Thursday, May 19, 2011

'Brookholt'

An old postcard of 'Brookholt', the O.H.P. Belmont estate designed by Hunt & Hunt c. 1897 in Hempstead. Click HERE for more on 'Brookholt'.

40 comments:

magnus said...

Hunt fils doesn't seem to have inherited Hunt Pere's sure hand, although I have a special place in my heart for Beacon Tower, his last effort for Mrs. Belmont. I am unfamiliar with other work that the firm undertook. Was it as uneven as Idle Hour II, Brookholt and Beacon Tower would suggest?

magnus said...

And here's a plea to your readers-

Thanks to HPHS, we know that the Hunt and Hunt archives are being transferred to the Library of Congress- does anyone have connections to have the Beacon Tower floorplans put at "the head of the line" for access?

The Down East Dilettante said...

Magnus, once again you beat me to the same observation. The boys definitely definitely didn't have their father's sure hand---so many of their buildings are awkward and graceless. Just the other day, I came across a photo of their remodeling for George Vanderbilt of the Hall in his father, William Henry's, old house, on fifth avenue, same thing.

Turner Pack Rats said...

i can't find a google or bing link in any of the posts on this house, zach. could you please add one - tnx!

when all the whining dies down, if this place were still extant and was offered to any one of you guys (tax free and with lifetime heat provided, of course), the sound you'd hear would be the pounding of feet trying to get through the front door first.
clumsy yes and those columns - oops but opulent, garish, over the top - all the things that say i've got money and you don't - a raging success on that front.

security word def - "forin" - the influence that pushed the Hunts to create places like this.

Anonymous said...

Imagine if this house were still in Hempstead today! Oy.

I wonder if its location had anything to do with its proximity to the racetrack? Or maybe it's the other way around -the racetrack was built in 1905.

The Devoted Classicist said...

I find it interesting that the house sits on a plinth-like base on the entrance side with the portico dropping down to meet the driveway.

From the comments on the previous posts, I see that several share my impressions of the porticos on the garden side. A clue to this strange appearance may come from this photo in today's post showing what appears to be the same columns with a deep entablature on the curved portico at the end. Clearly this would have created a gloom in the second floor rooms that might be accepted at the entrance end but not tolerable for the rooms overlooking the gardens in the other photograph. Perhaps the cut-away entablature, which is marginally close to classical order, is just an awkward answer to that problem.

Doug Floor Plan said...

I know almost nothing about Hunt & Hunt so I won’t pretend to make an informed comparison between the talent of father & son. But I do know that Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont was no shrinking violet & did not hesitate to change something she didn’t like, especially architecturally. She had to have approved the design of ‘Brookholt’ as well as ‘Beacon Towers’ (for which I also have a soft spot & would love to see the floor plans). The comments made today make me wonder now if she didn’t really have that great of an eye for architecture but instead was just really lucky in her choice of Richard Morris Hunt as her first primary architect & then not so lucky with her choice of his son, Richard Howland Hunt.

magnus said...

TPR- one of the pleasures of this blog is looking at these houses as works of art, which they were: Some are good, some not so good. And, of course, who doesn't enjoy arm chair snarking? As to owning Brookholt: it was clearly put up with no thought to the cost of future maintenance. Can you imagine what it would cost to paint the damn thing- and probably every three years? I much prefer to be on the sidelines, tsking.

As to Alva Belmont: I have always suspected that her vaunted architectural expertise was much exaggerated. Aided and abetted by an inspired architect of firm determination, she was undoubtedly a first rate patroness. Her, "often wrong, never in doubt" personality coupled with the less sure hand of younger, more easily cowed (we suspect)designer, however, had significantly less succesful results.

Anonymous said...

Please give location!

Doug Floor Plan said...

Magnus, thank you for your insight … I suspect you are correct. I remember reading somewhere that Alva Belmont loved medieval things & often referred to items she owned as being medieval even when they clearly weren’t. As for ‘Brookholt” – you are also correct regarding its undesirability: this October 17, 1915, ‘New York Times’ article reported that ‘Brookholt’ had been put up for auction & there was not one single $100,000 minimum bid even though $800,000 had been spent building the place: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20D1EF73B5812738DDDAE0994D8415B858DF1D3 . I wonder how much lost capital was cumulatively spent on all those Long Island mansions? I guess it doesn’t really matter … it was worth it (my opinion).

Also, I know it’s ‘Beacon Tower’, not 'Towers' like I typed earlier.

The Ancient said...

I wonder how much lost capital was cumulatively spent on all those Long Island mansions? I guess it doesn’t really matter … it was worth it

It's almost impossible to maintain dynastic wealth in the country if you overindulge in architecture -- the Vanderbilts being the prime example. (Not that Wendy Burden finds herself exactly in "shirtsleeves," but still.)

magnus --

I have a mildly dotty aunt who lives alone in an enormous pile up in Connecticut. Whenever there's a family wedding, she takes the young couple aside and sternly advises, "Stain, don't paint. You'll save a fortune!" (As it happens, I took her advice with barns out here in the country. Lo and behold, she's right!)

P.S. I don't see the appeal of Beacon Towers. It looked like the sort of place The Dirty Dozen would be sent to blow-up.

Kirk said...

I see several people are curious as to where this was located in Hempstead as am I. It seems to be near a lake, perhaps Hempstead Lake, the state park?

Zack, any idea?

magnus said...

Ancient- your Aunt doesn't sound one bit dotty to me. Brilliant and practical is more like it- said form the standpoint of living in a large frame painted house all of my life.

The Ancient said...

The address was Fulton Avenue, East Meadow.

"The estate was subsequently owned by Alexander Smith Cochran, who sold it in 1923 to the Cold Stream Golf Club. [The New York Times November 18, 1923, p. XII.]"

http://spinzialongislandestates.com/HempsteadSample.pdf

and

"The course was built in 1925 and expired in 1945 to make way for the Mitchell Field Santini housing complex."

http://www.metgolfer-digital.com/metgolfer/20110203?pg=16#pg16

Wild guess: Somewhere near the intersection of Fulton and Merrick.

Anonymous said...

I don't find this home as disastrous as the rest of you...but something seems off with the placement. Does anyone know in what direction the front would have been facing?


And so far as I know...the fact that nobody bid on this home was because that by this time the Hempstead, East Meadow, Salisbury area was on it's way out.....mansions, maybe on par with some of the greats that have been shown here, were being torn down in a blink of the eye...for what reasons I don't know...just like I still don't understand the decline of the Islip/Babylon/Oakdale area.....

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Per HistoricMapWorks from 1906 house stood here on Atlas Court. To the west pictured in the November 13, 2009 post was Barnum's Pond named after Joshua Barnum, a neighbor to the south. Belmont owned the property across Front street up to Fulton. The draw for the area was the Meadowbook Club -

http://wikimapia.org/#lat=40.7351612&lon=-73.5764265&z=15&l=0&m=b&show=/18412366/Local-1500-of-the-UFCW

The Ancient said...

HPHS --

I'm impressed!

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Well thank you! Also from HMW a large stable/farm complex is shown to have stood across Front Street. Overhead from HA's 1966 still shows open ground where it stood.

Zach said...

Thank you HPHS. I am away so no post today.

Doug Floor Plan said...

Hmmm … Zach didn’t post something new today because he’s “away” & tomorrow (Saturday, May 21, 2011) the world comes to an end – very interesting.

HPHS, let me add my name to the list of people who are totally impressed with your Internet research ability. Thank you for sharing.

Security word: Stang -- such a great security word, wasted on me.

magnus said...

Zach: if you're busy building an ark or something for the end of the world tomorrow, swing by Glen Cove on your way out of town to pick me up please. I don't know exactly what I'll be one of a pair of though.

Sadly, unlike HPHS I am hopeless at posting links. If anyone can find it though, the NY Times article on the raid that took place at Brookholt in the dying days of Prohibition is pricelss: Apparently, the house contained one of the most sophisticated stills that the Treasury agents had ever seen, with the ship shape control room located in Alva Belmont's old bedroom.

Doug Floor Plan said...

Magnus, here is the 1933 New York Times article about the raid at 'Brookholt': http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70A17F63F5C16738DDDA90B94DC405B838FF1D3 ; but it will cost anyone who’s interested $3.95 to download a high-resolution PDF with all of the images – not priceless but not free either. Can Zack post this if he's supplied a copy?

The Ancient said...

Here's two more:

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=FB0F14F63A59167A93C1A91788D85F408385F9

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=F30A17F83E5C16738DDDAC0994DD405B838FF1D3

The Ancient said...

The still was sufficiently large that it almost had to be a Luciano operation. But the timing is funny. Repeal was already underway (though not yet complete.) Had the still been in operation for several years? Maybe.

Also, the first of the two links I posted above deals with the destruction of the house by fire the following year.

The second deals with the murder of someone thought to have tipped off federal agents regarding the still.

magnus said...

Thanks Ancient-

Anonymous said...

Kirk...no "Hempstead Lake State Park" is in Rockville Center...close...but no cigar....

The Down East Dilettante said...

Half & Half, your link didn't work?

"not found"

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

DED - both worked just now for me???

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Does anyone know what creek flows nearby? It must have been damed by Joshua Barnum for Barnum's Pond. You can tell by the topography of the homesite it sat at the highpoint of the hill.

lil' gay boy said...

I went to Maria Regina High School across the Meadowbrook Parkway from the current housing complex where Brookholt stood (crossed that now-abandoned bridge every morning, and NO, not on the "short bus"), until they started closing off parts of Mitchell Field and the entrance was switched to the back way through the neighborhood off Front St.; all traces of Barnum's Pond were long gone by then.

All of that land was still owned by the Armed Forces at the time as being part of the Mitchell Field holdings, making it technically federal land; Nassau County Police were not permitted on the property, even when they could clearly see my "classmates" indulging in the devil weed just on the other side of the fence.

I've been thinking a lot about the recurring questions as to why the North Shore estates remained intact whilst the South Shore communities seemed more quickly subsumed by middle class development. I seem to recall reading a history of the development of the LIRR and the changes it wrought on the communities it passed through, both north & south. A peek at LIRR's timeline will show the main line(s) on the South Shore being developed first, with multiple companies running individual lines until they were all later consolidated under the current LIRR and MTA authorities.

Somewhere along the line I recall reading about the differing gauges of the individual track lines, and the suitability of them for carrying passengers vs heavy commercial freight early in its development, and the politics involved in the granting of easements, etc. for individual branch lines.

Somewhere in that tangled history lies the impetus for the hows & whys of the different ways the two shores developed; plans to cross the Sound by rail were considered at one point as well, and extending lines to encourage residential development of differing types followed as the changes gelled into the current LIRR.

But even with the help of their website, it's just as difficult (and dangerous?) as asking a hemophiliac to untangle a post-tornado barbed wire fence to get a clear overview of all the factors involved. Different gauges of rail line affected the ability to carry goods and passengers (I vaguely recall an anecdote about passenger comfort being a motivating factor in choice of gauge, switching of cars, and other esoterica but not the source of that info).

The genesis of the LIRR is a microcosm of the history of the development of our country's rail system and their surrounding communities in general, and worth looking into someday ––– definitely a bucket list item.

Security word - vesiesy: Scandinavian version of osso buco.

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Here's some NY Times articles{free} about Joshua Barnum. He owned at the time one of the largest estate on LI.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0D1EF6345A17738DDDA10894DB405B888CF1D3

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F40F12FF395512738DDDAF0A94DD405B868CF1D3

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0F12FF395512738DDDAF0A94DD405B868CF1D3

Anonymous said...

It's funny to hear Hempstead regarded as a "country place". I wish we had photos and more info on the Barnum mansion, my curiosity has been peeked.

I always get sad driving down Post/Wheatly/Wolver Hallow...first those beautiful gates of Knoll...gone....now, on that stretch between 107 and 25A, on the east side of the road was an area for horses...now I see bull-dozers there digging...I suppose another McMansion on it's way....

Speaking of Wolver Hallow...any news on Chateau des Thons?


Magnus...did you ever get over to Coe Hall? I was there today and double checked those urns....definitely plastic.

Was also wondering...when I left Coe Hall I turned right, (instead of left heading towards Chicken Valley Road), and not long came upon an entrance to what at one time was another estate...does anyone know what estate this could of been? I guess it would have been south of Coe Hall.

Also stopped by the Frick mansion (Nassau County Museum) to check out the Richard Avedon exhibt and went for a nice walk...and was pleasently surprised to see the work they've been doing on the Dewy home...very nice, though I wonder if it will be completed in my life-time.

Anonymous said...

hphs,
you were kind to give those links, but unless you want to pay the NY Times you are "SOL" on the three links, can anyone provide us frugal yankees with a free link.
by the by this blog is a settling mechanism in todays crazy world

Anonymous said...

Those three links are two death notices for Joshua Barnum, and what looks like a short notice on the remarriage of his widow.

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

I don't subscribe and the links are free to me. Click on "View Full Article". First one dated 1908 talks about the property to be broken-up after the marriage of Barnum's daughter.

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Odd for me that the links given by The Ancient ask for money but not the ones I posted???

Anonymous said...

I was able to read the full articles also.

Anonymous said...

test

Anonymous said...

LGB here ––– A certain "G" has been toying with my accounts and I cannot post, even anonymously (except from another computer)...

Big brother strikes.

Anonymous said...

Sorry...I meant "Wolver Hollow Road"...I need to stop nipping at the wine while I'm blogging......