Broadway Legend Stephen Sondheim’s Manhattan Townhouse—Where He Wrote Tony-Winning Musicals—Is Selling to the Tune of $7 Million

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A historic townhouse in New York City that was the longtime residence of the late American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim has come on the market for $7 million.

The renowned composer bought the five-story building in the 1960s, following the success of his Gypsy theater production in 1959. He resided in the house—located in Turtle Bay Gardens, among only 20 historic homes that make up the tony Manhattan neighborhood—for decades until his death, in 2021.

Stephen Sondheim's townhouse at 246 East 49th Street. Courtesy of Compass.

Stephen Sondheim’s townhouse at 246 East 49th Street. Courtesy of Compass.

Sondheim said he was inspired to invest in real estate after receiving an economics lesson from a friend. Using the royalties from Gypsy, he managed to afford the down payment. In the beginning, he rented out the top three floors of the townhouse to help pay the mortgage.

Built in the early 1900s, the corner residence boasts an impressive 5,690 square feet. Inside, the house retains many of its original period features, including a wrought-iron gated forecourt, a wood-paneled foyer with a barrel-vaulted ceiling, and chevron-patterned wood floors in the spacious living room. The formal dining area is just as stunning, with soaring floor-to-ceiling windows, intricate crown moldings, and grand French doors.

The preserved music studio and solarium in Stephen Sondheim's Turtle Bay Gardens home. Courtesy of Compass.

The preserved music studio and solarium in Stephen Sondheim’s Turtle Bay Gardens home. Courtesy of Compass.

But it’s the preserved music studio, complete with wood-burning fireplace, that will be the property’s highlight for fans of Sondheim’s works, which includes a combination of music and lyrics for not only Gypsy (1959) but also West Side Story (1957), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Follies (1971), Sweeney Todd (1979), and Into the Woods (1987). And there was, of course, , Sondheim’s Pulitzer Prize–winning musical of 1984 based on the post-Impressionist artist George Seurat’s life and work—in particular his pointillist painting —as seen through a contemporary lens.

In the music studio, a solarium with a dramatic wood arch and original stained-glass windows provides a tranquil space. From the solarium, one can access a private 30-foot terrace overlooking the gardens.

Private terrace. Courtesy of Compass.

Private terrace. Courtesy of Compass.

The townhouse also offers modern amenities, too, like a fully renovated chef’s kitchen, complete with glass-fronted cabinets and stainless-steel countertops. The luxurious primary suite sits on the fourth floor and features a custom-built fireplace, en suite bathroom, and an enormous dressing room.

Turtle Bay townhouses are scarce and rarely on the market. Those who have lived among these well-kept few blocks—Katharine Hepburn, E.B. White, Garson Kanin, Robert Gottlieb—have a tendency to stay. Add Sondheim to that list and it’s hard to imagine a more musically important home for sale here or anywhere.

 

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