From another small spring coming from where in latter days stood the Clapp and Grinnell houses, another little brook went tumbling down the hill in a winding course to the river.
George Bird Grinnell
Audubon Park
Forty tenants in the Vauxhall apartment house, a ten-story building at 780 Riverside Drive, bought the property yesterday from Michael Kaufman...The Vauxhall, which houses seventy-four families, covers a plot 106 by 150 at the northeast corner of 155th Street.  It is arranged in suites of from four to seven rooms, which show an annual rent return of about $95,000.
     New York Times
April 7, 1920

This is a story for everyone who thinks New York is the Ebeneezer Scooge of cities...It is about 780 Riverside Drive, an apartment building roughly 70 years old...780 Riverside Drive has things that many buildings farther downtown, in better neighborhoods, do not... what 780 Riverside Drive has that a lot of other buildings in the city do not have is a sense of neighborhood.
Anna Quindlen
New York Times
December 18, 1982
The Vauxhall (780 Riverside Drive)
Now, turn your attention to the Vauxhall, the eleven-story apartment building that sits on the corner closest to the cemetery. This building sits on land that was part of Wellington Clapp’s property, just west of his four-story house that stood approximately where the Academy of Arts and Letters is today. Based on the price in the deed, John Woodhouse Audubon probably sold the land to Clapp, a wealthy dry goods merchant, who then built a house on it (rather than have John W. build it for him). Like most Park residents, he probably enlarged and modified it considerably over the decades.

In 1857, Clapp rented his house to another dry goods merchant, George Blake Grinnell, who moved his family to Audubon Park. When the lease was up, Grinnell leased an adjoining house, the Hemlocks, from the Audubon family. In 1864, he bought the house and surrounding land from Victor Audubon's widow Georgianna Audubon. That purchase was the center-piece of the Audubon Park holdings he accumulated over the next two decades. When he died in 1891, he owned approximately two-thirds of the Park to his wife and five surviving children. In 1894, when Helen Grinnell died, the five Grinnell siblings inherited all of the Audubon Park property, as well as land north of 158th Street. With control of the majority of the land in the Park, they could, and did, determine its future.

The Vauxhall, completed in 1914, is the last of the subway boom apartment buildings built in Audubon Park – all on the eastern side of Riverside Drive. George and Edward Blum designed it in the Arts and Crafts style. As you look at it, take special notice of the patterned and colored brick. Early occupants, even on the lower floors, had magnificent views of the Hudson – at least until 1932, when 765  Riverside Drive appeared.
Originally, the Vauxhall was a rental building. Advertisements in the New York Times promised large rooms, southern exposures, large closets and spacious foyers and vestibules, as well as the expected amenities: dumbwaiters and twenty-four hour phone service.  The telephone room, now empty of its equipment, still exists just off the lobby. 

In 1920, forty of the tenants bought the building and operated it as a co-operative apartment house, but after only a few years, it reverted to a rental building.

The Vauxhall
(780 Riverside Drive)
(click to enlarge)
The Hemlocks, the Grinnell Family Home
(click to enlarge)
The Vauxhall
(780 Riverside Drive
(click to enlarge)
The Vauxhall Shortly After It Opened
The Vauxhall in the Early 2000s
Continue your walk . . .
Funded by the Audubon Park Alliance