A Brief History of Gracie Mansion

Gracie Mansion

In 1799, a prosperous New York merchant named Archibald Gracie built a country house overlooking a bend in the East River, five miles north of the City. Financial failure forced Gracie to sell his house to Joseph Foulke in 1823, and in 1857, the house came into the possession of Noah Wheaton. The City of New York appropriated the estate in 1896, incorporating its 11 acres of grounds into the newly-formed Carl Schurz Park.

After decades of use as a concession stand and restrooms for the park, Gracie Mansion was restored and became the first home of the Museum of the City of New York. When it moved to a larger building, Gracie Mansion became a historic house museum run by the Parks Department. Parks Commissioner Robert Moses convinced City authorities to designate it as the official residence of the Mayor, and in 1942, Fiorello H. La Guardia moved in.

The house was enlarged in 1966 with the addition of the Susan E. Wagner Wing, which includes a grand ballroom and two intimate reception rooms. The Gracie Mansion Conservancy was established in 1981, and under its guidance, the first major restoration was undertaken between 1981 and 1984.

In 2002, the interior and exterior were again restored, and the house was transformed into the "People's House" with increased accessibility to the public and to City agencies. It has also been used to accommodate visiting officials and dignitaries, such as former guests First Lady Rosalynn Carter and President Nelson Mandela.

The Gracie Mansion Conservancy is a private not-for-profit corporation established in 1981 to preserve, maintain and enhance Gracie Mansion - one of the oldest surviving wood structures in Manhattan and a member of The Historic House Trust. The Conservancy's mission is to raise funds to restore the historic structure and acquire furnishings that illustrate the rich history of New York; improve the surrounding landscape and gardens; and provide educational services, including publications and tours.

For more information about the Gracie Mansion Conservancy, please call 311 or e-mail gracieinfo@cityhall.nyc.gov.