HOME RUNS IN NEW YORK: While brand ambassadorships are in abundance for style arbiters, Thom Browne and Andrew Bolton have landed a more distinguished one.
Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, New York’s premiere preservation organization, will honor the pair with its Ambassador to the Upper East Side Award. The high-powered couple will be the guests of honor at the group’s Sept. 19 fundraising dinner at the Metropolitan Club in New York.
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However, the fashion designer Browne, who also heads up the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and Bolton, the Wendy Yu curator in charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, are not being saluted for leading their respective fields. They will be recognized for their “contribution to preserving the majesty of the Upper East Side through the careful renovation of their home on Sutton Place, a Georgian town home overlooking the East River” that was designed in 1920 by the American architect Mott Schmidt for Anne Vanderbilt. Schmidt’s work can also be seen in the Estée Lauder Building on Fifth Avenue. The 7,000-square-foot home rests on some prime Manhattan real estate — the northeast corner of East 57th Street and Sutton Place.
In an announcement releasing the news, the Upper East Side Historic Districts noted how Browne and Bolton “renovated with deep consideration” for the provenance of their Sutton Place home. “They updated the property with great respect and tremendous design sense, creating an exceptional tribute to the history and aesthetic of this important building,” according to the 41-year-old organization.
In 2019, Browne and Bolton purchased the brick Georgian town house from the estate of philanthropist Drue Heinz. Heinz, who had been married to ketchup-heir husband Henry John “Jack” Heinz II, served as the Paris Review publisher for 15 years until 2008. Browne and Bolton reportedly bought the property for $13 million with some of the proceeds earmarked for charities that Drue Heinz supported. The address had been initially listed for $21 million in 2018.
Another well-known New Yorker, Merrill Lynch cofounder Charles Merrill, who helped to build the financial world as Browne and Bolton have helped to create the foundation for the fashion industry and art, also once called the townhouse home.
As is often the case with major home improvement projects, theirs took some serious elbow grease. In a statement, Browne said, “We feel honored and humbled to receive this recognition for the years of effort we put into protecting the original design intent of this remarkable building, working closely with our friend David Kleinberg.”
The couple worked closely with Kleinberg to actualize their plans for the three-year renovation. They were also said to have made “great effort to update as needed with great consideration for the original planning.”
Bolton added, “We are thrilled to accept this award from an organization dedicated to protecting the history and culture of this part of New York City.”
Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District has been key in designating the neighborhood’s 131 individual landmarks and seven historic districts, encompassing a total of 1,907 protected buildings. The group’s executive director Anna Marcum said the honorees’ “phenomenal renovation of the property exemplifies how historic preservation fortifies the Upper East Side’s sense of place. Their home beautifully illustrates how architecture, fashion and art are intimately connected.”
This fall’s benefit will be stacked with plenty of Browne’s and Bolton’s friends. Alina Cho and Kent Barwick will serve as honorary chairs, with Amy Fine Collins, Alexandra and Philip Howard, Christian Keesee, Larry Keigwin and Ann and John Pyne serving as chairs.
While most admirers of Browne and Bolton may never step into their Sutton Place home, they can see their creations in other places. But that window of opportunity is soon closing for Bolton’s latest work project — “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” will remain on view through July 16 at the Met. Browne’s designs are a credit card purchase away, and the designer will publish a book this fall with Phaidon.
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