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News March 2012

Recognition for E.D. Stone’s bold townhouse

March 19, 2012

On March 15, a crowd gathered on the sidewalk at 130 E. 64th Street to celebrate a small plaque on a bold building: the Victorian-era townhouse that Edward Durell Stone reworked in his signature style in 1956. If you’ve walked this block of 64th Street you’ve seen the grille. The plaque, which proclaims the architectural significance of Stone’s work and this house in particular, was unveiled as part of the Cultural Medallion Program run by the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center. The Historic Districts Council was co-sponsor of the event.

Stone renovated the house for his family, opening up the 1878 façade with three stories of floor-to-ceiling windows alternating with bands of limestone. He then covered the facade with a grille of decorative concrete block the full four-story height. In 1981 the house gained landmark protection as part of the Upper East Side Historic District. Owing to grime and rusting steel supports that were wreaking havoc with the concrete blocks, Stone’s widow had the grille removed in 1987, promising that it would be replaced as soon as possible. Twelve years passed before the Landmarks Preservation Commission and Stone advocates prevailed and the family rebuilt the grille before selling the house to its current owner, Andrew Cogan, who has been an excellent steward of the landmark building. In 2006 Cogan donated a façade easement to the Trust for Architectural Easements, protecting the façade from any future alterations.

Participating in the ceremony were Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, chair of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center; Museum of Modern Art Curator of Contemporary Architecture Pedro Gadanho; and Robert A.M. Stern. All spoke to the relevance of Stone’s work as a marker of historical shifts in American Modernism. Stern recalled his own change of tune, owning up to an essay he wrote as a student at Yale that was critical of Stone’s townhouse design. Andrew Cogan and his son were on hand for the ceremony too, the latter taking charge of the official unveiling. For all those in attendance the absolute highlight was the unexpected invitation to come inside for a look around—and a look out through the grille.

DOCOMOMO US fiche on the Stone Townhouse:
http://www.docomomo-us.org/register/fiche/edward_durell_stone_townhouse

Stone Townhouse, Edward Durell Stone, 1956.
photos: K. Randall