The Villa Charlotte Bronte is Riverdale’s iconic early co-op. Built in 1926 in the style of an Italian villa with 17 units, this extraordinary apartment house sits on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River.
The Villa Charlotte Bronte is a five minute walk to the Metro North commuter station and a 22 minute ride to Grand Central Station.
John J. McKelvey, a lawyer, writer and developer, built it in 1926 and advertised it in The New York Times for anyone whose “soul is hungry for the majesty of the river” — a fair description even today.
His architect, Robert W. Gardner, designed the Brontë’s 17 co-op apartments in two sections separated by a central courtyard, the individual apartments connected by walkways, freestanding stairs, stone arches and other details that make it seem all akimbo.
The two buildings are like a fantasy sand castle for the Amalfi coast designed by M. C. Escher. The exterior is artfully roughened stucco, with irregular brick, odd stones and bulbous roof tile in a tangle of orange, green, blue and red, as if by Antonio Gaudí. Each apartment has at least three exposures through steel casement windows, with a private entrance and a wood-burning fireplace. The Hudson River views range from sliver to sumptuous. The complex is surrounded by a network of walkways threaded through lush planted areas.