When serial inventor Sherman M. Fairchild commissioned the architects William Hamby and George Nelson to build his home in 1940, 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.
Exquisitely decorated, the interiors are all patterned floors, statement light fixtures and travertine walls, all under a vast glass and steel skylight.
Known as the Sherman Fairchild Mansion, the extraordinary modern-fronted townhouse in the Upper East Side is 25 feet wide by 100 feet long, and was one of the first modernist townhouses in Manhattan.
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Architects Hamby and Nelson envisioned an 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.
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.
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.
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The three-story great room features travertine walls and a glass-and-steel ceiling that floods the space with light. The space offers the perfect setting for entertaining and displaying major art collections.
Meanwhile the mezzanine sitting room allows for a warm, cozier feel.
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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.
The late Sherman M. Fairchild was an 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.
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.
The property would provide ample space for collectors in which to display treasured works to dramatic effect. It’s currently listed with Christie’s Real Estate for £26.8 million.
All Photography by Katherine Marks.