Inside a Rocket Scientist’s Modernist Townhouse

One of Manhattan’s first townhouses, this architectural masterpiece was as adventurous as owner Sherman M. Fairchild himself.

When serial inventorSherman M. Fairchildcommissioned the architects William Hamby and George Nelson to build his home in1940, he asked for a property that matched his adventurous personality.

The result was a one-of-a-kind Modernist townhouse spread over six levels, connected by a series of glass-enclosed zigzagging ramps that connect a colossal great room spanning four levels.

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

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Exquisitely decorated, the interiors are all patterned floors, statement light fixtures and travertine walls, all under a vast glass and steel skylight.

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

Known as the Sherman Fairchild Mansion, the extraordinary modern-fronted townhouse in the Upper East Side is25 feet wide by 100 feet long, andwas one of the first modernist townhouses in Manhattan.

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

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ArchitectsHamby and Nelson envisionedan open-concept, nontraditional floor plan with a glass courtyard at the front and upscale living quarters hidden in the back half.

Completed in 1941, the mansion’s unconventional floor plan frames a vast internal glassed courtyard in the middle — a remarkable architectural feat at the time.

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

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The 9,440-square-foot home extends over six levels, including the basement.The palatial living areas include a dining room, chef’s kitchen, wine cellar, study, and library.

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

At the heart of the property is a series of sculptural, floating ramps that seamlessly connect the living areas.

The home is essentially split into two halves—one area dedicated to the private bedrooms, and the other to the great room,dining room, chef’s kitchen, wine cellar, study, and library.

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

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The three-story great roomfeatures travertine walls and a glass-and-steel ceiling that floods the space with light. The spaceoffers the perfect setting for entertaining and displaying major art collections.

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

Meanwhile the mezzanine sitting room allows for a warm, cozier feel.

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

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Rooms are nothing if not dramatic, with swirling crimson-accented floors and walls and curtains in surreal chintz patterns carried through into bedrooms and baths.

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

The late Sherman M. Fairchild wasan American businessman and inventor who founded around 70 companies (including his own airline business),invented the first synchronized camera shutter and flash photography,and developed new technologies for cameras used on the Apollo missions.

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

The townhouse has welcomed many Hollywood greats in its time, such as actor Carrie Fisher and jazz composer Hoagy Carmichael. In fact,Fairchild often invited composer Hoagy Carmichael to play on one of the two white Steinway pianos he had in his recording studio, and multiple jazz albums recognized Fairchild Studios as a recording partner.

(Image credit: Katherine Marks)

The propertywouldprovide ample space for collectors in which to display treasured works to dramatic effect. It's currentlylisted with Christie's Real Estate for £26.8 million.

All Photography byKatherine Marks.