I met up with Elizabeth Mast at 5803 Swiss Avenue, the beautiful brick home where Neiman Marcus founder Carrie Marcus Neiman lived her last days. This home built by Carrie Marcus and her then husband, Abraham Lincoln Neiman, which sits at the corner of Swiss Avenue and Skillman, may not have the columns and beams of some of the other Swiss Avenue estates, but it has its own subtle presence that melds very well with the brand of its original owners.
The home was purchased by its previous owner from the estate of Carrie Marcus, Mast told me, and now it’s being sold by that person’s estate. So if you’re keeping track, that means that this four-bedroom, four-full-and-one-half-bath home with more than 5,100 square feet has only had two owners. Isn’t that incredible?
The home has seen some renovations over its 93 years, most of them during the 1950s. Mast, who specializes in the Swiss Avenue Historic District and has another fabulous listing at 6243 La Vista (the Stubbs Home, if you recall), does a ton of research on all of her listings, and was able to dig up some old photos of this home’s interiors.
Jump to take a look back in time!
When Abraham “Al” Neiman and Carrie Marcus Neiman divorced in 1928, Carrie remained at the Swiss Avenue home, said Mast. And when the previous owner bought the home some time after Carrie Marcus’ death in 1953, a few rooms were renovated, including the solar, which is just off of the formal living room to the right of the foyer in the above photos, the kitchen, and the master suite, which is directly above the formal living room and solar.
Since then, only a few rooms have been updated. Two of the three full baths on the second floor were just renovated with beautiful marble counters, subway tile bath and shower surrounds, and lovely vintage-feeling hex tiles on the floor. Otherwise the home is much like it was when it was occupied by the last owner. The home, which is being sold by the estate of the late owner, is marketed for $1.3 million.
“The stained glass window on the landing was installed by the previous owner, and is not original,” Mast notes. Neither is the chandelier in the formal living room, she said, “It’s actually next door,” Mast added. The marble fireplace in the formal living room isn’t original to the home, either, and likely replaced a Rookwood Pottery tile and wood fireplace, which was very popular in the 1920s.
What makes this home unique is its potential, says Mast. While updating a historic home is a labor of love for potential owners, it allows them to put their own stamp on a home in a distinct neighborhood. This house, which is in excellent shape and features a floorplan that is optimal for entertaining, presents a fantastic opportunity in the formal dining room, the butler’s pantry, and the kitchen.
“If you want to update these rooms for a modern family, it would be a great property to do so,” Mast said. Plus, with French doors on either side of the formal living room’s fireplace, plus additional access to the rear patio via the solar and the kitchen, the home begs for backyard entertaining and hosting large gatherings.
“Compared to the other homes on Swiss, this one has an open floorplan, sweeping living spaces, and expansive rooms that flow so well,” Mast said. “It is perfect for entertaining, I think. It would easily host a large Christmas party.”
Before putting the home on the market, Mast consulted with a structural engineer who said that the foundation, for the home’s age, is in excellent shape. The new owner, should they be interested in returning the home to its former glory (and they should be!), they should pay special attention to the brick facade and the cast metal overhang that feels very much like the front of a theatre.
One of Mast’s favorite rooms in the home is the solar, which is unlike similar rooms in homes nearby, as it feels more open and spacious. It’s more welcoming and less fussy. In fact, that’s a great way to describe the rest of this three-story home. It’s stylish without being overdone or fussy. It would be easy to live in and fantastic for a family.
Head up the beautiful staircase to the bedrooms. If the stairs look too trying, perhaps you could use the elevator, which is original to the home. It’s rare to find an elevator in a home like this one, and one that has remained mostly untouched. With a little work and caressing from our friends at Elevating Systems, I’m sure you’ll be able to get it in tip-top shape again.
On the second floor you’ll find three smaller bedrooms, which are each connected by a full bath. This is a fantastic configuration for a family with three children, as they can each share bathrooms. One of the smaller bedrooms, a nursery perhaps, connects to the master suite, which is immense and features its own sitting area.
The master bath is a great opportunity to build your dream bathroom, Mast says. It’s small, but you could knock down the wall between it and the sitting room and take some of that space into the master bath. It would be a great configuration, considering how many windows you have in the master sitting area. It’s a lovely, bright spot.
The master bath … well … it has a window. To me it felt like what a bad acid trip might be like. I walked in and saw something in the corner of my eye, only to find out it was one of a million reflections of myself all over from the many mirrors above the vanity and covering the soffits above. There does appear to be some high-end stone around the walls and on the floors, which might be marble or travertine. I didn’t hang out in there long enough to find out, to be honest.
Upstairs is a partially finished attic studio with a full bath. This would be a cool apartment-style bedroom for an older child or a live-in nanny. It would also make a fantastic dance studio or artist haven, considering the large bank of windows that faces to the backyard and the three smaller ones that overlook most of this block of Swiss. Polish the floors, add a soffit to the exposed HVAC conduit, which would create a cool window seat, take down the plush wall coverings, and re-glaze the free-standing tub and you’ll have a fabulous spot for daydreaming, rehearsing a routine, or perhaps even for a media room should that be one of your needs.
Mast notes that there’s also a 768-square-foot basement to this home that is not included in the home’s total square footage, which you can access through the rear patio. It’s a good spot for wine storage or a storm shelter. Or both, should you want to drink wine while sheltering from a storm. I know I do.
The rear patio is covered, though the standing-seam metal rig might need to be replaced or upgraded to better fit with the historic character of the home. There is a metal overhang at the back porch that is original and has the same pressed tin ceiling you can see on the overhang in the front. The pool, is a great size, too, Mast noted. We agree, and we love that there’s also a cabana with a full bath and additional storage for a groundskeeper.
Investment-minded people will appreciate the income-producing apartment over the two-car garage just off the home’s driveway. It’s occupied right now, but if updated it could fetch a pretty penny. What do you think of this interesting historic home on Swiss Avenue?