The Real Deal New York

Townhouse on site of Weather Underground explosion sells for $9.3M

More recently, house gained fame for the dressed-up stuffed bear in the window

January 04, 2013 04:00PM
By Zachary Kussin

From left: Paul Kolbusz, Sara Gelbard, the exterior of 18 West 11th Street and an interior shot

The Greenwich Village townhouse at 18 West 11th Street, where members of the radical leftist group the Weather Underground accidentally detonated a bomb in March 1970, has traded hands for $9.25 million. The deal closed on Dec. 18, public records filed with the city show.

Three people died in the explosion, and two survivors were sent to prison as a result.

“This house has tremendous history with it,” said Paul Kolbusz, a Corcoran Group senior vice president and associate broker, who, along with Sara Gelbard, had the listing.

According to Keith Langworthy, the son of the couple who purchased the vacant lot in 1978 — the house had to be completely torn down after the explosion — beams had to run across the lot in order to hold up the neighboring properties.

The architect Hugh Hardy purchased the lot after the rubble was cleared, Langworthy said. But his plan to build a house there never materialized, and Langworthy’s parents, Norma and David Langworthy, purchased the lot from Hardy for $80,000 — the same Hardy had paid — in 1978; one term of the the deal was that the Langworthys would build the modern, angular house that Hardy had designed. “He was an architect,” Langworthy said. “He wanted to make a statement.”

Curbed has called the home an “architectural sore thumb sticks out next to its traditional neighbors.”

According to the listing, the house has an open central staircase and a central skylight. In addition, Kolbusz said, the house is built in split levels. The townhouse stands five stories tall, but it has 10 levels inside. It also has four bedrooms, four bathrooms and a south-facing garden space.

The Langworthys used this property for their retirement home, as 11th Street had significance for them. The couple lived in their first apartment on 11th Street, their son said.

More recently, the home gained attention in the neighborhood — and from New York Magazine, as it had a dressed-for-the-occasion Paddington bear on display in the front. Langworthy said his mother received the clothed bear as a housewarming present in 1980, put it on display in the window and began to receive remarks on it. “It just grew from there,” he said, On the first day of school at P.S. 41, located a block away, the bear wore a school shirt; it wore a raincoat on rainy days. “That was her tradition,” Langworthy said of his mother’s bear.

Norma Langworthy died last year; her husband predeceased her by 19 years.

Kolbusz declined to comment on the buyer. Public records list the purchaser as 18W11 LLC, whom Langworthy identified as Justin Korsant.

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