Tuesday, May 24, 2011

'Blemton Manor'

'Blemton Manor', the August Belmont II estate built c. 1865 in Hempstead. Belmont was a partner in Belmont and Company and chairman of the board of the Interborough Rapid Transit Co. and the Rapid Transit Subway Construction Company. He was also the president of the Boston, Cape Cod, and New York Canal Co. August was the older brother of O.H.P. Belmont who resided at 'Brookholt'. The house has since been demolished but sat on Fulton Avenue where the Country Estates Apartments are today.


The Devoted Classicist said...

This is not at all what I would have expected stylistically c.1865. Was there a Colonial Revival makeover?

The Down East Dilettante said...

Certainly appears to be so

Doug Floor Plan said...

Working off Classicist’s comment I notice Zach didn’t name an architect for this house so maybe there was a makeover of an existing house & no one ended up getting credit. There are houses in this style I really like but this is not one of them … at least not from this photograph. & with all the recent comments regarding ‘stain, don’t paint’ I’m sure exterior maintenance of this house was no small task. I went looking for what the Country Estates Apartments on Fulton Avenue in Hempstead look like (just curious) but did not find a picture that was clearly labeled.

Looking at the Wikipedia link Zach supplied to August Belmont II I’m really impressed he had “the distinction of owning the world's only purpose built private subway car. Named Mineola, she was used by Belmont to give tours of the IRT” – what a nice perk!

Anonymous said...

I agree...not at all what I expected!! The mid-section itself is fine enough...but the additions on either side just don't seem to fit. Again, I imagined something more grand than this.

magnus said...

Blemton Manor? Sounds like a name out of an English comedy of manners.

Off topic but related: Does anyone know the history of the Belmont family ownership of Belcourt in Newport? Contemporary newspaper reports on the subject are somewhat confusing and contradictory: It would appear that after OHP Belmont's death, Alva gave or sold the property to either her nephew (son of the squire of Blemton Manor) or her brother in law, Perry Belmont. She appears to have regained title in the early 1930's when she paid of a tax lien on the property. I believe that she left it to her Belmont nephew, but ownership seems to have bounced among the Belmont family until it was sold in the early 1940's. If anyone has a clearer picture, I’d love to know

The Ancient said...

Vanity and dyslexia struggled long and hard over the name, didn't they?

(I didn't see anything of any real interest in the NYT archives: a light-fingered assistant butler, and an abbreviated chimney fire.)

Anonymous said...

Agree that center wing is not bad. Does anyone have any thoughts on what appears to be the earliest know sliding glass patio doors in the far left wing?


The Ancient said...

Zach --

More, better pictures here:





Zach L. said...

Awesome find Ancient...thanks for sharing.

Doug Floor Plan said...

Ancient, as Zach said, “Awesome find.” Poor ‘Blemton Manor’ (Magnus is correct, the name could just as easily been ‘Fawlty Towers’), the remodel that replaced the one-story columns with two-story columns topped by a pediment, among other changes, made the house look only worse. I finally found ‘Country Estates Apartments’ on Google maps – even worse … much worse. But I like the pictures of Mr. & Mrs. August Belmont II – they look like people who were enjoying their lives.

The Ancient said...

Here's a NYT obit for the very formidable Mrs Belmont, who died in 1979, at 99 years.


(I knew and had forgotten that George Bernard Shaw wrote Major Barbara with her in mind. But I didn't know that she founded The Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving!)

lil' gay boy said...

Columbia University's website has a wealth of information about Mrs. Belmont, formerly an actress (which in those days was hardly a step above whore; more along the lines of courtesan of independent means...) She was also a member of the Motion Picture Research Council.

Coming on the heels of the Civil War, it's not surprising that the pseudo-colonial style was employed ––– for this area of Long Island at that time it would have symbolized the apex of permanence.

I vaguely remember passing this house as a little tyke, and the nasty surprise of finding it being torn down to make way for the apartments (where, decades later, one could obtain any chemical stimulant they required by merely driving slowly down the block). I do not recall what the building was being used for at the time, but it's funny that as a car-crazy little boy that white finned beauty was one of my favorites of the day (a Chrysler 300, perhaps?) Too bad that quirky oval window got covered over, and those trees out front surely succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease; my Nana joined a society for the preservation of Long Island trees as a result of that blight (a shared passion with Betsey Whitney, a fellow church member).

The destruction of the house was this lil' gay boy's first lesson that places we love can be arbitrarily taken from us.

Security word - uncolori: Italian backlash to Turner's colorization process.

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Can anyone make a guess what spectator event the Belmont's were at?


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure where they are, but the other man is Henry Payne Whitney....possibly an aviation show???

Zach L. said...

The first and only time I've ever seen Harry Payne (H.P.) Whitney named as Henry.

lil' gay boy said...

Hard to say; info states photo is circa 1912 and that they're at a "spectator event" with cameras (although the are obviously binoculars).

Looking closely you can see they're both sporting the same lapel button. perhaps for entry to the "event"?

Funny to see how differently they are attired ––– Belmont very natty with gloves, a prominent wristwatch worn over them, the tightly rolled brolly and the immaculate bowler, separate binocular case strung jauntily over the shoulder. Whitney, on the other hand, is almost a slob next to him ––– no case, no gloves, cap, not bowler, an ill-fitting casual jacket with too long sleeves & duck trousers...even his tie & collar are off-kilter.

So who was more comfortable, or had more fun?

Zach L. said...

So Belmont would have been about 59 and Whitney about 40. Whitney looks younger than that to me...but maybe it's because of the cap and casual attire.

Rather light clothing and an umbrella on Belmont's arm..perhaps it's early springtime?

Anonymous said...

My guess is they were spectators at the Belmont Racetrack.

Doug Floor Plan said...

August Belmont II is also holding a strip of paper in his mouth that was important enough to him that he didn't want to stick it in his pocket -- my guess is it's a betting receipt of some kind ... does anybody know what a betting slip at Belmont Racetrack looked like in 1912?

Doug Floor Plan said...

Also, Belmont wearing his wristwatch on top of his glove tells me he wanted to easily be able to time something or keep track of time -- some kind of race, maybe even a track event. & then again, maybe I'm over analyzing.

Turner Pack Rats said...

hell - google zapped me again. good thing i made a copy.
i agree that it sure doesn't look like the builder was too adroit at reading plans or used different measuring rules on different day still an interesting shot at what happens when you try to make colonial/federal reaaalllly big.
to LGB - google has been doing the same to me. i type out one of my fiercely witty and perspicacious missals only to have google erase it all. so lately, i copy it and then try to post. if i get zapped by the "Big G", at least I have something to try again (and again and again) with later.

security word def - "alintic" -1. a not-so-well known smaller sea east of the patific.2. a facial problem known only to certain members of the Redgrave family

this is toooooo spooky - this is a second attempt to post - google having zapped the first and so i get a second security word. my diminutive name growing up was the nickname for William i.e. "Billy" which I loathed with a passion. My feeling has always been that children over the age of 7 should be allowed to change their name if they want. Anyway my second security word is "bilyw" - my name is William Whitman - call my astrologist and pour me some tequila.

and since i am posting this for a third time, i get a third security word which is "canessa" - a Redgrave of dubious parentage possibly a Tiajuana weekend fling.

A, Nonymous from Newport said...

To answer magnus, who wrote "Off topic but related: Does anyone know the history of the Belmont family ownership of Belcourt in Newport?"
This ancient party looked through copies of all the Newport Social Index publications available at the Newport Library and found that Perry Belmont was the family member who summered at Belcourt the longest - from 1910 to 1931, uninterrupted. Prior to that he summered at his parents' estate, By The Sea. From 1932 to 1935 Perry Belmont is not listed, though Belcourt itself, in the named estate-listings pages, is indicated thusly, "(Belmont)"
In 1936 Perry Belmont is indicated as spending the summer at the LaForge Cottage on Touro Park West; owned by Maddelena M. LaForge who ran a Tea Room and Candy Shop at 186 Bellevue Avenue - now the location of the LaForge Restaurant in the Casino building.
From 1937 to 1946 Perry summered at Elm Lodge at 32 Old Beach Road; the stone wall remains but a modern ranch house now occupies the site. Perry Belmont died in May, 1947. Belcourt, itself, was sold to the Waterman Corp. in 1940 but stood idle until bought by the Tinney family in October, 1956.
A visit to Newport City Hall to search the old tax records, as to who actually owned Belcourt during these years, would require the assistance of whatever public servant one would encounter. In which case the notion that they could be of any assistance would be an affront!