‘Twas the season before Christmas when two property owners in a historic Chelsea building decided to put their condo up for sale.
The unit is nestled in an 1830s building on land once used as an apple orchard by Clement Clarke Moore, author of the treasured holiday poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”
Moore eventually donated to the General Theological Seminary, and in 2013 one of the school’s remaining buildings, encased in massive limestone bricks, was converted into eight luxury residences.
Its neighbors include a historic Episcopal church, a courtyard, and a refectory with stained-glass stairwell windows that twinkle with light all-year-round.
Now, just in time for Christmas, one of the structure’s coveted top-floor units, which retains the building’s original 17-foot vaulted ceilings, is listed on the market for $6.9 million.
Its current owner, Susie Cohleo, bought the space with her husband before it was completed, and tailored it to her tastes.
While the building’s exterior architecture was inspired by the style found in Oxford, England, Cohleo was raised in Paris, giving her an affinity for French design. Among her furnishings are three sixteenth- and seventeenth-century fireplaces imported from Italy, one of which she placed in the kitchen.
Its new residents, in other words, can roast chestnuts on an actual open fire while heating up hot cocoa, cozy and warm, while Jack Frost nips at the streets outside.
Adding to its holiday-vibe are echoes from the nearby church’s organ during mass twice a day, and the 5 p.m. bell tolled from its original tower, Cohleo said.
They’re particularly nostalgic sounds for the Cohleos, as the couple held their wedding ceremony in the church and hosted their reception in the refectory. An author herself, Mrs. Cohleo wrote a book about the property’s history, and gifted one copy to her husband and another to the seminary library.
While the chapel is only open to the public at certain times, residents of 455 W. 2oth have special privileges, she added.
“The most romantic, most wonderful benefit that we have in the building is that we are allowed to use the church. It’s open 24/7 to us,” she said.
The couple put their beloved abode on the market briefly two years ago for $8 million, and Compass broker James Morgan said its current lower price should attract a buyer quickly.
He added that the neighborhood is increasingly becoming a northern extension of the West Village, due to its matching wide streets and low-rise buildings.
“I sold another apartment in this building and the day we were going to sign the contract, we went back and visited the apartment and the sun was just below the horizon, and the sky was a-washed in pink light. It was so surreal,” Morgan recalled. “It’s a truly special, secret enclave of New York.”