In the early 20th century, a syndicate of artists built a co-op on West 67th Street off Central Park West. By 1915, the street had become an artists’ haven housing some of the city’s most celebrated creatives in four tall co-ops, including the now iconic Hotel des Artistes at 1 West 67th Street. Designed by George Mort Pollard, the ornate Gothic building with its H-plan layout and double-height studios in the back to capture the northern light was conceived to serve artists who needed light and space to work on large pieces. And the artists came: Over its 100-plus years, the building has housed such famed residents as Norman Rockwell, Leroy Neiman, muralist William Cotton, and Howard Chandler Christy, who painted the frolicking nymph murals that have been restored to their original glory in the restaurant Leopard at des Artistes, on the building’s ground floor.
With such a storied history and gloriously high ceilings, you might imagine that opportunities to buy in the building are rare—and you would be right. One of its gems—a grandly proportioned, 5,500-square-foot terraced triplex—has had only three owners in its history. It recalls, says co-listing agent Michael Kafka, “those famous Upper West Side residences that [architect] Emery Roth called his mansions in the sky.” The apartment’s centerpiece is a combined living and dining room that is nearly 60 feet long, with ceilings almost 18 feet high. It opens into a paneled library and is bookended by original Neo-Gothic fireplaces.
“It is one of the great entertaining rooms of the city,” Kafka says, noting that 909 is, in fact, the largest apartment in Hotel des Artistes.
Among its many standout features are immaculately preserved plaster ornamentation in the library and breakfast room ceilings, and four bedrooms on the second floor that open to a balcony overlooking the entertaining area. A grand master bedroom, media room, and two offices anchor the third floor and open to a massive wraparound landscaped terrace. A large master bath in a greenhouse does indeed call to mind a private mansion in the sky.
Although Hotel des Artistes never operated as a luxury hotel, Kafka says, it was one of the first residential buildings in the city to have the amenities of one, including a swimming pool and squash court (its private health club, La Palestra, and other amenities were added later). Number 909 is slightly larger than it was originally because the current owners acquired part of another apartment to add bedrooms, but careful renovations have preserved a masterpiece that harks back to a more gracious time, says Kafka. “I’ve lived in the city and never really seen another apartment like it.”