Blues guitarist Muddy Waters played it best. The Rolling Stones rocked it the loudest. But Bob Dylan sang it best, with his legendary “Like a Rolling Stone” lyrics:
How does it feel, how does it feel?
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?
Jane Wenner isn’t completely unknown but for decades she lived in the shadow of her famous ex-husband—Rolling Stone magazine co-founder Jann Wenner. And today, she is hardly without a home, but she is prepared to unload her Upper West Side townhouse for $17.95 million in favor of a Greenwich Village cottage she’s reportedly renovating.
Dylan’s words aren’t exactly prophetic but when you’re a music legend, imperfect foreshadowing (like his pitch) is forgiven in the presence of lyrical genius. Through Dylan, Waters and The Rolling Stones, Jann Wenner and Jane Wenner recognized the powerful influence of music in turbulent 1960s San Francisco when they borrowed $1,500 from family to launch Rolling Stone as a counterculture publication with music at its core. Nearly 50 years later, Rolling Stone rocks on and its success planted music-loving seeds for two generations while bearing fruit for its owners—prominence in the publishing industry and access to luxurious multi-million-dollar homes.
Jane Wenner’s Upper West Side residence is a traditional 20-foot-wide, five-story Victorian brownstone at 37 West 70th Street between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West, a storied block that was once home to prominent financiers Bernard Baruch, Samuel Goldman and Marcus Sachs. The townhouse boasts seven bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms and a rear garden. Built in 1891 by architect Gilbert Schellenger, the Wenners purchased the townhouse in 1987 from the estate of fashion designer Perry Ellis—who meticulously restored original mahogany, cherry and oak details, and added floor-to-ceiling French casement windows as well as Art Deco bathrooms from London’s original Savoy Hotel.
According to The Real Deal, the home was subsequently redesigned on behalf of the Wenners by the late New York-based designer Ward Bennett. Mark Thomas Amadel and Roberta Golubock of Sotheby’s International Realty have the listing. It was previously listed with Brown Harris Stevens in May 2013.
The townhouse features a garden entry that leads to a center hall and a spacious bedroom/office with a full bathroom and a powder room as well as an eat-in chef kitchen with fireplace, center island, walk-in pantry, six-burner professional Garland range, oak millwork, aged white Carrera marble countertops and an elevette/dumbwaiter. A breakfast room offers ample lighting, garden vistas and floor-to-ceiling French doors, mere steps from the sunny garden whose exterior is embellished by ivy, wrought iron gates and a three-story brick wall extension with arched cornices. This renovated extension added living space, character and impressive views overlooking the garden.
The parlor floor showcases an attractive paneled vestibule ornamented with a coffered ceiling, original doors, and a stairway of “gleaming light mahogany.” Living and dining rooms feature fireplaces with French limestone mantels, original pocket doors and a wet bar while French doors open to charming Juliet balconies. Even the study is highlighted with floor-to-ceiling French doors.
Upper floors include five bedrooms, three fireplaces, original dressing rooms, marble bathrooms, a kitchenette and a terrace. The master bedroom suite includes a library with a fireplace, lighted bookcases, the kitchenette and a luxurious Art Deco master bathroom. The full basement offers storage areas and a climate-controlled wine cellar.
The term “Rolling Stone” has become an increasingly consequential iconic term thanks to legendary guitarist Waters’ 1950 blues song, “Rollin’ Stone,” followed by the formation of the Mick Jagger–Keith Richards-led The Rolling Stones rock band in 1962, Dylan’s historic “Like a Rolling Stone” anthem in 1965–and subsequently due to Rolling Stone magazine’s decades-long influence. Rolling Stone (whose magazine moniker was inspired by these three great musical acts) started as a music magazine in 1967 but it has evolved into a bi-weekly popular culture magazine today. Its reputation was cemented with famous and infamous cover images (John Lennon’s naked photo with wife Yoko Ono and the controversial Boston marathon terrorist cover respectively) and cutting-edge “gonzo journalism” from emerging writers such as Hunter S. Thompson, Cameron Crow, Lester Bangs, Peter Travers and Matt Taibbi.
Co-founders Jane and Jann Wenner (still publisher and editor of Rolling Stone) raised their three children at 37 West 70th Street, formerly known as The Perry Ellis House, until they separated in 1995. During a relatively amicable split (including assets), Jann Wenner (who also owns Men’s Journal and Us magazines) sold his $4 million-plus stake of the townhouse to his estranged wife in 2010, a year before the couple officially divorced. Since their separation, Jane continued raising the kids solo.
How does it feel…to be on your own…and raising three kids alone…in an Upper West Side brownstone? To Jane Wenner, it likely feels luxurious but like a rolling stone, she’s finally finally headed downhill—rather downtown to Greenwich Village. It makes sense. What is more counter culture than The Village?