Her gatherings were legendary, and after years of entertaining, Terry Allen Kramer’s parties followed a well-established path through her Manhattan penthouse. “We’d start in the library, and when the group got bigger and bigger, which it always did, we’d move into the formal living room,” says her son, Nathaniel Kramer. These get-togethers often lasted through three meals and wound up at a massive round table in a rooftop gazebo. The spontaneous aspect of them often meant running into a movie star in the library or a famous director pondering the view from the formal living room. “You could be sitting next to Oliver Stone, an ex-PM of Canada, or George Hamilton. It was always a surprise, and she put together incredibly eclectic groups of people that cross-fertilized not only professionally but also socially,” Kramer says.
When the Tony Award–winning Broadway producer of La Cage Aux Folles; Hello, Dolly; and many others died in May, she left not only a Broadway legacy, but also a love of entertaining that made an invitation to her place the hottest ticket in town. Her son laughingly refers to the “intimate Thanksgiving dinners for 200” at her Palm Beach estate, La Follia. He says, “She was always game for hosting something” in her penthouse, which she designed and built with her La Follia architect, Smith Architectural Group, atop the former Westbury Hotel on 69th and Madison.
In fact, the 6,241-square-foot penthouse was custom-built for entertaining. “It’s like an old North Shore Long Island mansion transported to the top of a building,” says Michael Lorber, who represents the property for Douglas Elliman. The architectural team removed and rebuilt the top two floors of the building to create a bespoke space. Reminiscent of classical prewar buildings of New York, the apartment opens into a sun-drenched two-story foyer with a sweeping marble staircase and a custom gilded iron railing—a superlative feature, Lorber says, noting, “I’ve never seen anything like it in Manhattan.”
In the summer, guests spent much of their time on the outdoor terraces, particularly the northern terrace, whose stunning English greenhouse dining area has spectacular views across Central Park. Ascending the grand staircase, or the private elevator, a marble landing separates two guest suites from the 2,000-square-foot master suite, complete with separate marble baths and dressing rooms, a breakfast bar, and a wood-burning fireplace.“The penthouse sits at the highest [elevation] point of Madison Avenue,”Lorber says.“So even though you’re only on the 17th and 18th floors, you feel like you’re in the park and looking over all of Midtown.”
It is not, of course, required for ownership of this penthouse that you have a social circle as wide as Ms. Kramer’s. Her son remembers that while she entertained in much the same way at La Follia as she didn’t New York,“She was very much a family person. All the family birthdays were on the terrace. Everything was just a bit more intimate here.”
—by Andrea Bennett
Photography by Francesco Lagnese