Monday, November 7, 2011

'Westbrook Farm' / 'Knollwood'

'Westbrook Farm' (aka 'Knollwood'), the Charles Hudson estate designed between 1906 and 1920 by Hiss & Weekes in Muttontown with landscaping by Ferruccio Vitale. Click HERE to see the brochure from when the estate was for sale and HERE to see what the ruins look like today. Click HERE to see the estate on google earth.





Photos from Architecture, 1911.

24 comments:

Doug Floor Plan said...

I suspect Lansdell Christie of 'Muttontown Meadows' would have razed this house eventually even if it hadn't been badly vandalized by the time he bought it to expand his estate next door -- while beautiful, especially the landscaping, I'm sure it was also very expensive to maintain, especially the landscaping.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Yup. Nice little farm---just need a few chickens in the front yard and maw and paw in a rocker on the terrace at the end of a hard day on the north forty to complete the picture. Nice and cozy.

Seriously though, here is a perfect illustration of the difference between a good designer and CPH Gilbert---graceful details, beautifully integrated, a sure sense of scale, proportion, and detail (*DED dons hard hat to dodge the bricks he's about to have thrown at him)

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Bricks and MORE bricks....

Doug Floor Plan said...

DED, I agree this place is as much of a farm as those places in Newport are cottages -- there must have been a lot of smug satisfaction in that era.

Instead of waiting for the bricks (you're out of my throwing distance anyway) why don't you at some time today go find a horse who's poised to kick & just stand behing him/her for at least 10 minutes & see if fate is wid ye or agin ye. We exect you to be honest tomorrow with the results ... C.P.H. Gilbert's status is on the line.

The Down East Dilettante said...

In truth, design quality aside, I find Pembroke total over-the-top, just go-for-it fun. A veritable amusement park of a house. In fact, deLamar should have named it 'Go For Broke'. But the Woolworth house, stiff as a board, could go tomorrow, and I'd shed not a tear. There are so many houses that do the same thing, only better---(and irritated it makes me that Gilbert, just because his name is on the plans of necessity, gets credit for the Kahn house in recent years. In contemporary publication, Stenhouse only is the credited designer. Gilbert was the American liaison. A mediocre designer of big fancy houses doesn't suddenly come up with such a controlled and elegant design and then go back to designing more big decorated stone boxes.

Now, if y'all will excuse me, I'm going to go find a nice safe bunker (maybe a Gilbert house) until the brick storm is over :-)

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Floor plans -

http://books.google.com/books?id=ElUiAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA190-IA19&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U1oOCIxvcBS2sEPef9yWXwTt_Zosw&ci=95%2C130%2C778%2C1054&edge=0

You can ctrl + to zoom. You can also copy to computer for editing. Rotate for correct perspective. No matter what you'll have to guess room layout, to grainy to read.

Anonymous said...

Knollwood has always been a favorite, a perfect combination of an elegantly proportioned, classic mansion and a spectacularly formal landscape. Even the walled kitchen/cutting garden is perfection. Not tossing any bricks at anyone, but I like DFP's suggestion, the extant CPH Gilbert townhouses in NYC that he DID design, are magnificently extravagant structures, some of the best examples of the era, IMO. True, Pembroke is a fantasyland mansion/entertainment extravaganza and in that example, who cares about the little details, the whole is a fun filled, throw everything in the pot and stir, country estate worthy of other L.I. "over the top" showplaces built to entertain, satisfy tough moneyed clients and show off how much money one could spend, like Beacon Towers and Harbor Hill, all sadly missed. Also, Winfield's stairhall is as restrained (as a marble entrance hall could be) and accomplished as Marble House, again, IMO, and while not my favorite from the exterior, I am so grateful it hasn't been thoughtlessly destroyed for a subdivision, although it seems its past owners have tried their hardest to see that happen.

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

DFP - using floor plans wouldn't you say the room pictured in the for sale brochure(room with table and chairs) is the Dinning Room or Breakfast Room? East side corner location, facing south, perfect to catch the morning sun if it was Breakfast Room. Moving west you have the HUGE Living Room with opposing fireplaces. The main dinning room would have been on the west corner to catch the light at the end of the day? All facing south overlooking the grand formal gardens by Ferruccio Vitale. His book with descriptive text of the plantings and more photos.

North Shore book with more on Westbrook Farm. Navigate to page 25 of the preview.

Doug Floor Plan said...

HPHS, I've been studying the floor plan as best I could & looking across the back of the house going left to right (west to east) I think the rooms are:
1) Loggia (open walls)
2) I can't read the words here but it's a big retangular room with a skylight (& possibly a fountain -- one is referenced as being in a loggia in the sales brochure) -- I'm guessing a conservatory.

Now we're in the main body of the house.
3) Library
4) Living Room (the three windows in the center of the main body of the house)
5) Dining Room -- you are correct that the picture in the sales brochure is the dining room; the fireplace on the left backs up to the fireplace you see in the living room picture; the double doors go out into the main hall & the windows are behind you.

In the East wing:
6) Butler's pantry
7) Breakfast room (butler's pantry connects to both the dining room & breakfast room); this is a round room & we haven't seen a picture of it (which is too bad).
8) Again, I can't read the words & hate to guess that it's a second conservatory but it connects off the breakfast room so it's not a very formal room & it has large french doors leading outside so it's not an art gallery.

I'll send what I have to Zach & see if he can make better sense out of things. HPHS, I hope this was helpful; again, you are a master at finding 'stuff' on the Internet.

The Down East Dilettante said...

HPHS, Could you link us to the actual page and publication where you foundthe floor plan, please?
Ca
One of the things that drives me crazy about Google books is the extremely sloppy quality of much of the digitization. If one is going to do something like this, it's rarely harder to do it well. Incidentally, one can often find the same books on Canadian Libraries, better digitized and in easier saving format.

The real estate and Vitale photos point up another thing that is often lost in this day of gardening services, and labor saving devices: The art of maintaining the landscape as it is 'meant' to look. These guys were professionals trained in techniques, and taught how to have an eye. Such a contrast to all the badly clipped yew that passes for landscaping nowadays.

The Down East Dilettante said...

PS, these plans do bring home the astonishing overscaled dimensions of the house--we're pushing palace here--and are textbook cases of rational, axial Beaux Arts planning--balance and symmetry and circulation above all else. One must have felt awfully tiny standing next to this place

Doug Floor Plan said...

DED, I agree: there must be an interesting satisfaction in occupying a dwelling that dwarfs you because throughout history so many people have done it. Your comment also reminded me of the movie ‘Arthur’ [1981] where Liza Minnelli is standing in the living room of Dudley Moore’s country house & comments, “I like a room you can land an airplane in.”

I also agree about the superb Beaux Arts design & layout of ‘Knollwood;’ it is timeless, but the scale is just so huge.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Doug, don't you rather suspect that for most who do so the satisfaction of building a huge and over-scaled house is not being dwarfed oneself, but the dwarfing of others?

Old Grey Dog said...

I LOVE Down East Dilletante's suggestion that deLamar should have named Pembroke, "Go For Broke" !!! Even before I became aware of this GREAT Blog I saw the illustrations of Pembroke in "North Shore Long island" and all I could think of was "Goin' Broke" !!!

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

DED DFP all is revealed in the text page 191 -

http://books.google.com/books?id=ElUiAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA177&dq=Architecture,+1911&hl=en&ei=Rtu3TvrEC-jZ0QGdwazRBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=knollwood&f=false

I love this house even more.

Move up for the floor plans.

A five year endeavor!


http://wikimapia.org/#lat=40.8244862&lon=-73.5305339&z=18&l=0&m=b&show=/7050744/Knollwood-Estate-Front-Gate

The front gate was to be restored last April. Can anyone confirm?


http://www.villageofmuttontown.com/htm/Resident_Letter_1_11_4.pdf

To add to Pembroke's over the top aura. Nothing says that more then having PEMBROKE spelled out in flowers outside your window!

Zach said...

I did notice a while ago that the gates themselves had been removed...I had thought stolen. But this is at least positive...though I can't say if they've been reinstalled, I haven't been over there in a few months.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Thanks HPHS---nice to see the entire article.

And in case I didn't shout it loud enough, Google books needs more quality control. Kinda defeats the whole purpose if they just let folks scan at such a low resolution that salient details are lost.

Anonymous said...

HPHS... I passed by Knollwood a few weeks ago and noticed that the gates themselves were indeed gone, but also that the overgrowth had been cleared, and that the urns and concrete stands seemed to have been cleaned.

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

DED whats the deal with Canada libraries? Can "we" access? How?

The Down East Dilettante said...

HPHS:

www.archive.org

Anonymous said...

Thnx for the adding the floor plans to this post. Never seen them before. A really great find.

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

DED thanks, I was aware of this but didn't know it was Canadian.

The Down East Dilettante said...

It has a section that is solely Canadian Libaries, and when one googles looking for things, Canadian Libraries, rather than archive is what will come up.

KADAREJA said...

This is the property of one Albanian thief, he called himself "The King of Albania,, from 1928 to 1939, after he betrayed his own country to Italian fascist he left, his name is Ahmet Zogu, he did still all the gold and monetary value. We had a lot of these criminals before, but today we do have more. What a shame