Charles House

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40 East 78th Street, New York City, NY

Charles House

The grey brick facade of Charles House
Building Information
Developer Schnurmacher Bros. and Infinity Corporation
Architect Horace Ginsbern & Associates
Number of Units 111
Number of Floors 16
Year Built 1956
Construction Method Steel
Type of Roof IRMA
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40 East 78th Street, New York City, NY
Distance to Public Transit Less than 100 feet
Region New York City
Municipality New York City
Zoning R8-B
Title of Land Condominium



The Charles House was built in 1956 then renovated thirty years later in 1986. The property was purchased by the Schnurmacher Bros. in 1955 who built a mixed use building comprised of 102 residential units, nine servants units, and a commercial first floors housing retail stores, professional offices, and a commercial parking garage. It became the subject of a ten year legal battle.

Central Park Historical Rendering
After the death of one of the partners the Schnurmacher Bros entered into a net leasing agreement with 1001 Madison Corporation a subsidiary of the Infinity Corporation in 1984 with an option to purchase the residential units after the death of either one of the remaining brothers. When the Infinity Corporation, decided to convert the building into a cooperative the board banded together to file a lawsuit. The final outcome was that Schnurmacher Bros. sold the residential units to Infinity, which in turn put them on the market as condominiums. The commercial units are leased by Schnurmacher Bros. to Infinity with an option to buy them.

The rental board attempted to lay claim to the commercial parking space, but lost the case as the space had always been a commercial space and had never been linked to the residential units.[1]

A notable quote, sums up the Upper East Side; "This is where the New Yorkers who run the world live.[2]. It has remained a historically wealthy area when Andrew Carnegie built a mansion there; his rival Henry Clay Frick built one, too — so he could “make Carnegie’s place look like a miner’s shack,” reported the New York Times. . The neighborhood is drenched in history and populated with landmark buildings, including both of the aforementioned homes.[3]


The Charles House is located in the Upper East side. It stretches out a city block along Madison Avenue between East 77th Street and 78th. The Upper East side is a neighborhood in Manhattan which lies between Central Park and the East River. The Upper East Side is bound by 59th Street on the south and to Harlem at 96th Street on the north. There are approximately thirty transit options in walking distance, flat bike lanes and a plethora of nearby shops for residents of Charles House.[4]

Acquaville Galleries

The area has a large selection of exceptional public and private schools, hospitals, and libraries and is located a block from Central Park, and the spectacular Madison Avenue shops. There are a multitude of groceries choices ranging from basic to gourmet as well as many fine restaurants. It is a block from the Acquaville Galleries, first specializing in Italian Renaissance, and expanded to the 19th and early 20th century works.

This corner of the Upper East side is also so known as museum mile and is home to many of New York City's finest; including the Goethe-Institute New York, the Jewish Museum of New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, the National Academy of Design, the Manhattan House, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and El Museo Del Barrio.

It is also well known for its academics and house many universities including; Cornell University Medical School, Hunter College, Marymount, Manhattan College, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Rockefeller University, Metropolitan Hospital (NY Medical College),and the New York School of Interior Design.


Ginsbern's iconic Chock Full'O Nuts building

The Charles House is clad in a white and grey brick facade. The subtle coloring of the building doesn't standout, however it does have some interesting features including an indentation along the second-story which give it the eye catching appearance of levitation. The building also offers generous bay windows and a scattering of terraces throughout. The set-backs on the top floors provide a generous amount of outdoor space for the building.[5]

The post-modern building stands 15 stories high and is comprised of 111 residential units, a hotly contested parking garage, as well as retail stores and professional offices. It was built by Schnurmacher Bros in 1956 and renovated in 1986 Schnurmacher Bros and Infinity Corporation. The architect was Horace Ginsbern & Associates. He was known as “the genius from the Bronx” and studied at Cooper Union and Columbia.

Ginsbern is well known for his innovative projects that mirror their subject matter especially in the commercial side. His groundbreaking “Chock Full O’Nuts” revolutionized the coffee company. His firm, Horace Ginsbern and Associates, has designed over 140 buildings in Manhattan and the Bronx. Other buildings include 111 Third Avenue, 77 East 12th Street, Mayfair Towers and Gallery House.

His buildings often include art deco influences such as the Security Mutual Insurance Company, Grand Concourse apartment buildings, Park Plaza Apartments, Panoramio, the Rockefeller University Faculty House apartments. These are only a few of the many buildings he created. Ginsbern was the architect of the Harlem River Houses built in 1937 and the first federally funded housing project. He was also a founder and trustee of the Building Industry League of New York.[6]

Layout and Features

This charming post-war building features beautifully renovated units. Residences vary, but many include bay windows, terraces, over-sized windows, and spectacular views of the city, built-in air-conditioning units, hardwood floors, and walk-in closets.

Most residences have grand foyer entrances. Many units have double glazed or sound proofed windows.

The windowed kitchens include polished granite counter-tops, full tiled back-splashes, and new stainless steel appliances.

The marble bathrooms feature glass showers, and charming pedestal sinks.

Floor Plans

There are 31 floor plans available for this building of which a selection are provided below.


  • 24 hour doorman and concierge
  • Gym/fitness room
  • Roof garden
  • Garage
  • State of the art laundry room.


Charles House Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No
Barbecues Yes

  • This pet friendly building does place some restrictions regarding the size of the pet.
  • Rentals are permitted.
  • There is no restriction on the age of purchase.


Though this building was constructed prior to our standards in sustainability, it does offer a number of attractive sustainable features. The landscaped terraces on the upper floors add green space to the building, as do the new updated appliances and generous amounts of natural light.

The proximity to public transit offers residents the option of partaking in New York's excellent transportation system which accounts for the city only contributing one percent of the greenhouse gasses in the United States compared to its three percent of the country's population.

Residents are participate in New York City's excellent recycling program, and to update their appliances to energy star, when the time comes to replace them.

Residents can further reduce their carbon footprint by participating in the Greenmarket programs. These programs started in 1976 have grown to over 50 markets around the city are are supplied by over 200 local farmers. In addition there are a number of community gardens for residents with a green thumb, as well as One million trees and organization well on its way to increasing the city's tree population with over 750,000 trees planted to date.[7]


Woody Allen
Mariah Carey

Famous Residents of the Upper East Side past and prsent

  • Woody Allen – film director, screenwriter, and actor
  • Michael Bloomberg
  • Mariah Carey – singer
  • Vladimir Horowitz
  • Jay S. Fishman
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar – actress
  • Ricky Gervais – comedian
  • Star Jones
  • Caroline Kennedy – daughter of U.S. President John F. Kennedy
  • David H. Koch
  • Spike Lee – Emmy Award-winning director
  • Madonna – entertainer
  • Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis – former First Lady
  • Martin Scorsese – Academy Award-winning film director
  • Eliot Spitzer – former Governor of New York[8]


  1. Open jurist website
  2. NY mag website
  3. New York Times - Upper East Side article
  4. Walk score website
  5. City realty website
  6. My inwood website
  7. One million trees NYC website
  8. Wikipedia - Upper East Side

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