Wednesday, March 9, 2011

'Kidd's Rocks'/'Lands End'

'Kidd's Rocks' / 'Lands End', the John Scott Browning Sr. estate built c. 1911 in Sands Point, later purchased by Malcolm Douglas Sloane in 1921 followed by Herbert Bayard Swope in 1929 and Charles Shipman Payson in 1983. The house was sold again in 2004 and after spending some time on the market at $30,000,000, the current owners decided they had no intention of keeping the current house and it was slated for demolition. Unfortunately, the time is upon us and after being featured this week in both Newsday and the NYPost, the house is set to be torn down sometime this month (could be any day). Click HERE to see photos of 'Kidd's Rocks' / 'Lands End' as it currently looks by photographer Jen Ross. Click HERE to see the estate on google earth and HERE on bing. Click HERE to see the brochure from when 'Kidd's Rocks' / 'Lands End' was for sale.



Click HERE to see the estate featured on NBC's The Today Show from this morning.

35 comments:

The Down East Dilettante said...

Ya know, it's not that it's that great a piece of architecture, but it's not that bad either, and it's undoubtedly much better than anything that will be built there in its place. It's perfectly sited, and it holds its site well. Just the right amount of house in the right spot, just the right amount of open space around it---a good composition, the Googie poolhouse aside. Now it's going to be several McMansions, the effect of one big house set on the end of the point in appropriate space lost. And of course, there's the moral issue. There are few developer strategies scuzzier than demolition by intentional neglect.

security word 'dwornmat'. That thing in front of the door is due to be replaced.

magnus said...

I have a long history, and many fond memories of this house. In the late 1960's, my parents were casting about for a country house and looked at Land's End to either rent or buy. It was in pretty dismal condition, and far larger than what they wanted, so they passed. I remember, however, as a child, accompanying them on several visits to the house. The place was eventually purchased by Terry Allen Kramer, the daughter of Allen and Company founder, Charles Allen. She and her husband were family firends, and I remember being told that she had "spent a million dollars rehabing the place before she even bought a stick of furniture" And this was (probably 1970), when people simply didn't spend a million dollars on anything. It was truly a second age of grandeur for the house, as Mrs. Kramer was (and is) famous for her great taste in interior decoration and her faultless housekeeping. Even as a child, I was astonished at how swish it all was, run in the terrible 1970's in pre World War II style: I think there was a household staff of six or eight who kept the place in order and two greenhouses and an enormous kitchen and cutting garden were maintained to provide for the house.
Land's End may not have been designed by Stanford White, but it's a wonderful house with a great open floor plan. It's a tragedy that a suitable buyer can't be found.

Doug Floor Plan said...

DED, I agree with everything you just said. & I'm reminded of all those fortunate people on 'Antiques Roadshow' who have found treasures dumpsters ... all because the previous owner didn't know a treasure when they had one.

Mansions of the Gilded Age said...

Yes, It is an odd house, but it's setting is what makes it so dramatic. While I love a well designed perfect house, it's usually the ones that ramble on all over and aren't like any other house that seem so interesting.

The Devoted Classicist said...

Sadly, it does seem to be a case of intentional neglect, as D.E.D. said. I just saw a TV interview on the TODAY show with the owner, saying it cost $5,000 a day, most of that going to property taxes. Clearly nothing went to paint, glass replacement, or anything to stabilize the house.

Anonymous said...

Another piece of history to be tragically lost to the wrecking ball. So, so sad.

Kellsboro Jack said...

Count me in with the cynics who think much of the "its too far gone" posturing by the current owner was self inflicted.

Yes the case can be made now that with the massive burden of taxes and millions required to restore it makes precious economic sense. However it seemingly went into a state of intentional neglect shortly after purchase. The taxes were always very high under Virginia Payson, too.

It's irksome to see the owner touring the property with NBC cameras in tow saying he wants to leave a lasting legacy when it is razed. Lovely: oversized, social climbing mansions packed on the site bearing names like Daisy House and Redford.

Dare I ask ... Zach will you be there to capture the razing?

Jen Ross said...

I would just like to say that the Brodsky interview makes me feel ill, to put it more bluntly - Brodsky and people like him make me feel ill. How dare he say he wants to pay homage to this special place.... He is not fooling anyone and his need for attention when he is better off just laying low considering what he obviously did on purpose just shows the extent of his lack of class, grace, and style!!! He is the opposite of all three adjectives!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Long Island seems full of Brodsky's. Lands End is far from the first and sadly not the last of these great homes to meet the same fate. Many of the homes in the past were raized and neglected by the actual owners or relatives of.

Long Island is the land of development....I fear it will not stop until every last free space is filled to the tilt.

Zach said...

I just saw the piece from the Today show. Why on earth the Brodskys seem to want this attention is beyond me given it appears the vast majority of people find the way the house was cared for under their ownership to be shameful. Demolition by neglect indeed.

natasha said...

I was fortunate enough to have lived at Lands End for 11 years (we moved to Stony Brook in Oct 2007) and am very saddened by the loss but unfortunately Mrs Payson is really to blame for letting the grand estate go and not caring for the mold issues. We have many great memories of many years living on the estate, having our own beach, creek, pool (most of the year) and living in a park like environment.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Sadly, we must remind ourselves in balance, that in years of being for sale, Brodsky is the only person who put the money down and bought it---whether we agree with his motives or tactics (and I don't), nobody else came forward. It's easy for all of us to say 'save it', but someone then has to actually do it.

Oh, it's just so complicated.

Anonymous said...

There were several capable people who wanted to buy and restore the house on reduced acreage. Taxes would have been comparable to the new McMansions. Problem here was Brodsky overpaying for the house and still desiring an outsized profit. Also a complete failure of the village and the DEC to protect a house under SEQRA that they both recognized as eligible for the National and State Registers.This was the perfect project for a conservation development with a restored mansion (perhaps even, heaven forbid, dividing the house as was done with Whitefield in Southampton)and building two or three well designed houses that gave the feel of related estate buildings. Several articles have also attributed the demise to the excessive cost of restoration, but the Brodsky's own report and their quote in the New York Times estimated the cost to be less than $2 million, a minimal amount for a house of this size. Of course, now the house has been allowed to deteriorate for several years.

Anonymous said...

This is a tragedy that no one is stepping up to the plate to restore this house.

The only thing I can think of is that the present owner is running out of money and is desperate to demolish it and develope the land.

Two million dollars is not that large amount of money to restore the house. And, if the house is not salvageable, then I would take hundreds of photographs, and construct a blueprint, tear the whole thing down, and then rebuild it all over again, only this time use state of the art materials, heating, cooling, insulation, internet access, security system and so on.

People today just don't have the taste, nor the appreciation of great houses like this. The view here is priceless.

I wish that some famous person and taken an interest in this house and saved it from the wrecking ball.

I know if I had the money, I would buy this place in a heart beat and either restore it, or as I said, tear it down and reconstruct it all from brand new materials which would last another 100 years!

Zach said...

There will be no post today (Thursday March 10th)as Old Long Island would like to pause for a moment of silence for 'Land's End'. See you tomorrow.

lil' gay boy said...

I have to disagree with my dear friend DED on one point, and wholeheartedly agree on another:

"Brodsky is the only person who put the money down and bought it---whether we agree with his motives or tactics (and I don't), nobody else came forward."

In my mind the man is the Devil Incarnate; he knew exactly what he was doing. As a frequent trespasser (ah em, visitor) I can attest to the fact the the sorry state of the exterior is due to much more than benign neglect; I've seen this before & all too often when a developer wants to make the argument that the house is too far gone to repair.

Removing patches of shingles to encourage water leaks, removing windows & doors, having no security patrols, thus encouraging vandals to tresspass, etc. ––– he's guilty of it all. Three years ago the exterior of the house was nearly pristine, and today it appears like it's been open to the elements for decades. As for the pool house, with its marble floors, leaving it open to a hurricane would cause little damage, and as I previously stated, built as it is into the lee of a rise in the lawn, is completely invisible from that grand porch.

I do indeed agree with my friend wholeheartedly in one respect:

"And of course, there's the moral issue. There are few developer strategies scuzzier than demolition by intentional neglect."

He should burn in hell.

As for "...now it's going to be several McMansions, the effect of one big house set on the end of the point in appropriate space lost...", one needn't wonder why Howard Roark dynamited Cortland Homes.

Security word - bubilso: one of those alarming growths you have to rush to the dermatologist to have lanced.

Flo said...

"They were careless people...they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, they let other people clean up the mess they had made.....so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

Anonymous said...

Lil gay boy... I went by the house today... the gate upfront is terrifying... the guard dogs! I was able to get a glimpse of the house from behind the trees. So sad.

Jen Ross said...

Amen LGB well said and having watched the house year after year I completely agree with everything you said! Having "visted" myself I totally agree that Brodsky must have used those intentional tactics. RIP LANDS END. Brodsky is a total scumbag in my view.

lil' gay boy said...

Anon 10:54, my guess would be that he's stepped up the visibility of guards to cope with the backlash from the bad publicity.

I am heartbroken; I simply cannot imagine another sunset from the third bench in Memorial Park at the foot of Sea Cliff Avenue without that iconic porch's columns glowing luminously in the fading light.

Jen, your photos are achingly evocative ––– simply beautiful. Through them Land's End will live forever, along with Brodsky's endless shame.

Well done; truly.

Turner Pack Rats said...

first, i award the first ever SWORD to LGB for todays definition (thats SWORD or Security WOR Definition award). i'll email you the award with an honorable mention to DED for his definition of "trango" - a South American dance for cross dressers. The awards banquet was to be held at Land's End so I'll let you know the new location.
second - it's too bad that the frequenters of OLI are just a bunch of aging (i know, speak for myself) faux Stanford White estate architecture freaks instead of anarchists cause if we were, first we'd gather up this guy and then head south and pick up that a-hole and his wife in PA that tore down La Ronda - attach an appropriate pair of footwear to each and give them swimming lessons off Land's End beach about a mile and laugh as they begged for mercy. Then we'd pool our money, buy Lands End and live happily ever after.
Nurse - Nurse - it's time for my little pink pill now.

Security word def - "hotoust" - Cockney place to raise a few 'ollyocks.

Turner Pack Rats said...

ps - a pox on DED for trying to be rational - shame on you - what the hell were you thinking? Clear thought has no place here. How could you possibly look at that pink marble bathroom and then try to make us think clearly. I'm calling our new governor's thought police and sending them to Blue Hill to give you a sound trouncing and sentence you to spend a weekend at Marden's (not much of a punishment). You could redeem yourself by throwing yourself in front of the Land's End bulldozer.

my other fave part of this house beyond the pink bath is the staircase that loops over the front door and the balcony effect it leads to.

security word def - "aestre" - the other kind of flower raised by my previous word def

Flo said...

"my other fave part of this house beyond the pink bath is the staircase that loops over the front door"

Oh, that looping stairwell. Shame on me, in my restoration fantasy I was going to bring up/take down certain pieces of the pink marble and redistribute it around the house to other places just to reduce the all-in-one-place biliousness factor.

What stops my heart, though, are the floors throughout, ah those beautiful floors, what a privilege it would have been to restore that house. The only demo I'd do is the pool and poolhouse, bring in trees to leaf up the view, a little less prospect and a little more refuge.

Sumbitch is gonna put up more than five houses, I swear he'll go for 10, 12 and probably get what he wants, welcome to highest-and-best-purpose-land-development, revenue rules.

magnus said...

Now a quick word of defense on that pink marble bath: It was installed by Mrs. Kramer in the early 1970's and was the last word in opulent chic when it was done. This was before Sherle Wagner-esque bathrooms became a byeword for overblown, over the top excess. Current photos prove something that I've always thought- nothing ages more quickly and to worse effect than kitchens and bathrooms, especially when they are done up in the latest "of the moment" taste.

And I know that Land's End is no architectural "tour de force", but for a huge house it has real charm and fits so perfectly in the landscape. I will really miss it.

The Down East Dilettante said...

But, Lil Gay Boy, you said you disagree with me on one point, yet everything you said agrees with everything I said---could you possibly have mis-read or misunderstood what I meant? I'm appalled, start to finish by Brodsky's tactics. I was merely pointing out that in the years that the house has been for sale, no one has stepped up to buy it.

The Down East Dilettante said...

and Flo, how right you are---get rid of the pool house, and frame the view a little---so few people understand the concept of a view framed---they think it isn't right unless they've removed every bloody tree...

Anonymous said...

Im sorry... On your "visits"... do you get there thru the beach or hop over the gate? I would love to have a walk thru before they knock it down.

lil' gay boy said...

"I'd like to thank the academy..."

DED, my only "disagreement" was in giving this snake any credit at all for stepping up, as it were; I don't believe for a second he ever intended to live there, nor flip it. He's had dollar signs in his eyes all along, and intended this tragedy to unfold just as it has.

On all my visits, there was little more than a rusty chain that sagged across the beach at the high water mark; easy to step over/walk around...

The Down East Dilettante said...

But, LGB, darling, no credit was implied. He's clearly calculated this carefully from the beginning. I meant that in the time that he put it on the market no one stepped up.

I mean, 'ugh'.

lil' gay boy said...

Great minds think alike; of course we agree. Blogging can sometimes be like playing charades in a darkened room ––– something's bound to get lost in the translation.

'Tis a shame that all our combined resources couldn't wrest this gem from Brodsky's greedy little claws ––– think of what a lovely blog-base of operations/archive/home office Land's End would make for oldlongisland.com...

A waterview office for each of us, with a nightly board meeting at sunset, recapping beneath the columns, Zach passing 'round the gin & tonics with our next assignments.

Pity.

Jen Ross said...

I found it was serving as a fantastic park and meditation center until this winter! It was just fine the way it was till that Brodsky came along with his permits. :)

Anonymous said...

Went by today. Just a simple walk over from the beach. There was another group of people there as well... just walking around the property. I was scared to get too close, there is alot of broken glass and building materials surrounding the house. Took a ton of photos though.

I spoke with a realitor friend of mine who did the 2004 sale, she says that the Brodskys have already started demolition work on the inside of house. I will admit it looks much different then is does in your photos Jen Ross, you were very lucky to get those great shots when you did. She advised that it probably was no longer safe to venture inside anymore.

I did go in the pool house though... just alot of junk there... does anyone know when that was built?

Jen Ross said...

Anonymous -
When I saw that the door and custom glass had been ripped out I said goodbye to the place - mostly to the beautiful land, still open with a feeling of naturally meeting the sound - free of all the "inessential houses"

I don't know if I was "lucky" or invited. That house drew my attention and wonder for so many years, and it took quite a bit of scoping, mapping and mustering up courage to finally go in... I was indeed lucky - but not just lucky - I cared about it and focused my energy and time there. I watched it and wandered around it and daydreamed and went through spaces watching it grow closer on the horizon walk after walk, year after year - so of course I shot it at the right moment, when those golden rays were just right and the house had some kind of magical silent warmth and beautiful ocean breeze blowing through it. I could feel the life in it... I felt a sort of blur in the time space continuum if you know what I mean. Sometimes its like a meditation or... I think for some of us these things at the right time of day or in the right season in one's experience are almost like a religious experience or feeling. I think this is the reason why some people are kind of upset about it.

Today a stranger wrote a beautiful thank you to me, it read: "I'm sure there are other things you could have been doing on the day you shot those- you made the right choice."
I think a lot of people who hang out on "Old Long Island" will probably appreciate that beautiful line I got from a total stranger today. What a tremendous gift.

Turner Pack Rats said...

people like brodsky and the a-hole in PA have a straight line mentality that they won't be turned from. A guy in PA offered to buy LaRonda at the owners price, buy the property next door and move it and the butthead owner wouldn't do it. what did he have to lose - nothing and everything to gain. now everyone hates the guy. and brodsky, as money hungry as he is, i'll bet if you offered him his price, he'd turn you down and demo Lands End anyway. like all developers, this is the thing i have never been able to get my head around, how could you possibly step into one of these one of a kind places, go outside, start the bulldozer and drive straight thru. for me, and i bet most of the OLI readers, its incomprehensible.

thanx, jen ross for your fantastic work and those other urbex explorers that document these doomed places.

security word def - "calia" - text word for a state that has the same mindset as brodsky et al

magnus said...

Anon 7:29: Mrs. Kramer built the pool and pool house circa 1970. Like much that was constructed during that era, it has not aged particularly well. It was the last word in chic at the time- all white and turquoise blue. The roof was designed originally as a dance floor, but was almost never used. It all looks worse in the aerial than "in the flesh" where due to the slope of the property, both the pool and poolhouse were almost imperceptible from the house.