The first owner of the building was Ohannes Bağdatlıyan, who served as the director for the Bureau of Nationalities in the Ottoman Foreign Ministry.
The Bağdatlıyan Residence was only 100 mt. from Istanbul’s first horse-pulled tramway network that began service in 1871, and just 150 mt. from the first underground funicular railway (Tünel) that connected quarters of Beyoğlu and Karaköy in 1875. It was also 150 m. from the now-defunct iron-ladder that stretched from the fourth floor of the Municipality building to the “First Municipality Street.”
Cosmopolitan atmosphere of the street and the surrounding Pera in the late Ottoman era were described by the Edmondo de Amicis in his book, Constantinople (1896):
''Pera lies more than 300 hundred feet above the sea level, is bright and cheerful, and overlooks both the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. It is the “West End” of the European colony, the quarter where are to be found the comfort and elegancies of life.''