Friday, September 16, 2011

'Hilaire'

'Hilaire', originally the George Ernest Fahys estate designed by James O'Connor c. 1910 in Matinecock, with landscaping by the Olmsted Brothers. Fahys was the president of Fahys Watch Case Co. and Alvin Silver Co., both of Sag Harbor. He was also a mayor of Matinecock. The estate was later owned by Dr. John Adolf Vietor who renamed the place 'Cherrywood' and hired Ferruccio Vitale to design additional landscaping. Vietor was a surgeon and professor of anatomy at Columbia University. The home was demolished c. 1980. Click HERE to see the still extant O'Connor designed playhouse on google earth and HERE on bing. Photo from Selections From the Work of James O'Connor.

15 comments:

magnus said...

Vietor's wife was an enormously rich heiress (if my addled memory serves me, she was referred to as "the Jell-O heiress"). All of her many houses had "wood" incorporated iin their names. She sold the house to Edmund C. Lynch, co-founder of the brokerage firm. (Wags used to say that the Merrill Lynch slogan was "we lose money on every trade, but we make it up in volume". If they only could have foreseen the future). Edmund Lynch's daughter inherited the property and developed it into one of the nicest residential communities around. Although the main house is gone, the playhouse with it's idoor tennis court and pool remains, still owned by her heirs and maintained in absolutely impeccable condition.

The Down East Dilettante said...

If Mrs. Vietor was the Jell-o heiress, it was only because she married Mr. Vietor, the Jell-0 heir.

Somewhere in the last year, one of the design blogs had a terrific long piece about the Cherrywood playhouse. I'm off to find.

In other news, re: Old Grey Dog's query about James Maher's 'Twilight of Splendor', and it's sequel that never happened. I don't know the answer (you heard it here!), but one assumes, that because the first book was a bit ahead of its time in giving serious coverage to gilded age architecture, and didn't sell well (it spent a fair amount of time on the remainder tables), that a publisher (or funds to take time to write such a book, which takes real time) couldn't be found. Pity. Despite the fact that I found his floridly elegiac, faux-Jamesian prose completely excessive and over the top, the books were fascinating, and full of amazing detail.

And yes, OGD, The Breakers should indeed be with a capital T, and while we're at it, Oheka should be just that, without Castle appended.

Cheers

Zach said...

DED...thanks for the reminder, here's a link:

http://dovecotedecor.blogspot.com/2010/11/old-long-island-estates-surviving-james.html

The Down East Dilettante said...

Oy, thanks Zach, you've just saved me at least an hour of Time Suck.

And as for Maher: http://depthome.brooklyn.cuny.edu/isam/NewsletF08/Maher.htm

magnus said...

This is a banner day- DED has corrected me- gently- on a number of occasions and has always proven to be infuriatingly correct. In this case, however, apparently Mrs. Vietor's father, Orator Woodward, had purchased the Jell-O patent in 1894, and she was "the Jell-O Heiress" by birth.

magnus said...

And does anyone know who James T. Maher was? I date my interest in architecture to a Christmas gift of The Twilight of Splendor when it was first published. Like many of the commentators here, I too eagerly anticipated the promised sequel. A "Google" search for Maher undertaken several years ago only turned up a James T. Maher who was a historian of Jazz. Could they be "one in the same"?

The Down East Dilettante said...

Sooner or later, being a know-it-all catches up with one. I stand corrected--gently--by Magnus, and am going back to fact-checking school for a refresher course.

Mark this day in your calendars, all.

The Down East Dilettante said...

On the other hand, had I not been wrong, I would not then have discovered that LeRoy New York is home to the world's only Jell-O museum, so all has not been in vain. Surely someday I'll need to know that.

Old Grey Dog said...

Thank you, 'Down East' ! Wow, 'floridly elegiac" . . . OMG, I couldn't sit still in my chair here, and ran to the dictionary !!! Yes, it was . . . and the prose, wonderfully descriptive !!! Maher's "lead dolphins spouted thin silver arcs of water into the summer air" still haunt me to this day !!! And Magnus . . . if you check the back of "Twilight's" book jacket you will read that Maher edited, and wrote the introduction, to Alec Wilder's "American Popular Song: The Great Innovators", which hints that Maher is/was a music historian. I discovered that he lived in the West-70's, in N.Y.C.; wrote him a fan letter and he answered. Said he was wrapping up the chapter on Biltmore and that exploring the great house, with William A. Cecil, had discovered that the builders had thinned out the woodwork in places in order to complete the house on schedule. That was back in 1976, or '77. He mentioned that he was discussing other chapters with his cat, "the resident philosopher" !!! I wonder if he's still alive ~ the author, not the cat !

magnus said...

OGD: If it is the same James T. Maher- and it must be- he died in 2008. What a shame that he never found a publisher for his sequel. And as florid as the prose was in Twilight of Splendor, I found a great deal of it to be wonderfully evocative and his take on the subject to be refreshingly perceptive. I think it is one of the best books on the subject ever written. As an aside, I became obsessed with the sad, strange Hubert and Maysie Parson, builders of Shadowlawn, subject of a chapter in the book. In the pre- internet days, it was all but impossible to uncover any additional information about them. It was only recently that an internet search uncovered the fact that Maysie was the aunt of the late Lady Martonmere, wife of a former Governor General of Bermuda, whom I knew years ago.If only I had known the connection then, I am sure that many of my questions could have been answered.

Old Grey Dog said...

Thank you, again, 'Down East', for the link re: James T. Maher. I see that he made the transition to Angel status back in 2007, and has been reunited with his "resident philosopher" !!!

Anonymous said...

http://www.newsday.com/classifieds/real-estate/real-li-1.812034/event-opens-at-upper-brookville-s-chestnut-manor-1.3176538?showAll=true

I am going to hi-jack this home to put in this open house. This was in today's Newsday. I wish I were in the New York area. I would go.
Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Poor,Poor Wolver Hollow. Isn't it a bad sign when your house becomes a Designer Showcase? In the past, it seems that many that did so were not long after demolished.

Anonymous said...

anon-

it is not a bad sign when your house becomes a designers showcase. the houses that are selected are usually in dire need of help, and the public interest generated usually saves the house from the wrecking ball -- the show houses that have been produced by the same ladies that are doing "Wolver Hollow" have never been torn down -- not one in over 40 years.

these shows have also raised huge sums of money for local charities, and allow the public to get a glimpse of the interiors of houses they would more than likely never get to see-- even if they are not decorated to the visitors taste, the bones of the house are still there to be admired by all.

Anonymous said...

That's good to hear. I thought the opposite, that it was sort of a dooms-day sign.