Tuesday, September 28, 2010

'Elm Court'

'Elm Court', the Edgar F. Luckenbach estate designed by Egerton Swartwout c. 1921 in Sands Point, with landscaping by Jacques Greber. Click HERE to see the brochure from when 'Elm Court' was for sale. The house was demolished in 1977.

Click below to see 'Elm Court' intact as the Maimonides School in a 1966 aerial shot.


magnus said...

Heartbreaking to see- and a house not much bigger than many of the dreaded "McMansions" that have been constructed in the last 20 years. The 1970's really were the nadir for these houses. A terrible economy, soaring oil prices and a general hopelessness and malaise seems to have combined to convince people that the future for these grand houses was nonexistent. Will a future generation (or maybe even our own) come to look at the vast Mcmansions and their ludicrously large "great rooms" and ham handed proportions in the same way? I wonder.

The Ancient said...

Will a future generation ... come to look at the vast McMansions and their ludicrously large "great rooms" and ham handed proportions in the same way?

magnus --

I think the majority of these houses are built so shoddily that they'll be torn down within forty years. (Not all, but most.) It won't make economic sense to rehab them.

(On a related note, I drive by those tens of thousands of houses recently built in northern Virginia beyond the beltway and I think J.H. Kunstler is probably right when he calls them the "slums, salvage yards, and ruins" of the 21st century. I'm sure they have their Greater NY counterparts.)

And I agree, Elm Court was a lovely house.

Zach --

Do we know what replaced it?

magnus said...

Ancient_ I think that you're right. I was taken to see a vast Louis XVI style house recently constructed in Rhode Island. It's material? What appeared to be granite or limestone was, in fact, cement like stucco apparently sprayed over a sort of foam insulation, the owner having been told it was all the rage and was a building technique in general use. Well, not two weeks later, I was at a warehouse in Stamford. CT that was clearly similarly constructed- as evidenced by the foam sticking through the thin veneer of stucco where a car had backed into the building. It brought to mind the Three Little Pigs. That house in Rhode Island, vast as it is is not where I plan to be when someone comes to "huff and puff and blow my house down".

Anonymous said...

I feel I missed out on something magical not be able to see any of these homes in person. In the late seventies I was in my mid-late teens....the only grand house I knew about was Old Westbury (we practialy lived there when I was a child...our mother took us as often as she could, and I still go there at least once,if not more a month.)To think that many of these amazing homes were still standing...and many of them not very far from Old Westbury, helps me to feel a sense of loss...that only if I knew, I would have went exploring and maybe have gotten to see up close one of these magnificant works of art.

Not that I have any money...but if I did....I'd rather own one of these homes...makes more sense, not only do they have a style that's lacking in this modern world, but they are built so much more sturdy and solid.

Kellsboro Jack said...

Zack, it is often sad to come this website and see the glorious work of skilled architects, landscapers, interior designers, and legions of hard working staff lost not to something superior but often far more inferior.

I have to concur with the general sentiment that many of the luxury homes being built today really are nothing more of a smoke and mirrors type construction. Short cuts everywhere, faux veneers, significant use of plastic and other cheap materials, etc. These homes as cited likely won't be worth renovating in 20-years.

There are exceptions, but its rare that a stone manor built today is truly of stone. The gilded edge of stonework over a cinder block box is more likely. Roofs not of slate but Owens Corning recycled material. The list goes on.

Harrie Lindeberg would roll in his grave to see wealthy clients willing to accept such shoddy construction.

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Remains of the greenhouse still stands. Follow link to HistoricAerials.

lil' gay boy said...

HPHS, it is truly sad to see on Bing maps that this is all that remains of Elm Court. Neither an architectural tour-de-force nor historically significant, in nonetheless had a certain presence that made its survival worthy. It's quirky floorplan gives a tantalizing glimpse into what kind of life the Luckenbachs intended to live out there.

Anon 9:31, I can truly empathize with your feeling of regret. I was about the same age as you at that time, and fearing these houses would not remain into my adulthood, I started to make a point of seeking them out.

Beginning with the Designers' Showcase of 1978 at Caumsett, I made my yearly "pilgrimages" to any of the grand homes I could gain access to. I can hardly blame Monica Randall for her eccentricity with regards to these estates ––– there's is something timeless & captivating about walking the grounds, exploring the now-empty rooms, and imagining the daily goings-on in such spaces.

Such is the (sometimes) lucky legacy we Long Islanders have; to have grown up not only in "Gatsby Country", but to have had it be such an integral part of our culture as well.

As for today's crop of "McMansions", well, the less said the better. Like the stinking corpses they are, most will hopefully decompose back into the soil from which they sprang.

The Ancient said...

Someone who works for me part-time in the country remarked that at his day job, building McMansions, the company typically uses a dozen drums of caulk on each and every house.

Think about that for a minute.

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

lil' gay boy did you make the designer showcase at Winfield Hall?

Interesting history to be found on Ferguson Castle One of the links talks about the place open to the public in 1970 before its demolition. Did anyone get to see it? Theres also a book from 1978 about the place. Expensive for 78 pages at Amazon Has anyone seen this?

Did anyone catch the 100th anniversary of Manor House?

Anonymous said...

Thanks lil'gay boy. I think my saddness is not only that these magnificant structures are gone...but also because much of the land surrounding them have also been destroyed. In an odd sort of way...the industrialists,who produced much of our pollution, are also the ones that perserved much of our land. I can only imagine how beautiful Long Island must have been 60,70, 100 years ago. I was a child in the late 60's, and as I've said a mid-late teen in the 70's, and even back then I remember the island having alot more trees....alot more lots to play in and not being so crowded and cramped. I'm from the south shore, and going to the north shore was like going to the country....not so now...Long Island is now a series of strip malls and boring,cramped housing.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:01
I am about the same age and grew up north shore.It was truly a great place to grow up, with a sometimes magical and mysterious topography that was palpable.I rode my bike everywhere..I don't remember at all the sentiment in the 60's or 70's being one of showiness or opulence, as it is today( in fact it was quite the opposite). But I do remember my parents complaining abt. 25A and Glen Cove Rd. and the expressway back then, a lot. I no longer live in the area but go back once a year. It blows me away how more crowded it gets year to year.No offense to those who live on the Island, but the growth is beyond crazy. esp. with exploitation of the east end. You cant get around anymore. Yesterdays discovery of 2 Old Westbury 'tear downs" really hurt.

lil' gay boy said...

I too remember many more trees; Long Island was particularly devastated by Dutch Elm disease (as evidenced by earlier photos of these houses) as well as a blight on Mimosa trees, too,

Coupled with aggressive pruning by LILCO, there are many less old trees than there used to be (I still have Nana's collection of books, Long Island's Old Trees). It is wise, though, to remember that Hempstead Plains was the country's easternmost prairie, and many of the towns that sprang up, especially mid-island, were originally devoid of trees.

Nature will always correct our mistakes.

As for the 100th anniversary of Manor House, I was fortunate enough in the late '80s & 90's to work for a company that held its annual Summer Conference there; always a four day affair, it was fun to, just for a moment, pretend to actually belong there.

lil' gay boy said...

BTW, I did get to Winfield Hall's Designers' Showcase, albeit late on one of the last days; but I remember one of the volunteers telling tales about the gold leaf from the ceiling raining down upon guests in the music room whenever the organ was played (the room contains a catwalk with spy-holes behind the cornice), and the family legend about the crack that appeared in the daughter's visage in the marble bas-relief of the family on the entry hall's fireplace during a thunderstorm, purportedly at the time of her suicide.

Whether entirely factual or not, Monica Randall's memoir of her years spent there, Winfield: Living in the Shadow of the Woolworths, was a great gothic read.