Eleanor Roosevelt‘s most famous residence was the White House, but she also called a stately New York City townhouse home from 1953 to 1958. Located in a historic district of Manhattan, the 5,225-square-foot mansion boasts classic Victorian architecture that is indeed fit for a first lady.
Although the building was constructed in 1873, the current owner has spent over $2 million to have the structure restored and the interior reimagined by prominent interior designer Maria Masi.
Yet this trophy property has been on and off the real estate market since 2015, with nary a buyer in sight. We wondered why no one had scooped this place up—despite a series of price cuts—and as we looked into it, we discovered some fascinating tidbits about this historic home.
Why hasn’t the townhouse sold?
The current owner bought the property for $9.5 million in 2011 and listed it for the first time in 2015 for $16 million. After dropping the price several times and relisting it between 2016 and 2017, the home was listed again in February for its current price of $13.5 million.
So why hasn’t a buyer come around yet? Listing agent Barbara Evans-Butler of Stribling & Associates believes that the townhouse’s elegant interiors, reminiscent of the type of stately Victorian home that Roosevelt would have lived in, might have been a liability. Over the past few years, she says, wealthy buyers have been drawn to the new high-rises with in-house luxury amenities like gyms and screening rooms that have been popping up all over Manhattan.
“But because of the law of scarcity, properties like this one have become more and more rare, and more and more valuable,” Evans-Butler says. Ultimately, she believes that buyers will soon come back around to historic townhouses.
Like many other luxury properties, it seems as though Roosevelt’s former townhouse is just waiting for the right buyer.
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Inside Eleanor Roosevelt’s former townhouse
While studying up on the real estate history of the former first lady’s Manhattan abode, we uncovered some fun facts.
Her rent was less than $500 a month
After President Franklin D. Roosevelt died, Eleanor returned to her native New York in 1953 and inhabited the first two levels of this building as one apartment. The rent she paid on this elegant pad: a mere $452 per month.
She hosted many high-profile friends
Eleanor entertained such luminaries as Indira Gandhi and Adlai Stevenson, as well as like-minded Democratic power players of the day, including John F. Kennedy.
The neighborhood has some rare perks
The townhouse is located in Treadwell Farms, a residential historic district where no commercial buildings are allowed and the architectural integrity of the townhouses is protected. That means a giant skyscraper will never be built next door or in back, and the lovely rooftop terrace view will never be overshadowed. Many celebrities have appreciated the unique features of this district, including Martin Scorsese, Montgomery Clift, and Kim Novak.
The home’s outdoor twofer
There are 1,770 square feet of outdoor entertaining space, divided between a backyard with a fountain and a roof terrace. In NYC, there are few places remaining where you get both.
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