A 19th-century storefront has been revealed on Lexington Avenue and East 73rd Street in the Upper East Side Historic District. Photographer Ryan Lahiff spotted the antique signage and ornamentation which had previously been covered up by white paint and scaffolding. With the scaffolding gone and the paint stripped away, those who walk by can see into the past of this historic building.
The storefront was previously occupied by Le Terraine, a store that sold kitchenware. That store has since closed and the awnings which used to hang over the storefront have been removed. The removal of the awnings revealed a splendidly ornate first story cornice that runs nearly the entire length of the Lexington Ave. facade. On the edge of the building, on the East 73rd Street Side, there is a small piece of ornamentation that hangs down with scrolls and acanthus leaves.
Ghost signs for a business long-gone advertise “Ladies Hand Made Bags” and “Custom Made Ladies Hang Bags.” The ghost signs are visible in this 1940 tax photo. In addition to the signs, you can also see ornate wrought ironwork on the fencing at the corner, and spiked lamposts that stand on either side of the storefront entrances on Lexington Avenue (now without the lamps). The classical acanthus leaf motif continues in the dramatic ornamentation that surrounds an oval window on the East 73rd Street facade.
According to the Landmark Preservation Commission designation report, 1024 Lexington Avenue, or alternatively 137 East Lexington Avenue, was originally constructed as a rowhouse by architect Charles Stegmayer in the late 1890s. In the 1960s, the corner structure was combined with its neighbor, another rowhouse, and turned into offices. Most famously, sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer had offices in the building. The medical offices were cleared out in 2007 when the building was purchased by Lloyd Goldman. Goldman planned to turn the structure into Manhattan’s largest single-family residence.
From our research, the most recent sale of the building seems to have taken place in 2010 when New York investor Avi Dishi, president of Elysee Investment bought it for $24.5 million. It appears that the building is being renovated, as upper floor windows have been replaced and the interior storefront spaces have been gutted. Hopefully, the antique storefront will also be restored.