William Goadby Loew House (now the Spence School)
The palatial home at 56 E. 93rd Street was the residence of William Goadby Loew and his wife, Florence, who was known as "Queenie." Loew was a stockbroker and ran his own Wall Street firm, which was largely responsible for managing the wealth his wife inherited from her father. In 1930, in the midst of the Great Depression, the couple commissioned the home, which has been described as "the last palace to be built on the Upper East Side." The home, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is now home to the Spence School, a private girls' school.
Backstory and Context
William Goadby Loew was a successful stockbroker and financier, as well as a thoroughbred horse racer. He married Florence Baker, the daughter of George Fisher Baker, who was believed to be one of the three wealthiest men in the United States at the time of his death. Florence inherited $5 million at her father's death.
In 1930, the couple commissioned the firm of Walker & Gillette to design a home for them on E. 93rd Street, across from Florence's brother. The firm designed an expansive home in the English Regency style with a masonry facade and a distinctive concave entrance wall. The home was completed in 1932, the worst year of the Great Depression, and because of the economic collapse, it was the last of the palatial private residences to be built on the Upper East Side.
For a time, the couple enjoyed a life of society parties and dinners in the home, which was attended to by their sixteen servants. Florence Loew only lived in the home a short time, however, and died in 1936. William Loew continued to live in the home until his death in 1955. The following year, the home was briefly opened to the public before the couple's collection of artworks and antiques was put up for auction.
The mansion's next owner was Broadway impresario Billy Rose. Rose bought the home in 1956 and lived there until his death ten years later. Following Rose's death, the mansion became the home of the Smithers Alcoholism Center, and the elaborate interiors of the first two owners were removed to create a more clinical environment.
In 1999, the exclusive private girls' school, the Spence School, purchased the Loew home. Remarkably, as the mansion was being rehabilitated for use as a school, the original Loew interiors were found in storage and were able to used in the home's most recent incarnation. The building, which is often featured in movies and television shows, is a New York City Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Miller , Tom . Depression? What Depression? The William Goadby Loew House--56 E. 93rd Street, Daytonian . November 19th 2010. Accessed June 16th 2020. http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2010/11/depression-what-depression-william.html.
56 E. 93rd Street House , s.media.nyc.gov. Accessed June 16th 2020. http://s-media.nyc.gov/agencies/lpc/lp/0437.pdf.