Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Louis Stern-Hugo Reisinger Mansion, New York City

Louis Stern was deeply affected by the death of his beloved wife and he went into a deep period of mourning, dressing in all black and rarely being seen in the public. This all changed in 1887 when he commissioned the architectural firm of Schickel & Ditmars to design him a residence on a plot of land located at 993 Fifth Avenue.

 Louis Stern Was A Quiet And Kind Man, Although He Was A Stronghold In The Republican Party And Served As It's Delegate

Louis's Son, Irving C. Stern, Married Aliss Ruth Brandeis, The Driving Force Behind The Decoration Of The Interior Of The Mansion

Once the house was completed, it was said to have cost some $1 million and the Stern family quickly moved in. It became one of the city's leading tourist attractions and not a week went by where the Stern's didn't hold an event there.

The Mansion Included A Ballroom, Drawing Room, Numerous Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Servant's Rooms And Entertaining Rooms.

An Estimated $70,000 Was Spent On Designing And Decorating The Entrance Alone, The Front Doors Having Costed $1,500

The floor plan of the house was centered, like many fifth avenue mansions, around entertaining. The ground floor contained the drawing room, entrance hall, reception room, dining room, conservatory, ballroom (which was also an art gallery) and the pantries. The second floor held the library, music room, sitting room, a bedroom and the master suite. The upper floors held bedrooms, bathrooms and servant's rooms.

The Floor Plans Of The First And Second Floors. From "Architecture 1901" Courtesy of "Beyond The Gilded Age"

The interiors were some of the most sumptuous in city, with french antique furniture and rare vases and paintings. Aliss Stern had supervised the decoration of the home, as she and her husband intended to live their as well, and was said to have been handed a blank check by her father-in-law to cover the cost of the interior, which she planned to go all out on. She did a good job.

The Entrance Hall Was Done Completely In Marble, Marble Floors, Marble Walls, Marble Columns, Marble Everything, Costing $100,000

The Grand Staircase Was Made Out Of Rare European Marble And Featured A Bronze Statue Of A Young Girl Holding Flowers

The Drawing Room Was Practically Two Small Parlors Connected Together, Both Rooms Had Their Own Fireplace, Chandelier And French Furniture

The Reception Room Was One Of The Most Formal Rooms In The House, With The Antique Gilt Furniture And Large Crystal Chandelier, It Was Used More As A Salon

The Circular Dining Room Could Seat More Than 75 People At One Of The Stern's Many Dinner Parties
The Conservatory Was One Of The Most Comfortable Rooms In The House And Was Where The Sterns Normally Waited Before Their Dinner Parties

The Massive Ballroom Also Doubled As A Picture Gallery, Like In The Astor Mansion, And It Was Used For Large Balls And Events

The Second Floor Hall Connected The Master Suite And The Family Rooms Together, It Too Had Marble Floors

The Library Was Also Used As Living Room, Where The Stern Family Could Relax And Prepare For Their Next Party

The Elegant Sitting Room Was Used By Both Guests And Family Members, Aliss Had Tea Every Morning Here

Louis Let Irving And Aliss Use The Master Suite, He Would Sleep In A Third Floor Room, And The Master Bathrooms.

Aliss's Boudoir Was Where She Spent Most Of Her Time, Planning Events And Reading Her Favorite Books

The Third Floor Bedroom Louis Slept In Had A Connecting Den, Breakfast Room, Bathroom And A Large Dressing Room

Louis's Connecting Den And Breakfast Room Was Where He Spent Most Of His Time, Working, Reading, Or Managing His Charitable Empire

Entertainments at the mansion were regularly held, with Aliss acting as hostess, and when they were held they were large. When he wasn't entertaining, Louis was running his giant charitable empire, giving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Besides charity he also gave generously to the Republican Party and even served as a delegate, without his support The National Republican Club wouldn't have had a home.

The Mansion Was Sold For $1 Million To Millionaire Art Collector Hugo Reisinger, Son Of A German Jeweler.

When Stern wanted to retire to his Long Island estate, he sold to estate to the Hugo Reisingers, who quickly moved in. Hugo hung it's walls with his large collection of German artwork and statuary. The ballroom was turned into an art gallery and was never used anymore for dancing. Shortly after moving in Hugo died, while having breakfast in his room.

Mrs. Reisinger Was Left A Fortune Of Some $1 million By Her Husband On His Death, After Which She Quickly Went Out And Spend It

Hugo left all of his art to various museums and left his home and a fortune to his wife, along with several charitable contributions. She soon married Major Charles Greenough and they settled in at the mansion.

With Commercial Invasion And Taxes Rising, Mrs. Reisinger Realized She Couldn't Afford Her Mansion Anymore

Mrs. Reisinger sold the mansion and settled into a cozy apartment in the building across the street from her. She had sold the townhouse to developers for some $3 million and had put all the furnishings (the same furnishings that had belonged to the Sterns who had sold them with the house) in storage. In 1929 the home was razed and replaced with another skyscraper. After Mrs. Reisinger's death the mansion's furnishings (still in storage) were auctioned off for some $50,000.


  1. What a great view of Fifth Avenue showing the Stern mansion at 81st Street and Woolworths at 80th Street with 2 lovely townhomes in between.

    Fantastic light filled conservatory and amazing fountain. Cant say enough about the sculptures and artwork above the library fireplace mantle either. Beautiful

  2. As I am Hugo Reisinger's great grandson I know more than a little bit of the history of this house. ALMOST everything the author has written about Hugo and his wife Edmee is incorrect!
    Ronald Busch Reisinger
    Baron of Inneryne

    1. I am sorry to hear that. I got this information from several various sources, many of which I also got photographs from. Would you mind sharing with me the information that is correct and the information that is incorrect so that I may fix it?


    2. Dear Mr Hughes

      Thank You for your kind reply. And please forgive me if I sounded a bit peremptory in my comment! Perhaps the easiest way would be if you could e-mail your telephone number to me and a convrnient time to chat. I would be most grateful for the opportunity to go over some of the information.

  3. Almost 9 months ago I contacted and then spoke at length with the originator ofr this web-site about the many innaccuracies in regard to my Great Grandfather Hugo Reisinger and his wife (my Great Grandmother) Edmee Busch Reisinger.

    NOTHING has been corrected. I have requested several times that this be attended to without success.

    As so much of what Tyler Hughes writes about my family is completely incorrect I can only assume that his writings about other families on this and his other web-sites is not to be relied upon.

    Once information enters the web it is very difficult to correct if false. Especially if one receives no help from the perpatrator of false information.


    Ronald Busch Reisinger
    Baron of Inneryne

  4. I would appreciate it if you would not continue to use my floorplans without putting my name on them and you have not asked permission to use them. This is a copyrite infringement and you could be sued.

    Richard Marchand


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