Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Steinway Mansion undergoing extensive restoration


Henry E Steinway Mansion Restoration 2017 from Gabriel Espinosa on Vimeo.

"Wow! What a stroke of good luck I had today! After taking Pilar to the airport I took Logan on a mini-tour of the old neighborhood. One of the sites I wanted to show him was the old Steinway Mansion (of Steinway piano fame) in Astoria. We drove up to it and apparently the old house has a new owner who decided to restore the mansion to it's former glory and then some! The place was buzzing with workers and I asked if I could come in to take some pictures. I was allowed. I went through the entire house from the tiny watch tower at the top where it is said Mr. Henry E. Steinway, the original builder/owner of the mansion and also the founder of the Steinway Piano Company had a scope with which he used to check out what used to be North Beach and is now Astoria Park, all the way down to the basement! What an exhilarating adventure this was! They have kept all the original fixtures, wood, crown moldings, fireplaces, chandeliers, stairwells, etc and are skilfully restoring everything by hand. In these pictures you will see almost every room and close up details of the interior and exterior architecture and decor. The old cars and van in these images were there, exactly as they are now, when I was a kid back in the 70's. Unfortunately the place is shrouded in plastic sheeting because of the work but it is see-thru so you can see just about everything." - Gabriel Espinosa

32 comments:

georgetheatheist said...

The original builder was Benjamin Pike not Henry Steinway. The old cars referred to are on the neighboring property of the late Armin Urban.

georgetheatheist said...

Also, no credit given in this Espinosa video to the pianist Peter Smallfus playing that Chopin nocturne similarly heard HERE in this 2012 video produced by the Greater Astoria Historical Society.

Folks, notice all the flowers planted outside the landmarked Mansion at the beginning of the Espinosa video? The question still is: who owns the incline on which the flowers were planted? Have the owners Lucchese and Loria commandeered this extensive property for their own personal use and aggrandizement from the City of NY? The area in question, the incline, juts prominently into 41st Street west of the Mansion fencing which sits at Mansion property top.

These questions have been addressed extensively from our postings of August 23, 2017, January 18, 2017, and November 6, 2016. WHERE'S THE SURVEY? WHO OWNS THIS NOW-PLANTED INCLINE?

Additionally, how is it that the landmarked Mansion owners were able to privately fence off the western side of the public thoroughfare, 41st Street, directly across from their and the neighboring Armin Urban property? That issue can be seen from our posting of July 23, 2017 HERE.

If the owners of the landmarked Mansion are not willing to come forth and explain to the public just who owns the incline, we believe it's the responsibility of the area NYC Councilman COSTA CONSTANTINIDES to investigate the issue at hand, no?

Anonymous said...

Hey crappy.....here's a howler
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4874796/Brooklyn-Pizza-Festival-tickets-75-SCAM.html

R185 said...

I lost track. What will it be used for?

Johnny Appleseed said...

You mean those unfenced flower plantings on the incline are ripe for the general public to pick and take home?

Anonymous said...

GTA -
I can answer a couple questions. The plans for the subdivision are public record and are on the DOB website. LPC had to issue a letter of no objection and those get scanned. There may be a survey there too. I may have a copy somewhere for that matter.
As to the fence, fences of any nature up to 6' tall are generally legal and do not require permits. Above that they are permitted structures, but security (not privacy) fences up to and including 8' tall are basically a rubber stamp. The DOB website can tell you if a permit was obtained - I may look into it out of curiosity.
-somethingstructural

Anonymous said...

I checked out the pizza festival link.

Hilarious!

If you spend $75 on a ticket for a pizza festival you deserve to be separated from your money!

The burgers looked the best and that wasn't even their event!

I like the pics through the fence with the barbed wire. It makes it look like a pizza party at the lockup!

Self proclaimed 'foodie' is a synonym for pretentious a-holes!

georgetheatheist said...

@ something structural

Thanks. A published survey would be appreciated.

Re the fencing: our referred-to posting from July 23 shows the actual construction of the fence which is 8 feet in height. Note this fencing is constructed ACROSS from the Mansion site on the west side of 41st Street. The Mansion property and the ambiguously owned hilly incline are on the east side of 41st Street. It's as if the owners fenced in the public thoroughfare, 41st street, for their private use.

The Ghost of Armin Urban, owner of 18-41 41st Street said...

You mean to tell me that my next door neighbors, the Mansion owners (18-33), put up an 8 foot high fence directly across the public street hemming in my property? I thought Loria, one of the owners, was a lawyer from Fordham law school

Gary W said...

Ishmael Osekre, where have we heard that name before...

http://gothamist.com/2016/08/15/nyc_african_food_fest_fubar.php

Anonymous said...

GTA -
I don't see how an existing incline on one side of the street and a fence on the other side of the street constitutes cordoning off the public, but to each their own, I suppose.

In my digging, the issue I see with 41st Street is it was initially an unmapped street at the time of the initial construction of the mansion and carriage house (?) or whatever that structure is that encroaches on 41st street. That same structure is an existing non-conforming projection into the public right of way. As the structure is landmarked, the city can't enjoin them to demolish it for the public right-of-way (sometimes the city will refuse to issue a permit - even for subdivision - unless those issues are addressed). Indeed, there are old maps in their subdivision filings that show as much - that the carriage house was there before the street. It's hard to build a carriage house far enough away from a street that doesn't exist.

As to the rest of 41st street, the Steinway property wasn't the only offender on encroachments. There are projections on the west and east side of 41st so it is not uniformly straight. The new construction, however, must adhere to the city requirements for remaining in the metes and bounds of the lot and giving sufficient space for a sidewalk. So the carriage house ends up on this weird hill that projects beyond the sidewalk. There's no way the city is going to make them drive sheetpiles dangerously close to a landmarked building to support it for the sole benefit of the city putting in a half-assed sidewalk that wouldn't meet code. So to answer the "who owns the slope?" question - technically the city (it appears), but I am guessing the mansion owners agreed to maintain it (erosion would be bad). It's possible this was on the condition the city wouldn't attempt to dispossess them of their "driveway" that's technically built in a part of what's legally mapped as 41st street, albeit, in a portion that would be unusable due to that slope anyways.

And as for the fence on the west side, it's possible the owners on the other side wanted a fence to ensure that the city would not attempt to dispossess THEM of their property. That fence probably IS probably on their boundaries. "41st Street" is built about 15-20 feet west of the ideal centerline, so you end up with a fence right against the road that's still within their metes and bounds. Hope this helps.
-somethingstructural

Anonymous said...

Passive community, money grabbing developers, and general contempt for the locals made this what it is - a monument to Vallonia.

Everything you need to know about those people is there.

The only thing that will get Landmarked and treated with respect will be Peter Vallone Sr house and Tony Bennett's house. Everything else pffsshh!!!

Tommy Efreeti said...

This was something to positive to read about. Hurray for a little piece of history preserved and appreciated. Honestly, who cares about flowers on an incline? Be glad they're there...when and if the Tragedy of the Commons happens, then bitch.

georgetheatheist said...

Well, well, well. Now, the video has been removed. Any guess, Dear Readers. WHY and by WHOM?

Anonymous said...

GTA
Why are you so angry? They seem to be doing a good job restoring a house that was was neglected for years. The property is now restored, clean, landscaped. You can refer to some of your own pictures, but I remember it being a place people went to discard unwanted tires, a true garbage dump! We all appreciate your hard work, but take a xanax!

Adoption - A Little Boy Named Shane said...

Howdy! I was contacted by the new owners of the mansion and they politely requested that I take down the video as it was now the private home of, I guess, one of them and technically I didn't really have permission to go in, as a workers "ok" wasn't authentic permission.They were very appreciative of the work and of the high level of interest in the community. We chatted for maybe 15 minutes. The conversation was very amiable and I understood their concern. So I took it down. Maybe in the future when the mansion changes hands again, I'll be able to put it back up.

Gabriel
Www.gabrielespinosa.photography

Frank Lloyd Wright said...

I'll tell you why he's "angry". You can't see the front of the Mansion from the street. It's blocked by the too-close warehouses, fencing with surrounding trees, and the top of the hill.

It's a shitty design.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Franky but you got this one all wrong. I worked in that area for 20 years. I guess you have never seen the property before, the front was only visible from the street in the dead of winter when the leaves all dropped. Hate to say it, but that was actually the grimmest of sights. That time of the year you could really see all the garbage people would dump there all year. Actually wish I was still working there to appreciate all those flowers that GTA (btw a xanax can't hurt) documented and complains about....GTA what do you have against the flowers?
Complain when something is torn down, complain when something is built up, complain when something is neglected, complain when something is restored, now complain about beatification!!! Really?

Anonymous said...

You couldn't see the front of the mansion before the warehouses. It was blocked from view by trees and covered in garbage on the hill.

Frank Lloyd Wright said...

I've passed by the Mansion many times before you even worked there. Even when the snarling feral dogs chased me on my bicycle going down the hill way back in the early 70's. Caliendo the architect could have designed something better. Of course you could not see the Mansion many times BEFORE. So why did Caliendo continue that obfuscation? It's a NYC landmark whose magnificent lower front half STILL can't be seen. A stupidly missed opportunity to create something great there.

georgetheatheist said...

@ something structural

"I don't see how an existing incline on one side of the street and a fence on the other side of the street constitutes cordoning off the public, but to each their own, I suppose."

Thanks for your input. Much appreciated. But not only have the Mansion owners erected perhaps an illegal fence on the public thoroughfare but they even had the audacity to decorate it! See that new development HERE. Seems like the height of chutzpah to put your fence across the street on someone else's property, no? PLUS I believe it also created a dangerous traffic condition on the hill. After all, that extremely narrow 41st Street is a dangerous 2-way affair. Will there be legal hell to pay when the - I believe - inevitable traffic accident on that hilltop occurs?

A visual overview of this dangerous fence situation has been up-dated HERE on our latest blog entry. Where is the survey of the inclined property? Let's see it! It exists. Check out the surveying team in action at the Mansion site from the late Spring of 2015 exclusively HERE.

BTW when someone lies bleeding to death from that hilltop traffic accident, I guess they can always be given a Xanax to alleviate the pain. Nothing against the ambiguously-owned incline's flowers. They can be placed on that victim's gravesite.

Anonymous said...

You know Loria and Lucchese, the Mansion owners, are perhaps the biggest schmucks. Here they had Espinosa's beautifully produced and photographed video showing the wonderful restoration in an exquisitely ideal light and they make him take it down? That was great public relations for them and they blew it.

Anonymous said...

Costa has again stabbed the community in the back for a bunch of backroom deals - screw you he feels as he doles out lollipops to the hipsters and millions of our taxes for bullshit to help developers while letting this place fall into the hands of people that should never get near it.

One of the vendors they hired is telling people this video makes the job look better than it was. He said they slapped white paint over guilt and are putting in cheap white trim totally inauthentic. Yea, "its a renovation of a 1950s Cape Code, not a restoration of a significant building" he said. "Disgusting" he said.

They are telling everyone this 23 room mansion is going to be their offices - bull crap -those 2 guys have a room over a bodega next to a cantina, nail salon and a former whore house. Word is they want to sell this place as a 'private home' which is when the interior gets ripped out for an 'Air BnB' and then - well you get the picture.

BTW, that video has been saved from this site.

A big thank you to the goon Astoria politicians and the losers in that community that let them walk all over them. Any other community with a bit of backbone and all the pride these people claim to have would have stood up for their neighborhood. Not Astoria. No respect for itself. Sad.

Anonymous said...

You couldn't see the front of the mansion before the warehouses. It was blocked from view by trees and covered in garbage on the hill.

You couldn't see the front of the mansion after the warehouses. It a blocked from view by warehouses.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Franky but you got this one all wrong. I worked in that area for 20 years. I guess you have never seen the property before, the front was only visible from the street in the dead of winter when the leaves all dropped. Hate to say it, but that was actually the grimmest of sights. That time of the year you could really see all the garbage people would dump there all year. Actually wish I was still working there to appreciate all those flowers that GTA (btw a xanax can't hurt) documented and complains about....GTA what do you have against the flowers?
Complain when something is torn down, complain when something is built up, complain when something is neglected, complain when something is restored, now complain about beatification!!! Really?

YEA REALLY. YOU HAVE TO HAVE A SCREW LOOSE TO SAY THOSE THINGS. MIKE WELCOMED EVERYONE. THESE GUYS HAVE A GLINT. DON'T HAVE A GOOD FEELING ABOUT THIS.

Anonymous said...

You know Loria and Lucchese, the Mansion owners, are perhaps the biggest schmucks. Here they had Espinosa's beautifully produced and photographed video showing the wonderful restoration in an exquisitely ideal light and they make him take it down? That was great public relations for them and they blew it.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It is intended as a private video to market the place. Costa and his pals have decided Astoria is not good enough for it unlike a campaign donor that can pretty much do anything they want.

Anonymous said...

George by looking at those old maps and surveys of the area, you realize, if they did in fact widen the road to what it should be:

The entire driveway of the mansion along with a portion of the guard house should be knocked down. Not to mention about half of the modern art foundry.

Be careful on how you tread this issue. The mansion would be hemmed in quite a bit more.

Anonymous said...

@ LOOSE SCREW.
I'm new to this but why does everyone feel so entitled, it's private property correct? Why does anyone need to go inside that doesn't own it? Do you let complete strangers walk in your house? The inside of this mansion isn't landmarks, correct?

Anonymous said...

@ LOOSE SCREW.
I'm new to this but why does everyone feel so entitled, it's private property correct? Why does anyone need to go inside that doesn't own it? Do you let complete strangers walk in your house? The inside of this mansion isn't landmarks, correct?
-------------------

Sure, the White House is a private home as is Mount Vernon - but then most people can grasp that they are more. I think if you did a poll most would say because those buildings are special, they deserve to be places of education, learning, and tourism. So is the Steinway Mansion. No its should not be just an 'office' as the White House is not just an 'office.'

The owners (read politicians who are really behind this) should let a community non-profit take it over and provide the opportunity to pay the owners a reasonable sum to compensate them. You tell us its going to be an office for a couple of guys - in a 25 room house? Think the community fell of a Christmas Tree?

Hell, if you can provide millions for a baseball field and millions for a ferry and millins for a streetcar for a few 100s people who don't even live here yet, you certainly have the resources for this place to be purchased by a community no-profit - or to give the non-profit the breathing room to make it happen.

And no, don't have the city take it over. We don't need anther $30 million patronage boondoggle that will not be done in our life times. There are craftspeople from the community that are dying to fix it up for peanuts in just a few years.

Give it up politicians. Do the right thing. For once.

JQ LLC said...

I mentioned it before a while back, but what should have been done with this mansion is what has happened to John Coltrane's house in Long Island. A non-profit has been running that site for years and they have jazz fests and visitors year round.

Anonymous said...

Coltrane House / George Washington House / White House

It they had Vallonia politicians and residents they would look like the buildings on the Queens Crap masthead. Stupid is as Stupid Does - Forrest Gump

Is the future of the mansion grim - illegal conversions and that inevitable fire? Are all these guys doing by painting her lips and cheeks to find a new buyer so its one step removed - perhaps cleaning it for the investors that now own it - which could be a good chunk of the movers and shakers of Vallonia? Is this like all those LLC 'eateries' they incessantly push on the clueless mid-western millennials: a place to clean cash?

The only good thing from all this is that those names can be found and will be released if this is the case. With the right P I you cannot scrub things away.

Smart people would take their money and run. Staying at the table too long you could lose everything. Cash your chips while you are ahead boys. Move on. Lets all be one big happy family. Let the Goose Lay her Golden Eggs and stop this "Steinway Park" chicken shit. Sit down and behave so riches and rewards undreamed tumble into your laps. Now lets see how smart we really are. Work with people. What the hell do you have to lose?

Anonymous said...

The Astoria politicians are giving that house to Queens Historical Society.