Thursday, June 25, 2009

An Italian Palace on Long Island

Published in Town and Country magazine on June 25th, 1904, 105 years ago to the day, is an article on what would come to be known as 'Spring Hill', originally the William L. Stow residence and later the Henry C. Phipps estate designed by John Russell Pope in 1903 in Old Westbury (what was then Roslyn).  Mrs. H. Du Puy, who wrote the article, describes the estate as follows, "Unmistakably a palace, and true to its period, with a frontage of one hundred and fifty by ninety feet, it is surely an imposing sight.  Passing on to the south side of the house the regal magnificence of the mansion is fully realized.  In stateliness this Renaissance villa rises from a long marble terrace, which is level with the windows of the great hall on the first floor.  The terrace is supported by a massive retaining wall of marble, paneled and arched in its middle length, but having a gradual slope at both ends, where a flight of marble steps lead downward and are each flanked by two marble lions resting heavily on marble blocks.  The southerly view from this terrace is one of unusual beauty, commanding fifteen miles of landscape, including the Meadow Brook Plains, with the ocean in the distance."  The following pictures of the interior accompanied the article.


"A magnificent fifteenth century hall, occupying more than half the entire ground floor, serves for ballroom and music-room.  It's four windows open directly upon the spacious marble terrace.  At the farther end is a Florentine chimney-piece, its carved marble panels representing the four seasons.  The serpentine columns at the sides were taken from an Italian church.  The paneling is in black oak and the side walls of beautiful workmanship have open arches supported by columns richly carved.  Above, the wall is covered with a Venetian red velvet brocade.  The ceiling is an exact copy of one painted by the last of the great Italian painters of the Renaissance, Tiepolo."

"To the right of the chimney piece is the Gold Salon, bearing the stamp of the gorgeous Spanish Renaissance in its carved and heavily gilded woodwork.  Not only does this carving extend to window frames and door frames, but the doors themselves are marvels of carved gilding.  The walls are hung with a pale green brocade, while the gilded frames of the furniture show to advantage their Gobelin coverings.  The mantel of amber Sienna marble carries this golden tone in its simpler lines, relieved by Russian malachite.  A portrait of the Duchess of Parma is set into an elaborate monumental gold frame."

"At the opposite end of the hall one enters en suite - the dining room - which is large and imposing and entirely finished in marble.  The floor is in Renaissance mosaic.  The walls are covered with green velvet demasse of Genoese design.  Sculptured marble sideboard tables on scroll pedestals keep up the true Italian marble treatment.  The ceiling is squared off into green and gold panels, having a center painting, 'The Youth of Bacchus," by Domenichino.  Enormous bronze torch standards, branching out into numerous electric lights, give to the room an unusual brilliancy when used."

"In the adjoining library a veritable Venetian gem in the way of a chimney-piece attracts the eye by its panel carvings of historic interest.  The walls are in black oak carved panels, copied from the Cluny Museum.  Low bookcases are carved to match.  Every third case is filled with rare vases.  Antique censors of gilded brass hang in each corner and are fitted for electric lighting."

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love this house!
-kyle

jim said...

they've begun to break ground on the southern portion of the estate,for the Kean development

Anonymous said...

please tell me that all those marble fireplaces and stairways weren't just landfilled. if not, where does something like that end up? who could walk into a place like that and say, "hand me the sledgehammer"

Zach said...

That's a good question. I'm sure much of the place was salvaged but where it has ended up is anyone's guess.

bcd said...

the library bookcases and one of the mantels are in my aunts dining room.....

Ralph said...

Zach,

I've been a lover of these fine homes for over 30 years. Great job on your website - I check it out every day.I really like your newe additions of photos and articles from the older magazines and brochures. I was never familiar with Spring Hill, but it must have been magnificent. It just may be my favorite .......Thanks for the great website!
Ralph