Old London Terrace and Chelsea Cottages



The first London Terrace in New York City on West 23rd Street and the Chelsea Cottages, in the rear on West 24th Street, were constructed in 1845 and subsequent years on the same site as today's London Terrace. It spanned an entire city block bounded by 9th Avenue to the east, 10th Avenue to the west, West 23rd Street to the south, and 24th Street to the north.

William Torrey and Cyrus Mason leased the entire block from Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863). The architect was Alexander Jackson Davis (1803-1892), who was born in New York City and was a leading architect of country houses in a variety of styles, including Gothic Revival and Italianate. 

The old London Terrace houses, constructed by William Torrey, consisted of about 80 houses resembling London flats. Gardens and iron fences separated the houses from the street. According to New York Tribune (April 4, 1920), it was the finest suburban development when launched. Many residents were figures of the literary and art world, but by the early 20th century the prestige of houses was lost.

The Chelsea Cottages was aimed at more modest residents. The lots had fenced front yards, ornate porches, and stairways.

On June 15, 1917, according to the New York Tribune, the property of the London Terrace and the Chelsea Cottages was transferred, as a gift, by Mrs. Laura M. Moore, widow of Major Clement C Moore, to her three sons: William S. Moore, of Colorado Springs, Barrington Moore, of New York, and Benjamin Moore, who lived with his mother at 960 Park Avenue.

In 1919, six houses of London Terrace was secured by the New School for Social Science. It was planed to convert the six buildings into one and to install reading rooms, libraries, reception rooms and an auditorium.

In March, 1929, Henry Mandel Associates leased the entire block, on a long term, from the Moore estate. The old London Terrace and the Chelsea Cottages, were demolished in phases from May, 1929 to about July 1930. The cornerstone of the current London Terrace was laid on December 17, 1929.


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Chelsea Cottages


Copyright © Geographic Guide - Historic Buildings in NYC.


Below, the old London Terrace and Chelsea Cottages in illustration extracted from the plan The City of New York, published by Galt & Hoy, 1879, from the Library of Congress (with some additional text). Part of the illustration was torn.


New York City 19th century


Ninth Avenue


London Terrace


Chelsea Cottages


West 24th Street


Chelsea Cottages


West 23rd Street


Below, façades of the old Chelsea Cottages on West 24th Street, about 1925 (source: Museum of the City of New York).


Demolition of the Chelsea Cottages on West 24th Street at southeast corner of 10th Avenue on May 31, 1930. Photograph by Percy Loomis Sperr. Source: New York Public Library.


West 24th Street


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West 24th Street and the old Chelsea Cottages on the right, looking east from Tenth Avenue, in 1929. Photo by Percy Loomis Sperr (1890-1964). Source: New York Public Library.




Old London Terrace


Architect Alexander Jackson Davis (1803-1892) that designed London and Chelsea Cottages. Portrait by Mary Freeman Goldbeck, about 1858, National Gallery of Art.


Old London Terrace and Chelsea Cottages


Alexander Jackson Davis


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