447 Fort Washington Avenue • New York
 History of The Pinehurst



The Pinehurst in 1908, the year the first residents moved in.

    When the Pinehurst was built, it was the same year that New York City taxis first started using meters. It was 1907, and you could hail a taxi at the brand-new Plaza Hotel, which opened its doors that year, and ask the hack to take you to the Metropolitan Opera (then located on Broadway between 39th & 40th Streets), where Gustav Mahler was conducting.

    Further uptown, someone walking out our front door could stroll a half-mile south on Fort Washington Avenue to Hilltop Park to watch a baseball game played by the New York Highlanderswho later became the Yankees. It was the year when The New York Times began a New Years Eve tradition of dropping an illuminated ball from its headquarters to mark midnight. Nineteen hundred seven was also the year that workmen began constructing our building, part of a neighborhood change that The Times referred to as “systematic development.”

    In 1908 the Pinehurst welcomed its first tenants. Monthly rent cost from $38 to $100 (adjusted for inflation, thats a monthly rent of $971 to $2,555 in 2013). The first residents enjoyed parquet floors, many of which remain today, oak-panelled dining rooms, and dumbwaiters, so their purchases could be delivered directly into their homes. Gas lights illuminated their apartments and the halls, and apartments facing south and west had unobstructed views of the Hudson River.




Pelham's original floorplan
included five apartments per floor.
(Click the photo for a larger version.)


    The architect George F. Pelham designed the building. He later designed our neighbor, Hudson View Gardens (1925); his son, George F. Pelham, Jr., designed Castle Village (1938). The buildings name seems to have come from the residence owned by C. P. Bucking on land nearby, which he named Pinehurst. Although the house was bulldozed, Pinehurst survives not only on neighboring streets, Pinehurst Avenue and South Pinehurst Avenue, but at our home.

    The earliest known advertisement for the building, from 1908, indicates that the Pinehurst Realty Company managed the property, as well as its northern neigh- bor, the Chislehurst, which has a similar façade but an entirely different floor plan.





Buttons in the basement
directed the dumbwaiters.


    Most of the apartments had a maids room where domestic staff could spend the night. Quarters for guests were important because subway service did not exist on Fort Washington Avenue at the time. The Independent line wouldnt begin running the A train for another 24 years, but trolleys ran east and west on 181st Street.

    For heat and hot water, the buildings porters shoveled coal into the boiler. Today the coal room, off the courtyard, is used for building storage. (The boiler, long since replaced, now burns oil.)

A meander tile pattern throughout the building echoes its neo-Classical design.

    In the basement, the southernmost area had a sign over the doorway labeling it the Drying Room. That's where residents staff hung clothes after washing them. Even though automatic dryers (and washers) had been introduced in 1907, they wouldnt become commonplace until much later.



Our southeast corner, looking north, in the 1920s.
Note the globe lamps and the bricks that pave 180th Street.

(Click the photo for more scenes from the Municipal Archives.)

    References to the building have appeared in The New York Times over two centuries. In one, an apartment whose renovation was overseen by Frank Gehry was profiled and photographed in 2011.
     Much earlier, as the neighborhood was being developed in 1909, The Times detailed how The Pinehurst, Chiselhurst and our nearby neighbors were built on land owned by Henry Morgenthau. Referring to the area between Broadway and the Hudson, and 177th and 181st, as the Fort Washington District, the paper noted the transformation of this whole region from a quiet little community of homes into part of the great rapidly growing apartment house district of Washington Heights. The article includes a grainy photo of The Pinehurst, below.



From a 1909 article in The Times.

     Later, on October 18, 1921, the paper reported on an accident in Boston, in which a woman whose father lived in the Pinehurst Apartments fell out of a window. She survived.
     The Times web site includes this listing of our property. The building was also mentioned by the local paper, The Manhattan Times, in its reporting on the effects of Hurricane Irene.




The Pinehurst in the 1940s, when the city photographed residential buildings.

    Pelham, the architect, designed the building to minimize distractions from its formal look, building niches for the fire escapes on the street sides of the building to visually hide them. In the 1950s, when the owner divided the 11-room apart- ment on the south side of each floor into three apartments, fire escapes had to be added to the exterior and courtyard of the building.

    The bay windows in the lobby were filled with stained glass until the 1970s, when they were irreparably damaged. Stained glass also hung in the windows nearest the elevator on each floor until they, too, fell into disrepair.

    The building remained a rental property until July 1985, when the landlord sold it to the corporation. These days, owners occupy nearly all the apartments and make the decisions about its future. One of them was to re-adopt its original name, the Pinehurst, in 2006 after reviewing historical documents in the New York Public Library.



    During the centennial year of The Pinehurst, we asked the renowned British stone carver Simon Verity to add our construction year to the stonework of the building, creating a cornerstone. His carving is duplicated above, with the centen- nial year added by New York type designer Troy Griggs.



Photo courtesy of Richard J. Ingenito, VP, Associate Broker, Halstead Property, LLC.

The Pinehurst in summer 2007.