14. Payne Whitney House, 972 Fifth Avenue

the French Embassy, also known as the Payne Whitney House

The bowed front building between 78th and 79th Streets was, like so many 5th Avenue mansions, a wedding gift from Colonel Oliver Hazard Payne to his nephew Payne Whitney and Whitney’s new wife Helene Hay. Designed by noted architect Stanford White of the firm McKim, Mead and White, the home now serves as the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Inside, you can see the stunning Marble Room, Reception Room and Venetian Room when you visit the hidden bookstore upstairs, Albertine. The Payne Whitney Mansion frequently appears in television shows like Law and Order and The Blacklist.

In the 1990s, it was discovered that the marble statue which adorns the mansion’s entryway fountain may be the work of Michelangelo. For decades, the sculpture stood in the center of the room while thousands of people passed by. Another treasure at the Payne Whitney mansion is a dress worn by Marilyn Monroe. It’s unclear how the dress got there, but there are photos of her wearing it! This is the last stop on Untapped New York’s Gilded Age Mansions Tour where you can go inside to the hidden bookshop.