Final Exit From Carnegie

All of her neighbors are gone, forced out. Now Elizabeth Sargent, the last holdout tenant of Carnegie Hall’s towers, is preparing to leave the affordable studios that for more than a century housed some of America’s most brilliant creative artists.

Red scaffolding surrounds Carnegie Hall as the city-owned towers are being gutted this summer in a $200 million renovation that includes adding a youth music program.

Musicians, painters, dancers and actors thrived in the two towers built by 19th-century industrialist Andrew Carnegie just after the hall went up in 1891. The towers—one 12 stories high, the other 16—housed more than 100 studios, some with special skylights installed to give painters the northern light they prize.

Over the years, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Robert Redford took acting lessons here and Lucille Ball had voice coaching. James Dean studied scripts and Leonard Bernstein, music.

Women once lined up on the street to visit an alluring resident—the young Marlon Brando. His eight-floor studio space was demolished in early July.

Ms. Sargent, a one-time dancer, is now in her 80s and in remission from cancer. For 40 years, she’s lived on the ninth floor of the red-brick southern tower above the famed stage of the 119-year-old landmark. She has until Aug. 31 to clear out.

Editta Sherman, a 98-year-old photographer, had a studio that’s still filled with portraits of stars. She’s not been allowed to sleep there since early July and must also remove her belongings by Aug. 31.

A resident since 1949, she raised five children in a studio with 25-foot ceilings and a view of Central Park. Her rent was frozen at $650 a month.

After a years-long legal battle, the two women finally reached agreement for new Midtown Manhattan apartments where rents will be subsidized by Carnegie Hall Corp. for the rest of their lives.