In the Heart of Tribeca, an Apartment with the Soul of France

It’s thirty-six hundred miles from the stone quarries of Oise, France, to the corner of Hudson and Duane streets in Tribeca. But to touch the cool white wood-burning fireplace in Apartment 5B at 161 Duane Street is to touch the Château de Versailles, for both make use of the same smooth French stone. It’s a sublime act of stonemasonry, and one of many architectural conversation-starters in this singularly stylish 2,403-square-foot duplex condominium, our home of the day.

The fireplace is made from the same stone used to build the Château de Versailles.
Apartment 5B’s singular stone hearth. (Click to enlarge.)

Architect Claude Puaux led the interior design, working to realize the vision of 5B’s owner, a lauded master of French cuisine. To that end, Puaux engaged teams of old-world artisans to infuse the place with authentic Frenchness — a colorful, tactile mix of materials and treatments, carefully specified to evoke the ambiance of a rustic Chantilly manor house.

In the upper-level great room — which measures a very great 25 feet by 42 feet — floors are smooth, quarter-sawn walnut planking and ceilings are beamed. A château-style plank door with ancient iron hinges dominates the south wall and leads to a private elevator entrance, and a trio of giant double-hung windows fills the exposed-brick west wall, with built-in walnut bench seating for a cozy treetop view of Duane Park across the street. There are expansive parlor and dining areas, and a suitably pro-ready kitchen with countertops of shimmering Port Laurent marble from Morocco.

The lower level, reached via a custom-made half-turn staircase, features three bedrooms and a library, all with polished basket-weave oak and walnut parquet floors inspired by a 16th-century Italian villa.

And Apartment 5B’s address, the two-building Mohawk Atelier, is as uncommon as its 12 residences. A seven-story Romanesque-Revival masterpiece from 1892 abuts an unassuming four-story Greek Revival building from 1845, formerly home to a whalebone-cutting workshop, a print shop, a coffee and tea merchant, a boarding house, and, for a few years, New York City’s “Colored School No. 5,” one of a few academies established in the 19th century to serve the city’s African-American children.

Apartment 5B at 161 Duane Street is priced at $4,750,000. It’s represented by Corcoran agents Susanne Columbia and Todd Vitolo. Take a virtual tour here.

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