8. George W. Vanderbilt House, 645 and 647 Fifth Avenue

645 and 647 Fith Avenue

George W. Vanderbilt purchased the land right by where the Triple Palace was and built his “Marble Twins” at 645 and 647 Fifth Avenue between 1902 and 1905. Designed by Hunt & Hunt and completed in 1905, the homes were built in the French Renaissance Revival style. The Vanderbilt mansion at 645 was demolished, but 647 still remains. 647, otherwise known as the George W. Vanderbilt Residence, is a six-story stone building whose first floor features arched openings topped by a balustrade. George rented 647 to Robert Wilson Goelet, a prominent real estate developer and banker. George passed away in 1914, and 647 was altered for commercial use in 1916 and eventually contained an art gallery and airline ticket agent. Now, the building is occupied by a Versace store.

Around the turn of the 20th century, there were plans for a hotel at the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street. After the Vanderbilts blocked that plan, the property was split between the Marble Twins and the Morton F. Plant House. When John Jacob Astor began to build the St. Regis Hotel on Fifth Avenue in 1901, the wealthy residents in the area started to buy up land to prevent future commercial development. Morgan Freeman Plant, son of the railroad tycoon Henry B. Plant, commissioned architect C.P.H. Gilbert to build him a large stone mansion. The mansion was later allegedly traded to the store Cartier in a legendarily bad deal that involved a string of pearls with which Mrs. Plant was particularly smitten.