Bricks and Stones (Thursday Doors)

Mirrored and split apart by space and time–
the architecture of a larger age
rises above instead of seeking rhyme.
Waves of the future on a bigger stage
eliminate most ornament–design
for residents desiring to upgrade.
No need for detail, guardians of stone–
clean lines, refinement, now adorn their homes.

I was walking along West End Avenue when I spotted some window guardians on a brownstone and took a few photos–then right down the street there was a mirror image house. This made me curious. Had it always been this way? Now there was a large mostly brick apartment building in between.

A little research showed me that yes, the block had once been all brownstones. Here’s what I found on Landmarks West: These two noncontiguous brownstone fronted rowhouses, each twenty feet wide, are four stories in height above raised basements and were designed as mirror images.

They go on: The houses at Nos. 605 and 615 West End Avenue are survivors of a ten house row which originally extended from No. 601 to No. 619. Designed by Thom & Wilson, this row was built between January and October of 1888 for Bernard Wilson, principal in the architectural firm. The row occupied the entire western block front of West End Avenue between West 89th and West 90th Streets and included large houses at the corners. The row was first broken in 1916 when Nos. 601 and 603 were demolished for a twelve story apartment building, again in 1925 when Nos. 607 to 613 were demolished for a sixteen story apartment building, and again when Nos. 617 and 619 were demolished for a fifteen story apartment building.

I do admire the way Rosario Candela, the architect of many apartment buildings in NYC, designed the larger building so that the bottom part echoed the lines of the two surrounding brownstones. I could not find a photo of the street as it originally was, but I bet there were more guardians to be found on those houses.

The brownstones have been slightly altered over the years, so they are not exactly alike now. But they still have their window guardians. This one, at 607 West End Avenue, is evidently still a private home.

615 West End Avenue is a rental–in fact the upper triplex is for rent right now for a mere $16,000/month. If you want to see the listing, and take a virtual tour, you can find it on Streeteasy, here.

I myself love to look at real estate listings. There’s nothing for sale right now in the larger building, but here’s the listing for the most recent sale if you’d like to see what the apartments are like. This is considered an aspirational-size apartment for all New Yorkers–“7 rooms”–most people occupy much smaller (and darker) spaces.

My poem is in the ottava rima form, for Muri’s April Scavenger Hunt.

And you can find more Thursday Doors at host Dan Antion’s site, here.

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About memadtwo

For more madness, follow me on Instagram @h_zimel methodtwomadness is a blog of two friends, Nina and Kerfe kblog is Kerfe's solo branch on the tree

40 responses to “Bricks and Stones (Thursday Doors)”

  1. Ingrid says :

    Interesting how one building can provide a clue as to the architectural history of the whole street…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dan Antion says :

    Thanks for researching these iconic buildings. I hate seeing the words, “brownstone” and “demolished” in the same paragraph, but I guess when you need greater density, the only way is up. $16,000 a month is a bit beyond my price range 😏 but perhaps I’ll take the virtual tour. I like your poem, and I appreciate the information on the structure.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Melba Christie at Poemattic says :

    I lived in a brownstone until I turned 5. I dreamed of owning one myself. For me it was my palace as a kid. Thanks for the memories.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. boundlessblessingsblog says :

    Very interesting and you did a good research, Marta. Awesome architectural marvel. Too good.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Emille says :

    Some sturdy and beautiful doors, as well as their inspiration for embellishment around the doors! Thank you for sharing! Emille

    Liked by 3 people

  6. merrildsmith says :

    I like the way you wove the details of the buildings into your poem. Those guardians are cool. I wonder if they represented something more to the architect? Thanks for sharing the info about the buildings/block.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. sustainabilitea says :

    Love the stone and the guardians. What great finds!


    Liked by 2 people

  8. Leonie Andrews says :

    Thank you, love the poem and the buildings. “In my dreams” and there is even a glimpse of the river!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. murisopsis says :

    Excellent rendering of the Ottava Rima!! I was fascinated by the “Mansion” -such luxury and what a price!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Sun Hesper Jansen says :

    I had to go read a bit about Rosario Candela since I’m not too familiar with New York history. I discovered that he was a cryptologist as well, which makes me now want to write a story about codes in his architecture…though I bet someone’s already beat me to it! I find your walkabouts so fascinating. And I want modern architects to make a promise that they’ll start including guardians again. And gargoyles. I understand it’s expensive but they can tap the landlords of NYC for the cash considering what they’re getting for rent!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. robertawrites235681907 says :

    HI Kerfe, this is a terrific post. Thanks for sharing the history of the Brownstones and the pictures. It is so interesting. I loved your poem.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. jazzytower says :

    I really enjoyed this post. Loved learning the history. I like that the architect modelled the front of the apt building to the original structures.
    The space inside the pvt house and the apt is lovely, spacious. And with fire places. Wonder if they work..
    Loved the poem too.
    Thanks for sharing (K).


    Liked by 2 people

  13. Elizabeth says :

    NYC architecture is wonderful, with lots of things to discover and appreciate. Recently I visited NYC and I love all the contrast between the new and old buildings.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. D. Wallace Peach says :

    What a find, Kerfe. I enjoy the old brownstones and their architectural features more than modern buildings, but at least a couple of them were preserved. And phew… what a listing. Ahem. A little out of my budget. Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Valentina says :

    I love those imposing doors, they are classic and infuse stability. I wished people would leave historic places alone, instead of building “shoeboxes” apartments.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Kally says :

    This is so interesting especially the beautiful architecture.

    Liked by 1 person

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