The late 1800s sprung a significant shift in where the richest called home. Select neighborhoods managed to retain grand reputations after most of New York’s elite migrated north of 50th to the Upper East Side. One, was Murray Hill. Though the area had a strengthening commercial presence, many of the wealthy residents remained loyal to their stylish neighborhood.
One such resident was Joseph de Lamar, a dutch immigrant who came to the United States in the 1870s after being attracted by mining and the wealth it could bring. Fortunately for Lamar, such a fortune was struck.
At the beginning of the 1890s, De Lamar wed Nellie Sands, and the two set out to mingle with New York’s high society. In the process of claiming such roles among the upper tier of society, the new Mrs. De Lamar bore Joseph a daughter, Alice. A new father in 1895, Mr. De Lamar sought out the ideal treasure to signify his financial success and arrival on the gilded scene. As if a yacht and Newport address were not enough, a palatial estate in New York City was mandatory for the trumpets to sound that one had arrived.
After previously purchasing a four-story brownstone on the northeast corner of 37th and Madison, De Lamar acquired the adjoining lot to expand his Manhattan footprint. Architect C.P.H. Gilbert produced designs for the future mansion of the De Lamar family a stone’s throw from J.P. Morgan’s home.
An incredible idea was concocted by designers of the impressive estate for De Lamar’s automobile. The limestone sidewalk was engineered to descend below the house When the driver parked the car on top. Once the car was below ground, it was parked in a subterranean garage below the house.
Sadly for young Alice, Joseph and Nellie divorced before the house became a home. In 1905, newly single Mr. De Lamar and his daughter moved into the magnificent mansion in Murray Hill. Standard to any Gilded Age estate, a team of servants filed in to fulfill Joseph and Alice’s every need.
The stunning Mansard roof covered the Mr. De Lamar for thirteen years before he passed of gall stones in late 1918. His daughter, Alice, chose to sell the prestigious address after serving in WWI as a driver for the Red Cross Motor Corps. Along with her inheritance, she set roots uptown in a large Park Avenue flat boasting 20 rooms.
After serving as the clubhouse of the National Democratic Club, it was purchased for just shy of $1 million dollars in 1973 by the Polish government. Since the early 70s, the six floor Joseph De Lamar Mansion has been used as the Polish Consulate.
Written and Photographed By Matthew J. Niewenhous
Gray, Christopher. “Still an Eye-Popper After All These Years.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 13 Dec. 2008. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.
“Daytonian in Manhattan.” : The Joseph De Lamar Mansion. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.