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.
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
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