Ah, the Bronx. Such a relaxing place, the perfect suburban idyll to while away the summer and enjoy sweet breezes as they waft off the Hudson River. Wait… what?
That’s right, folks. The Bronx’s historic Riverdale neighborhood is a safe, lovely and upscale part of the borough, feeling more like a quaint upstate village than the gritty concrete jungle for which the Bronx is more typically known. In fact, the once-influential magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book enthused of Riverdale in 1864 that, “if we were asked to point out the most delightful place for a residence on [the Hudson], we should at once mention Riverdale.”
Back in 1852, five wealthy businessmen, including Henry L. Atherton, planned Riverdale as a leafy suburban summer community. It was the first railroad suburb in New York City, and it has many of the hallmark features of the American romantic suburb of the mid-nineteenth century: it was founded by a group of businessmen; sports a name associated with natural features; offers a picturesque site, landscaping, and architecture; and is easily accessible to the city. (Most of the Bronx didn’t become part of New York City until 1898, when the city’s five boroughs were established.)
One of the original Riverdale houses, the one built by Atherton, is now for sale, asking $4.5 million. Listed by Lisa Summers at Compass, the roughly 10,000 square-foot house sits on about two-thirds and acre with nine bedrooms and eight bathrooms.
Completed in 1854, the house was originally in a Gothic Revival style, as can be seen from the 1860 illustration below. Over the years, the house lost its front and side porches, while a Greek Revival style porte cochere was added around 1910. Originally, the grounds were much larger but over the years buildings such as barns and carriage houses were converted into homes and sold off. The house, however, has lost none of its grandeur.
With all the paintings propped everywhere, it’s easy to see the house is owned by an art lover. And, indeed, since 1984, when they paid $561,000 for it, the property has been owned by noted Old Masters art dealer and poet Stanley Moss and wife Jane, both now 96 years old. Fortunately, thanks to the couple’s artistic eye for quality and taste, the house retains many posh old-world details, such as the slate roof, bespoke millwork, and good-sized windows.
A sizable square entrance parlor with fireplace leads to a formal dining room and kitchen on the right, and an elegant pair of libraries on the left, each with a bay window and a fireplace. Glass doors in the living room lead to an expansive veranda with Hudson River views.
There are five bedrooms on the second floor, including a master bedroom with a river-view terrace, and three more on the third floor. A broad balcony spans the second floor with views the Palisades on the other side of the river. The grounds are simple and do not currently include a swimming pool. But who needs to swim when there’s there are all those porches and balconies sit on a watch time pass as the river flows toward the ocean?
Only 15 minutes to Manhattan, Riverdale may not be quite as idyllic as the founders planned, but it still comes pretty darn close.