Monday, April 5, 2010

'Big Tree Farm'

'Big Tree Farm', the James N. Hill estate designed by Walker & Gillette c. 1917 in Brookville. Hill was the son of James J. Hill, the railroad tycoon that battled E.H. Harriman in 1901 for control of the Northern Pacific Railroad. This led to a panic on Wall Street but Hill and J.P. Morgan eventually came out on top. The Hills were very prominent horticulturalists and the estate had numerous greenhouses and many specimen trees. The house is currently occupied by the AHRC. Click HERE for more on 'Big Tree Farm' and to see what it looked like in 2008. Click HERE to see 'Big Tree Farm' on google earth.







Pictures from American Architect & Architecture, 1921.

7 comments:

Turner Pack Rats said...

YES - YES - YES. these folks knew how to build a house. in and out on the grand scale altho i'm a little upset that the modern iteration replaced the ceilings with nothing and recessed lighting and the reflecting pool kind of loses its punch when you have to have metal pipes and chains around it. aah - OSHA - you dun us wrong. but on the plus side - its still there.
what a presence!! the floors, the fireplaces, the yummy porte cochere, and even a palladian window or two for Dilletante. none of those candy ass boring tiny 30 room neocols here. these guys thought big. as the saying goes, "if you've got it, flaunt it" or as an acquaintance of mine used to say "i've got friends i haven't even used yet"
aah - sublime!

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Why would they cover up the red brick with coats of white paint. What a maintenance nightmare.

The Down East Dilettante said...

one of the points I keep harping about on my own blog is the stupid 'improving' that doesn't improve, or as we say here in New England--'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. That would apply to this house. It's always fascinating to watch how people chip away at the integrity of good buildings.

The trellis room is great---love that fireplace.

Graham said...

i love the pictures this is one of my favorite estates of all time and these pictures really do a good job of encompassing the grandiosity of the house. But you have it backwards, probably cause the caption on this architectural record is wrong, this was james norman hill's house he was the son of james jerome hill. james jerome hill died one year before this house was built and lived in a famous mansion in Minnesota where he built RRs.

Zach said...

Thanks for pointing that out. I have the correct 'N' in all my other posts but I wasn't paying close enough attention this morning...probably because it's Monday.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

The house was long owned by Hill's daughter-in-law Marguerite Sawyer (formerly Mrs Clarence Fahnestock). After her second husband's death in 1932 Marguerite married Herbert Neal (1933, divorced circa 1937) and Charles Blevins Davis (1946), a theatrical producer and close friend of Harry S. Truman. The fourth marriage cost Marguerite her listing in the Social Register. She died in 1948, in Kansas City, while on a train trip back to New York; her fourth husband inherited $9 million. Big Tree Farm was famous for its gladioluses.

Anonymous said...

To my mind its a house with a great silhouette and thats about all. The architectural details inside and out are not good but typical of the period, more style than content. The all brick patterned garden room (floors and walls) is one for the files.

I would be very interested to see what sort of stylized utilitarian amenities were installed in the rooms and hall just inside that Port Cochere i.e. banks of call buttons, specialty closets, boot racks, the Chauffeur's lounge....

Thank you for showing us this house!