Who Needs Floor-to-Ceiling Windows When You Have Floor-to-Ceiling Books? Not Arthur Schlesinger!

The coveted courtyard. (StreetEasy)

People have been known to fall in love at weddings, but how often do they wind up buying a home because of one?

“The apartment was owned by Alexandra Schlesinger and she was the widow of Arthur Schlesinger. Alexandra was first married to my father before she married Arthur Schlesinger,” Catherine Allan told The Observer over the phone earlier this week. As we were trying to map a mental family tree, the voice continued. “We had gone, in fact, to a family wedding and that’s when we became aware of the apartment.”

Ms. Allan was on the line from her home in Minnesota, where about the nicest executive producer at PBS (already a genial profession) happens to live. As The Observer had reported last week, Ms. Allan and her husband, Tim Grady, purchased Arthur Schlesinger’s writing studio earlier this month.

Ms. Allan had not seen her former step-mother, Alexandra Schlesinger, for several years. “We got reconnected at my brothers wedding. That was the first time I’d seen her in quite a long time,” she said.

Ms. Schlesinger and her historian husband lived in an apartment at 455 East 51st Street, but the stentorian writer and Kennedy confidant alsi kept another two-bedroom unit in the building that he used as his writing studio. After he died in 2007, Ms. Schlesinger decided to sell the place,  but she only now found buyers in her own extended family.

The apartment was Mr. Schlesinger’s sanctuary, his home not-really-away from home. “He would — I gathered— just walk across the courtyard and go to work,” Ms. Allan said. While the apartment is a full two bedroom, the literary luminary had little space to spare in his writing den. “I guess the apartment was just filled with books,” Ms. Allan said. “It was just absolutely filled with books, not only on the bookshelves, but stacked from floor to ceiling. The two bedrooms were basically all books.”

Needless to say, the place needs a little work. “We’re going to renovate the kitchen and the bathroom,” Mr. Grady, a cycling enthusiast and film producer told The Observer. Although a facelift and perhaps a little feng shui are in order, Mr. Grady and Ms. Allan are happy with their new home. “It’s a wonderful prewar apartment and there just not making any more of those, you know,” Mr. Grady explained. “It’s small, coming out of the Midwest and what we’re used to, but it’s a lovely apartment,” he said.


Who Needs Floor-to-Ceiling Windows When You Have Floor-to-Ceiling Books? Not Arthur Schlesinger!