by Kevin Walsh

A pair of French Second Empire (recognizable by slanted roofs and dormer windows) clapboard houses built by Robert and James Cunningham in 1866 have somehow survived at 312 and 314 East 53rd just east of Second Avenue on a block otherwise dominated by brownstone buildings, which came along about 20 years later. In 1866 they were nestled at the city’s northern extent and likely were surrounded by fields and forests. 

Oddly, #312 was designated a NYC Landmark in 1968 while #314 had to wait until 2000; my guess is that #314 is more heavily altered than its neighbor. #312 has a NYC Landmarks plaque, while #314 doesn’t. 

Daytonian in Manhattan has a comprehensive account of these two fascinating buildings, along with an interior shot of #312.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”



Edward Findlay December 22, 2017 - 4:02 pm

Daytonian in Manhattan has an in-depth look at the history of the houses and their connections to the arts in the early 20th century: http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2011/10/1866-wooden-houses-at-nos-312-and-314.html

According to the history, both were nominated but the then-owner of 314 didn’t like the idea thus it wasn’t landmarked until later.

Kevin Walsh December 23, 2017 - 5:20 pm

Yes, as linked in my piece.

Peter December 23, 2017 - 4:12 pm

What was Katerina’s Restaurant on the left is now 212 Steakhouse … not a terribly creative name but it got 4.5 stars on Google. I was checking out the menu, looks terrific but it would be easy to drop $400 on a dinner for two.

Mark December 23, 2017 - 9:22 pm

The ‘slanted roof’ is a style known as a ‘mansard’ roof or french roof. The mansard style of roof became very popular in Paris as a way of bypassing 18th century Parisian municipal restrictions on building heights. The height was measured from the ground to the building’s cornice line. By employing a mansard style roof (a design that predated the Parisian height restrictions), the building owner could comply with the law while gaining an extra floor of living space. When you see a building with a mansard style roof outside of Paris, it was usually done for aesthetics, and not to circumvent building or zoning regulations.

ron December 24, 2017 - 11:32 am

In Queens, they would have been gone 50 years ago.

Billy Gee January 1, 2018 - 11:41 pm

I checked out the menu at 212.

Never saw beef sold by the ounce in a steakhouse.



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