Malcolm S. Forbes purchased 11 West 12th Street in the early 1960s from the Macmillan Publishing Company, formerly owned by the family of Harold Macmillan, the late Prime Minister of Great Britain, and for whom Thomas Hastings designed the magnificent paneled double drawing room.
The first interior designers engaged were Mulholland & Olsen, from Princeton, New Jersey, who created dazzling period interiors, which were subsequently refurbished by the renowned Mario Buatta.
Architect Leon Deller was later given the task of repairing the façade. This townhouse presently has three guest bedroom suites, two formal dining rooms, a grand double drawing room, a bright living room, a library, the Winston Churchill sitting room as well as a wine cellar complete with intimate dining.
The townhouse has always been used for entertaining, hosting hundreds of gatherings throughout the decades, attended by figures such as Margaret Thatcher, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, David Niven, Richard Nixon, Elizabeth Taylor, and Paul Volker.
The Tradition of the Stirrup Cup
The offering of a stirrup cup of wine is a tradition dating back to the ancient Romans, when a departing guest seated in the stirrups was offered a cup before departing on his journey and was subsequently practiced in the Middle Ages in England and Scotland. In this tradition of good will toward a guest, two sets of stag head stirrup cups were created by Forbes for honored guests, one to leave with the guest and one to remain in the Forbes wine cellar for a subsequent visit. The stag’s head forming part of each cup’s design is patterned after the crest of the Scottish clan of Forbes and includes the motto, “Grace My Guide” and the entire set is still in place today in the townhouse wine cellar.
Built in 1847, this five-story brick townhouse was originally one of a pair of impressive residences (Nos. 11 and 13), constructed in the Late Greek Revival style. William E. Wilmerding sold the land the year before to William Way. Way’s partner Samuel S. Barry, of the firm of Barry & Way, merchants, owned No. 13, and Way himself resided at No. 11 for several years.
The house was altered to provide a basement entry and a garage entrance leading to the back of the Macmillan office building on the corner of Fifth Avenue. Windows with a wrought-iron balcony have been introduced at the second floor level, and a simple brick parapet now replaces the former modillioned cornice.
West 12th Street, NY NY – $15,250,000
Paula Del Nunzio of Brown Harris Stevens has the listing. Recognized as the top producing broker at Brown Harris Stevens in 2008, Del Nunzio has specialized in townhouses, penthouses and “townhouse equivalent” spaces for the past 20 years. She has represented the sellers of some of the largest and most prominent townhouses and luxury apartments in Manhattan, including: the Harkness Mansion on East 75th Street, which sold for $53 million, the highest price ever paid for any residential residence in New York City; The Milbank Mansion on East 67th Street, which sold for $49 million; the Duke-Semans Mansion at 1009 Fifth Avenue sold for $40 million; and the John-Duncan Mansion, sold for a record price of $35 million.