|Address||9 East 91 st Street, New York, NY 10128 [ see map ] |
Closest subway station - "86-th street" (trains 4,5,6).
|Open for public|| |
|Consul General||Sergei K. Ovsiannikov|
The John Henry Hammond House, now the Consulate General of the Russian Federation, and the adjacent Burden House, now part of the Convent of the Sacred Heart, were built by Emily Vanderbilt Sloane and her husband, William D. Sloane, as gifts to their married daughters, Florence Adele Sloane Burden and Emily Sloane Hammond. Among the grandest private residences in the city, the two houses were constructed between 1902 and 1905. The marginally smaller and showier French-style Burden House was designed by Warren & Wetmore, the imposing Italianate Hammond House by Carrere & Hastings.
The interior of the Hammond House was decorated in an ornate and formal French manner, complete with columns, marble stairways, paneled walls with gilded moldings, heavy damask curtains, crystal chandeliers, tapestries and Oriental rugs. Although the Hammonds could surely have afforded the real thing, they chose to furnish their home with Louis XVI reproductions manufactured and supplied by W. & J. Sloane, the family furniture store. The house had two elevators, a regulation-size squash court on the fifth floor, remembered by two generations of Hammonds as ideal for roller-skating, and a household staff of sixteen. The suite of receptions rooms on the second floor - ballroom, library and music room - could and frequently did seat three hundred guests, at musicales usually, often featuring Mrs. Hammond at the piano and John Hammond, Jr. playing the violin or viola. John, the youngest of the five Hammond children and the only son, was an early jazz buff, and became a legendary jazz impresario, talent spotter, critic, record producer, as well as an effective battler against the color line in music. Over the years, many jazz greats jammed in the Hammond mansion, and one of the Hammond daughters, Alice, married Benny Goodman.
In 1946, the Hammonds sold their house to Dr. Ramon Castroviejo, an ophthalmologist who turned part of it into a private clinic. The house was resold in 1975 to the U.S.S.R., which planned to convert it into a Consulate. Work on the house stopped when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, and President Carter barred the opening of the Consulate. The building was vacant from 1979 to 1992, prey to water damage and structural decay. Renovation began again in 1992. Extensive restoration of the second floor was undertaken with the help of Random House, which wanted to exhibit historic photographs from a forthcoming book, The Russian Century, at the Consulate. Sixteen skilled craftsmen came from Russia to work on the mansion, and lived in it for the two years it took to restore the second floor to its former gilded glory. The Consulate opened officially in 1995, twenty years after the Hammond mansion was acquired.