Villard Houses

The "Villard Houses" is a historic landmark located at 455 Madison Avenue between 50th and 51st Street in Manhattan, New York City.

Villard Houses
Location29½ 50th Street, 24—26 East 51st Street, and 451, 453, 455, and 457 Madison Avenue, New York City
Coordinates40°45′29.22″N 73°58′30.91″W
ArchitectJoseph M. Wells of McKim, Mead & White[1]
Architectural styleRenaissance, Other
NRHP reference #75001210[2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPSeptember 2, 1975
Designated NYCLSeptember 30, 1968


The building was constructed in 1884, designed by architect Joseph M. Wells of the architecture firm McKim, Mead and White. It is considered to be a Roman design with specific Renaissance touch points.[3] Among the artists who worked on the building's elaborate interior were artist John La Farge, sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and painter Maitland Armstrong.[4]

The houses were commissioned by Henry Villard, then president of the Northern Pacific Railway, shortly before his railroad empire began to crumble. Ownership of the building changed through many hands throughout the century. In 1948, the Archdiocese of New York purchased the houses at 451 and 453 Madison Avenue, and in early 1949 it purchased 455 Madison Avenue and 24 and 30 East 51st Street. The houses themselves are now owned by the Sultan of Brunei, while the land remains the property of the Archdiocese of New York under a 99-year lease.[5][6]

In 1968, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the complex an historical landmark. A combined restoration/new hotel complex construction project was proposed by real estate developer Harry B. Helmsley who constructed the 51-story New York Palace Hotel tower directly behind the original building.[7] The project was designed by architects Emery Roth & Sons and Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer in 1977 and completed in 1980.[2][8]

The original building was restored in 2003 and office space was furnished for city preservation group The Municipal Art Society, as part of an agreement to save the building from demolition.[7] As a part of the renovation of the hotel, part of what is now known as the Villard Mansion is available as an event rental.[5]

In 2014, the residences were available for public viewing when they hosted the annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House program to raise money for the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club.[9]

Exterior shots of the Villard Houses were used on the TV series Gossip Girl as the hotel where the van der Woodsen family lives.

See also



  1. Christopher, Gray (December 21, 2003). "Streetscapes/Madison Avenue Between 50th and 51st Street; A Landmark 6-Home Complex in Dark Brownstone". New York Times. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  2. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  3. Craven, Wayne (2009). Gilded Mansions: Grand Architecture and High Society. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 243. ISBN 0393067548.
  4. Lockhart, Mary (2014) Treasures of New York: Stanford White (TV) WLIW. Broadcast accessed:2014-01-05
  5. "Historic New York City Hotel". New York Palace. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  6. Bagli, Charles V. (December 29, 2000) "What's Fair Rent on the Palace? Royalty and the Church Disagree" The New York Times
  7. Gray, Christopher (December 21, 2003). "Streetscapes/Madison Avenue Between 50th and 51st Street; A Landmark 6-Home Complex in Dark Brownstone". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  8. Ghigliotty, Damian (January 13, 2014). "From the Vault: New York Palace Hotel, 455 Madison Avenue". Commercial Observer. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  9. Green, Penelope (April 30, 2014). "Rocking the Palazzo". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2014.

Further reading

  • Kathrens, Michael C. (2005). Great Houses of New York, 1880–1930. New York: Acanthus Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-926494-34-3.

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