Owner Chelsea Pierce lists his home on the Upper West Side
In the summer of 1972, the house at 313 West 102nd Street, where Eleanor Roosevelt’s father lived, remained on the market for a year despite its historic lineage, when developer Roland W. Bates agreed to pay the asking price of $150,000.
At that time, the four-story building, built in 1892, was divided into six apartments, with Mr. Bates and his wife, Lois, both former teachers, living in one of them. They eventually converted the building back into a single-family residence after a year-long gut renovation, and raised their two daughters there.
Over the years, the house, located in a historic district between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue, has become not only a treasured home but also a showcase for entertaining VIPs. They included Mr. Bates’ Yale classmate and best friend, President George W. Bush, with whom he once shared ownership of the Texas Rangers baseball team through an investor group.
“I will miss all the memories there,” said Bates, 77, founder and chairman of Chelsea Piers in New York and one of the forces behind the rebuilding of lower Manhattan after September 11. “I got married in that house.” He and Mrs. Bates, who have been empty-nesters for many years, now find that it is too big for just the two of them, too many stairs (and no elevator), so they are putting the house back on the market for the first time in more than half a century.
The asking price is $9.5 million, according to Marion Magnuson of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, which is listing the property with colleague Noble Black. Annual property taxes are $69,129.
The townhouse — 20 feet wide, with a classic front facade — is clad in slate-faced limestone with elaborate detailing. Above the front door is a scalloped shell drum and intricate paper carvings, and on the fourth floor is a French gargoyle. Architect Clarence F. True, known for his French Gothic and Flemish Renaissance influences, designed the building, along with several others on the Upper West Side and in Harlem.
Shortly after its completion, Elliot P. Roosevelt, Mrs. Roosevelt’s father and brother of President Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., rented the house for two years; He died there at the age of 34, less than two years after the death of his wife, Anna Hall Roosevelt.
The interior space is approximately 5,100 square feet, with four bedrooms, four full bathrooms and a powder room. It comes with plenty of outdoor space, totaling 1,337 square feet, including a 211-square-foot deck off the living room and a 951-square-foot English-style garden behind the dining room that the couple carefully cared for.
“I initially grew the grass that I used to mow, but it was on the north side of the house and didn’t get a lot of sunlight, so I had to learn more about plants and what plants like shade,” Mr Bates said.
Over time, the garden evolved into a botanical work of art, with ferns, flowers, vines and other plantings scattered among the elaborate brickwork and fountain. These included Boston ivy, hostas, hydrangea, boxwood and angel wing begonia.
The interior renovations were carried out with equal care. The home’s three wood-burning fireplaces were renovated, and hardwood floors were installed, along with distinctive architectural features, such as coffered ceilings in the living room and den.
“We tried to keep everything in the New York brownstone tradition,” Mr. Bates said. “We didn’t want to create a contemporary home.”
At the main entrance, on the lobby level, the foyer leads to a spacious area comprising a gallery and a living room anchored by a fireplace and with tall glass doors opening onto the roof. Near the entrance is a library/den with a wet bar.
At garden level, facing the street, there is a large dining kitchen equipped with a breakfast bar; Near the powder room. Another spacious gallery opens into the dining room, which features herringbone parquet floors, a fireplace and floor-to-ceiling glass folding doors leading to the garden.
The Bettses often opened the dining room to the garden when they hosted dinner parties and other events. “We were having cocktails in the back,” Mr. Bates said. “It’s a beautiful place. People really liked it.”
Each of the upper two floors has two en-suite bedrooms. The master suite, overlooking the garden, occupies most of the third floor and has a fireplace and a large walk-in closet. Above are the remaining two bedrooms, as well as a home office.
The couple, who also own homes in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Connecticut and the British Virgin Islands, are moving into an apartment not far from the townhouse. But they still miss their close-knit group, known for its well-attended annual Halloween parties. Their daughters, Jessica Bates-Dreyfus, who works at Chelsea Pierce, and Maggie Bates, a film director, had many friends in the neighborhood and often played in nearby Riverside Park, Mr. Bates said.
“When we told the girls we were selling, they both started crying,” he said. “This is a bittersweet moment for us.”