Thursday, May 20, 2010

'Manor House' Gardens

Two pictures of the gardens of 'Manor House', the John Teele Pratt estate designed by Charles Platt c. 1909 in Glen Cove. These shots are of the area where they installed a swimming pool later on (in place of the fountain). Click HERE for more on 'Manor House'.

Pictures from Beautiful Gardens in America, 1915.

22 comments:

magnus said...

As a gardener myself, photos such as these take my breath away. Imagine how many thousands of tulips were planted in the fall to achieve this effect. And provided that the weather cooperated, it lasted for at most two weeks whereupon, I am sure, an army of gardeners dug up the bulbs, replenished the soil and bedded out an equal number of thousands of annuals. It is exhausting just to think about, but glorious to behold.

The Down East Dilettante said...

That's a lotta tulips. Lotta.

Turner Pack Rats said...

my grandmother, while only a simple maine farmers wife, was the ultimate flower gardener. she had about a 1/4 acre in flowers and so many tulips that one memorial weekend in the 50's, she sold 150 dozen tulips and at nightfall, you couldn't see any difference in the tulip beds. however, she wouldn't abide hybrids. if a tulip came up hybridized, she dug up the bulb, cleaved it with her trowel (she only used masons trowels - never the commercial "gardeners" trowels) and threw the remains into the compost heap. she maintained this level of gardening until she broke her hip at 83 and remnants of her flowers still exist around my house. so, magnus, it always seems sad to me when the house made it to the present day but the gardens didn't. the big houses and their gardens were created as a synergistic set and when one part is removed, the other seems almost an anomaly taken out of context.

security word def - "popshi" - fad items you wouldn't own under any circumstances

Gary Lawrance, AIA said...

Yes, Often when you go to a Great House that has been made into a Country Club or other non- residential use, people sometimes feel the houses are forbidding or not homey. Its all the details like the flowers and maintenance that made these houses what they were.Unfortunately, when times get tough, it's the gardens that experience the cut-backs first.

Zach said...

I have a few photos of this part of the house I took for a class last fall. They are not good enough to post on their own but I'll include links to them so you can see what it looks like now.

The rear of the house where it meets the modern extension:

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4045/4623888407_d69e3b7c87_b.jpg

The western end seen in the first picture:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3609/4623888397_539a427f20_b.jpg

The pool where the tulip garden pictured was (I don't know if this was added later by the J.T. Pratt or the hotel):

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4013/4623888389_7b5b836185_b.jpg

The unsympathetic hotel extension directly behind the old tulip garden and current pool:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3330/4623888401_bea59682a9_b.jpg

magnus said...

Turner P R: I can't tell you how I admire your Grandmother. It's an ispirational story.

Many years ago I laid out a small garden next to my house- four relatively small beds surrounding a central pool. It was completed in August, and I decided to plant it entirely with tulips for the next spring. Although it was more than 30 years ago, I remember as if it were yesterday the number required: 2,248. It looked glorious for exactly two days the next May and then a spring rain and wind storm reduced the whole thing to a mass of slime. My back still hurts from the effort of digging the damn things up. I've since resorted to daffodils which are more reliably for year after year bloom here. But I look at gardens like Manor House and hear stories like your Grandmother's and have nothing but admiration for their effort.

Gary Lawrance, AIA said...

Gardens are such whimsy's, there are many stories about the rich who upon looking out of their second floor windows and calling the gardener to say, " Make it all Pink by tomorrow".

The Ancient said...

Magnus --

We had a similar experience with tulips about the same time -- and opted for the same solution.

Decades ago, a friend hired van Sweden and Ohme, who were just starting out, to landscape his property in DC. He was sufficiently clueless and sufficiently rich that he didn't realize for the better part of a decade just how expensive it was to keep the tulips going. (Gin will do that.) When his wife came home unexpectedly one day and found him wearing one of her Paris gowns, she left, and suddenly he found himself markedly less rich. So he too switched to narcissus and other low maintenance plants and lived happily ever after. (Well, "happy" is probably overstating it, but you know what I mean.)

Gary Lawrance, AIA said...

There is a good book called, " Money,Manure & Maintenance" by Nancy Fleming. It's about the great Landscape Architect, Marian Coffin, who did many Long Island estate gardens!

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

The trick for me with tulips has been to plant the earliest blooming varieties. By the time the oaks are fully leafed out the tulips have restored themselves for the following year. Mine will come back year after.

Just ordered the " Money,Manure & Maintenance" book.


I did come across a farm complex book that has a few places from LIGC. American Stables: An Architectural Tour by Julius Trousdale Sadler, Jr. and Jacquelin D. J. Sadler.
It covers the whole USA with Thomas Hastings and Bagatelle{called La Bagatelle}. Nice shot of the Knole stable looking thru the archway into the interior courtyard. Lathrop Brown estate in St. James. Try the library because it starts at $90.00 at Amazon.

Anonymous said...

i am extremely intrigued by the Pratt's estates, the Oval, and all that was involved in creating, and maintaining, and in the end the evaporation of the majority of that massive estate.
honestly I am nosy, did they run out of money, run out of heirs, or worse no heirs that cared what happened.,
anyway I suspect that Zach already has his hands full of ideas to run through his site, but perhaps HPHS, or Magnus would take on a series that spotlights/highlights this extraordinary part of long island history
what do you guys say?

Anonymous said...

HPHS -

I think your Greentree tennis house link is to the new Greentree Foundation headquarters which is on the Greentree property. The tennis court is attached to the house which is why it doesn't look like the Monica Randall book pics.

Doug

Gary Lawrance, AIA said...

I often wonder too why the estates had such a short lifespan. Built well enough to last hundreds of years, many never made it to 50. And if they even made that, only a few were maintained as the were meant to be. I think when they were built, no one just like today could predict the future. But as an example, lets say the person who built the estate had a $50,000,000 fortune. When they died and it was split up among 4 children and after taxes, it would not be so easy for one person to maintain the family home. Also those heirs wanted to live in Modern Houses and not their parents home. By the 1930's, the estate life had changed, people traveled more, lived in apartments and many immigrants didn't want to be servants.Anyone who has a house big or small knows that there are always endless things to be concerned about and even with a full staff, it's one thing after another. You have to think of these houses as if they were hotels to the owners. They just wanted to show up and not worry about where light bulbs came from! Unfortunately unlike the English where the bulk of the fortune and estate went to the eldest son, the Americans just kept dividing up the money and sold off the houses. Well, could write a book just about the demise of the Gold Coast. Whoops, someone did! Try to get " Dynamics of Community Change, The case of Long Island's declining Gold Coast" , by Denis P. Sobin.Is an old book, 1968, but has some great shots of the Zog mansion after demolition.

Zach said...

Gary, thank you for the concise history regarding the disappearance of some of the estates. The Sobin book is fantastic.

cattychick said...

Long Island has its own micro-climate, which makes it so ideal for a variety of plantings. I live in the Chicago area, and have tried to re-create elements of my mother's garden when she lived in Manhasset. No luck whatsoever. And my tulips are always consumed by rabbits. Where is Elmer Fudd when I need him?

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Doug - I discovered my mistake -
http://wikimapia.org/#lat=40.7879177&lon=-73.6938214&z=18&l=0&m=b

The Ancient said...

I think Gary has it exactly right. (The effect of income and estate taxes can't be overemphasized, nor the consequences of divorce, which was previously quite rare.)

It's also true that many people who grew up on those places had no wish to live on LI themselves -- even when they could afford it.

magnus said...

Anon 9:36:

I believe that many of the Pratt descendants remain quite rich. But the houses that the original Pratt's built were truly "of the moment"- low or no income and estate tax, abundant availability of servants and a very healthy dose of optimism about the future. By the early 1940's, the world had changed beyond imagining: taxes were confiscatory, the depression was a vivid memory and the world was on the cusp of a terrible war. Even for families as rich as the Pratts who had escaped the depression relatively unscathed, the future for their vast houses and estates must have looked bleak indeed. The three remaining Pratt brothers all died in the '40's and I think that the wonderful brochures that Zach has posted of the attempted sales of their houses by their estates tell the story: Low prices with alternative commercial uses suggested. The brochure for Killenworth even has a helpful diagram depicting how half the house can be torn down to reduce it to a somewhat managable size. Given all of this, it's amazing that Pratt Oval was still operational until 1950, left to service only Welwyn and The Manor House, the two large Pratt houses still occupid by their original owners at that point. I think that the fate of Harold Pratt's New York Townhouse is even more amazing for it's short life: The cornerstone was laid in 1920. The house was closed in 1933 and Mrs. Pratt gave it to the Council on Foreign Relations in the early 1940's. I wish that i had the time to research and write about the Pratts: they were a fascinating, civic minded family, now little remembered outside of architectural afficionados.

Gary Lawrance, AIA said...

It's so true, so many of the great families are forgotten, by the general public. In their time the Vanderbilt's were a household name and if not for the Newport Houses and Institutions, would not be remembered, even though that name survives much better than others. Today if you ask someone who do they think are the super rich, you get Donald Trump and all the celebrities an sports figures.An as much as Mrs. Astor was the queen of society in the " Gilded Age", it was only because of the recent scandal over Brooke Astor's estate, that the name was in the news. I have many biographies of all the great families and I do not think anyone has ever done a book on the Pratt's, let me know if anyone finds one?

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

I'm not much help on the Pratt family other then whats been tagged at wikimapia. I do know if anyone has anything it would be the Glen Cove Public Library. Individuals from the library have been trying for years to find IF family archives even exist. So far no luck.

The Ancient said...

One of the Pratts built a small house in the Forties in the old Orchard at Burrwood. I think he sold it in the mid-Fifties and moved to a larger house in Lloyd Harbor.

magnus said...

A friend of mine owns the house that Frederick Pratt (a son of Herbert of The Braes)built in Locust Valley in the 1950's: it is an astonishingly modest house considering its builder- low ceilinged, not too many principal rooms, on a perfectly nice, but not enormous piece of property. The house has its oddities, however: while compact in size there is a wing of servants rooms that would do justice to a house quadruple its size; there is a very large kitchen decked out in professional cooking equipment and the basement contains a walk-in silver vault. Clearly, the Frederick Pratts wanted to downsize- but within the limits of their background and wealth.