Forgotten NY qoutes Harlem’s historian Michael Henry Adams, author of Harlem: Lost and Found who describes Sugar Hill’s architecture (P.T. Barnum house, St. John’s Baptist Church, St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal):
Retained by mason-builder Hugh Reynolds, in 1891, architects Thayer & Robinson designed a row of five houses, numbers 713 to 721 at the southwest corner of 146th Street. Here they devised a prominent corner tower like no other ever built. Buff-colored brick trimmed with agitated courses of red brick, they almost reach an A-B-A-B-A symmetry.
First adapted into the exclusive Heights Club, by 1897, and converted within two years into the respected Barnard School for Boys by William Livingston Hazen, number 721 [on the corner] apparently never did have a conical, or any other conventional kind of roof. From about 1920 through 1964 it was occupied by one of the area’s first speakeasies, the Silver Dollar Cafe.
The above photographs address 729-731 St. Nicholas Avenue between West 146th and West 147th was constructed when what became Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill was still suburban, with widely-spaced country estates.
The imposing facades were the most original and satisfying in all Harlem. Each residence featured picturesque massing, including the iconic domed or conical Norman turret, and tall, distended chimneys. Like the lost freestanding dwelling that once occupied the corner at 146th Street, the two bow-fronted row houses which survive celebrate their definitive medieval vernacular architecture transferred to the city. Faced with rugged Manhattan schist, excavated from their foundations, articulated like Norman originals, with red brick, they are further distinguished by unglazed yellow terra cotta ornament and imbricated wood shingles.
Via Forgotten NY