An Ad Copywriter Edits His Manhattan Row House—and Finds a New Calling

Tom Givone reworked a rare 19th-century row house in upper Manhattan on his own, and found a new career along the way.
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Back in 1998, Tom Givone was an advertising copywriter living in a tiny rent-controlled studio in New York’s West Village, dealing with a pain-in-the-neck landlord who was always trying to raise the rent. With the little bit of money he’d saved, he decided it was time to look for a place to buy. He ended up falling in love with a double row of 20 identical high-stooped wood houses, straight out of a Victorian fairy tale, on a cobblestone cul-de-sac called Sylvan Terrace. Located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan, the houses—designed in 1882 by architect Gilbert Robinson Jr. to resemble an 18th-century mansion nearby—are anomalies in brick-and-concrete New York. 

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