Architectural Eye Candy For Sale: A look inside the Tracy mansion

Eye On Real Estate: Could Park Slope 50-Footer Beat 70 Willow St. in Brooklyn's Priciest Home Sale Competition?

November 6, 2013 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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So what’s the inside of a $15 million house feel like?

Grand and serene at the same time, if it’s the Tracy Mansion. Huge rooms and dignified early 20th Century design will do that.

Halstead executive vice presidents Jackie Lew and Marc Wisotsky showed the Brooklyn Eagle around the stately 50-foot wide Park Slope property at 105 Eighth Ave., which was designed by architect Frank J. Helmle, who also designed the Bossert Hotel. It’s one of four houses for sale that are in contention to best Brooklyn Heights’ 70 Willow St. – which changed hands for $12.5 million – as the priciest home sale in the borough.

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Oodles of architectural details remain intact in the neo-Classical house, which was built in 1912 for the founders of M. & J. Tracy, a tugboat and barge operator.

“This is a one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable, monumental mansion,” Wisotsky said.

Preservationists’ eye candy starts outside with fluted Corinthian columns and bronze front doors. Inside, the foyer has twin niches for larger-than-life statues. A frieze on first-floor walls looks like the one on the building facade. A majestic staircase would do Scarlett O’Hara proud.  

There’s paneling galore, including bookmatched flame Honduran mahogany on the first floor and flame maple on the second floor. The insides of some closet doors are made of American chestnut, a tree that SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry is fighting to bring back from the brink of extinction. An upstairs billiard room has a built-in oak bench for spectators.

There are rooms no self-respecting century-old mansion would be without, like a butler’s pantry with a safe for the family silver and a closet the size of some studio apartments to store steamer trunks.   

Anil Kumar Sinha bought the home for $95,000 in 1969, city records show. He and his wife Hannah operated a Montessori school there until last year. The listing agents are marketing the house at $15 million because that’s the price the sellers requested. It first hit the market last year at $25 million, which was later cut to $18 million.

The Halstead EVPs acknowledged that famous folk – or “household names,” as they called them – have looked at the Tracy Mansion but wouldn’t say if any prospective buyers are now in negotiations.

“We never kiss and tell,” Lew said.


The other two Park Slope contenders for priciest Brooklyn house sale are architectural gems.

“Everything is Illuminated” author Jonathan Safran Foer and his novelist wife Nicole Krauss are selling their 16-room limestone rowhouse; the asking price is $14.5 million. They bought the 2nd Street property for $5.75 million in 2005, city records show. Listing agents at Sotheby’s International Realty – which, by the way, handled 70 Willow’s sale – didn’t answer calls.

Gregory Bell and Chana Lerner are selling 1890s-vintage 45 Montgomery Place; the asking price is $14 million. Its architect C.P.H. Gilbert and designer Babb, Cook & Willard also designed the Carnegie mansion that became the Cooper-Hewitt. Bell bought the brick and limestone stunner for $6.05 million in 2006, city records indicate. The Douglas Elliman listing agent didn’t comment.

The other house in the four-way competition is 177 Pacific St. in Cobble Hill (see related story). It is on the market for $16 million.

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