Friday, January 21, 2011

The Dunbar Bostwick Estate

The Dunbar Bostwick estate designed sometime in the early 1930s in Old Westbury. The house is pictured mid-demolition. I have very little info on the place but James O'Connor seemed to be the architect of choice for the Bostwick family so it is possible this was his work as well. The house was demolished about seven years ago and was replaced by a monstrosity. Click HERE to see where the house stood on google earth and HERE on bing (use the arrows to rotate around to catch a glimpse of the house still standing).


26 comments:

The Down East Dilettante said...

It drives one mad, doesn't it, trying to figure out why a well built house of relatively modest size, handsomely site, handsomely detailed, and obviously graciously planned should not be preferred to a monstrosity. I fully understand changing tastes, changing economics, changing conditions in general, but nevertheless, there should be a limit, dammit!!

Zach said...

And to be honest, calling the replacement a monstrosity might be too nice. It is truly one of the most hideous piles in all of Old Westbury (among many).

Anonymous said...

Zach, I think you're being too harsh -- from the Google Earth view it looks like a very nice casino (I bet the fountain is even multicolored at night). Any insight as to who owns it?

Anonymous said...

My stomach turns everytime I pass that disease of a structure. I'm sure Templeton will suffer that same fate as soon as it's sold.


Off subject.Found this wonderful site for Whitemarsh Hall.

http://www.serianni.com/wh0.htm

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Deeply depressing. The house was charming, appropriate, well-proportioned, and attractive. Those Bostwicks had interesting choices in architects and designers. Jabez Bostwick's grandson Francis Francis, for instance, had a marvelous house in Glands, Switzerland, designed by Jansen in the 1930s in seriously high-modern style. Fantastic place.

Kellsboro Jack said...

Speaking of the Bostwick properties was there any published outcome with the Nov 18, 2010 auction of A.C. Bostwick's 21-acre estate in Old Westbury?

When I was a kid I recall riding my bike with a friend on the Upstate NY estate of A.C. and Dunbar's late sister Dorothy. A bold act now in hindsight, but at the age of 15 we directly asked the caretaker if we could ride up to just see the house. He remarked she was a very wealthy woman and rarely ever visited so no harm but stay off the lawn.

The manor house was (and remains today) simply magnificent. Still owned by the family, extremely private, and never likely to be parted with. If only I had carried around a camera back then.

The Devoted Classicist said...

What a shame to lose such an attractive house. Perhaps it was not flashy enough for the new owners? I wonder if there will ever be a widespread reaction to the inappropriate scale and proportions of so many new houses being built today?

cattychick said...

Devoted Classicist, I only wish there would be a widespread reaction to the McMonstrosities being built. I live in a suburb of Chicago that is billed as the "Teardown Capital of the Midwest." Along with the inevitable '50s ranch homes, many absolutely beautiful and irreplaceable houses have met the wrecking ball. It breaks my heart each time one of them is replaced by some huge monument to nouveau-riche greed. A lot of the money where I live is massive, nasty and earned within the past ten years. These people cannot be reasoned with, and the local architects either lack talent, or are bullied into designing houses that scream, "Eff-you, I'm RICH!"

Flo said...

"it looks like a very nice casino"

What do you bet there's a Super Bowl ring on the master bedroom dresser.

The Ancient said...

An Aesthete's Lament --

That is the problem with being named Francis Francis.

You tend to wind up in a place called Glands.

Everyone else --

Look, it's simply impossible to pay the taxes on some of these places. The acreage and the location is radically inconsistent with the house.

Zach --

I know this is too much to ask of you yourself, but it would be very useful -- for future readers -- if property taxes could be added to the discussion. Perhaps there is a useful link that could be attached to a street address. At the very least, it would provide context.

The Ancient said...

cattychick --

Did you know that the last great debutante party ever held was in Chicago in the sixties? (Well, just outside Chicago).

The girl in question insisted on a band that no one had ever heard of. Her father, a prosperous industrialist, waved money and lawyers in the direction of his little girl's desire.

Which explains why, two weeks after "Sunshine of Your Love" was the only song anyone was listening to on the radio, Cream played its only ever debutante after-party.

(Off-Topic Trivia Watch.)

Kellsboro Jack said...

In relation to the trivia cited by "The Ancient" is this:

December 20th 1967, "Cream the group, has been specially invited to play at a private party for the coming out of the daughter of an affluent industrialist on Lake Shore [Drive], Chicago IL. Reportedly, Cream are paid $8,000 for this one off event.

Tour manager Bob Adcock recalls: "The socialite gig was in front of about 100 people...."

Source: Strange Brew Eric Clapton and the British Blues Boom 1965-1970 (book)

To be fair the band was already scheduled to be in the Midwest as they played the Grande Ballroom, in Detroit, Michigan Dec 22th and 23rd.

The Ancient said...

Kellsboro Jack --

Yes, perhaps. Though I suspect the money may have been less. It was largely their manager's fear of the potential legal consequences of breaching that contract which ensured they showed up for the date.

Anyway, they did one very, very long set. And they were incredibly loud. And before they went on, they inadvertently trashed the parents' bedroom -- in a proto-Led Zeppelin sort of way.

Any more questions?

cattychick said...

Thank you, Ancient, I shall have to learn the identity of this 1960s deb.

This in no way compares with a debut, but one summer evening, I was walking near the Drake Hotel in Chicago. A stretch limo pulled up to the hotel's entrance, and the passenger door opened. The limo's occupant called out to me and a few friends I was with. "Wanna go to a party, ladies?" We looked inside the limo to see - gasp - Mick and Keith. We politely declined, but I'll always wonder what might have happened on a soiree with the Rolling Stones.

The Ancient said...

Zach --

Bear in mind that "thread drift" is one of the really great things about the internet.

With apologies,

A

Turner Pack Rats said...

i wouldn't mind if someone gave me the new place but as with all my fantasies, i'd sell the ferrari too.
whew - ugly. don't they employ architects anymore or just sketch something out on a piece of toilet paper (hardly used) and hand it to a carpenter.
the old place was a little restrained for my taste but still very nice and a great lot. i know - taxes - etc etc etc but i don't think the town gave him an exemption on the new one either so what's the point.

security word def - "sumst" - a texting contraction of sumptuous used to describe mcmansions - considered to be in bad taste.

Anonymous said...

Zach,

Could you please comment on the Historic Preservation ordinances that are or not in place in Old Westbury?

For those of us who dont live in the region its seems shocking that there are no local organizations that work to control the demolition of great architecture in north shore towns and villages. In so many other towns around the country with a similar rich architectural stock preservation is now the expected norm.

Thank you sharing your good work with us.

-FW

Zach said...

Old Westbury has no preservation ordinances that I am aware of. They have something called an Architectural Review Board but it is anyone's guess as to what they actually do. And I think if you own a historic home and want to make alterations the Village historian has to come and take a look (for what purposes I am not sure) before they grant the permits. For the most part, people are allowed to do whatever they want with their private property as long as it falls in line with zoning requirements.

That said, fairly recently a developer wanted to subdivide all of 'Knole' and demolish the main residence but Old Westbury would not grant a demolition permit and insisted the developer find someone who could put the house to use. Which was eventually accomplished, some kind of religious organization I believe (though much of the rest of the property was indeed subdivided). And today 'Knole' still stands...so I guess you take the good with the bad.

Graham said...

its funny you say that because i noticed that the current owners of knole dont pay any taxes so i called the county asking why. It turns out that they have a religious exemption but i couldn't get any more info than that. do u know what religious organization?

Graham said...

also do you know if this organization owns Knole, or is the developer just giving them free rent for the time being to get out of the massive tax bill?

Zach said...

It is my understanding that Knole the house was sold to the religious institution. What institution I do not know. The rest of the property has been subdivided.

Graham said...

it always shocks me that these old mansions have so little marketability. It is confusing to me how something like knole would ever have been considered for demolition. Even to a perspective Mcmansion customer with no reverence for it's significance, Knole is still one of the most impressive houses in the neighborhood, Its almost twice the size of even schonfeld's house and much more ornate. you would think everyone in town would jump at the chance to live in a house of that magnitude (regardless of the fact that it happens to be a particularly significant carrere and hastings piece).

Anonymous said...

Graham...I'm with you on that, I just don't get it!! Many of the newer Mcmansions are equally expensive,and I'm sure the taxes are just as high; If I had that type of cash I'd rather it go to a home of history and significance.

I get very upset each time I drive down Post and pass Knole.

Graham said...

The crazy thing is that they are MUCH cheaper than new mcmansions, yet there is still no market for them, even to the point that they are worth more as blank lots that have to potential for modern residences (that are ironically styled after the worthless mansions that are knocked down to build them)

Anonymous said...

I've just splurged and purchased an amazing book titled "The English Country House: From the Archives of Country Life" by Mary Miers, and strikes me as to how very sad it is that Americans do not appreciate their architectural legacy in the same way as Europeans. Also a tad ironic, since during the Gilded Age, we Americans tried to copy them as much as possible.

Anonymous said...

I have lived in Nassau County for 25 years now and am amazed that there is no such thing as a preservation ordinance. Building and demolition permits are granted at the viilage level and those I fear are greatly influenced by the developers, their lawyers and real estate agents. The more tear downs, subdiving and turnover the more business.

I have been amazed that the stock of architecturally interesting homes on the North Shore is still significant yet the area is not marketed properly. It is not viewed as a place to live if you have sophisticated taste. You only need money.

Any house with a center hall and a fireplace is sold as a center hall colonial. Real estate agents don't know a colonial from a federal style home.

All homeowners fear preservation because they believe it will make their property less maketable.

Developers don't care that they are replacing unique sharp moldings; crisp and detailed carvings; and materials that can stand the test of time with mass-produced cartoonish details and disposible materials. They need to give the client the illusion of luxury at an affordable price.

The clients just want all the new bells and whistles even though they will never last or be used. Home theatres/screening rooms should be for movie producers, wine cellars with tasting rooms belong in wine vintner's chateaus, crystal chandelier belong in dining rooms and are impractical and unsanitary in kitchens, balconies should have doors onto them and not windows above them, and the list goes on and on. No ne is willing to educate them they just want their money.

Can you tell this all drives me crazy and sad?