One of New York City’s most impressive turn-of-the-century structures—located on 5th Avenue at 79th Street—houses the Ukrainian Institute.
The mansion was built in 1899 for Isaac D. Fletcher—businessman, art collector and museum benefactor. It was designed in the elaborate Châteauesque style by C.P.H. Gilbert, who was known for many notable palatial residences for the wealthy. Châteauesque, inspired by the 16th century chateaux of the Loire Valley in France, was the style of choice for the late 19th century’s moneyed set. The style not-so-subtly implied the connection between new millionaires—America’s version of royalty—and the European blue bloods. Châteauesque is easily identified by a steep gabled roof with dormers—little houses on the roof with windows—the very elements that make Châteauesque buildings resemble castles!
Fletcher’s extensive art collection included works by David, Gainsborough, Rembrandt, Reynolds, and Rubens. After his death in 1917, his art collection—along with his magnificent mansion—went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Fletcher house is also known as Sinclair mansion reflecting the name of its second owner, the self-made oil millionaire Harry F. Sinclair, who later purchased it from the Metropolitan.
In 1930 Sinclair sold it to Augustus and Anne van Horne Stuyvesant—the unmarried brother and sister, the last descendants of Peter Stuyvesant—the last Dutch colonial governor of New Amsterdam before it fell to the English and became New York.
The house has been owned by the Ukrainian Institute of America since 1955. The Institute regularly hosts a multitude of events each year, including art exhibitions, auctions, literary evenings, theatrical performances, lectures, concerts, and various other cultural gatherings, both for members and the public at large. Each of these events provides an opportunity to take a glimpse at the splendors of a grand, turn-of-the-century New York City mansion.