Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Dunbar Bostwick Estate

The Dunbar Bostwick estate built in the early 1930s in Old Westbury, likely by James O'Connor. The home was demolished a few years ago and the property subdivided, click HERE to see what replaced it. Click HERE for more on the Dunbar Bostwick estate, HERE to see where the home stood on google earth and HERE on bing. Photo from Nassau County Tax Photos.

55 comments:

The Ancient said...

Do you suppose the new house was built for an episode of "Mob Wives"?

Zach said...

Ancient...you should see the one across the street built probably 15 years earlier... it has about two dozen statues in the driveway.

I was always very partial to this Bostwick house as I passed it daily to and from middle and high school as a kid and was devastated when it was torn down. I came very close to leaving a letter in the mailbox for the new owners congratulating them on building the most hideous monstrosity in Old Westbury (where there is some serious competition).

The Down East Dilettante said...

Dammit Ancient, a Dilettante has to get up earlier in the morning to beat you to the punchline.

Will our children someday be mourning the new houses when they are torn down? Bemoaning the decline in taste and quality? Is the worst even yet in the future?

Doug Floor Plan said...

Zach, the only comfort I can offer is that the day will come when whoever owns this -- I think I called it a casino before -- will want to sell; & there is a 1% chance someone will want to purchase & occupy it; so it too will come down ... hopefully sooner rather than later. & my famous last words will be: surely something worse cannot be built there (LOL, don't you know the current owners would love to here that).

The Down East Dilettante said...

Zach, You should have left that letter. I know you're too much of a gentleman, but so what?

I know that pain so well---one sees and admires something fine---and learns from it, and somehow, someone with coarser ideas.

My great-grandparent's house, on the Main St. of our village, was a classic mid-19th century New England house--not grand, but commodious, white with dark green shutters, symmetrical, with handsome doorway, double drawing rooms separated by an arch, and a stair that curved gracefully at the top. It was of similar scale and quality to the other houses along that stretch of the street, making a harmonious whole. My grandmother, the only child, sold it to someone who instantly resold it to a bank, clearly a premeditated shill. There are no preservation ordinances in our village, and after the usual citizen's protest, it was demolished, with renderings circulated by the bank of the new structure 'designed to blend and harmonize wiht the historic character of the neighborhood'. Needless to say, it was a badly designed horror, and the harmony of the streetscape was lost forever. Now in the age of drive-ups and automated tellers, the horror is compounded, and I still think of my Great grandfather's elegant rose garden where asphalt paving now rules.
We so rarely make the built world better anymore.

But the point of this long story is that I remember the weeks that my grandmother had to be driven to the center of town by a back street to avoid the sight of her former bedroom door hanging in air, or of fireplaces with no house around them.

Anonymous said...

My morning already started off bad enough...this now makes it worse....

The Down East Dilettante said...

*someone with coarser ideas and a bulldozer comes along*, is how the sentence was supposed to end.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid you are so very wrong. I think there is much more demand today for the replacement home than the original Bostwick house, which is why it was torn down. 2 story entrance halls lined with marble floor tiles, gold painted mouldings and huge crystal chandeliers once the norm in catering halls has become the standard in Old Westbury residential design. It is part the new generation, changing tastes and a strong foreign influence in design that is changing the look of newer mansions, not entirely for the better as this replacement home attests to and also the psuedo-spanish hacienda/Italian villa with the statuary, built across the street 15 years ago as mentioned previously/

The Down East Dilettante said...

Anonymous---my week has sadly had to include a visit to the undertaker (excuse me, funeral director). The path to his offices take one through just such an eye-popping display as you just described---his disappointment that we are choosing a private graveside service over the use of his extravagant facility is palpable---I can only wonder at who could possibly hate their loved ones so much as to send them off from such a place. Oh for the good old days of the horse drawn hearse.

Kellsboro Jack said...

That new house looks like it would be happily nestled on the outskirts of Baghdad.

Zach, just curious, is there an approximate number of extant Gilded Age homes on Long Island which have either been granted National Historic Registry status or submitted for recognition?

It seems LI is rather underrepresented despite the high concentration of architecturally notable works.

lil' gay boy said...

"...put out mine eyes..."

The new house becomes even more ghastly with each viewing; the aerial view shows just how vulgar the finished product is.

I fear for the lovely little gambrel-roofed house behind the Wohl Residence (designed around Maillol's 1937 sculpture, L'Air); it's only a matter of time before someone tears this little gem down ––– the land's too valuable and abuts the monstrosity's backyard lollapalooza...

Zach, is the allee to the south (left) part of the original approach to Ivycroft?

Zach said...

KJ... I don't know the exact number but I can't imagine it's terribly extensive. The respective websites of the National Register and NYSHPO aren't the easiest to navigate.

LGB... I'm not sure...when seen from street level you can tell the trees aren't terribly old. The house that driveway leads to was recently for sale and I believe it had been built in the 1960s. Could very well be from then.

Patricia said...

This is not a sarcastic comment, really, but I wonder if the architects of these (ahem) newer houses are proud of their work or if they are just providing what they think the market wants/doing work simply to pay their own bills. I just can't imagine sitting back with satisfaction and thinking, "Oh yes, THIS is why I studied architecture."

The Down East Dilettante said...

One of the truly nicest people I know is an architect for the new and/or very rich. He went to one of the best architectural schools in the country. But he takes to heart the upside down chimney dictum. His intentions are sterling. He is proud of his work. His clients are happy. Myself, I try to say nothing. I once wounded him badly with pungent comments about the ghastly renovation of a once exquisite Federal house for not-so-exquisite patrons. I was ashamed, and now mind my manners. (you'd be amazed how far you can go with phrases like 'my, that certainly is an interesting treatment of the fascia'.)

archibuff said...

As in every other profession, one has moments when you can be noble and self-righteous and then there are moments when you are looking at the bottom line. Every custom built house constructed in Old Westbury and elsewhere is catering to the tastes of the owners and as their architect or designer or chief gilding applicator, you work for the client, period. What everyone bemoans is the shift in taste over the last few decades and that is definitely apparent on Long Island.

Someone mentioned Baghdad and a foreign influence and that is not too far from reality. Alot of new homeowners in OW and in many other towns are foreigners who have made a great deal of money here. That is what the Long Island census figures show. I am happy they choose the US to come to and prosper, but they dont want a Neo-Georgian or Dutch Gambrel Colonial or Arts and Crafts cottage. They want what is the standard of luxury from back home. If you have been to Central America, South America, Asia or Baghdad, etc. the residential design aesthetic is much more contemporary (glass, chrome, mirrors), much more lavish in the use of materials (polished marble tiles throughout the entire house and gold coloring applied everywhere) think 1990's Baghdad palace, but only with more gold, and this aesthetic has worked its way into American design too (picture any one of the living rooms in those various Housewive shows) and you get the total picture of overdone excess to the extreme. From the gaudy gilded furniture, sky high vaulted ceilings, overdone night time exterior electrical displays and crystal everywhere, etc) these newer homes are selling well and will continue to sell well, so there are builders and designers out there just giving people what the market is demanding. I dont see this changing anytime soon.

Also the house Zach mentions on Willets Road, with the white statues and white victorian light posts lining both sides of the driveway is truly one of the most stomach churning displays anywhere on Long Island.

lil' gay boy said...

"...truly one of the most stomach churning displays anywhere on Long Island."

Not to argue, but you apparently missed this; Chez Gatti.

You do make a few good points that we all know skate uncomfortably close to less than politically correct. A few Argentine friends have pointed out that the penchant for modern vs traditional is multifaceted ––– much of the architecture in Punta Del Este, the Hamptons of Uruguay (where many of the wealthy from Bueños Aires have weekend homes) is rigorously modern, and has little in the way of respect for older architecture. This particular friend chose to forgo that route for a house in Del Viso, between Bueños Aires and Mar del Plata, which has an eclectic mix of old & new and a significant gay population.

He maintains the new crop of wealthy wouldn't be caught dead in what the old guard constructed (with the notable exception of in-town apartments, all high ceilings and impossible rococo); there's still very much a class divide and strong sentiment against what were the "ruling classes" of the day, the mouldering remains of which would seek to preserve their long-gone way of life.

But they consider themselves much more European than South American, and are less inclined to adopt the "fuck you, I'll make more than you, buy your treasures, tear them down & paint the rest pink" attitude that seems to be manifesting itself in Old Westbury & other enclaves.

Such are the fruits of democracy, which Churchill described as "...the worst form of government ––– except for all the others."

The Ancient said...

Maybe it's time for a blog that hands out a weekly Upside Down Chimney Award.

archibuff said...

Ah Victoria Gottis abode, I know it well.

I also know, I was trying to be as PC as possible, but it is a reality, not saying its good or bad, but influences from home and ones heritage, with baggage and all, shapes our tastes and environment and it is shaping the design aesthetic in new high end home construction.

Old Westbury may be a unique petrie dish of bad architecture all on its own

Anonymous said...

Looks like someone took their pickup truck down to Home Depot and bought all the perty stuff they could afford. For the design, they clearly created a collage from pictures of about 50 different McMansions, handed it to the architect and screamed, "Daddy said I can have whatever I want!!!"

lil' gay boy said...

From little petri dishes spring mighty plagues...

Kellsboro Jack said...

Least we fail to cite the mother of all (or at least the leading contender) of bad architecture that reeks of the mantra "rose is good" - Dean Gardens!

http://deangardens.com/

(I love the real estate agent's quip: "America's most elegant estate")

Built for $25M and finished in 1992 ... this sucked away Larry Dean's fortune. Per the New York Times 'On top of the $25 million cost of building the house, they spent an additional $18 million over the years to pay for staff, taxes and utilities, for a total of $43 million.'

Who knew the price of such bad taste was so high?

The property was on the market for about 15-years and finally did sell in Aug 2010 for $7.6M to entertainer Tyler Perry. It was slated to be razed - thankfully.

Zach said...

The late '80s/early '90s really were a miserable time for architecture.

And in case anyone is curious as to why Old Westbury has so many flat roofed houses... it had to do with a ridiculous zoning law from that era that said the square footage in a roof gable counted towards habitable interior square footage...thus greatly reducing the viable space within a home.

Which caused builders to simply build their houses with flat roofs, thus absolving themselves of this dilemma. And forever scarring Old Westbury.

Thankfully that law was eventually changed (though not much else).

Anonymous said...

OMG....The master bedroom? The Rotunda? The Dining Room? If anyone wonders what one of those god awful mansions in Old Westbury may look like, look no further than Dean Gardens. Horrific is not strong enough. So much money wasted

Patricia said...

Wow,Jack. My jaw is still slack having taken the tour of Dean Gardens. I can't decide if my favorite feature is the bed in the master bedroom (eye popping)or the wedding chapel by the man-made lake (proudly) modeled after a wedding chapel at a Westin Hotel. You can just imagine the wife nudging her husband, "And tell him I want a wedding chapel just like the one we saw in Hawaii."

I wonder, too, about the custom cabinetmakers from Oklahoma who lived on the property for two years while making the kitchen cabinets. They probably don't get too many gigs like that one. Hope they made a fortune and enjoyed themselves. Really.

Zach said...

I would term 'Dean Gardens' something like Powerball Architecture...because it certainly looks like something someone who just won $200 million overnight might build.

Ok I'm done being snarky for today.

Mansions of the Gilded Age, Gary Lawrance, AIA said...

When Henry James revisited Newport in the Gilded Age, he was aghast at what the city had become with all it's gaudy marble mansions, not the bucolic little New England town that he left behind.He called them all house and no garden. White Elephants he called them because of their huge absurdity. Google, Henry James Newport White Elephants.

Anonymous said...

But still...those "White Elephants" had style and craftsmanship compared to these horror's.

Mansions of the Gilded Age, Gary Lawrance, AIA said...

I guess you could call them, "Pink Elephants".

lil' gay boy said...

I swear there's a Dean Gardens in every state of the union ––– misguided endeavors, one and all, but for the truly ghastly, take a look at this.

Anonymous said...

What Henry James didnt comment on, but should have, was the unparalleled level of craftsmanship & artistry that a Marble House or Breakers contained. They are showcases of priceless treasures and highlight the skills & talents of their builders, from the architects down to the numerous carpenters, masons, iron workers and plasterers.

The overblown mega-mansion behemoths of today are just jaw dropping displays of inferior design. The Gilded Age mansions fair much better in comparison.

Anonymous said...

NSP

Just as one tends to cite the architects of the great old houses, in part so that we can remember how talented they were,it is time to cite the architects of the new houses, if there are, indeed architects,so that we may shame them (and their schools).

Much as I love old homes, it is possible, for those of means and taste, who don't like old buildings, to build attractive modern ones (The Wohl's house, mentioned above, by Norman Jaffe being a prime example, as well as the Meier house on Bacon Road).

Many of the modern house I've seen in Europe, Asia and Latin America are actually quite beautiful.

We need a few more architect/personalities like Frank Lloyd Wright who have the talent and forceful personality to shove good buildings down their clients throats. As many of us know, Wright chose the Plaza Hotel for his own NY residence. The common link, great design and execution.

As to the Bostwick house, I once again, blame the village. The house should have been landmarked and based size and condition there would have been no reason to grant a "heartship" exemption.

Anonymous said...

NSP

Whoops....."Hardship"

The Down East Dilettante said...

The gilded age mansions do indeed fare better than the new palaces of sheetrock and dryvit., but for all its construction quality, isn't a Pembroke nothing more than an earlier McMansion, one that we now see differently through the filter of time? this isn't cheap shot at Pembroke, but a serious question, for which there is much basis.

As to an earlier commenter's query: As Zach pointed out, the various state by state National Register of Historic Places website is not exactly intuitively user friendly (nor do they usually even include pictures--it's all very late 20th century).

As to getting properties listed, and I think Zach will back me up on this, there is no systematic surveying by the National register itself---most nominating is done at a grassroots level, by owners, interested Historical societies, etc., and then passes through an appropriate state agency for review and recommendation, then to the NR. There is much confusion about the National Register, but the sad truth is that at the end of the day, it is just a list, and a very random one, that has almost no true useful function.

Mansions of the Gilded Age, Gary Lawrance, AIA said...

I think if we stepped back in time, of course houses like Pembroke were overdone wedding cakes, where more is better. And the Breakers in Newport while a masterpiece of it's day and fortunately still here, does tower over all the other surrounding large mansions, saying, " Look how rich we are" ,Yes, there are many houses being built today, that many would easily agree are not in the best of taste, but there are many contemporary architects doing work that is just as beautiful and well put together as the Gilded Age houses. One of the reasons, many of the Long Island Gold Coast estates were taken down along with so many of the Newport ones is that the architectural and historical communities of the recent past thought of them as not original architecture,just copies of the European houses they emulated. The 1950s and 60's were we lost so much great architecture was due to the fact that those buildings were thought to be old and outdated, and not even good architecture. When ever I am in Grand Central Station, I always think how magnificent Penn Station must have been.

Anonymous said...

It's amusing that Marble House in Newport was mentioned, earlier, as a great house. It's great until one looks closely- the gold panelling in the ballroom was obviously not properly gessoed before being gilded, as the underlying wood's grain is all too visible. Also, when the dining room, which is based on Jean de Cotte's Salon d'Hercule in Versailles, is actually compared with the original, it becomes a joke! If anyone has visited the Salon d'Hercule in person, they know exactly what I mean. The Breakers, while charming in its way, is hideous, too.
Actually, if one truly thinks about it, the only two reasonably attractive houses from Newport's "Golden Age" are The Elms and Miramar- both by Trumbauer.

The Ancient said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Ancient said...

I do appreciate that even the greatest architects didn't make all that much money back when these houses were going up. (Stanford White could never afford to buy a house of his own in Manhattan, he had to rent.) So business is what it is.

But there's a vast difference between Wheatly, say, and some of the other large properties built at the same time -- Pembroke, as Dilettante points out.

Wheatly is magical. The more you study it, the better it gets. Many of these other houses -- such as the now vanished Phipps house mentioned the other day -- were something else entirely. Make a list of their qualities -- size, grandeur, finishes, views, etc, -- and then a list of their defects -- impractical layouts, gratuitous furbelows, empty gestures of formality. Net out the virtues and vices and what do you have left? An expensive prototype for the very McMansions that replaced them, with largely the same sort of client.

Aren't we pretty sure that White and McKim looked at these things and roared with laughter? Or that Aldrich and Delano at least snickered at most of their competition?

(Meanwhile, I'm just waiting for "The Real Housewives of Old Westbury.")

SEC words: dedoos and leake -- Salient qualities of McMansions

archibuff said...

Oh DED woke up on the wrong side of the bed today.

Some people on this site have commented that they dont like Pembroke (wonder who?)and others mention Killenworth, Shoremond, others loathe Chateau Ivor, etc. I see a great distinction between today and the past. (I am making some generalizations) Aside from the fact that the homes of today with their molded plastic, extruded metals, cast-stone, resin infused polymer materials will not age well, they are built just like our commercial buildings of today........cheaply and for instant gratification. They are built for the moment with little consideration for past or present. They can be stripped to the steel and wrapped in a new facade.

Many homes on this blog were in fact expanded older 19th C. homes which todays Mcmansion builders would never even consider. Frederick Vanderbilts Hyde Park mansion, the Roosevelt Home and even the Mills mansion in Staatsburg NY are just a few examples of amazing Gilded Age remodels/expansions) Caumsett preserved 18th century homesteads on the estate to use as out buidings and the gatehouse. When the bulldozer came out, more so than not, an improved landscape and environment was the result. Mcmansions leave little lasting improvements and overwhelmingly destroy more than they create.

I think the home builders of Harbor Hill, Knollwood, Beacon Towers, Pembroke and further a field, Rose Terrace, Detroit and White Marsh Hall, etc etc all expected their creations to last forever and be cherished by the community and re-purposed well after their ownership ended. Changing society and economics didnt work in their favor and the life style that created them ended as quickly as it arose. Todays McMansion builders have no pretense to see their homes become a museum, a family seat for future generations or a landmark. They dont hire a Tiffany & Co. to supply the stained glass. They dont hire Italain craftsman to carve the ceiling mouldings or lay the mosaics. They dont hire Karl Bitter to sculpt the overmantle. The Gilded Age provided for a renaissance in the arts. The pieces of Pembroke, from the garden balustrades to the roof tiles to the mosaic lines pool was a player in this resurgence. Today we have no similarities.

I would not classify Pembroke and the other homes that are on this site's critical hit list as McMansions in any way, shape or form.

Registering properties also does little to prevent demolition. It provides recognition and provides time for a municipality to get involved, but it can be torn down. Education is key. People still believe landmarking their home or creating a historic district will lower their home values. That false belief continues to this day.

Now DED.....your views please and be alittle kind to CPH in your argument?

Kellsboro Jack said...

The dearth of LI Gold Coast homes on the National Historic Register might be - mixed with the cost and time to properly research - the perception that a NHR home somehow limits what the owner can do with the residence.

Ala 'golden handcuffs' whereby its a trophy recognition, but a fear that the home cannot be updated. That is too often the erroneous perception.

From an FAQ on NHR:

http://www.johnlautner.org/pdf/NR%20for%20Property%20Owners.pdf

"The National Register does not restrict a property owner’s private property rights. Owners of National Register properties can remodel, renovate, sell, or even demolish their property with no restrictions. However, significant modifications may result in removal from the National Register."

I do find it odd that in so many other regions wealthy owners seek with competition - and pride - such a designation of their property being recognized as culturally, historically, architecturally important. Yet its not the competitive thing in Old Westbury, et al.

lil' gay boy said...

I agree with much of what archibuff so rightly points out ––– isn't it often said of these homes that they were built to last 500 years yet barely made it past 50?

Unlike the McMansions of today, they bear what I previously referred to as the "countenance of principal" ––– when you look at them, they make sense, and even the asymmetrical have symmetry ("that must be the living room, that must be the service wing, etc.") The program is evident in the façade.

But the McMansions of today are like build-by-the-numbers; take this Georgian dining room, tack on a Spanish loggia, add a Grecian portico out front; much like the way Disney builds its parks, and as such, they are like Kleenex ––– totally disposable. That soaring, two story space ––– is it a foyer, a stair-hall, or merely an overwrought breakfast room?

Family has grown bigger? Don't build an addition ––– sell it to some poor schmuck or tear it down and build anew. No, I do not foresee the day when any preservation league will break a sweat on these horrors.

lil' gay boy said...

That's "principle"...

Barnabus Collins said...

I absolutely second LGB's assessment that there's a Dean Gardens in every state -and then some. While here in Atlanta (and to a greater degree Charleston and Savannah) there remains much appreciation for the sort of truly refined, classical architecture espoued by the readers of this blog, we've also spawned our share of gastly mutations, Dean Gardens being just one such example. The old southern anachronistic expression, "the woods is full of 'em" certainly applies here (and I believe nationwide) if one discerns the suburbs as our modern-day woods. Yet I must defend my city and region as home to many real treasures as well, Swan House being just one noteworthy example:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swan_House_(Atlanta,_Georgia)

Barnabus Collins said...

correction...
should have read:
'classical architecture ESPOUSED'

Kellsboro Jack said...

Sorry, Zach, for going off topic with the focus off LI, but to Barnabus Collins remark its agreed that where you find such gaudy piles you also often find some lovely gems as well.

I have an uncle in Buckhead (ATL) and for much of that area the newer homes aspire to being more traditionally tasteful.

In fact I'm rather saddened that the 1920s built 'Pink Castle' (aka Trygveson or Calhoun Family estate) goes without any takers at all despite the execution being wonderful and price cheap(er) @ $2.995M.

A video, which is worth a peek, honest, from the local station there:

http://www.11alive.com/news/article/226679/40/OPEN-HOUSE--The-Pink-Castle-of-Buckhead

Listing sheet:
http://www.beacham.com/4291222/3418-pinestream-road-nw

The Down East Dilettante said...

I haven't the time I like to build a really cogent argument for Pembroke as the McMansion of 100 years ago, but in fact, that is exactly what it is---the same aspirations, the same overwrought design qualities and features. Better built sure, but the sensibility is the same.

As for the National Register remarks, nothing to do with getting up on the wrong side of the bed. It makes me very sad that it is such a passive, and almost accidental, institutions. One would so far rather have the English system, where valued buildings are sought out surveyed, graded and listed. But we don't.

Lodi said...

The Pink House and the Swann House are absolutely charming.

The Dean house on the other hand looks like they couldn't decide what style they wanted so we'll just build a house big enough to cover it all! Ugh.

lil' gay boy said...

DED, I take your point that there are indeed parallels between structures like Pembroke, which I personally loved, and modern day McMansions.

Yet I cannot help feeling that to take them out of time/context does them a disservice; no matter how vulgar or over-the-top, these designs came from the drafting boards of distinguished architects of the day --- some poor, others just downright looney, but all based upon a rigor that even the dictum of the "upside down chimney" could not completely destroy; it was the architect's duty to not allow his/her client to shoot themselves in the foot...

...but at least they have some provenance/pedigree; the most a lot of McMansions can boast is that they were constructed by the Toll Brothers.

For the most part, when I hear "McMansion" I automatically think of a pastiche; design by committee, and certainly not one that could be remotely ascribed to an "architect" (at least not one that still retains a vestige of shame).

;-)

Barnabas, loved you in Dark Shadows! Love the Pink Castle, too; there's something about the massing of the front facade that reminds me of the central block of Caumsett; too bad there's not more acreage, although the house is well sited. The central block of the rear facade and the roof finials are over-the-top, much like Pembroke, oddly; weird, but certainly no McMansion.

Anonymous said...

NSP

Pembroke and similar may share with the McMansions of today, that they were built to impress. However,just as the Beatles were objectively better than most performers today (even though many will stand on their head arguing it is subjective)the old houses were better than the McMansions...period. Real architects and landscape architects,and a rationale relationship to the landscape and (as well as an adequate ratio of house to land -well,OK, not always true in Newport).

Zach said...

DED...I very much agree with your comments on the National Register. I always say the only thing it's really good for (besides sounding nice) is that it would prevent the federal government from plowing a road through your house. Now the chances of that happening regardless of being listed on the NR are probably what...less than a hundredth of a percent?

When I was in graduate school I included Manor House in a paper I was writing and called over there to seek permission to take some photographs. They were very nice and let me take pictures wherever I wanted but before I left the gentleman who was helping me very casually said "Oh and if you wouldn't mind filling out a National Register nomination for us that would be great". I smiled and left.

Not that I don't think Manor House deserves to be on there, I just didn't have the time to do something so consuming as an extensive research report on the history of the house in my spare time then.

Barnabus Collins said...

With opening apologies to Zach, for again hijacking this thread, I do believe there's a point here that warrants mention. The exuberantly-styled central block, rooftop urns and associated cartouche-type embellishments Lil' Gay Boy noted on the garden facade of the Andrew Calhoun estate (aka the "Pink Castle" in Buckhead/Atlanta - see earlier link), are an almost exact copy of the primary elevation of the Villa Gori, near Siena in Italy. This 16th century baroque style -especially in its more vernacular examples - is nothing if not over-the-top and, in my opinion, overwrought. But it should be clearly noted that there is significant historical precedent in these stylings of the "trinity top-knot" (so dubbed by an architect friend of mine in deference to its ecclesiastical overtones). One finds this type of dramatic central projection to be a signature effect in the design of Pembroke and the court facade of Idlehour there on LI, as well as the aforementioned Pink Palace garden facade and also to a lesser degree in the garden facade of the Swan House in Atlanta. (See my link on this house, posted in an earlier comment.)

The difference, I believe, is that Pembroke's design is spectacular in its grandiosity (think in-the-style-of Newt Gingrich - LOL) whereas the others, while still exuberant, maintain a sense of integrity and exude an authentic grandeur. Baroque design is generally not for me and it's not for many, but it is nonetheless based on a valid, enduring architectural period and style.

NYarch said...

The argument is weak if one is comparing todays Mcmansions and Pembroke and similar solely on their desire to impress and be over the top. Every homeowner strives to a ceratain degree to impress with ones home. Whether you tend the front garden, manicure your lawn to perfection, add shutters, awnings and polish the brass door knocker to a shine your home is a fairly well established reflection of your status in life. Pembroke was built to impress, of course, but so was every other country house built by MMW, D&A, C&H, etc. Any Vanderbilt family could well have lived in an 8 room house, but they choose to build 58 or 88 or 108 rooms instead.

LGB is correct, you cant take the Gilded Age homes out from their context and time. You cant ridicule Pembroke and Marble House because of their empty gestures of formality or impractical layouts. They were built to satisfy a legitimate lifestyle which does not exist today. We dont change clothes 6 times a day from breakfast to tennis to afternoon tea to dinner. I dont think anyone here has 45 servants to house and feed. The outdated homes of the past were meant to run very much like hotels in Newport and on LI and they ran efficiently from food delivery to linen pressing to repairing the family carriages. If someone built a copy of Pembroke or Marble house today, on the cheap, like so many of the Hollywood mega-mansions with thin veneers and applied mouldings, then you would be creating a joke.

Todays mcmansions have no such functions other than to suit a very low brow taste level that is acquired from influences from todays society, pop culture and technology. There is no formula or guidelines established dictating the layout or requirements in a home built today as there were during the Gilded Age. We therefore build as big as we can afford on the samllest lots, because property is expensive and we cram it full of rooms so we can shut ourselves off from the rest of the world in media rooms, palatial mstr baths, hotel sized kitchens and game rooms, so we end up with gigantic knockoffs of Federal, Italian villas and English Tudors wedged in on too small a lot. And as was stated earlier, there is no artistic resurgence happening in this era, just increased sales at Lowes and Home Depot of granite, plastic columns and glued wood mouldings.

Anonymous said...

"Oh DED woke up on the wrong side of the bed today."

DED has just buried his father, he may behave any way he likes after losing a giant in his life, a giant in the town.

DED, I still remember how you quoted your Dad as saying to you, "You and your sister were expensive children." I thought that was so amusing, because I can just imagine how you sponged up everything available at local schools as a child, probably got bored, probably had to be carpooled miles away from town to gain access to the advanced placement opportunities which you aced with no problem. And so on.

All best to you DED, your blog comments section is closed so I'll borrow this space to say thank you for sharing stories about your Dad over time, you honored him in life.

Your fan, Flo

Lodi said...

My condolences on you Dad, DED.

Charles said...

DED-
So sorry for your loss...

The Down East Dilettante said...

Flo, thank you for your kind remarks. I was more than lucky to be the son of such a extraordinary guy.

But, m'dear, much as I love your speculation about my educational path, may I throw out another phrase that more accurately describes the situation? "Classic and chronic underachiever". Nah, I'm afraid the sister and I were just plain old extravagant.

(I closed comments on the post about my father to save people the trouble of commenting, but as it turns out, I've been instead receiving condolences across the blogosphere, so several comment sections have been thus hijacked---sorry Zack!)

Thank-you, Lodi & Charles