This year’s Spring House Tour Benefit is right around the corner (this Sunday, actually), and features seven exquisite Village properties. In keeping with the storied history of the Village, the Spring House Tour has a longstanding tradition of including historic properties. This year is no exception, as six of the seven homes are located within our neighborhood’s historic districts.
In 2014, three of the homes featured on the tour were located within the small Charlton King-Vandam Historic District, including 21 Charlton Street, 27 Charlton Street, and 17 Vandam Street. This district was designated in 1966, making it one of the City’s first designated historic districts. It was added to the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1973.
Each of these homes were painstakingly researched and described in detail for tour attendees in the House Tour Program. The 17 Vandam Street home description included:
At nearly two centuries old – one of the oldest remaining downtown – their home showcases some beautiful original details. The first detail you will notice is a spectacular wood surround carved to mimic rusticated stone at the front entrance. This home’s charm is certainly enhanced by the other Federal houses along this row, which forms part of the Charlton-King-Vandam Historic District…The upper floors retain a number of historic treasures that transport you 200 years back in time. A classic Federal mantel in the front room of the second floor provides grandeur to an intimate space. In the rear, a more modest mantel is found against a central chimney that once warmed the rooms on either side. This detail is particularly wonderful and unusual, as it is more often seen in freestanding Federal homes rather than their urban townhouse counterparts. The top floor, with its sloped, exposed beam ceiling, allows you to breathe in the age of the exposed original rafters and ceiling. A skylight addition brightens the front guest room. Before descending, check out the transparent insert at the stair landing; you can see through to the floors below.
According to the district designation report, the Charlton King-Vandam Historic District can trace its history back to 1767, when it was the site of one of the most beautiful mansions ever to grace Manhattan, the famous Georgian-style “Richmond Hill”, built on the top of a 400- foot tall hill with an impressive view of the Hudson. During the Revolution, George Washington used it as his headquarters. It was then John Adams’s Vice-Presidential Mansion when New York City was the nation’s capitol. Aaron Burr later purchased the home. With the development of the City northwards and the evolution of Greenwich Village from a rural to a city landscape, Burr mapped the property in 1797, planning its future development with lots of 25 by 100 feet on three streets, which became Charlton, King and Vandam. After his duel with Alexander Hamilton, Burr was forced to leave the city and his estate was taken over by Astor, although Burr retained the right to buy back the house and part of the land anytime within a period of twenty years. In 1817 Burr was paid off handsomely by Astor, and the development of the property proceeded. The mansion was rolled down the hill to the southeast corner of Charlton and Varick Street.
The hill was leveled, the lots laid out, and building started. Local builders bought the majority of the new lots and erected the first houses as investments. Most of the remaining houses on Charlton Street, all the remaining houses on Vandam, and many of the houses on King Street were put up within a few years of each other in the early and mid-1820’s. They remain the greatest concentration and most impressive display of Federal style town houses in New York. There is also a row of Greek revival homes on the north side of Charlton Street which replaced the Federals lost to a a fire in 1840. The “Richmond Hill” mansion was used for many years as a theater and a saloon before being demolished in 1849.
Have we whet your appetite for our spring house tour? Purchase tickets here.
View Historic photos of the Charlton King-Vandam Historic District here.
Read the Charlton King-Vandam Historic District designation report here.
Read its State and National Register report here.
Read other designation reports here.