The c.1858 Gothic Revival at 4715 Independence Avenue—known as Alderbrook House—is tucked away at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac. It’s one of the two oldest Hudson River villas in the Estates section of this storied Bronx neighborhood and the only one still in use as a private residence.
Imagine living in an eight-bedroom, single-family house that offers a New York City address, a private yard with century-old trees, and a 20-minute commute to the heart of Midtown Manhattan. That’s the magic of the Estates and Fieldston sections of Riverdale, where grand old homes with actual yards, big porches, and attached garages are the norm.
“This type of property usually trades once in a generation,” says Corcoran’s Michael Rochios, the listing agent and a longtime Fieldston resident. “So many of these historic homes haven’t been updated. This one has it all dialed in, with a serious architectural renovation that brought the home up to date and laid it out for modern living, including the fantastic, large open kitchen.”
Without traffic, he adds, it’s a 15-minute drive to Lincoln Center. “You can still have all the best trappings of professional and social life in New York City but with the room to spread out and entertain that you’d typically find further afield. It’s the best of both worlds: The luxury and peace of a summer home outside of the city, but you get to come home to it every night.”
Along with the eight bedrooms spread across the upper two floors, the beautifully renovated and updated house on Independence Avenue offers 7,500 square feet of interior space, an attached garage, seven bathrooms, and eight fireplaces. The internationally recognized 28-acre Wave Hill public garden is just across the street.
Alderbrook’s rich array of architectural details includes a grand, intricately-carved staircase, 12-foot ceilings with crown moldings, graceful arches, extensive millwork, a gabled roofline, tile mosaics, hardwood floors, built-ins, and nearly floor-to-ceiling bay windows that flood the spaces with bright natural light. Modern touches include multi-zone central air, a home gym, a custom butler’s pantry, radiant-heat floors, and all new electrical, plumbing, sound, and sprinkler systems.
The second-floor primary bedroom suite features an enormous closet/dressing room, a sitting area, a wood-burning fireplace, and a luxurious bathroom with a soaking tub, a steam shower, dual vanity sinks, and contemporary European fixtures.
Alderbrook was originally built as a summer home in a time when city dwellers didn’t need to travel far for a summer escape in the country. From 1864 into the 1890s, it was the country home of banker and industrialist Percy R. Pyne and his family, who also had a house on East 22nd Street. Pyne was president of the National City Bank, the forerunner of Citibank. During his time in Riverdale, according to reminiscences written in the late 1890s or early 1900s by his son, Moses, Pyne “rode horseback a great deal, bathed, and rowed on the Hudson. I have known him to rise at daybreak, row across the Hudson, climb the Palisades, smoke a cigar on top, and return in time for a bath and breakfast with his family—then catch the 7:57 train to New York.”
Alderbrook remained with the Pyne family until 1921, when it became the home of the celebrated sculptor Elie Nadelman and his wife, Viola. They amassed a world-class folk art collection, and retrospectives of his work were mounted at the Museum of Modern Art in 1948 and the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1975 and 2003. Their son, diplomat Jan Nadelman, remained in the home until he died in 2007, when the current owners bought it.
The historic renovation was overseen by the highly regarded architect Stephen Byrns, a founding partner of BKSK Architects and former member of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.
A gracious stone pathway leads to the front entrance, or there is a hard-working side door by the garage that opens to a new mudroom. “It’s a perfect house for entertaining—it was built for it,” Rochios says.
The first floor features a formal dining room with a bar area, a living room, a den/family room, and a bright new eat-in kitchen with Wolf and Miele ovens, two dishwashers, three sinks, a poured concrete island, and Caesarstone countertops. “The main level has one of the best entertainer’s layouts in all of Riverdale, and the upstairs bedrooms are spacious and have great light. It all just really shines.”
Multiple doors lead to the wraparound porch. Interestingly, Elie Nadelman’s former sculpture studio off the contemporary kitchen is now a children’s playroom, complete with plexiglass windows to handle errant balls, and hockey sticks.
“It’s a grand house, but it has an easy flow and very little wasted space. That makes it feel comfortable for a cozy night in or for a hosting a big event,” Rochios says.