Bantam's printed depiction of
Stout's drawing and typed description
Description of Nero Wolfe's Office
Confidential Memo From Rex Stout, September 15, 1949
The old brownstone on West 35th Street is a double width house. Entering
at the front door, which is 7 steps up from the sidewalk, you are facing
the length of a wide carpeted hall. At the right is an enormous coat rack,
eight feet wide, then the stairs, and beyond the stairs the door to the
dining room. There were originally two rooms on that side of the hall,
but Wolfe had the partition removed and turned it into a dining room forty
feet long, with a table large enough for six (but extensible) square in
the middle. It (and all other rooms) are carpeted; Wolfe hates bare floors.
At the far end of the big hall are two doors; the first one is to what
Archie calls the front room, and the second is to the office. The front
room is used chiefly as an anteroom: Nero and Archie do no living there.
It is rather small, and the furniture is a random mixture without any special
The office is large and nearly square. In the far corner to the left (as you enter from the hall) a small rectangle has been walled off to make a place for a john and a washbowl — to save steps for Wolfe. The door leading to it faces you and around the corner, along its other wall, is a wide and well cushioned couch.
In furnishings the room has no apparent unity but it has plenty of character. Wolfe permits nothing to be in it that he doesn't enjoy looking at, and that has been the only criterion for admission. The globe is three feet in diameter. Wolfe's chair was made by Meyer of cardato. His desk is of cherry, which of course clashes with the cardato, but Wolfe likes it. The couch is upholstered in bright yellow material which has to go to the cleaners every three months. The carpet was woven in Montenegro in the early nineteenth century and has been extensively patched. The only wall decorations are three pictures: a Manet, a copy of a Corregio, and a genuine Leonardo sketch. The chairs are all shapes, colors, materials, and sizes. The total effect makes you blink with bewilderment at the first visit, but if you had Archie's job and lived there you would probably learn to like it.
Click here to see an aerial view from Google maps of the irregular shape of the backs of the townhouses on one street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Try it yourself on a brownstone neighborhood on Google maps!