By Anthony Del Aversano
On Saturday, February 21, 2015, ICAA members were given a tour of one of Manhattan’s true hidden gems, the Edward S. Harkness House. Situated on the corner of 75th Street and Fifth Avenue, this seven story, neo-Italian Renaissance building was constructed between 1907 and 1908 for Edward Harkness and designed by James Gamble Rogers of the architecture firm Hale and Rogers. It was a wedding gift to Edward from his mother Anna. Harkness was the sole heir to his family’s fortune, which was derived from his father Stephen V. Harkness’ investments in John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. Harkness was a passionate philanthropist, donating vast sums of money to a variety of educational and artistic institutions.
After Edward’s death and the death of his wife Mary, the house was donated to the Commonwealth Fund, which still owns the Harkness House today. The Commonwealth Fund was founded by Anna Harkness in 1918 as a non-profit organization focusing on improving healthcare for society’s most vulnerable people,. The ICAA is grateful to Paul Wentworth Engel, Co-Building Manager and Harkness House Curator, for leading the tour through some of the houses beautifully preserved rooms.