As many of us already know, New York City today is barely recognizable when compared to how it was circa 1960. Streets, houses and entire neighborhoods have been renovated, altered or developed in such a way that boggles the mind of anyone old enough to remember the city that was. A brownstone on West 94th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, however, has stood the test of time and, through meticulous nurturing, skyrocketed in value. The Upper West Side house, originally bought in 1960 for $18,000 by author Peggy Mann Houlton and her husband William Houlton, is now worth upwards of $5 million.
West 94th Street, as it existed in the 1960s, inspired Peggy Houlton’s 1966 story “The Street of the Flower Boxes” which describes the run-down, gang-infested nature of the area. Indeed, the area has not always been particularly safe with several former bullet holes in the building and its windows attesting to that idea. The Houltons nonetheless stayed in the house, raised a family, and, like in Peggy Houlton’s story, encouraged local children to create and sell flower boxes to neighbors in attempt to aid the struggling neighborhood. Keep America Beautiful later picked up the couple’s idea and launched a national beautification movement and competition of a similar nature.
When the Houlton’s passed away, their daughters Jennifer and Betsy, took it upon themselves to renovate and remodel the house. Laboring intensively, they put in a new kitchen, added a deck to the backyard garden, modernized the bathrooms and replaced the bullet-riddled window. In the end, they created a high-end brownstone and began renting to a variety of chigh-income tenants. The house is more or less in its original form since its completion in 1896, making it a highly historic and highly valuable piece of real estate.
Now, the current generation of Houltons are ready to sell their beloved home. The house, listed with Jane Beal and Rose Ann Nielsen of the Corcoran Group, is for sale at $4.995 million in accordance with similar properties in the area.