Sometimes referred to by neighborhood residents as the Mr. Chow building, after the venerable Chinese restaurant that anchors the ground floor, 322 East 57th Street, in the bustling heart of Sutton Place, has just 20 units behind its formidable neo-classical limestone façade.
The building was designed by architect Harry M. Clawson and completed in 1930 as a residential studio hotel. At that time, “studio apartment” was a term that typically referenced an apartment with two levels of living space and a soaring double-height living room; they were highly desired by and well suited to artists as live/work spaces. Beyond 322’s canopied entrance is a drop-dead-stunning lobby. The building was converted to a co-op in 1959.
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Residents of the artsy, discreetly coveted building have included Clay Felker, the late founder of “New York” magazine; art deco-era painter Tamara de Lempicka (Madonna owns a trove of her work); vaunted actor Orson Wells; and businesswoman Georgette Mosbacher, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Poland from 2018 to 2021.
Just a few months ago, vaunted L.A.-based interior designer Waldo Fernandez splashed out $4.7 million for a sprawling two-bedroom apartment on the sixth and seventh floors, while another sprawling unit on the twelfth and thirteenth floors, newly listed at a smidgen under $6.5 million, was once the home of the Republican politician Jacob Javits, a four-term Senator from New York from 1957 to 1981 and the namesake of Manhattan’s world-famous 3.3-million-square-foot convention center. The apartment, which carries common charges of more than $11,000 per month, is listed with Martha Kramer at Brown Harris Stevens.
The current owner, contemporary art collecting philanthropist and occasional film producer Dorothy Berwin—her credits include Carol in 2015 and Immortality in 1998—purchased the apartment in 2018 for $4.4 million from the children of the influential senator and his late wife Marion. Berwin then turned to Sandra Arndt of Studio AKTE to preserve the roughly 3,300-square-foot co-op’s salvageable original details while updating it to showcase an extensive art collection. The results were impeccable and tasteful enough that the apartment was featured in Elle Décor.
Beyond a private elevator landing and the ample foyer, where a bar painted a chic shade of green is cleverly nipped beneath the curved staircase, the living room offers 18-foot ceilings, a wood-burning fireplace with original stone mantle, restored wood floors, and massive, 54-pane wrought-iron casement windows. When the apartment was on the market in 2017, Joy Javits told The Wall Street Journal that her parents entertained the likes of Henry Kissinger and Truman Capote in the grand living room.
Adjoining the living room, a lacquered gray media room that incorporates built-in sofas and a discrete office area was back in Javits’s day, enclosed by floor-to-ceiling glass panels that created a pseudo-loggia and cigar smoking space for the veteran politician.
The original translucent Bakelite banister lines the tight curl of the staircase that ascends to the dining room and kitchen; the original Art Deco balustrade that looks out into the living room is a highlight of the dining room; and the minimal-minded galley kitchen sports two dishwashers and simple, ebony cabinets topped by four-inch slabs of delicately veined, honed white marble. The kitchen also has a built-in banquette dining space, a laundry room, and a large walk-in pantry.
A long, T-shaped corridor off the foyer leads to the bedrooms. Three guest and family bedrooms, one with a built-in bed, share a pair of bathrooms, while the primary suite aims to pamper with several closets, a built-in media projector and retractable screen, and a bathroom inspired by Claridge’s in London.
Though street traffic at rush hour can be a bit busy with cars turning onto the Queensboro Bridge, the neighborhood is leafy and walkable, with every convenience just steps away. Plus, the interior of the building is whisper quiet, thanks to its solid pre-war construction. There’s also a Whole Foods Market just a block away, a Trader Joe’s 2.5 blocks away, and, of course, right downstairs there’s Mr. Chow, who will whip up a $58 order of sweet and sour pork and have it sent right up, almost like room service.
Click here for more photos of 322 East 57th Street.
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