A row of Renaissance Revival townhouses stretching from one to 25 East 92nd Street was the stylish new address in 1890 Manhattan. Number 17 was purchased by Bruno Richter for $34,000 (just over $1 million in 2022 dollars.) Born in Germany in 1849, Richter was the head of the neckwear manufacturing firm H. Richter & Sons, founded by his father. Then, as now, the location between 5th and Madison Avenues, close to Central Park, was leafy, quiet and fashionable.
Two years before he purchased the house, Bruno Richter hired an Austrian immigrant, Erich Weiss, as an assistant lining cutter in his factory. The young man entertained his co-workers at lunch with his magic tricks. He would later change his professional name to Harry Houdini.
The Richter family lived in the house until 1924. Though it has seen renovation, the building has always remained a single-family home. It is now for sale, offered by Brian Lewis of Compass Realty for $17,500,000.
At 5600 square feet, the grand home has over 13 room on five levels. Soaring ceilings, restored woodwork and original fireplace mantels are important historic elements, while new improvements include a new roof, new plumbing, electrical, gas, hot water, security, and private generator systems. There are new oversized Landmarks-approved windows, new central air conditioning, new copper gutters, and an entirely renovated garden and surrounding garden wall.
On the garden level, arched pocket doors lead to the breakfast room, which opens to a den and, from there, the fully renovated, marble chef’s kitchen. The kitchen, which boasts custom cabinets, a dining bar and top-shelf appliances by Wolf, Subzero and Miele, opens into the fully renovated backyard garden.
On the parlor level is the formal dining room. With restored inlaid floors and ceilings soaring to nearly 12-feet, the dining room opens to a reception area and the dramatic living room, which has its signature millwork and original plasterwork.
The primary bedroom is a floor-through suite with a garden view bedroom. Served by a delightful windowed marble bath with dual sink, soaking tub and shower, this area has nearly 11-foot high ceilings, original detail, generous custom closets, and two dressing areas. The front half of this floor offers a bonus living room with a south-facing bay window.
Two huge bedroom suites are on the fourth floor. They, too, enjoy ceilings nearly 11-feet high, woodwork original to the house, ample closets and storage, and are served by a lovely windowed bath and a high-walled terrace with new decking. The top floor of the sprawling townhouse offers two (possibly three) guest bedroom spaces. With a big new hall skylight, a new bonus kitchenette with its own skylight, and another laundry area, this flexible floor is the ultimate work and play space.
The Upper East Side is one of Manhattan’s best family neighborhoods, known for upscale real-estate, well-known prep schools and designer boutiques. This house, just steps from museums and the park, is a rare find: an intact multi-level family home with a garden.