Stephen Sondheim's House, Turtle Bay Gardens, E. 49th Street, New York, New York


In my last post I asked what legendary composer Stephen Sondheim had in common with Bob Dylan and Anne of Cleves, besides their houses all being on the market. One answer was castles, but it turns out that Stephen and Bob had an even closer connection -- and no, it's not a musical one.

But first, the castle connection. In Bob's case it was Castle Roy, and in Stephen's it's Cornwall Castle (the one in Connecticut).

In June I wrote about Charlotte Martin, the New York socialite who had this castle built in 1921 as her summer retreat. During the rest of the year, Charlotte kept busy by renovating the brownstone homes of Turtle Bay Gardens in Manhattan.

They had been built in 1899.

Many celebrities over the years have sought to live in this desirable location, and Stephen Sondheim owned what's arguably the nicest brownstone of the bunch. It had me hooked at the tiled barrel ceiling in the foyer.

The living room is 32 feet long, and like all the rooms in the townhouse, 19 feet wide.

The kitchen has stainless steel counters and backsplash and an eight burner range. 

This townhouse is especially desirable because it's one of the corner units. As such, it has an extension that only the corner homes have. The dining room is in that extension.

It has french doors that lead to a private garden that has access to the communal gardens.

The second floor has a real wow factor with the room that is currently a music room. 

It has a solarium with original stained glass windows.

Those curved stairs lead to an thirty foot private terrace:

An additional bedroom or office with fireplace sits across from the music room. There are seven bedrooms and four bathrooms in 5,690 square feet.

This bathroom rounds out the second floor.

The third floor has two large bedrooms, one with fireplace. The other has an ensuite bath. 

This kitchen sits between them.

Going up still higher to the fourth floor...

We find the master suite, again with a fireplace, a large ensuite bath, and a dressing room with a piano tucked in for late night inspiration.

Finally, the fifth floor has full guest suite with a kitchenette and its own terrace, again overlooking the communal gardens.

Stephen bought the townhouse in 1960, after the success of his 1959 production of Gypsy. He then rented out the top three floors to help pay his mortgage. 

That brings us to the gardens of Turtle Bay Gardens. It's neat to see how little has changed when you compare the listing photos to these glass slide photos taken in the 1920's:

{old photo source}

{listing photo}

This old photo shows how the gardens of each property connect to make a communal space.

Here's an old aerial view from a 1927 map:


Here's a slightly updated version...

and here's how it looks today:

Remember when I mentioned that Stephen Sondheim and Bob Dylan had another connection? I discovered it when I was researching Stephen's neighbor, Katharine Hepburn and saw this old letter:

That's right, Bob Dylan once owned a Turtle Bay Gardens townhouse too. Since Katharine Hepburn lived there from 1931 until sometime in the 1990s, that means the three of them were neighbors at the same time.  (Her townhouse is currently for rent, as well.) She lived in #244, which is the house right in between Stephen's at #246 and Bob's at #242. 

This is where Bob Dylan lived:

I'm mostly showing it as an excuse to If It Were Mine something, because I thought Stephen's house is pretty perfect as it is now. But the old living room of Bob Dylan's is a perfect blank slate:

I thought it was neat that this inspiration photo had both a piano and a settee similar to the one in Stephen's master suite.

The old listing also showed the kitchen and bathroom, but not the bedrooms or any views of the gardens.

As bizarre as it is that I keep finding real estate connections between Stephen Sondheim, Bob Dylan, and Anne of Cleves, that brings me to yet one more.

If this stained glass window in Stephen Sondheim's music room is depicting Anne of Cleves, that would be just downright spooky:

The listing is here.

Update: I came across this 1960 photo from the National Portrait Gallery and enjoyed comparing the changes between then and now:

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