ⓘ Blog | Benjamin N. Duke House - houses completed in 1899. The Benjamin N. Duke House, also called the Duke–Semans Mansion and the Benjamin N. and Sarah Duke House, ..

Benjamin N. Duke House

Benjamin N. Duke House

The Benjamin N. Duke House, also called the Duke–Semans Mansion and the Benjamin N. and Sarah Duke House, is a landmarked mansion located at 1009 Fifth Avenue at East 82nd Street in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. It was built in 1899-1901 and was designed by the firm of Welch, Smith & Provot in the Beaux-Arts style.


1. History

The house was built speculatively by developers William W. Hall and Thomas M. Hall, and not for a specific owner. Shortly after the mansion was completed, it was bought by Benjamin N. Duke, a tobacco, textile and energy industrialist and philanthropist, who was chairman of the American Tobacco Company at that time. Benjamins brother, James, another tobacco entrepreneur, bought the house in 1907. He lived there until his own mansion at 1 East 78th Street – now landmarked as the James B. Duke House – was completed in 1912.

After James Duke relocated, the mansion became the residence of Benjamin Dukes son, Angier Buchanan Duke, until 1919, when his sister Mary Lillian Duke married A. J. Drexel Biddle, Jr., and the couple moved in. Later, their daughter, Mary Semans, took over the residence. Members of the Duke family owned the mansion until 2006, when it was sold for US$40 million to Tamir Sapir, an American real estate mogul.

The Mexican telecom magnate, Carlos Slim, at the time the richest person in the world, bought the mansion four years later in 2010 for US$44 million. Slim said in an interview with CNBC that he was planning on using the house as a place to stay when he was in New York for business meetings. In May 2015, he put the mansion up for sale at $80 million, nearly twice the amount he paid for it.

The Benjamin N. Duke House, which is one of the few remnants of the many similarly-luxurious mansions along Fifth Avenue facing Central Park, underwent a restoration in 1985. It was designated a New York City Landmark in 1974, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

In 2015, the Duke-Semans Mansion was listed by Sothebys for $80 million. The house was put up for sale by its owner, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, and became one of the most expensive public listings in New York.


2. Description

Designed by the firm of Welch, Smith & Provot from 1899-1901, the house was built in the Beaux-Arts style with a French Renaissance interior, decorated mainly with Louis XV style furniture. The house is eight stories high, 20.000 square feet and measures 100 feet wide by 27 feet deep.

The basement and first floor have a limestone facade, while the upper floors are brick with heavy limestone trim. The house includes a staircase connecting five of the floors, as well as "gold-leaf trimmed fixtures and intricate friezes".The roof has red tiling with cooper, and features two towers. The mansion has a private staircase on the top floor that leads to a rooftop balcony. The builders ingeniously put closets in the same location on every floor to facilitate the possible future installation of an elevator.

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