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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Urban Mansions Rich with History.

Urban mansions such as these stand the tests of time, styles, and fortunes.
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In city settings, mansions are less-expected dwellings, especially in densely populated downtown areas where many people live crammed on top of one another. There, the thought of a 10,000-plus-square-foot building housing just one family is excessive. Some people prefer excess and have the fortune to back it up, and those families have left a legacy of impressively ornamented historic homes.

The ones intact today are like time capsules back to a bygone era of magnificent opulence. We’ve collected a lineup of them here.

Slideshow: Urban Mansions
Slideshow: Urban Mansions

The profiles and footprints of urban palaces are a bit different from those of your average American mansions. In cities, mansions are often several stories taller, and they aren’t surrounded by sprawling estates. But don’t cry for these acreage-challenged city dwellers — the owners of urban mansions probably have country homes, too.

Walter N. Rothschild Mansion
Location: New York
Price: $30 million
Square Footage: 11,256

The Rothschild Mansion in the Upper East Side of New York.

The 28-foot-wide mansion originally built for Walter N. Rothschild and Carola Warburg-Rothschild has fluctuated in price from $35 million to $25 million and now is offered at the middle point, according to a list on Curbed naming it one of the "Top 10 Manhattan Properties That Just Can’t Sell." Rothschild’s family helped found Abraham & Straus department store and Federated Department Stores.

A special feature of the properties on this Upper East Side block is a common rear garden area totaling nearly 6,800 square feet. A low fence defines the individual yards (the Rothschild home’s is 33 feet deep facing another 33-foot-deep stretch), while the effect of a large grassy expanse is kept whole. The gardens are unofficially named for the neighboring Lehmans of Lehman Brothers fame.

The Francis J. Dewes House
Location: Chicago
Price: $9.9 million
Beds / Baths: 7 / 9
Square Footage: 12,000

The Francis J. Dewes House in Chicago's Lincoln Park.

This house was built in 1896 for Prussian immigrant brewer Francis J. Dewes and is now a Chicago landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The grand home has more recently served as a private event space. The house was renovated over six years by Botti Studio, which restored the stained glass, painted panels and ceilings, and tiled mosaic floors.

Although the Lincoln Park mansion retains many neo-Baroque details, the house has modern luxury property features like a game room, media room, wine cellar, chef’s kitchen, and a 1,200-square-foot master bedroom.

Edwin O'Connor Residence
Location: Boston
Price: $12.75 million
Beds / Baths: 10 / 9
Square Footage: 11,118

The Edwin O'Connor Residence in Boston.

The former limestone/brick home of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish-American author and journalist Edwin O'Connor, who wrote “The Last Hurrah,” is on the market for the first time since 1967. It is steps from the Public Garden and about a mile from the Omni Hotel’s whiskey bar, which is named “The Last Hurrah.”

The townhouse, which dates from 1905, is 33.5 feet wide and has formal entertaining rooms with mahogany doors and paneling and other elegant details like columns, less-formal private rooms like the charming skylighted bath, and an elevator.

Robinson House
Location: New Orleans
Price: $12.5 million
Beds / Baths: 9 / 10
Square Footage: 12,072

The Robinson House in New Orleans' Garden District.

This Garden District mansion was built between 1859 and 1865 for tobacco tycoon Walter Robinson. A Frommer’s walking tour featuring the home says the roof is a vat designed to collect rainwater, which then was distributed throughout the house, which constituted the neighborhood’s earliest indoor plumbing.

Other than that unique feature, the house looks much like classic New Orleans mansions from the past 150 years, with wrought-iron balconies, columns, traditional furnishings, and a lanai for passing humid afternoons. Only the updated kitchen with its giant granite-topped island betrays the current era.

Ames-Webster Mansion
Location: Boston
Price: $18 million
Bedrooms: 10
Square Footage: 26,000

The Ames-Webster Mansion in Boston's Back Bay.

They don’t build ‘em like they used to in 1872, when this 50-room Back Bay mansion was designed by Peabody & Stearns for railroad tycoon Frederick L. Ames. It features an astonishing carved oak staircase with cherubs and seahorses, Byzantine murals by French painter Benjamin Constant, a John LaFarge stained glass skylight and 28 fireplaces. More recently, rooms have been sublet for use as offices by lawyers, money managers and others.

They must not make millionaires like they used to either, or maybe those in the market for a house don’t share the same tastes as wealthy homebuilders in the gilded era because this property has been on the market since 2009 (for the first time since 1971), and remains there even at a price reduced by $5 million.

Click here to see all of the Urban Mansions.



Urban Mansions Rich with History.
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