotel, which permitted a taller building than just an
It was designed by J. E. R.
foremost apartment building architect of his day whose other buildings
on the avenue include numbers 810, 845, 907, 920, 950, 988, 1030,
1060, 1115, 1120, 1143, 1148, 1150, 1165 and 1170. The base of
the building is very ornate and handsome and the tall roof is
particularly striking because the red tiles are only on the east
and west facades and are framed by chimneys.
The beige-brick building, which
has a four-story
limestone base with arched windows on the fourth floor, was erected
as a cooperative with 68 two- and three-room apartments. With five
floor, the building has smaller units than many other luxury apartment
buildings of its era on the avenue. It has inconsistent fenestration
and nice sidewalk landscaping.
The building’s location is
ideal and very
close to midtown. About the only drawback to the building is the
number of parades that pass by, but that goes with the Fifth Avenue
territory. It is also very close to the avenue's entrance to the
Central Park Zoo. Needless to say, the building has great views.
View of top of building from Central Park
In his fine book, "The New York
Houses of Rosario Candela and James Carpenter" (Acanthus
Press, 2001), Andrew Alpern notes that this building was built
as an apartment hotel "with restaurant still operating."
His book reproduces an earlier design by Carpenter for the site
that called for a medieval castellated form. "In 1947-50,"
Mr. Alpern wrote, "service pantries legalized as cooking
spaces, effectively converting the apartment hotel to an apartment
Christopher Gray devoted his
March 20, 2005 "Streetscapes" column in The New York Times to the
building, which had recently suffered a bolt of lightning:
"Even for the 1920s, an era of
skyscraper distinction, the top of 825 Fifth Avenue is striking - a
high-pitched double gable of terra-cotta tile, a blaze of Mediterranean
red on a cold city of gray, tan and black."
It had a dining room supervised
by "the Vienna-born Alfons Baumgarten, who had already established the
Crillon and Voisin restaurants," Mr. Gray noted, adding that "the
building has windows on all four sides, another unusual feature -
Paterno felt secure that neither the 12-story apartment building to the
south nor the mansion to the north would soon be replaced by higher
"The new 825 Fifth Avenue
attracted tenants like the publisher Nelson Doubleday; Samuel L.
Parrish, a lawyer, pioneer golfer and art patrons who founded the
Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, on Long Island; and Paul Moore, a
director of the Bankers Trust Company."