16. Isaac Vail Brokaw Mansion: Demolished

Clothing manufacturer Isaac Vail Brokaw’s home on the north side of 79th Street, like the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion and Vanderbilt’s Petit Chateau, was inspired by the 16-th century Château de Chenonceau in France’s Loire Valley. Designed by Rose and Stone in 1887-1890, the mansion played an important role in the formation of New York City’s landmark laws.

Upon the deaths of Issac and his wife, the mansion went to their son George. After George died, it was bought by The Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) in 1946. Later, the IRE purchased two more of Brokaw’s houses and used them for office space. The next owner, the Campagna Construction Corporation, demolished the buildings in 1965. The Brokaw Mansions were designated as landmarks by the New York City Landmarks Commission in September 23, 1962, just a few months after the group formed. However, without the legislative backing the commission would receive in 1965, the designation was largely symbolic. When news of the demolition broke in 1964, it spurred preservationists into action. Though the 5th Avenue Gilded Age mansions were not saved, the passionate reaction to their demolition helped push forward landmarks legislation.