Barbara Rutherford Hatch House (Former home of Gypsy Rose Lee, Jasper Johns, Spike Lee, and others)
There are many homes in Manhattan with a star-studded past, but perhaps no Manhattan address has had more celebrity owners than 153 East 63rd Street. The home was built for socialite Barbara Rutherford when she married Cyril Hatch, also a leading member of New York society. Over the years, the home has been owned by numerous celebrities from burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee to acclaimed director Spike Lee. The home became a New York City Landmark in 1977 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Backstory and Context
When Barbara Rutherford married Cyril Hatch in 1916, her mother, Mrs. W.K. Vanderbilt gifted the newlyweds with a plot of land on East 63rd Street. At the time, the address was viewed as an odd choice, as it was considered “too far east” of Fifth and Madison, the preferred addresses of the city’s wealthy residents.
The new Mrs. Hatch hired Frederick J. Sterner to design the couple’s new home. Sterner was more well-known at the time for remodeling Manhattan townhouses. The home he designed is a bit of an oddball; surrounded by brownstones, the Hatch home has a gray stucco façade and little in the way of adornment. Aside from an ornate doorway, the home is actually rather plain compared to other mansions of the city’s upper crust.
The Hatch marriage was short-lived, ending in divorce in 1920. In 1921, the home was sold to Charles B. Dillingham, a successful Broadway agent and producer. Dillingham lived in the home with his second wife from 1921 to 1924, when their marriage ended in divorce. The Dillinghams sold the home to Charles Lanier Lawrence, a partner of the Wright brothers.
In 1940, after the Dillinghams moved into the house next door, the property was sold to the famed burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee. Though Lee was known primarily for her risqué persona, she in fact had more high-brow aspirations. She kept company with a number of writers and artists and was the author of two books herself. According to the New York Times, while Lee owned the home, it was essentially a salon, albeit a flamboyantly appointed one.
In later years, the house, which became a New York City Landmark in 1977, was owned by modern artist Jasper Johns. More recently, filmmaker Spike Lee bought the home. Lee put the house on the market for $32 million in 2013. The house was later taken off the market and it is unclear if Lee is the current owner.
Alberts, Hana. Spike Lee Wants $32 Million for UES Home with Star-Studded Past. Curbed. November 13, 2014. Accessed July 17, 2019. https://ny.curbed.com/2013/11/13/10175664/spike-lee-wants-32m-for-ues-home-with-celeb-studded-past.
Miller, Tom. From Gypsy Rose Lee to Spike Lee, 153 E.63rd Street. Daytonian in Manhattan. November 12, 2010. Accessed July 17, 2019.