NYC: Joseph Raphael De Lamar House
The Joseph Raphael De Lamar House, now the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland, at 233 Madison Avenue was designed by C.P.H. Hilbert from 1902-05. This Beaux-Arts mansion, the largest in Murray Hill and one of the grandest in all of New York, was designed for the Dutch-born maritime Captain and copper mogul who made his fortune in the California Gold Rush, Joseph Rafael De Lamar.
The subtly asymmetrical house, with an entrance that is flanked by marble columns and crowned by a pair of putti, is surmounted by an exceptionally imposing mansard. Massive, oak doors open up the residence. Hand-wrought ornaments, situated between sculpted marble columns, provide additional adornment. The first floor, in the eastern part of the building, once housed a dining room, while the western part was a library and a billiard room. The main staircase used to show off a fountain surrounded with exotic plants and marble figurines. The second floor housed the lounges: the central one was used for a ballroom, another one for a concert hall, and the third one - painted in Pompeian red and adorned with famous paintings and sculptures – was once a gallery of art. Stained glass, made by Tiffany himself, used to be illuminated with electricity which made this magnificent structure very modern for its time of the beginning of the 20th century. The third floor contained a large bedroom, with a bathroom, and a breakfast room of Mr. De Lamar’s, together with two guest rooms, also equipped with bathrooms. Right above it there was a bedroom and a bathroom designed for the owner’s daughter, and one more guest room with a bathroom. The uppermost floor housed the servants’ quarters and a laundry room. Still above it, behind a classical mansard roof there was a terrace which exists to this very day.
Regrettably, this magnificent and lavish family residence had never been used according to the initial intentions. It was filled with sadness rather than joy. Joseph De Lamar soon divorced and his daughter Alice never found happiness in that home. After the death of a 75-year-old De Lamar in 1918, the mansion was sold to the American Bible Society, and in 1923 the National Democratic Club purchased it for its headquarters. In 1973, Poland bought the Mansion, which was then in bad disrepair and called for immediate renovation work, for the new seat of the Consulate General of Poland in New York.
The Joseph Raphael De Lamar House was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1975.