Benjamin N. Duke House

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Benjamin N. Duke House
1009 Fifth Avenue 004 crop.JPG
The mansion in 2010
Location 1009 Fifth Avenue at East 82nd Street
Manhattan, New York City
Coordinates 40°46′43″N 73°57′45″W / 40.77861°N 73.96250°W / 40.77861; -73.96250Coordinates: 40°46′43″N 73°57′45″W / 40.77861°N 73.96250°W / 40.77861; -73.96250
Built 1899-1901[2]
Architect Welch, Smith & Provot[2][3]
Architectural style Beaux-Arts[2]
French Renaissance (interior)
NRHP reference # 89002090[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP December 7, 1989
Designated NYCL February 19, 1974[4]

The Benjamin N. Duke House, also called the Duke–Semans Mansion and the Benjamin N. and Sarah Duke House, is a landmarked mansion located at 1009 Fifth Avenue at East 82nd Street in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. It was built in 1899-1901 and was designed by the firm of Welch, Smith & Provot in the Beaux-Arts style.[2]


The house was built speculatively by developers William W. Hall and Thomas M. Hall,[3] and not for a specific owner. Shortly after the mansion was completed, it was bought by Benjamin N. Duke, a tobacco, textile and energy industrialist and philanthropist, who was chairman of the American Tobacco Company at that time. Benjamin's brother, James, another tobacco entrepreneur, bought the house in 1907. He lived there until his own mansion at 1 East 78th Street – now landmarked as the James B. Duke House – was completed in 1912.[2]

After James Duke relocated, the mansion became the residence of Benjamin Duke's son, Angier Buchanan Duke, until 1919, when his sister Mary Lillian Duke married A. J. Drexel Biddle, Jr., and the couple moved in. Later, their daughter, Mary Semans, took over the residence.[4] Members of the Duke family owned the mansion until 2006, when it was sold for US$40 million to Tamir Sapir, an American real estate mogul.

The Mexican telecom magnate, Carlos Slim, at the time the richest person in the world, bought the mansion four years later in 2010 for US$44 million.[5] Slim said in an interview with CNBC that he was planning on using the house as a place to stay when he was in New York for business meetings. In May 2015, he put the mansion up for sale at $80 million, nearly twice the amount he paid for it.[6]

The Benjamin N. Duke House, which is one of the few remnants of the many similarly-luxurious mansions along Fifth Avenue facing Central Park,[4] underwent a restoration in 1985.[2] It was designated a New York City Landmark in 1974,[2] and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.[1]


Designed by the firm of Welch, Smith & Provot,[7] the house was built in the Beaux-Arts style with a French Renaissance interior, decorated mainly with Louis XV style furniture. The house is eight stories high, 20,000 square feet and measures 100 feet wide by 27 feet deep.

The basement and first floor have a limestone facade, while the upper floors are brick with heavy limestone trim. The roof has red tiling with cooper, and features two towers.[4] The mansion has a private staircase on the top floor that leads to a rooftop balcony. The builders ingeniously put closets in the same location on every floor to facilitate the possible future installation of an elevator.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Dolkart, Andrew S.; Postal, Matthew A. (2009), Postal, Matthew A., ed., Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.), New York: John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1 , p.173
  3. ^ a b White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot & Leadon, Fran (2010), AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.), New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780195383867 , p.452
  4. ^ a b c d "1009 Fifth Avenue House Designation Report" New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (February 19, 1974)
  5. ^ Kathleen LaFrank (May 1989). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Duke Residence". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2011-03-25.  See also: "Accompanying nine photos". 
  6. ^ Dolia Estevez. "Billionaire Carlos Slim Listing Fifth Ave Mansion For $80 Million, Almost Two Times What He Paid". Forbes. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  7. ^ The 1974 New York City landmark designation report speculates that the design was by Alexander McMillan Welch, who had worked with the Halls before founding the Welch, Smith & Provit firm with Bowen B. Smith and George Provot, but more recent sources list only the firm as architect.

External links[edit]