View Full Version : Charles Schwab's Riverside

October 2nd, 2006, 05:46 PM
Has anyone ever heard of this before?


It was built by Charles Schwab in the early 20th century, and was the largest private house ever erected in Manhattan. Eventually it was torn down and replaced by an apartment building. If anyone has any more info or images, I'd appreciate to see it. Thanks.

October 2nd, 2006, 06:59 PM
I have friends who used to live in the building ("Schwab House") that went up on the site of Schwab's little home after it was torn down in 1948 ...

Before ( More images + floorplans: www.nyc-architecture.com (http://www.nyc-architecture.com) ) :


Now ( www.cityrealty.com/ (http://www.cityrealty.com/) )


October 2nd, 2006, 07:24 PM
Some good info in this NY TIMES (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE0DE143DF930A15751C0A9659C8B 63) Article.

The entrance to Schwab House co-op (http://corcoran.com/property/listing.aspx?Region=NYC&ListingID=876607) on West End Ave:


Some more info (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B00E4D71F3AF930A35751C0A9649C8B 63) on Schwab :

THE block of West 74th Street from West End Avenue to Riverside Drive has an architectural split personality. On the south side is the bare-brick expanse of the boxy Schwab House, a full-block apartment house built in 1948. Facing it on the north side is a row of individually built, ambitiously designed town houses created by one architect, C. P. H. Gilbert. Two recent renovations have tuned up what is still an impressive streetscape.

In the last decades of the 19th century, the two blocks from 73rd to 75th Street were owned by the New York Orphan Asylum, whose building was on the southerly block. In 1893 the asylum sold the north side of 74th, which the Real Estate Record & Guide said was bought ''by a syndicate of eight gentlemen who will build homes for themselves.''

... The 74th Street householders were probably pleased in 1901 when the orphan asylum sold its building and the entire block from 73rd to 74th Street to Charles Schwab, the president of United States Steel. Over the next five years Schwab supervised construction of the most magnificent house ever built on the West Side, a chateau at the center of a parklike setting that offered the West 74th Street houses an attractive view. For several years during construction, Schwab rented 323 West 74th Street to supervise the work.

The NYC Orphans' Asylum (from NYPL (http://catnyp.nypl.org/search/.b4217759/.b4217759/1%2C1%2C1%2CB/l856~b4217759&FF=&1%2C0%2C%2C3%2C0) ) formerly on this site :


Orphan Asylum

More on the New York Orphan Asylum (from www.bklyn-genealogy-info.com/ (http://www.bklyn-genealogy-info.com/Professional/Institutions.1859.html) ) :

The New York Orphan Asylum between 73d and 74th streets, from
Bloomingdale road to the banks of the Hudson.

This noble institution designed for the care and culture of the tender
plants of misfortune riven from the parent stem by death, is
delightfully situated on the brow of a gentle slope, on the banks of the
Hudson, between Seventy-third and Seventy-fourth streets. The grounds
cover an area of 15 acres, extending from the Bloomingdale road to the
river. The building is of stone, in Gothic style, and is 120 feet in
length and 50 in width. This institution is the offspring of the
"Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children," which was
organized in 1806 by several benevolent ladies, among whom were Mrs.
Isabella Graham, Mrs. Elizabeth Hamilton (the widow of General Alexander
Hamilton), and Mrs. Joanna Bethune. It is supported by private bequests
and annual subscriptions. These contributions are daily working out
blessings of inestimable value.

October 2nd, 2006, 08:29 PM
Somewhere inside Mr. Schwab's Riverside Dr. chateau ...


was an Aeolian Organ (http://www.nycago.org/Organs Aeolian Organ) ...

Aeolian Company
New York City – Opus 1032 (1919)
Electro-pneumatic action
4 manuals, 66 ranks



October 3rd, 2006, 12:00 AM
Such a shame that this was destroyed, not to mention how subpar its replacement is. Could have been a big attraction in New York, a la Hearst Castle.

July 8th, 2010, 11:08 PM
The Late Great Charles Schwab Mansion




ALMOST everyone in New York knows the Frick Collection, at Fifth Avenue and 70th Street, and the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, at Fifth and 91st, the pair of stupendous mansions built by the steel titans Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie. But their architectural majesty was only two-thirds of a ferric triad, the last the house of Charles M. Schwab, the Carnegie protégé who became the head of United States Steel and then Bethlehem Steel.

Schwab had the most impressive site of the three, a full block overlooking the Hudson River, but it survived barely four decades.

Born in 1862, Schwab at age 18 was a stake driver for one of the Carnegie steel mills, and at 21 chief engineer. In 1897, and only 35, he became the president of the Carnegie Steel Company, a part of Andrew Carnegie’s steel empire in which Henry Frick was a partner.

Four years later, Schwab helped arrange the creation of the giant U. S. Steel Corporation. By this time Frick and Carnegie were bitter enemies, whereas Schwab remained devoted to Carnegie, whom he called the greatest steel man who ever lived.

Like Frick and Carnegie, Schwab migrated to New York from Pennsylvania, in his case in 1901. In the 1880s the common prediction was that the rich would jump from Fifth Avenue to Riverside Drive, creating a string of freestanding villas. But by the mid-1890s it became clear that the elite would continue to reside along the spine of Fifth Avenue.

Someone forgot to tell Schwab, because in 1901 he bought the block from Riverside to West End, between 73rd and 74th Streets; no one in Manhattan had yet acquired an entire block for occupancy. Schwab finished his 50,000-square-foot, 75-room house in 1905, with a gym, a bowling alley, a pool, three elevators and interiors in the styles of Henry IV, Louis XIII, Louis XV and Louis XVI.

The exterior, though, was what was singular, surrounded by a garden the size of a small park. The French architect Maurice Hébert created a chilly granite facade derived from the chateaus of Chenonceau, Azay-le-Rideau and, at the rear, Blois. On his letterhead, Hébert called himself a “Specialist for Reproduction of Historical Exteriors and Classical Interiors.”

A critic writing in The Architectural Record in 1907 considered the Schwab mansion “humdrum,” a copyist’s work that might have succeeded if the copyist had been faithful to the originals, instead of trying to improve on them. It was the apotheosis of French Renaissance architecture in New York — just as the style was going out of fashion.

Schwab, however, never expressed anything but pleasure with his American chateau, although in 1925 a real estate broker claimed that he had been asked to sell the property for $3 million; the flight from big houses to apartment buildings had been under way for a decade.

Early in 1930 The New York Times reported that Schwab was about to lease the block to developers with plans for a 30-story apartment building. But in October a census-taker found Schwab at home with his wife, Eurana, and 20 servants, mostly English-born.

Schwab was not the typical hard-bitten steel executive, and considered himself a dreamer, often saying it was pure luck that he had wound up as one of the richest men in the country. He supported, at least at first, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s initiatives in the area of social security and unemployment insurance, telling The Times in 1932, “Once working men were treated as machines; now they are treated like human beings.”

Both Carnegie and Frick had been dead for years in 1936, when Schwab asked New York City to buy his house as a mayoral residence, a suggestion Mayor Fiorello La Guardia flatly opposed. The Times described Schwab as “extremely anxious to sell.”

In January 1939 his wife of more than 50 years died, and two months later he moved to a hotel. He died six months after that. In 1945 The Times reported that the mansion was listed with a city clearinghouse for housing “to help relieve the shortage of apartments,” and the next year the paper called it “the white elephant on the mansion market,” with real estate taxes of $60,000 per year.

Finally, in 1948 the Schwab mansion was very publicly demolished, succeeded in 1950 by the quotidian but efficient Schwab House, an 18-story apartment building.

How is it that the houses of Carnegie and Frick have survived, while Schwab’s has vanished?

Frick had planned his house from the beginning as a museum, and had an art collection worthy of one, whereas Schwab built entirely for his own pleasure. The Carnegie house went to the Hunter College School of Social Work and then to the Cooper-Hewitt, but Schwab was trying to sell his house until the last.

There was also the ambition of Schwab’s vision. Both his colleagues put up relatively restrained houses, although larger than most others. Carnegie took over about half a block, Frick about a third, but Schwab used an entire city block, leaving more than half of it open space.

The ebullient Schwab bet everything on bringing the Loire Valley to New York, but in the end his chateau was not so much out of place on the Hudson as out of step with the city.