Stout's Office SketchBantam'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 character.

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. CLICK HERE to see a 1949 video of Globe Making. 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.

NB: Brownstone townhouses are typically attached on both sides to other townhouses, except for the last ones on the row. Many depictions of the floor plan of the brownstone do not take this "New York phenomena" into account and include side windows. Ken Darby's depiction in The Brownstone House of Nero Wolfe (click the link to view the floor plans) does depict the row-house effect -- no side windows and a "el-shaped" footprint to provide windows onto the air space in the rooms at the back of each floor. Thus the office might have a window on the side opening onto the air space, but not on both sides of the room and probably not more than one window in rooms toward the back of the house. This is what is depicted in Rex Stout's version as well. Since it is a "double wide" brownstone, there could have been a side windows to rooms on both sides of air space, allowing for windows on the interior walls of the back two rooms on each floor.

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!

Wally's Office Sketch
Wally's Office Sketch

Abelard's Brownstone Floor Plan
(see Abelard's informative and fun Nero Wolfe Page)

Abelard's Brownstone Floor Plan

Kim's Brownstone Floor Plan
Kim Blyth's Brownstone Floor Plan