Monday, February 1, 2010


'Shoremond', the Ormond Gerald Smith estate designed by Hoppin & Koen c. 1910 on Centre Island. The 12 bedroom estate consisted of almost a mile of waterfront on the Long Island Sound. Smith was the president of Street and Smith Publications Inc. which produced such magazines as Popular, Top Notch, Ainslee's and Picture Play. His obituary says his firm printed more than 3,600 titles since their inception. The estate had two subsequent owners before it was demolished in the 1940s. Click HERE to see where 'Shoremond' stood on google earth.

Pictures from Architectural Record, 1916. Click below to see the remnants of 'Shoremond' in a 1966 aerial shot.


Anonymous said...

i know this is a dumb question but if they didn't really break the estate up for development, why did they demolish a 30 year old house? granted the two houses that replaced it aren't exactly tar paper shacks but if they were going to build a house almost as big, why not keep the original that the paint was hardly dry in/

The Down East Dilettante said...

the large house on the site wasn't built immediately after construction, but rather only a four or five years ago.

Anonymous said...

but still why demolish the house if they weren't gona build anything there anyway

Anonymous said...

Taxes on an estate were focused mainly on the value of the structure. Huge houses paid huge taxes. After tge depression mansions on this scale were considered out of style. The trend moved toward more suburban looking large homes making large mansions unsaleable white elephants with a major tax burden. Add to that the cost of coal for heat and the staff needed to maintain the placr. Unable to pay the operating costs and with no buyers the owners tore down the houses and subdivided the property.

Sharid57 said...

That very concept was addressed most directly in the first part of a wonderful musical, Grace Kelly's last movie before her own wedding in May of 1956 to Prince Rainier III of Monaco, called "High Society" (in which she wore her own fabulous 10.47ct emerald cut diamond engagement ring from said Prince.)

A musical remake of the 1940 classic, "The Philadelphia Story," Grace Kelly's character, Tracy Lord-Haven, takes Frank Sinatra's character, 'scandal rag' "Spy" magazine reporter, Mike (Macaulay) Connor, on a short but informative driving tour of a few of the boarded up, abandoned, or otherwise disused mansions on Newport, Long Island in her sports car. Several are actually shown from a distance in their unused, abandoned state at that time. (Being 1956 at this point, there probably weren't too many left to show.)

They end up at her Uncle Willie's estate nearby, which is being cleaned and prepared for probably its final "proper" use to host her own "Bachelor Party" as she calls it, the night before her wedding. It's a very fancy, formal party of course, (not a "Bachelor Party" as we would think of such things nowdays!) complete with flowing champagne, tuxedos, formal gowns, and more than one live orchestra. This includes Louis Armstrong's band, in town for the Newport Jazz Festival, taking place in a day or so, and both being partly sponsored by Tracy's first husband, C.K. Dexter-Haven, Bing Crosby's character, who is a contemporary popular music composer in this version of the story.

She explains to Mike that most of the very large homes there are abandoned because of their cost to their owners in high taxes, and lack of wherewithal (and I'm sure, desire) with which to continue to pay them. Her Uncle Willie (played, sadly, in his final film before his death, by the irrepressible Louis Calhern) having no prior success at selling his own mansion, finally donated the home, lock, stock and (empty) barrel to a boys school, which was said to take possession soon after her wedding. She explained that since he was unable to dispose of his home through the usual channels, donating it was cheaper tax-wise, and better than either abandoning it completely to disuse, or at worst, tearing it down.