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Payne Whitney House

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The Payne Whitney house is a historic building at 972 Fifth Avenue at 79th Street in Manhattan, New York City. It was designed by Stanford White and is considered one of that great architect's finest mature works. It is currently the home of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, and houses a French-language bookstore, the Albertine.



It was designed in the style of the high Italian Renaissance by McKim, Mead & White. It was erected in 1902-06 for financier, philanthropist, and sportsman Payne Whitney and his wife Helen, a poet and patron of the arts. Whitney had been given the land by his uncle Oliver Payne, who was an officer in the Civil War and the benefactor instrumental in establishing the Cornell University Medical College. Commissioned in 1902 by Payne Whitney's uncle Colonel Oliver Hazard Payne as a wedding gift for his nephew and his bride, Helen Hay, the Colonel had put up $625,000 to build the five-storey mansion, the construction of which was still under White's supervision when he was murdered in 1906.

Stanford White designed and oversaw the construction of the exterior and interiors of the house.

Helen Hay Whitney continued to live in the house until her death in 1944. (Whitney had her favorite space in the mansion, the Venetian Room, removed and preserved before her death [the house was sold in 1949]. In 1997, the room was donated to the French-American Foundation by Betsey Cushing Roosevelt Whitney, widow of Payne and Helen Whitney's son, Jock Whitney, who provided funding for its restoration.) Since 1952 the building has served as a division of the French Embassy. It was restored in 1987, uncovering a stained-glass window designed especially for the house by John La Farge.

A Designated Landmark New York City plaque was provided by the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation in 1989.

Albertine bookstore

The Albertine bookstore and reading room opened in October 2014 and functions as a cultural space with frequent events.


Payne Whitney House Wikipedia

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