Getting to the front door of the penthouse of 66 Madison Avenue requires walking indoors, then outdoors, then indoors again. After going through the lobby, then taking the elevator up 14 stories, one emerges onto a roof, where a narrow path leads to a front door. Inside is an 1,100-square-foot home whose sloping eaves somehow give an apartment — in spitting distance of Murray Hill — the feel of a cozy attic garret. “We say it’s more like a house on top of a building,” says Henry Hershkowitz, the Compass broker who listed the apartment this week. “It’s like you’re in a Parisian rooftop apartment; just some place you didn’t even know was there.”
The penthouse is invisible from the street, and was converted in the 1980s from what was then the boiler room of the former Prince George Hotel. By the early aughts, the hotel had long since been converted into condos, and Leslie Klotz, a designer and PR exec, moved into the penthouse. She told House Beautiful that she had been looking for an apartment with the improbable combination of high ceilings (check), a working fireplace (check), and outdoor space for her three dachshunds, Brinkley, Rumplemeyer, and Luther (check). Klotz said she spent a year on renovations, adding windows and moldings, tearing down walls, and replacing boring floors with thick, eight-inch oak boards, which she stained and sanded down, giving the apartment even more of an antique attic feel. A second bathroom, with a tub, was converted from an old powder room, says Hershkowitz. The current owner took over in 2017, adding a hidden cutting board that swings down from a wall in the kitchen and an old-school ironing board to the mix.
The apartment is only 1,100 square feet but has six skylights — all original to the hotel’s old boiler-room days, down to their iron grates. Then there’s the terrace: 700 square feet of private outdoor space with checkered pavers and an up-close view of a wooden water tower. “This is not a cookie-cutter penthouse. It’s not for everyone,” says Hershkowitz. “But everyone walks in, and they’re like, ‘Wow.’”