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Monday, August 6, 2012

National Arts Club Mansion Shills Potato Chips

The National Arts Club has had a hard time of it recently -- accusations of hoarding, fiscal impropriety, and, most recently, the sacking of the club's longtime dining room manager while he was on vacation.

But it's not all doom and gloom on Gramercy Park. Have you seen that Lay's ad that's been playing during the Olympics?

The ad features celebrity chef Michael Symon and Eva Longoria asking America to help Lay's come up with the next great potato chip flavor. Most of the ad is filmed in the environs of Madison Square Park, but it begins with Symon bounding down the steps of one of the National Arts Club's entrances.* The shot shows off the club's Victorian red sandstone facade to good effect. The facade is the handiwork of Calvert Vaux (co-architect of Central Park) who renovated the mansion in the 1870s when it was the home of New York Governor Samuel Jones Tilden.

Tilden ran for president -- and won -- in 1876 but was denied the presidency. His home languished for years after his death until the National Arts Club bought it in the first decade of the 20th century, renovated it, and built the apartment building on 19th Street that has been the center of much of its recent controversy.

* The National Arts Club is actually two old townhouses, 14 and 15 Gramercy Park, combined into one giant house. Club members use the entrance at 15 Gramercy Park; the ad shows the entrance at 14 Gramercy.

* * *

Read more about Samuel J. Tilden, the contested election of 1876, and
architect Calvert Vaux in

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