88 & 90 Lexington, two luxury Gramercy condos that share an inviting lobby, reside in close proximity to numerous cultural venues and restaurants of note. They occupy an area of Manhattan once known as “Rose Hill.” Running roughly from 25th to 30th Streets and Fifth to Third Avenues, Rose Hill is now thought of as a part of NoMad. Those familiar with its rich history, however, know the spirit of Rose Hill is still alive and well…if you know where to look.
Rose Hill Historic House (218 East 25th Street)
Rose Hill Historic House is the obvious first destination for those who are curious about Rose Hill’s past. With an exterior that looks more like a quaint farmhouse, it’s one of the few wooden structures still standing in New York. As part of a 131-acre area spanning East 21st Street through East 30th Street, the lot on which it stands was originally acquired by British loyalist John Watts in 1747. Naming the plot of land after the “Rose Hill Farm” he owned in Scotland, Watts gave the neighborhood its name as well. During the American Revolution, Watts was exiled from New York and forced to forfeit his land, and the main house he’d built on Rose Hill Farm was burned to the ground. In 1811, many parts of the property were parceled out to facilitate Manhattan’s grid system. Though it has never been officially designated as a historic landmark and its exact date of construction is unknown, Rose Hill Historic House is one of the oldest buildings in the city.
Madison Square (Corner of Madison Avenue and 26th Street)
Before Madison Square Garden moved to its current address, its original home in 1874 was at the corner of Madison Avenue and 26th Street. Although the structure wasn’t known as MSG until 1879, by that time it had already hosted entertainment activities ranging from circus shows and beauty contests to its modern staple of musical concerts. With a seating capacity of 10,000, Madison Square Garden’s original location was home to many significant firsts in U.S. history: the first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and one of the country’s first indoor ice rinks. Even an Olympic discipline was named after it, as track cycling (Madison) was regularly featured there.
Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State (35 East 25th Street)
The Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State is a must-visit destination for art lovers. Designed by famed architect James Brown Lord, this limestone Beaux-Arts structure is widely considered one of the most beautiful courthouses in the country. Sixteen sculptors etched a series of Corinthian columns and sculptures with impressive details and precision around the courthouse. The roof alone boasts individual standing figure sculptures depicting historical, religious, and legendary lawmakers. The interior is no less impressive, as ten artists were commissioned (with the assistance of the National Society of Mural Painters) to create its allegorical murals. It’s no wonder that both the courthouse’s exterior and interior have been awarded landmark status, and its 2000 restoration has ensured that New York’s future will include this incredible nexus of art and architecture.