8,500 Square Feet of Former Warehouse

Photographs by David Allee

Graphic by Jason Lee

Many visitors to the West Village know where to find Julian Schnabel’s Palazzo Chupi. But what most people don’t know is that a distressed-stone’s throw away from that pink castle in the sky is a villa whose alfresco rooms could almost make you think you’re in Capri. It’s been an ongoing design-build project for owner William Monaghan since 1977, when he bought the former janitor-supply warehouse on Perry Street. “This area was wild in those days,” he says, standing in one of many gardens with views to the Hudson. He loved it that way: rough and tumble. He also liked that he’d found a building whose elevator didn’t take up the central core—already he was envisioning a grand atrium. Back then, the sixth floor was one vast open space (66 feet by 90 feet) with no views. It was so big, in fact, that Monaghan could only afford to finish and live in about one third of it. But he kept up the work: “In 1979, I knocked a hole in the center of the ceiling for the courtyard. In 1986, I cut another hole in the roof for the stair hall and built the south penthouse with the master bedroom. Then I built the east penthouse. The glass floors were installed in 1997—I ordered squares from Libbey-Owens-Ford and told them they were for windows when they said I couldn’t use them for floors. They have worked perfectly for fifteen years.” Down in the garage-basement is Monaghan’s wood-and-metal shop, where he made so much of the woodwork in the house, including many of the shutters. And when he’s not doing work for the foundation he helped start in New Orleans to rebuild houses after Katrina, Monaghan is building things like a massive train set for the children’s playroom. “When I was a kid, I used to make sweaters for all my stuffed animals,” he says. “I made all their furniture, too.”

The Atrium
Works by Steve Gianakos overlook the space. The gardens (circa 2006) were the last piece of a renovation puzzle begun in 1977. Photo: David Allee

The Master Closet with more natural light than most Manhattan bedrooms. Photo: David Allee

The View
The Hudson River has been only semi-obscured by the neighborhood’s steady growth in luxury condos. Photo: David Allee

The Library
A Carroll Dunham painting hangs above the fireplace. Photo: David Allee

8,500 Square Feet of Former Warehouse