With an abiding passion for New York City architecture, and a particular penchant for the 19th century, it seemed inevitable that David Marks would gravitate towards the city’s famed Dakota apartment building. A New York City native, Marks was born and raised in Greenwich Village and, except for his years at Harvard, remained in NYC throughout his life, balancing his professional life as a private investor with his personal interests and intellectual pursuits.
Marks’ interest in the history of NYC architecture and the aesthetics of the Dakota lead him to collaborate with Christopher Gray, founder of the Office for Metropolitan History and New York Times Streetscapes columnist. Together, they unearthed the origins of the Dakota’s name and dispelled the lore that the name referred to the building’s isolated location on the West Side of Manhattan in 1884. Rather, the name came from the building’s developer, Edward Clark, who had encouraged city planners to name the growing neighborhood’s avenues with ‘exotic’ and distinctly American names like ‘Wyoming’ and ‘Montana’. Having his idea rejected, Clark instead named his new building The Dakota.
Marks owned residences on both sides of Central Park, on Fifth Avenue and Central Park West, but it was the history and grand scale of the Dakota interiors that perfectly suited his aesthetic vision. Working with designer Brian Covington, of the architectural firm Ferguson & Shamamian, Marks developed plans the recreate the 19th century interiors of his apartment, including wall coverings of color-washed lincrusta, antique mirrored surfaces, painted murals and cove accents, wall tapestries and gold-leafed ceilings. Scouring auction houses and dealers around the world, Marks sought out the finest period carved furnishings and armaments. Having re-established its prominence during the 19th century Renaissance Revival, the Savonarola chair would have a prominent place in Marks’ vision for his interiors. Many of the chairs he collected encircled a large oak dining table that was acquired at Christie’s with the same provenance as the monumental marble chimneypiece that Marks installed in the apartment. Suits of armor from England and France flanked the mantle, with others standing guard in various rooms throughout the apartment. Bronzes, tapestries and plaques were added to complement the furnishings. Though he did not live to enjoy the fruition of his vision, Marks’ passion for these objects and the history they tell lives on in his collection.
Time & Location
THURSDAY MORNING AT STAIR
APRIL 7 at 11am