Actions in our earliest beginnings often dictate our outcome. So when German immigrant Henry Villard upscaled the plans for his Madison Avenue estate, the tone was set for the grandeur of Manhattan’s New York Palace.
Considered today as one of the best preserved mansions in New York, this 55 story high-rise began as a set of six brownstones. Known as the Villard Houses, the front portion of the midtown luxury hotel was created in 1884 for the one-time railroad tycoon. While his company would crumble just a few years later, Villard’s desire to keep pace with the Vanderbilt‘s home influenced his final designs, using the neo-Italian Renaissance style and sourcing Rome’s Palazzo della Cancelleria. This rich execution helped land it on the National Register of Historic Places in 1968.
The new title would challenge the expansion of the houses into a 55-story tower, proposed by Harry Helmsley just six years later. In order to preserve the original houses, the tower was constructed directly behind it, operated by Helmsley from its opening in 1981, until its change to The New York Palace in 1992. By 1993, the Royal Family of Brunei had purchased the hotel, and shortly thereafter began renovations to bring the eighties style interior of the office tower in line with the 1800’s style of the original houses. They would temporarily close half of its more than 900 guest rooms to expand their suites.
“What you have here are the beginnings of the mass immigration of craftsman from Europe, who came here to put into affect crafts which had never been done in America.” Mosette Broderick, an authority on the Palace, says: “We had no mosaics. This was the second done in the United States… There is such a history of art being a part of [this] house.”
When you enter The New York Palace, you really understand what she is talking about. The atmosphere provides a rich sense of privilege, with a crafted beauty on a level you don’t encounter in everyday Manhattan. As the renovations wrap up, The Palace has offered various tours of the renovations, including the recent OHNY. Even if you didn’t make it, you have likely already have seen the Palace, as shows such as 30 Rock, Gossip Girl, and Law & Order have been filmed there. If not, you can visit any of their restaurants, or simply view the pictures below.
The view from one of the upper level, luxury rooms, overlooks St Patrick’s Cathedral, the original owners of the land, which Villard purchased from them for his estate.
In attempts to leave the original structure of the house unmodified, this free-standing wine storage air chills the bottles:
The bar, located directly below the Madison Avenue courtyard entrance:
The four pictures below are of the Madison Avenue entrance, which connects the original houses to the 1970’s highrise (directly behind you in the last photo):