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Vu.

One House, 125 Years

How a modest middle-class rowhouse became anything but.

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From left: 12 Henderson Place, circa 1940; 2006  

The three-bedroom Queen Anne townhouse at 12 Henderson Place is one of 32 brick-fronted homes built in the 1880s (24 still exist) by furrier John G. Henderson. (The street’s a half-block-long mews near Gracie Mansion.) Historian Charles Lockwood, author of the townhouse bible Bricks and Brownstone, says these houses were meant for “that always-endangered Manhattan species—the middle-class family.” Its full sales history proves that after 125 years, it has slowly migrated into the realm of only the very wealthy. Its value has risen 4,000 percent since 1909, but the owners should have put their money into stocks: Over the same period, the Dow is up 11,000 percent.

OUR STORY SO FAR

December 1881: Newly built, a Henderson Place townhouse seeks renters for $650—per year (in 2006 dollars: $13,594).

April 1901: Surging stock market breaks volume records.

August 20, 1902: Ernest and Bertha Henderson, relatives of the builder, sell to Catherine F. McCaffery; no purchase price listed.

March 1907: Financial panic.

1909: The house gets a tax assessment “without improvements” of $3,500 ($78,620).

June 1, 1926: Elizabeth Riley sells to Joshua B. Powers. No purchase price is recorded, but the house carries $14,550 in mortgage liens ($166,461).

September 6, 1929: Seven weeks before the stock-market crash, Powers sells to Arthur B. Carter. No purchase price listed; the house carries a $20,000 mortgage ($236,842).

October 1929: Stock-market crash.

November 15, 1933: Carter sells to Paul G. Buvens for $20,500 ($319,327).

August 9, 1939: Kathleen C. Fitts—presumably a descendant of Buvens—sells to Charles K. Klisby. No purchase price listed, but the mortgage liens total $20,000 ($291,367).

October 8, 1946: Klisby’s estate sells to Katrina McCormick Barnes for $33,700 ($349,961).

January 11, 1947: Barnes sells to Andre and Maya Tolstoi. No purchase price appears in public records, implying that it’s an all-cash deal.

June 6, 1974: Maya Tolstoi’s heirs sell to Matthew Dolkey and Arnold Markowitz. Price: $120,000 ($492,900).

August 4, 1987: Dolkey and Markowitz sell to Caroline and Lawrence S. Huntington, not quite three months before the stock-market crash. The Huntingtons pay $875,000; their mortgage is $275,000 ($1.56 million).

April 2004: Average New York apartment hits $1 million.

January 2006: The Huntingtons put their home on the market with Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Millard Dixon and Bill Pfaff, asking $3.65 million.


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