The story of Ellen Biddle Shipman's townhouse at 21 Beekman Place is one of inspiration, scandal, and redemption. Shipman, one of the most prominent landscape architects of her time, and her husband, a playwright and "unreliable source of income," bought the house in 1919. She spent seven years renovating it, transforming not only the house but the surrounding neighborhood into a trendy, desirable spot for wealthy city dwellers. After she sold the house in the 1940s, it changed hands a number of times, until 2001, when it was purchased by William R. Rupp, a Florida businessman, for $8.8 million. Rupp installed monogrammed gates and feuded with his neighbors, eventually constructing a two-story-tall "spite wall" to block their views of the East River. Those offenses and the offenses of the previous owners were corrected by the house's current owner, Peter Novello, who bought it in 2008 for $10.6 million and restored it to a state largely similar to Shipman's original renovation. He recently re-listed it for $48,500,000. Sounds like a happy ending.
· Listing: 21 Beekman Place [Brown Harris Stevens]
· A $48.5 M. Manse For the East River Obsessed [Observer]
· House of Sweetness and Spite [NYT]