Updated: Jul 7
Treasured New York history awaits behind the doors of 991 Fifth Avenue, one of the last remaining Gilded Age mansions on one of the world’s most coveted streets.
From the 1870s to the start of the 20th century, rapid growth in American industry and a class of ultra-wealthy business magnates resulted in the Gilded Age. From Astors and Vanderbilts to Carnegies and Rockefellers, financiers and captains of industry chose Fifth Avenue for their spectacular mansions, compelled by the newly constructed Central Park.
Few of these grand homes remain, which is what makes 991 Fifth Avenue so special. Built at the turn of the century by architects James R. Turner and William G. Killian, the striking Beaux-Arts style townhouse has only had four owners in 120 years.
Mary Augustus King, David Crawford Clark, and William Ellis Corey were the first three owners of the 6.5-story limestone-and-brick townhouse, with its bowed facade designed to bring additional light into the home.
Under Clark’s ownership, architect and interior decorator Ogden Codman, Jr. redesigned the interiors. At this point, he and Edith Wharton had already written “The Decoration of Houses,” a groundbreaking guide on decorating with “nobility, grace, and timelessness” that is still consulted today.
Codman’s ornate moldings, regal columns, wood-paneled walls, and carved plasterwork are beautifully preserved at 991 Fifth Avenue to this day. Large bay windows, decorative glass, marble fireplace mantels, and copper dormers all remain—with much of the material used no longer available—serving as relics of history. The 25-foot-wide townhouse also notably features a curved terrace with floor-to-ceiling windows, skylights and a light well, an elevator, and grand entertaining spaces.
For the past 80 years, the mansion has belonged to the American Irish Historical Society. Itself a piece of history, 991 Fifth Avenue has also been home to history, with a library of 10,000 volumes that includes the first printing of the Bible in the Irish language, dated 1685.
Now on the market for the first time since 1939, this New York relic will soon enter a new chapter in its history, but carry on its storied past.
Take a closer look at the historical home by swiping through this slideshow:
Find out more about the property here.