The work of the architectural firm of Harde and Short, it is a distinctive six story red brick and white terra cotta building with bold multi-paneled black painted windows, adorned with dripping Gothic screens and a terra cotta salamander & crown cartouche. The center is recessed behind a triple arched entryway. The partnership of Herbert Spencer Harde and R. Thomas Short was formed in 1901. After the completion of the Red House, they went on to design several other notable buildings that include The Studio Apartments at 44 West 77th, The Alwyn Court Apartments on Broadway and 58th Street and 45 East 66th Street, at Madison Avenue. This rental building is composed primarily of studios and one bedrooms. The Red House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
Architects Herbert Spencer Harde and Richard Thomas Short kept themselves busy around the turn of the century designing tenement houses throughout the city. Harde branched out into real estate at some point, establishing the Eronel Realty Company – “Eronel” being his wife Lenore’s name spelled backwards.
With the Upper West Side rapidly developing, Eronel Realty acquired the plot of land at 350 West 85th Street and, in 1903, commissioned Harde & Short to design an apartment building on the lot – in short, Harde hired himself.
Terra cotta was just making its mark as a remarkably versatile and relatively inexpensive material and the architects embraced it with gusto for this project. In an effort to lure well-to-do residents from private homes into apartments, Harde & Short lavished the façade with intricate terra cotta ornamentation. It would be a stark departure from the firm’s usual tenement buildings.