BUYER: Norah Jones
LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY
SIZE: (approx.) 4,500 square feet
YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: It was the wiley celebrity property gossips at the Daily News who, based on a tip from an unnamed source, sussed out the surreptitious, $6.25 million acquisition of a well-known carriage house in Brooklyn’s historic and pleasantly leafy Cobble Hill ‘hood by singer/songwriter Norah Jones. The residence, literally just around the block from another townhouse owned by the nine-time Grammy winner, was originally built in the mid-19th century as a firehouse and 160-or-so years later was used to film scenes with Julia Roberts in the smarmy but successful 2010 self-help rom-com “Eat Pray Love.”
Our research shows the mid-block property, sold by an architect and an art dealer who specializes in early American portraits, still lifes and land/sea scapes, was originally listed in April 2014 with a confident but futile $7.995 million price tag and last listed at $6.995 million. Listing details indicate the three story structure measures in at around 4,500-square-feet and, though she’s applied to convert the structure to a single family residence, at the time of the musician’s purchase the structure was configured a two separate but not equal apartments. The triplex owners unit, which incorporates the basement and the entire ground floor, was configured with two bedrooms and three bathrooms and a studio-style unit on the second floor, available for lease on the open market in 2013 at $3,100 per month, benefited from a sleeping loft above the foyer, a good-sized walk-in closet plus two small standard-depth closets, and a house-wide terrace accessed through a pair of transom-topped French doors in the main living area.
The open-plan main floor living space in the larger unit oozes with architectural ancestry that includes evocative antique brick and extra-wide 12-inch plank wood floors; dark heavy-duty exposed wood beams on the ceiling; a massive reclaimed brick fireplace in the 30-foot long living room; and a long built-in buffet in the 24-foot long dining area. The galley-style kitchen departs from the historic finishes in the main living space with sand-hued slab stone counter tops on milk chocolate cabinetry, stainless steel appliances that include a 48-inch commercial-style range, and direct access to a small perennial garden. At the rear of the main floor a guest bedroom opens to a vine-draped greenhouse with a corkscrew stair that spirals down to the basement — there’s also a more standard staircase — where floor plans included with online marketing materials show generous storage options, a couple of oddly-shaped rooms of unknown use, a laundry room, full bathroom, and a wood- and brick-floored den/family room. A floating, open tread steel staircase that divides the living and dining spaces on the main floor offers a contemporary counterpoint to the residence’s rustic-romantic, 19th-century splendor as it makes a vertiginous ascent up to the master bedroom. According to the floor plan, the master suite has a couple of preposterously puny closets, a cinematic trio of arched windows, a windowless bathroom, and a sky-light that filters light through a grate in the floor to the main living space below.
Miz Jones, the famously taciturn daughter of Indian sitar superstar Ravi Shankar and the mother of a young child with an as-yet unidentified musician man-friend, purchased her previous Cobble Hill house, a 19th century, Greek Revival-style affair, back in early 2009 for $4.9 million and later ran afoul of the preservation-minded Cobble Hill Association who were not thrilled with the idea of her punching ten new windows into the side of the historic residence and in the end came to some sort of accord with the organization and added just seven windows.
Listing photos and floorplan: Corcoran