An eccentric family reconciliation a la “The Royal Tenenbaums” can be yours for $20,000 a month.
The brick castle in Harlem brought a dysfunctional family played by Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow and Luke Wilson together in 2001 to reconnect with their estranged father played by Gene Hackman in Wes Anderson’s “The Royal Tenenbaums.”
The $3.6 million home still stands on Convent Avenue in Harlem — and it’s up for rent at $20,000 a month, furnished, for a term of 12 to 24 months, according to Realtor.com. Sorry, no pets allowed — poor Buckley! — (Chas’ dog in the movie).
The six-bed, four-and-a-half-bath Flemish-Romanesque revival mansion is where Etheline Tenenbaum, played by Anjelica Huston, raised her three children after her husband Royal left them — and where Royal returned two decades later with the false claim he was dying to try to revive a relationship with his family.
A note in the mailbox
While driving around the city with a record producer friend in May 2000, Anderson spotted the brownstone and dropped a note in the mailbox to inquire about it, according to a feature in the Observer in 2001.
“[The house] kinda has a storybook quality to it, really,” Anderson told the Observer. “It needed to be a New York house that wasn’t stereotypical … and where you’d have a real strong sense of family history.”
He had half-finished the script and envisioned New York with “Archer Avenue,” “the Valenzuela Bridge,” “the 375th Street Y” and “the Lindbergh Palace Hotel” vibes. The house helped inspire the finishing touches on the script, according to the Observer.
Soon-to-be landlords Lana and Willie Woods have owned the 6,000-square-foot house since before they rented it out to Anderson for six months at about $75,000 a month — so the building’s next tenant will be getting a substantial discount compared to Anderson, whose film had a budget of $25 million.
The shoot at the house lasted only 22 days, and then Willie Woods went about renovating the property, which he planned to move into with his family, according to the Observer feature.
“[The owner] got the house, ultimately, at no cost, because our fees for shooting there ended up being the equivalent of what he paid for it,” Anderson told New York Magazine in 2001. Records show that Woods purchased the house for $460,000 in a foreclosure sale, helping us guess the monthly rent.
Inside the Harlem castle
From the street, the Hamilton Heights mansion has a five-floor circular turret with a conical slate roof and intricately carved spandrel panels beneath the third-floor windows, according to a Hamilton Heights historic district designation report from 1974. In the movie, the turret is topped with a pink “T” flag.
The L-shaped sideways stoop on the corner of Convent and 144th Street — the movie lists the fictional address as 111 Archer Ave. — leads to the brick and ashlar stone doorway topped by an arched window and a lintel course, which is a decorative arrangement of stonework, as described in the Hamilton Heights report.
On the other side of the house front, four floors of three-sided bay windows — one level with original stained glass windows — are topped by a step-like triangular gable roof, photos show.
The slate roof has copper-crested dormer windows, as described in the Hamilton Heights report, which called the home “one of the finest examples of its style surviving in the city.”
The home has six gas fireplaces, an elevator and over 50 windows with exposure to the north, east and west, according to the report. Much of the home’s original woodwork has been preserved, according to the Observer.
The ground level has the main kitchen and a garden outdoors. There is also a pantry, storage and a walk-in closet. In the movie, the “telephone room” where Etheline Tenenbaum is first introduced was constructed out of the landing of the stairs leading down to the ground level, according to the Observer.
The L-shaped stairs outside actually lead to a second-floor foyer with a large wooden staircase which, in the movie, is covered in children’s art.
The second floor has a living room, a dining room and a butler’s pantry with a wine cooler. The dining room where Royal tells his children about his separation from their mother still has the same red floral wallpaper, Realtor.com photos show.
On the third level is a family room, an office and a bathroom suite with a walk-in closet and a private bathroom, floor plans show.
All of the children’s bedrooms are in the turret, giving them a unique personality. In the movie, the family room is converted into Margot’s African safari childhood bedroom, decorated with red wallpaper with zebras from an Upper East Side restaurant, according to the Observer.
The fourth floor has two bedrooms, an outdoor area and the primary bedroom with a dressing room, according to floor plans.
The primary bedroom served as Chas’ orderly bedroom in the movie, which is staged with a water cooler, a computer, copies of Fortune magazine, bunk beds, a punching bag, a safe deposit box, his Dalmatian mice and a closet filled with a child’s pinstripe suits.
In the movie, the home has a pink fourth-floor ballroom — this scene was shot at a different location.
The fifth floor has two bedrooms, two skylights and a playroom. The playroom served as Richie Tenenbaum’s pastel blue childhood bedroom in the movie, which was staged with trophies, drawings and a drum set under the spire.
While the home is most known for its role in the Wes Anderson movie, “The Royal Tenenbaums” wasn’t this house’s first act.
The home was developed for real estate broker Jacob D. Butler and architect Adolph Hoak in 1899 as part of a row of 15 houses. The house passed from Charles Augustus King (1909) to Cornelius P. Toomey (1916) to Charles H. Tuttle (circa 1920).
Tuttle was a prominent prosecutor and ran against Franklin D. Roosevelt for the governor of New York. Under his residency, the house hosted a funeral, racial activism meetings, Christmas parties and teas. By the mid-’90s, it was split into two residences but was restored to a single-family in 2001, according to a local report.
Listing broker Spencer Means of Compass, who shares the listing with Paola Sciarra of Compass, did not return a request for comment.