Thursday, June 10, 2010

'Martin Hall'

'Martin Hall', the James E. Martin Sr. estate designed by Little & O'Connor c. 1900 in Great Neck. Martin was an executive at Standard Oil and had been retired for some time when he was killed on Christmas Eve, 1905 when the car he was in (which was racing his son out to Bayside for lunch with friends) hit a patch of soft road and flipped into a ditch, his head being crushed (he was also the brother of Bradley Martin, father of the B.M. who resided at 'Knole' in Old Westbury). Martin's wife, Florence C. Brokaw, was the sister of Clifford Brokaw who resided at 'The Elms' in Glen Cove. Following the death of James Martin, his widow Florence remarried Dr. Preston Pope Satterwhite in 1908. The two continued to reside in 'Martin Hall' and Satterwhite hired the Olmsted Brothers to landscape the grounds between 1915-18. Satterwhite remained in the house following the death of Florence in 1927 until a short circuit in the organ caused a large fire in 1932, burning the house to the ground. The estimated damage was $1,500,000.  Click HERE to see what the area looks like today on bing.

Pictures from American Estates & Gardens.


The Down East Dilettante said...

Gracious! That's a lot of information to absorb! And a bad circuit in one's pipe organ causing the fire---I knew those things must be dangerous. The hall is almost dizzyingly lively and theatrical, and definitely recalls some of the more excessive mcmansion halls of today.
BTW, Dr. Satterwhite's Palm Beach house, by Mizner, had a dining hall that looked like a movie set for a silent movie about a Ruritainian kingdom or the like...

magnus said...

Now I know who Dr. Preston Pope Satterwhite was: In the late 1920's, he purchased one of the largest apartments in New York, at 960 Fifth Avenue. It was a vast duplex and some great photos of it can be found in a monograph published a few years ago on the work of apartment architects JER Carpenter and Rosario Candela.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

That entrance hall is an abomination. As for Satterwhite, one of the decorators he used (the details are hazy as to the project) was Ruby Ross Wood.

Kevin said...

This is one of the most over the top mansions I have seen among the ones posted here. Love the staircase and the front portico. So beautiful.

ChipSF said...

Zach -
This post has it all - columned portico AND chairs!

AAL - Yes that hall is whack! Can't say I agreed with you on the Talbot thatched gazebo though, it looked out of place to me - almost polynesian. So glad you are back though!!

Gary Lawrance said...

I always thought of this house as an example of you really can have too much! But in about ten years after these pictures were taken the house was totally redecorated and became elegant, believe it or not!

Anonymous said...

The hall with its double stairs and carved woodwork reminds me of a Mississippi River steamboat. Link below has more photos, one showing the place "as seen by the shore.",+Preston+Pope+--+Homes+and+Haunts

Interesting story from the NYTimes talks about Mrs. Staterwhite and her aspiration to take the place of Mrs. Stotesbury as the new social leader in Palm Beach.

TDED: Perfect idea to send any and all photos to Zach. The Capri ones I would ask if I could add them to the wikimapia site?

Magnus: There were problems with the video link yesterday - it was working today.

I found a number of references to some outstanding pieces of jewelery, I'll have to look for those books you mention.

I see what you mean on the price -

Cheaper read -

I liked the The Power of Style, it had your friend Mrs. Paley and CZ Guest along with Mona. I have this book being sent to me -

Kentucky countess : Mona Bismarck in art & fashion / James D. Birchfield. Seen this one?

Knole Indoor tennis Court - I think?

ChipSF said...

You clever devil - I think you are right on Knole! Definitely thought that was a possibility but never heard of one there. Templeton? The Guests may have just been more interested in horses. Erchless?

Gary Lawrance said...

Yes, Knole had an indoor tennis court. Have seen a picture of it from the air in that location

Kevin said...


The Mona Bismarck link was very very interesting, lots of information I did not know about her. They ought to make a miniseries about her. Shame her house Oak Point was demolished.

The Ancient said...

And then there's this, from the Times Archive, regarding the disposition of Martin Sr.'s estate:

It appears that three-quarters of Martin's estate passed to his son, who died before the estate could be settled. That meant Martin Jr.'s share went to his own child, Charles Martin III. Unfortunately, the boy soon died, in Tuxedo Park in 1910, aged 4 years, 10 months. That seems to have left his mother -- Jr.'s widow, Gladys Robinson -- with a sudden windfall of $458,000.

I wonder what happened to her?

The Ancient said...

Typo Watch: the name of the grandchild was, of course, James E. Martin III.

The Ancient said...

It seems the Widow Martin was trying to loot her son's inheritance from the very beginning:

(Why "loot"? Because 25K a year would have depleted the inheritance by the time the boy came of age.

(Did she get the $25K allowance? I don't know.)

(("Calling Dominick Dunne ..."))

W H Smith said...

"Martin Hall" also had a great brick playhouse, and roughly 1/3 of it is still on the property, (now a private residence).

The main residence was later redecorated beautifully in an Italian rennaisance style with some Spanish, English and other themes thrown in.The "horrible" original great hall was transformed with new stairs ceiling, columns, tapestries, ect.

The playhouse had a huge hall (used as a ballroom at times)filled with medieval artifacts from Europe.It is still there.
The playhouse contained additional guest bedrooms, a formal dining room and who knows what else. The J. W. Speed Museum in Kentucky? has photos.

mansionman said...

Part of the carriage house/playhouse still remains to be seen close to the street. The inside is amazing. A HUGE Spanish gothic ballroom is still inside.
A large dining room, courtyard with fountain, and guest bedrooms are there also. A lacy wrought iron teahouse still stands outside one wing of the building.

Anonymous said...

While papers mentioned James E. Martin as being the brother of Bradley Martin, I believe that was an error in reporting that got repeated in different newspapers. In reality he wasn't related. He was the son of a John Martin and Louisa Merrill. Bradley Martin's parents were Henry Martin and Anna Townsend. Note that he doesn't appear in any censuses with Henry Martin family (1850,1860,1870) in which all of the siblings of Bradley Martin appear. Nor is there any mention of the Bradley Martin relationship at his son, James E Martin Jr's wedding to Gladys Robinson. And there is no mention of James E. Martin in any news coverage of the Bradley Martins.