Even though America fought a revolution to be rid of foreign rule, this country has always had a love affair with all things European. In the 19th century, the wealthy went on the "Grand Tour" and often came back to build European-influenced houses. The Arts and Crafts movement that began in England in the 1860s was a big hit here, too, eventually encompassing a variety of styles, including revivals of English Tudor and Cotswold cottage originals.
World War I was, in many ways, the poor man's version of the Grand Tour. Our boys' exposure to European domestic architecture undoubtedly helped maintain the popularity of Eurostyle houses — no longer just grand country houses, but bungalows and cottages for common folk like you and me.
This house in Washington Heights, built in 1925, is a spacious duplex finished with wide moldings, fancy plasterwork, and two original boilers, allowing each unit — one up, one down — its own thermostat.
There are several original duplexes from this period on this block, and they were all designed to look like grand single-family houses and still do.
The front door to the upstairs unit is featured prominently to the left, under a gable roof with a parapet end wall. The ground-floor entry is tucked away on what looks like a side porch. The floor plans are practically identical, except the upper unit has an enclosed sunroom with two walls of casement windows and a terra-cotta floor above the ground floor's open front porch.
The ground floor has just had both baths updated and a sparkling new kitchen installed. Upstairs had the same updates a few years earlier, along with recessed lights to accentuate art, a room full of bookshelves, and a wall of new closets in the master suite. There are also two central air-conditioning systems.
The living rooms are spacious, centered on fireplaces, and have triple diamond-paned windows looking out to the street. Walls and ceilings are rusticated with hand-troweled stucco accented by a subtle paint finish. A large cased opening connects living and dining areas.
Behind the dining room is a surprisingly big kitchen. All the cabinets have roll-out shelves. Appliances are new, and generous storage areas conceal pantry and laundry. Additional floor space here works either as a breakfast area, seating nook, or both, elevating these kitchens to "keeping room" status.
There are three bedrooms and two baths down the opposide side of each unit, with minor variations. Downstairs, the rear two bedrooms enjoy their original connecting door, allowing the middle bedroom to serve as a sitting room for the master or a nursery.
Upstairs, the front bedroom has two walls of bookcases, making it a possible library, but it still has a full bed wall, if only for a sleeper sofa. The master bedroom has its connection to the middle bedroom covered by a wall of closets that would make a shopaholic drool.
Most unexpectedly, there is a full deck on top of the two-car garage, with one half open and the other half roofed and screened. It's got to be one of the best treehouses for dining in all of Midtown.
If the value of the euro has you thinking twice about a trip abroad, it might be wise to plan your Grand Tour of things romantically European right here in Washington Heights.
2225/2229 Jefferson Avenue
Approximately 4,120 square feet (total of both units)
Each unit: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths $455,000
FSBO: Nancy Willis, 483-4200