Brown Harris Stevens turns 150

NYC’s oldest residential brokerage rang in anniversary at The Metropolitan Club

When the grand marble hall and chandeliers of the Metropolitan Club were built in 1891, Brown Harris Stevens was already in business.

More than a century later, the marble tiles and velvet-lined staircases inside the storied social club lent a stately air to a landmark celebration for the 150th anniversary of the major New York City residential player.

Much like the firm itself, the evening melded old-world charm with modern flair, the two eras mingling throughout the venue. A timeline of the major events in BHS’ history was displayed on the wall, including its purchase in 1995 by the Zeckendorfs and Bess Freedman’s 2017 promotion to chief executive.

“There’s been boom cycles, bust cycles,” Freedman said in a keynote speech. “We’ve lived through wars, changing skylines, evolving technology.”

The brokerage has kept busy in the past year alone with executive moves, its TikTok debut and going up against the new wave of New York City’s residential real estate.

​​The January extravaganza marked the brokerage’s first company-wide event since merging with Halstead in 2020, though the two firms had been owned by the same parent company since 2001.

(Brown Harris Stevens)
(Brown Harris Stevens)
(Brown Harris Stevens)

An elegant library warmed by a lit fireplace housed the desserts, while light displays adorned the walls and pop music blared from a DJ on the upstairs pyrotechnic dance floor.

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Sheltered from the freezing rain by a heated marquee, 800 agents made their way into the clubhouse to gather in the great hall for wine and cocktails before adjourning to buffets scattered across the party’s three stories. A 360-degree rotating camera lit sharp suits and bright dresses as groups of brokers posed for photos.

  • (James Gagliardi of Modern Media)
    (James Gagliardi of Modern Media)

Electric violinist Sarah Charness, who’s performed with acts like The Jonas Brothers and Flo Rida, serenaded party-goers with riffs over pop songs from her hot pink instrument.

“The energy, the feeling, the connection of everybody here tonight is so special,” Freedman said.