21 PERRY STREET
The Facts: Three-unit townhouse with garden.
Asking Price: $7.75 million.
Agents: Anne Collins and Allen Whitehead, Brown Harris Stevens.
Where She Was Young
When Mary Cantwell published Manhattan, When I Was Young in 1995, the bourgeois-bohemian Greenwich Village of which she wrote had already largely vanished. The elegantly written book— the central, best volume in her three-part memoir—lovingly chronicled her early married life and subsequent divorce, as she moved from one downtown home to the next. The house at 21 Perry Street was where, she writes, her “life as an adult began.” When she and her husband found the shabby apartment in an 1843 townhouse, the kitchen “stank of cats” and a former tenant had built a dollhouse into the fireplace recess. But they scrubbed the place out, served recipes from Julia Child on Mary’s Spode dinner service, bought a Windsor chair, installed bookshelves, and had two children. The entire townhouse is on the market now, at a price Cantwell (who worked as an editor at Vogue and Mademoiselle before winding up a writer for the Times’ editorial page; she died in 2000) surely never imagined. These days, the rooms are much grander—gleaming oak floors, marble mantels—but the backyard, “the most secret of all the Village’s secret gardens,” as Cantwell described it, remains much as it was.