Wednesday, December 14, 2011

'Killenworth' Interiors

The accompanying interiors to yesterday's post on 'Killenworth', the George duPont Pratt estate designed by Trowbridge & Ackerman c. 1913 in Glen Cove. Click HERE for more on 'Killenworth'.






Photos from Architectural Review, 1914.

29 comments:

The Down East Dilettante said...

Handsome as I find Killenworth, Goddess save me from living in one of those early 20th century Tudorbethan interiors. Handsome, beautifully crafted, romantic of intent, and dark, gloomy and uncompromising. Rarely does one of these rise to the charm or aged beauty of the original.

magnus said...

DED- I agree wholeheartedly. What I find even harder to understand is why, in a pre-air conditioned era,the Tudoresque style was so popular among the rich. In Merry Olde England, a summer thermometer reading of 70 degrees is considered a torrid heat wave. Sitting among all that velvet, tapestry and hideous oak during your average Long Island June and September seems exponentially less appealing.

archibuff said...

While a home on the ocean with huge french doors opening up to catch the breezes is great, I think a solid masonry home with high ceilings like this works very well in a hot summer environment. Just noting that my home has thick masonry walls and brick infill within the framed walls and if one keeps the shades down on a sweltering hot humid Long Island summer day, the interior rooms are remarkably cool without the AC. Just noting what I have observed and on the other hand, I would take one of these dark panelled rooms with a massive stone fireplace on frigidly cold damp night in a heart beat. The whole ensemble of Killenworth has been done very well, from the entrance drive to the overall proportions, from the spacious layout to the dual usage reflecting pool/swimming pool.

Minerva @ park city realtors said...

Wow, this house is timeless and the fireplace is a very nice feature of the house. I would love to hear the richness of the stories in this house. :)

Anonymous said...

Off subject... For those interested, there will be a house tour of Wereholm in Islip this coming Saturday.

The Ancient said...

Can't you just see Boris and Natasha with cocktails in the living room?

(Of course, they'd want to replace those unfortunate sheep in The Gallery with Moose and Squirrel...)

Doug Floor Plan said...

Thanks for the joke Ancient; it's odd to me the Soviets were walking around a place like this while outwardly trying to bring down the capitalist world. & as I said yesterday, if the Soviets hadn's bought it I doubt 'Killenworth' would stand today -- so, thanks.

I also have a [kinda] joke: We should make a betting pool as to how many sets of nesting dolls are in 'Killenworth' today ... & I mean today, 12.14. The only catch is getting an accurate answer -- do you think they'd tell us?

magnus said...

I wonder if the swimming pool remains? It was such a central feature of the original plan.

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder how the Pratt family heirs felt about it being sold for a Soviet diplomatic mission. If you ever have a chance, get out into the Long Island Sound and see what some of these places from Glen Cove out to Centre Island look like from the water - sometimes even more spectacular than the front elevations, IMHO. Aside from the proximity to NY and that vantage point for all that messgae interception that was referenced in the link in yesterdays post, perhaps the dark and gloomy heavy interiors felt familiar to the Soviets. More than anything, I am in awe of the granite exterior, the millwork and those lovely windows!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the "gloomy interiors": Remember that these photos are black and white magazine reproductions. If we could see the same pictures in well-lighted color photographs they would not seem gloomy, and they might even be quite attractive.

Doug Floor Plan said...

I believe the swimming pool remains & is being cared for.

* If you look at the Google Earth view the pool is a very nice blue & there appears to be white lawn furniture around it. The upper terrace also appears to be well groomed & even have a bit of landscaping.

* If you rotate through the Bing views it's probably early winter & the pool is covered with a blue tarp -- so, no polar bear swimming in that pool.

I hope the existing Pratts are grateful this house still stands & is as well preserved as it is -- 'Manor House' & 'Poplar Hill' have had some really unattractive additions.

mylittlehousingblog.com said...

I would like to enter the house today and see its interiors. These homes have a wonderful atmosphere, something newer homes never have.

I doubt the Russian government will invite me, so I can only dream about it.

Anonymous said...

I suspect the reason the gilded-age rich were attracted to Tudor and Elizabethan architecture was because the associated it with European aristocracy...and they saw themselves as American royalty....so that fits. I personally love these types of homes and don't find them cold at all...I can picture myself snuggled up with a brandy by a roaring fireplace on a cold winter's night. I'm sure the black and white photos don't do them justice.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Anonymous, I've spent much time in my life in early 20th century Tudorbethan interiors like these. And, they are almost invariably too dark and cosy---Stygian gloom is the phrase that comes to mind. They're large, well designed, handsome to look at, well crafted, but for my own taste (and this is opinion only, not incontrovertible fact---gloooooomy. I prefer a souffle to a steak too :-)

Patricia said...

I am thinking about my own experience in the similarly designed Sefton Manor/Mill Neck Manor. In that house, the one side of the entire living area of the first floor (not counting the kitchen/servant areas) was almost all windows, and opened up with numerous glass doors (sorry, I'm no architect but these were full size doors where the glass had random lead dividers making different shaped panes and some of those panes had a stained glass image of some heraldic -- my guess-- depiction) -- anyway, the living room, reception room and dining room all opened to the terrace which ran the length of the back of the house, overlooking a magnificent great lawn and a view of Long Island Sound/Connecticut so I remember it as sunny and breezy. Not gloomy at all.

Having said that, when my father died, he was laid out (there's probably a more elegant word choice) there on a dark rainy night in October and the house certainly rose to the occasion to match the mood.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone ever look at these houses and picture themselves sitting on a wooden stool in a small room for 8 hours a day every day polishing intricately carved silver for an annual wage less than was spent on the living room sofa?

Anonymous said...

Anon? No and why? This blog focuses on architecture, design and historic preservation. If you want a blog about political reform and workers rights look elsewhere. In fact these estates employeed many newly arrived unskilled emigrants who would not have found any jobs in the US if it were not for positions in the domestic staffs or gardening crews or stables at many of these homes.

Anonymous said...

Ouch, Anon 1:31am – did I strike a nerve? I wasn’t making a political statement; I was just observing in a previous comment that everyone always fantasizes about having a servant but no one ever fantasizes about being a servant in one of these places. I’m happy to talk only about architecture, design, and historic preservation … but that means no more gossiping about the people who built and occupied these places … not as much fun then, huh?

Anonymous said...

Oh, Anon 1:31am, one more thing – unskilled immigrants did not get jobs on the domestic staffs, gardening crews, or in the stables of these estates because, then as now, employers want experience. In fact, then as now, having a skill was and is a criterion for being allowed to immigrate into the United States.

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Stepping into the fray - I'm not speaking for Zach but he might agree - this site is more about exterior and interior photos. Its also about the people that lived and worked on the estates. The experiences that shaped the whole of the area.

Doug Floor Plan said...

HPHS, I agree. & thank you for creating your own blog -- it's well done & finally tells me from whence your name comes. But I didn't see a contact link like Zach has & I have some "stuff" I think might interest you. Do you want me to route it through Zach, at least the first batch? (Zach, do you mind?)

Anonymous said...

Actually Anon 12:26, everytime I enter one of these grand mansions, I do wonder about the workers who had to polish all the brass and silver, dust all the intricate wood and iron and scrub the tile or marble floors. Although their surroundings are amazing, I'm sure the job was awfully hard and demanding.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:26 You didnt strike a nerve, you just sound quite uninformed. Check most records of such estates as the ones on this blog. Some household staff, the very elite of the service group, were skilled, such as chefs, valets, butlers and head housekeepers and required references, etc. The vast majority were unskilled, those right off the boats at Ellis Island. Scullery maids, groomsmen, general kitchen staff, gardeners for the most part and this level of servant were also all treated poorly by the general public as well as the upper echelon of the other household servants too. Yes, even the servants had a hiearchy/rank and class system. So your pointing blame at the "owners and builders' of these homes is pointless, ridiculous and maybe requires you to go back and read up some more. While many of the jobs were difficult, many loyal servants remained employed for the lifetime of their families lives, some inherited money and property also. I know of 4 families on LI who were willed millions after the death of their employers. Your Charles Dickens scenario of a tortured sservant on a hard wooden stool is quaint and amusing at best.

The Ancient said...

Several posts over the past few years have had valuable comments from the children and grandchildren of people who worked on these estates. Offhand, I don't remember anyone telling stories about the drudgery of the work -- though I'm sure drudgery there was.

(On Zach's other blog, he posts today about Hillair in White Plains, where, it seems, the butler really did do it.)

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:46 AM, once again – I was making a comment about people’s fantasies. You are deliberately misreading my comment for reasons that are unclear to me. But in response to the last part of your last comment – I wonder if you would be willing to work for years for long hours at low pay in the hopes that you’ll outlive your employer and be generously remembered in their will … or maybe that’s what you’re doing now and just don’t want anyone to cast doubt.

The Down East Dilettante said...

To the Two Anonymouses: I think Anonymous one made a valid and interested comment and did not deserve the disdainful and patronizing responses from Anonymous 2.

This is discussion and opinion by a group of interested people (and I fully admit to myself being one of the most opinionated and sometimes sounding stronger than I mean to). But I hope I never take the dismissive tone that Anonymous 2 did. It wasn't nice.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Also, Anonymous 2, I have to stand with HPHS---one cannot separate the social history from the architectural history---the two are inseparably entwined with the properties, and have been since owner and architect first shook hands. This is a fact fully recognized and explored by the English in their own discussions of country houses and class. One cannot look at the architecture without consideration of all other issues that went into creation of these properties, and Anonymous 1 asked valid questions.

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

DFP - added contact info on profile link at my blog.

Anonymous 1 said...

Thank you DED -- of course I knew the answer to my question when I asked it: very few people imagine themselves at the bottom of a hierarchy but that’s what makes us strive … man’s reach should exceed his grasp. I was just making a weak joke while offering a reminder that no one sits on the deck of their yacht admiring the sunset unless multiple other people are hard at work elsewhere. I like capitalism. I also appreciate that capitalism is one reason why after WWI an abundant supply of low wage domestics began to rapidly shrink.