Friday, December 30, 2011

What We Lost in 2011...

As we close out 2011 I thought this would be a good time to take a look back at what we lost this past year...

In April 'Lands End', the John Scott Browning estate built c. 1911 in Sands Point was demolished and the property subdivided for a development known as 'Seagate', click HERE for more on 'Lands End'.

In the last few weeks 'Dark Hollow', the Oliver Jennings residence designed by Mott Schmidt and Mogens Tvede c. 1930 in Cold Spring Harbor was demolished for reasons unknown. Click HERE to see 'Dark Hollow' on bing.

'Les Bois', the George Moffett estate designed by Mott Schmidt c. 1927 in Old Brookville came down in the last few months for reasons unknown. Click HERE for more on 'Les Bois'.

The F. Skiddy Von Stade estate designed by Cross & Cross c. 1914 with alterations by Peabody, Wilson & Brown c. 1930 in Old Westbury is set to be demolished at any time now with the property currently being subdivided for a development known as 'Hidden Pond'. Click HERE for more on the Von Stade estate.

Feel free to share thoughts, opinions or other places we lost this past year.

36 comments:

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Dark Hollow - HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?????

James said...

I am beyond, over Dark Hollow...was on my ride list. Monica Randall said not to worry about dogs or security. can't believe it!

James said...

"Les Bois", the George Moffett house by Mott Scmidt in Brookville, off 25A is gone too.

The Ancient said...

Dark Hollow has been owned by a succession of more or less disagreeable people since the sixties. It ultimately appears to have fallen under the control of a notorious pair of dentists-turned-slumlords who figured they could turn a quick buck by roughing it up and then tearing it down.

The Ancient said...

P.S. I seem to remember that the house immediately north of DH was originally built by one of the Pratts in the mid-Fifties.

Zach said...

JH- thanks for the 'Les Bois' reminder.

The Ancient said...

Dilettante has pictures of Dark Hollow here:

http://thedowneastdilettante.blogspot.com/2011_01_01_archive.html

Anonymous said...

Typical and unfortunate year on Long Island. Pressures from development, high taxes and greed did these places in. Never understood the Von Stade situation. How could one just abandon a home and let it rot for well over a decade? Demolition was inevitably. Once Lands End, in perfect condition, was sold to the slimy developer who promised to preserve it yet let it fall into ruin, its fate was sealed. However, both dark Hollow and Les Bois appear to be very manageable estates, but in the wrong place at the wrong time. The intimate Dark Hollow on a prime waterfront lot will be replaced by a new waterfront mega-mansion with a vast entry hall, 2 ton crystal chandelier, 12 seat media room, 5 car garage, 7 1/2 bathrooms and a grandiose kitchen with a dozen stainless steel appliances. Les Bois will likely succumb to the surrounding sub-division of McMansions. I presume next year or soon after you can include Carey's Bogheid mansion in Glen Cove to the list as well as the Bostwick mansion in Old Westbury as it sits unused and decreipt.

The Down East Dilettante said...

There's been a startling trend away from older houses, no matter the quality, for several years now, but recently it seems to have reached epic proportions. People are absolutely and totally convinced they must have new new, new--in real estate parlance, 'updated' everything (my own bathrooms have at least 50 year old plumbing fixtures, and I feel in no way deprived, but apparently I am). But, when extraordinary houses like Dark Hollow fall, something is really wrong indeed. One should read Monica Randall's chapter on Dark Hollow, in which she gushes embarrassingly about Ivory Tower Freidus, the last occupant of Dark Hollow.

I don't understand. I just don't (and am equally perplexed that they could come down without apparently a peep.

For a Mott Schmidt house in New Jersey that has met a kinder fate, click here: http://www.themagazineantiques.com/articles/living-with-antiques-a-new-jersey-collection/

The Ancient said...

Dilettante --

A neighborhood realtor who specializes in high-end houses divides her clients into two types: "sailboat people" and "motorboat people."

Guess which are more numerous?

Nick said...

Redevelopment is the bane of Civilization! Not only is the destruction of these houses a disaster, but the loss of the open space, meadows and woodlands surrounding them are a disaster to the environment and wildlife!!!

The Down East Dilettante said...

Sadly, I don't have to guess---I already know the answer from my own business. ('is there anything we can have done about the flaking gilding?'--missing entirely the point that the flaking gilding is part of what makes it beautiful). Indeed, as we all rail against the forces of demolition, we have to remember that several of the houses in question were for sale, and no one stepped up to buy them to repair and live in. No one.

archibuff said...

It is also the way the mansions are marketed and the way people today have become accustomed to technology too that dooms these homes. Ask anyone about the cost to add central air and wireless capabilities to an older home, let alone install a central alarm system, radiant heated floors, towel rack warmers, multi head shower stalls, a home theatre with surround sound, etc, etc. The older home requires an owner who can live without all of the latest fads, gadgets, push buttons, voice commands, handless controls and commercial sized pizza ovens, which sadly todays home buyer insist upon having. This dooms even the most well maintained 100 year old home to the wrecking ball.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Surely Archi, the cost of renovation to those standards cannot be more than the cost of building a new house after tearing down the old.

The preservation movement in this country is doomed compared to Europe. We've never been able to get the traction---or build the appreciation.

Anonymous said...

I rather have one of these great own estates to one of the classless new mansions which all look alike. You don't have the workmanship, artistry in the new places that we have in old classic ladies. It is real sad that we are losing these grand old dames.

lil' gay boy said...

Another sad truth is that, for many of these fated places, despite the quality construction and material, they simply cannot last forever, especially in light of the soaring costs of maintaining homes that have passed from neglectful hand to neglectful hand, with nary a sou to put right the wrongs in the proper, period materials (or acceptable modern substitutes).

Those buying these properties (if at all) are seeking the modern comforts that retrofitting either cannot address or, due to long term structural damage make it unfeasible to restore them.

A sad state of affairs that can only continue as younger & younger buyers have either no inkling, nor regard for, the past they are destroying.

And on that happy note, Happy New Year, y'all!

Lora said...

"The older home requires an owner who can live without all of the latest fads, gadgets, push buttons, voice commands, handless controls and commercial sized pizza ovens, which sadly todays home buyer insist upon having."

That would be me. Now all I need is the money.

Zach said...

My 2 Cents...

Legal landmarking as we have it in NYC will likely never be possible in places like the North Shore. NYC's landmark law is predicated on previous court findings that the facades of buildings are more or less part of the public as they face public streets which are accessible and therefore enjoyed by everyone.

Unlike a place like Mill Neck, where a house set back on 4 acres cannot be seen by anyone but the owner (obviously case specific for this example). And private property rights in that regard would trump landmarking (because you know if you can afford a 4 acre house in Mill Neck you can afford to go to court). It'd be extremely hard to tell people what to do with their house when it sits on property no one can see and thus not enjoy. None of this is to be confused with a conscientious owner placing a covenant on said property (like Groton Place in OW).

Regarding Knole, I think I've mentioned this before but this particular case is fairly rare. A developer purchased the estate with intentions of developing the entire property, including demolishing the house. OW granted permission for subdivision but refused to grant a permit to demolish the house. I don't know their reasoning behind this but you could be sure there would have been quite an outcry. They ultimately forced the developer to sell off the main house lot to anyone...and it was eventually purchased by some tax exempt religious organization.

Unlike Spring Hill...where the Village told the developer he had to demolish all of the extant outbuildings. This included the gate house, the garage, the barns and the large stables/greenhouse complex (which is original to the 1903 design). Thankfully, the developer fought the Village over this and was successful (minus the garage which was in very bad shape anyway). And a family went on to buy the entire stables lot.

For a while it seemed like Old Westbury was hell bent on scrubbing away every last thing that made it Old Westbury. But at least we still have Knole (well...someone does).

archibuff said...

Zach, tax exempt psuedo religious orders come and go and Knole looks quite unoccupied and unkept. A recent drive by had the entrance drive chained off and dead pine trees piled up on the side. The overgrown lawn looks like a mower hadnt touched it all Fall. Hopefully this is all temporary but there is the story of Fairleigh, the George Brewster estate in Brookville. It too was purchased by a family years ago who were intent on preserving it, and eventually tried to seek tax exempt status and then were indicted for fraud and had numerous other legal problems, yet during all that, they spent their time stripping the homes interior of every last mantle, fixture, door knob, flooring, etc., anything that could be sold off was. Luckily the trustees running the Hoffman Preserve took on the enormous task of restoring the property and did a splendid job. I still am wary of the status of Knole. Sometimes a good story just sounds too good to be true. Plus a village that rules on similar development projects (Spring Hill and Knole) in completely different directions sounds disorganized and disfunctional.

And DED its not entirely the cost issue, its how brokers and developers phrase the potential renovation. You can either spend $1.5 million to fix up this older home and what you still have is an older home, with all the quirks and odd spaces and compromises you have to make that cant be entirely renovated away, or you can spend just $1 million more and you can get your dream home with everything you ever wanted in it, designed to your personal preferences. They dont help the old house cause at all.

Zach said...

archibuff...the Knole info comes from a lawyer for the Village of Old Westbury.

The Village is definitely disorganized and dysfunctional but I also try not to compare the Spring Hill and Knole situations too closely as I can only assume they considered a masterwork of Thomas Hastings to be more worthy than stables on an estate that had long since been demolished. I'd argue it all be worthy of saving..and thankfully in this case both were.

Were you up Knole's driveway? The original main entrance has been almost entirely closed off, the gate butchered into some Frankenstein of a gate for the entrance to the subdivision.

Anonymous said...

Aside from the developers, what else could be causing this current trend of new, new, new and out with the old? Is it the changing demographics that are altering the face of the North Shore? Mmmm...

What a crying shame that a little gem like Dark Hollow has succumbed to the wrecking ball.

Kyle Peterson said...

For what its worth, my dad claimed to have been in a Gold Coast mansion this past year that was scheduled to be demolished. With this news, he took the liberty of snapping off an interior door knob.

Kyle Peterson said...

the door knob: http://s978.photobucket.com/albums/ae269/onefstsleepr/?action=view&current=DSCN1907.jpg

Anonymous said...

I'm heartbroken....such sad,sad news...in a few more years, none of these home's will stand....we're the ones' that care, but don't have the fund's to maintain.

Anonymous said...

People today want the easy to maintain homes. The mansions of old are difficult to maintain, keep clean, yards needs a full time person/staff in itself to maintain, especially the larger estates with the formal gardens. The mansions with the tall ceilings and fancy moldings, etc. Very sad to see these go. I would love to own one of these great old ladies, the larger the better with at least 10 acres of estate land. I would use some of the staff rooms for staff. I would love have some of the out buildings as well. Yes, I would have it opened to the public one or two days a week so they can see what the glorious past was like.

archibuff said...

For Zach....had the chance to drive by Knole today. While the strangely elongated entry gate has been reinstalled spanning a 2 lane roadway, minus the original gates themselves, I cant be too harsh since the Pembroke developers just scrapped the magnificent original entry gates and adjacent iron fencing for cheap, undersized replacements. At least at Knole an effort was made to preserve the elaborate entrance gates, albeit oddly stretched. The home itself looks as if repairs are underway. The stucco facade is patched in many locations, isolated trees are wrapped in orange tape, garbage cans are stacked in rows and one hopes that there is a bright future for the property. One new home has been constructed, but it unfortunately was built where a magnificent stone pergola/garden colonnade was located, framing the end of one of Knoles great garden vistas. While the home may thankfully live on, its relationship with the grand, mature formal landscaping plan will be lost forever.

As for Spring Hill, any village board that could recommend demolition of the gatehouse and gated entrance way is incompetent and a detriment and curse to preservation throughout the village of Old Westbury.

Best for the New Year and no more senseless demolitions

Charles said...

I was in the Von Staade mansion when my daughter was about 4 and she is 31 now. The house was unlived in then and had been for some time, at that point. So, it had been unoccupied for many more than the dozen years mentioned by another blogger.
I wish, at least, the houses slated to be demolished could be viewed by those of us who would mourn their loss. I would just love to get into them and walk around before they're gone. I know. I know- unsafe conditions and insurance problems, but I can wish, can't I??

Anonymous said...

Is Fairleigh the Hoffman Center on 25A? I saw a Youtube video of the owners restoring the house and turning the property into a perserve, but for years now, everytime I pass the gates are closed, and no one responds to the number on their website. I hope this home doesn't fall into the hands of developers.

Kyle Peterson said...

yes it is

Anonymous said...

Hoffman Center and its 160 acres are safe from development. Work continues on rehabbing the farm group buildings. To see the place, attend the annual lecture series.

The Down East Dilettante said...

As the conversations in this post show, the issues and methods of preservation are complex (understatement of the year), and the battle is uphill.

Most experts agree that the preservation of open space, and the unity of landscape and landmark features (i.e. gates, etc.) are desirable features. Most developers want the maximum number of lots with the least fuss. Hence, rather than doing as many would, by arranging the lots around important features, like the garden, they instead just bulldoze and demolish---even though their development would undoubtedly be more attractive and interesting if they followed the layout of pre-existing features.

Most communities are run by amateur politicians, who often have more than a little self-interest, and contempt for anything that stands in the way of 'progress' and an ever higher tax base. Usually it takes a concerned citizenry to rise up and insist on stronger laws (and variances) that encourage preservation. Generally that citizenry instead wring their hands post-mortem. It's all very sad.

Kirk said...

Zack,

How did you find out Dark Hollow was coming down? I know the picture I sent you started your curiosity but did you go there and check it out. I am really saddened by this but not suprised since it was abandoned.

Zach said...

I refer your question to DED...calling DED...come in DED...car 54 where are you?

Kirk said...

Great article on Jacob Freidus and his IRS troubles.

http://www.ustaxcourt.gov/InOpHistoric/FREIDUS.TCM.WPD.pdf

Kirk said...

http://www.ustaxcourt.gov/InOpHistoric/FREIDUS.TCM.WPD.pdf

The Down East Dilettante said...

I'm here! I'm here!

I had blogged about Mogens Tvede several months ago, and included pictures of Dark Hollow. One of my readers, who had seen the post, emailed me to tell me that it had been demolished, and that she and friends had monitored the last days.