Brokers are occasionally prone to claiming that a certain trophy property is "like a work of art." In the case of the modernist architect Edward Durell Stone's Upper East Side townhouse, that's not an exaggeration. Stone, whose notable works include MoMA, the General Motors Building, and other too numerous to list, took a conventional 1878 townhouse and completely remade it in 1956 (don't try that at home), adding an enormous skylight and a glass-covered patio, ripping out interior walls to create open spaces, and pushing the facade forward and covering it with glass. The most striking feature that Stone added was a concrete grille of intersecting squares and circles over the glass. The grille effectively allows light into the house while simultaneously functioning as a sort of privacy screen and its pattern is something of a running theme—it shows up on the kitchen backsplash, the wallpaper, the east wall of the terrace, and the ceiling of the library. Although the renovation was controversial at the time (as were a lot of the things Stone did—his Gallery of Modern Art at 2 Columbus Circle was called a "turkey" by one critic, and he called for cars to be banned between Lexington and Madison Avenues and for the city to create a position that the Times referred to as a "dictator of arts") it was eventually landmarked in 1981.
The house's current owners bought it in 2004 for $4.95 million when it was, according to them, "a bit of a wreck." They hired Stone's youngest son, Benjamin Hicks Stone, to do the restoration, which took a year and have now put it back on the market for $9.995 million. Even with its landmark status, the house remains controversial—Hicks Stone himself had previously restored it in 1998 and had attempted to remove the concrete grille, but was denied by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
· Listing: Historic Edward Durell Stone Townhouse [Sotheby's]
· Upper East Side: To Live in an Artwork [NYT]
· Streetscapes/Edward Durell Stone and the Gallery of Modern Art, at 2 Columbus Circle; An Architect Who Looked Both Forward and Back [NYT]
· Edward Durell Stone Townhouse [docomomo]