8. William Payne Whitney’s Mansion

the French Embassy is housed in one of NYC's most beautiful Beaux Arts mansions

Born into the illustrious Whitney family, William Payne Whitney inherited a fortune from his father and uncle and had investments in banking, tobacco, railroads, mining, and oil. When he married Helen Julia Hay, the couple received this mansion designed by famed architect Stanford White as a wedding present.

Designed in the high Italian Renaissance style, the five-story mansion features a rotunda framed with marble columns surrounding a fountain, atop which sits a marble statue thought to be an early work of Michelangelo. For the intimate receiving room off the rotunda, White looked to Renaissance Venice for inspiration, creating a Venetian room with mirrored panels, gilded elements, and 18th=century European furnishings. Upstairs are a series of elegant reception rooms. Today the mansion houses the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the beautiful French bookshop Albertine.