Formerly the residence of the film director Otto Preminger, this townhouse is located on the Upper East Side Historic District of Manhattan. Built in the 1870s as a three story structure, it has undergone several reincarnations. A former owner added two stories in 1924. Mr Preminger added two more stories and an elevator in 1964 including a double height space which he used as a screening room. When the current owners acquired the property in the early nineties, the structure was in complete disrepair. In addition to the full gut renovation that was at hand, the architect and the owners concurred that the existing “banal” façade needed to be replaced with a classical version pertinent to the local vernacular of the street. This was due to increase the value of the property tenfold. The concept envisaged here, is intrinsic to the owners, a sophisticated worldly couple, of Portuguese and British roots: An Eighteenth Century English style façade and an interior dominated by Portuguese craftsmanship from the same century. The marriage was perfect. The only salvaged part of the building exterior is the first floor stone wall. Its rustication pattern provides the perfect base for the façade rising above it. The classical columns, capitals and window trims are made out of Indiana Limestone; the same type was used for the façade of the Empire State Building. Natural stucco mixed with marble speckles is applied in between the stone trim. Custom double hung windows operate on pulleys and nickel chains. The antique exterior railings are recycled from a Portuguese home.
On the interior, Koder replaced Mr. Preminger’s screening room with a double height library. The Brazilian wood two tone flooring was inspired by a room in the Lusitania palace in Lisbon with the exact same proportions. Stone door frames were reclaimed from a palace in Cascais, as in most of the bathroom and kitchen tiles. Koder purchased and retrofitted several 17th century doors which had to be elongated without compromising the original elegance and craftsmanship.