Sunday, August 10, 2008

Inside the Steinway Mansion

Benjamin Pike Jr., a Manhattan optician, put up the granite house in 1858, apparently as a summer or weekend residence — it would have been a long trip by ferry and carriage to his business at Broadway and Reade Street selling globes, telescopes and similar equipment. There is something untutored about it: perhaps he designed it himself, as he did his office.

Mr. Pike had a relatively short time to enjoy the water views. He died in the house in 1864, and by the early 1870s William Steinway, the piano manufacturer, had bought it.

The exterior has evidently been hard to keep up: the portico over the main entrance is gone, and the sun porch at the rear may soon follow. But for the most part, it looks in pretty good shape. Granite forgives neglect very gracefully.

As for the inside, it is spectacular: 26 rooms, with a 100-foot sweep from the front door through the main hall straight back to the end of the parlor. The eight bedrooms ring a balcony in a light-well over the central hall. The trim has the big, muscular profile of the mid-19th century, with heavy sliding doors, intricate plaster decorations, high ceilings and glass etched with pictures of Mr. Pike’s instruments. It is one of the great residential interiors in New York.

A Hilltop Idyll, With Grace Notes of the Past

The house is now listed as "in contract" on Prudential Douglas Elliman's website. Hey, maybe the Parks Department bought it to add to the Historic House Trust! (Oops, almost forgot that this is in western Queens. Never mind.)

Selling Steinway


Anonymous said...

Good riddence.

He abused the place letting it fall to rack and ruin while sinking a lot of money into that basement.

We used to drive by it at midnight back in the 70s and admire all those (ahem) Olds 98s and Caddies parked out in front.

Anonymous said...

Really? Now I have a feeling, though, that the fun is about to begin.

Anonymous said...

H-m-m-m....a basement complete with a Grecco/Roman pool!

You begin to wonder.

Anonymous said...

But isn't it a landmark (hee, hee)?

Anonymous said...

Where's the cock (I mean rooster) that parades around the yard going to live?

Anonymous said...

Just because it's "in contract" doesn't mean it's sold yet. If the buyer can't get a mortgage for the rest of whatever Halberian's asking price is, the deal could still fall through.

On the other hand, a couple of months ago, I was riding by there on my bike (again) and there was some scrap metal dealer over there with a big truck hauling away a ton of scrap from the mansion--big rolls of fencing, a lot of pipes, metal chairs, all metal.

Maybe the long Halberian stewardship of Steinway Mansion really is finally over. Given the location, though, I doubt it'll remain a residential property for a long. I'm betting factory or warehouse of some kind.

Anonymous said...

It's landmarked, so its exterior can't be altered without LPC blessings.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, iused to ride my bike to the mansion and then back to my neighborhood in East Elmhurst. I alway admired the mansion and have taken many people to see it. Let's mkeep it for its beauty.

Dawn In Nashville TN said...

I think it would make a beutifull INN! I can't belive no one will take this on! If I had the $ and or wanted to move up north (I live In Nashville,TN & love living in the south!) I would find investors and make it a show place (rent out the grounds for High - end weddings ect. )
Is the sournding grounds a dump?
Even if it is in a bad part of town it could and should be a destination.

gadnynj said...


Was granted entrance to it's interiors and both the holder and articraft enchanting, worthy of it's protection.

Anonymous said...

Find it for sale here as an industrial lot.. buildable as a warehouse:

Anonymous said...

I remember as a youngster, when the Halberians first bought the house, spending many fabulous days visiting and playing there.