The Schinasi Mansion, located at 351 Riverside Drive, is the last remaining detached single-family home in Manhattan used as a residence. Built in 1907, the 12,000 square-foot, neo-French-Renaissance style structure was designed by William Tuthill – the architect who designed Carnegie Hall. It was commissioned by the Turkish tobacco baron, Morris Schinasi. Schinasi, who lived there until his death in 1928.
Morris Schinasi (c.1855-1928) has an interesting background. As an Ottoman Jewish immigrant, he arrived in the United States in 1890, bringing nothing more with him than a cigarette rolling machine ~ rivaling the hand-rolled method of the day. When his brother, Solomon, joined him in New York, they established the Schinasi Brothers Company, featuring what they advertised as Egyptian Prettiest cigarettes rolled with Turkish tobacco. Their company, with its factory on 120th Street and Broadway, was a huge success.
The mansion was updated in 1929, retaining almost all of its historic detail, including a trap door leading to a twenty-foot-long tunnel in the basement that once extended to the Hudson River. One of the well-known hand-carved pieces of décor within the home is the pineapple – a symbol of hospitality. It is repeated throughout all of the carvings.
You might remember the mansion as the TV home of June on the series ‘White Collar‘. This corner-lot mansion boasts twelve bedrooms and eleven baths.
The mansion, which overlooks the Hudson River, has changed hands several times since Schinasi’s death, including its time as a finishing school for girls. Sitting empty for several years, and in great need of work, it last sold in Jan 2013 for around $14 million.
We should mention that Morris Schinasi’s brother Solomon bought the Isaac L. Rice Mansion at Riverside Drive and 89th Street after the panic of 1907, when the Rice family was forced to sell their home.
The Schinasi House is located at 351 Riverside Drive at West 107th Street. It was designated a New York City Landmark on March 19, 1974, noted as a fine example of the neo-French Renaissance style. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 23, 1980.
Above, a wonderful picture of the Schinasi Mansion when it was newly built, on the Instagram site of @old.newyorkcity.