Friday, June 4, 2010

'Talbot House'

'Talbot House', the Talbot Jones Taylor estate designed by Lamb & Rich beginning in 1895 in Cedarhurst. Taylor was a member of the NY Stock Exchange and head of Talbot J. Taylor Co., brokerage firm. He was married to Jessica Harwar Keene in 1892 and began plans for the house shortly thereafter. Jessica Keene was the only daughter of James R. Keene, father of Foxhall P. Keene, brother in law to Talbot who resided in Old Westbury at 'Rosemary Hall'. 'Talbot House' received various additions over the years and grew to be quite large (30 bedrooms). In 1908 Talbot and his wife divorced setting off a public battle over their assets. In 1909 it was decided that Mrs. Taylor would get the house in order to settle "all claims between husband and wife and for the support of Mrs. Taylor and her children in the future". Mrs. Taylor's lawyer told the court that it was her father, James R. Keene, that had paid for most of the couple's life and called it a "lucky day" when Taylor "struck the whimsical fancy of Jessica Keene". Apparently at some point during their marriage the elder Keene bought a house for the couple in Baltimore which Taylor sold and used to profits of which to buy a seat on the stock exchange. He also apparently lost Keene a good deal of money and instead of filing for bankruptcy was released of that debt by Keene ($4 million). Taylor's entire collection of art and antiques in the house was soon auctioned off and the house was destroyed by fire in 1914. Later in 1909 Taylor married Mrs. Marie Zane Cowles, who decorated 'Talbot House'. Their NYTimes wedding announcement mentions that "Mr. Taylor always maintained that his relations with Mrs. Cowles were purely of a business nature" during the years she worked at 'Talbot House'. A court hearing of that year detailed the relationship between Taylor and Cowles, stating that it began as early as 1897 (click HERE to read). Taylor died in 1938 at his home in Nice, France. Click HERE to see where 'Talbot House' stood on google earth.

According to SPLIA, the ceiling in the hall was probably derived from a ceiling in Broughton Castle, Oxfordshire (c. 1599).

Pictures from American Estates & Gardens.


Jeff said...

What an interesting story... I've never heard of or seen this property before. Such a short life...

BTW- that ivy-covered front is too much for me. Cut that back! A little on the corners is charming, but I don't want to feel like I've come home to the Amazon.

magnus said...

Great post Zach. Thanks. As they say "you couldn't make this stuff up".

I wish i knew the story of Cedarhurst, which, like East Islip and Bayshore was a hugely fashionable summer resort until the 1940's and has now "fallen completely off the map" from a social standpoint. What caused these once mighty places to lose their appeal to society folk? I'm sure that there's a story to be told.

security word of the day: PERER- bottled fizzy water for the budget minded

Zach L. said...

Many more pictures will soon follow.

Anonymous said...

Since were visiting the Gold Coast South today - I found this site to be very interesting -

Look for a number of links -

Listening Tour of South Shore History

Long Island Estates and Cultural Institutions

LI South Shore History

The podcasts include Idelhour and Pepperidge Hall.

Here's the Palm House from Idle Hour

ChipSF said...

This is a fascinating (and all new to me) place. I thought the theme for the week was "columned porticos" but this won't fit there, maybe it is "off the beaten track"

Can't wait for more of those!

Turner Pack Rats said...

kudos magnus-great security word def.
but i disagree about the ivy - i love those houses completely engulfed. my grandmother had ten green thumbs but could never stand to prune anything or cut anything back so for several years our federal period house was so enclosed

what a shame about this houses demise. love the library and esp great hall but fire the servant who put up those candles - obviously drunk again. this place has some roslyn house esque features eg the half timbering. wrong period to be destroyed for development - what happened?

security word def - "avesse" - pretty far out on the grid in wash dc.

The Ancient said...

There's a bit more about TJT here:

(It looks as if his office was in the old Johnston Building, built by the grandchildren of John Johnston at 30 Broad Street.)

Turner Pack Rats said...

on second look, i find it amazing that this place was torn down at the height of the estate building period esp when it doesn't seem anything was built at the time in its place. all the houses now in its footprint are contemporary. do we know the reason for its demise given its grandeur and the time period?

security word def - "gersest" - a bear's loudest growl

Zach L. said...

I assume it had something to do with the divorce and Jessica Keene not wanting to keep it. My book doesn't say demolished though, it says destroyed so it might have suffered a fire.