Friday, February 3, 2012

'Spring Hill'

The front and lower portion of 'Spring Hill', the Henry Carnegie Phipps estate designed by John Russell Pope c. 1903 (for William L. Stow) in Old Westbury. These pictures were taken in 2008 and 2009 before the subdivision work began. Click HERE and HERE for more on 'Spring Hill'.





16 comments:

Kellsboro Jack said...

Zach, what is the status of those stables today? They were substantial and more suited to racing as opposed to simply a development offering "horseback riding".

I'd be a bit surprised if there wasn't interest in some adaptive reuse to convert into a private residence.

The developer/property's website:

http://www.springhillatoldwestbury.com

The video and a few of the page sections are more than a bit of the cheesy marketing that has been in vogue for a while.

archibuff said...

Still troubles me that this estate was not saved and the main house by John Russell Pope put to some meaningful use. To demolish the mansion in the 1970's was very short-sighted. It was supposedly in excellent condition and could have become a school or served any number of public or private purposes, plus the 70's rekindled preservation in this country with the bicentennial. This just became a wasted opportunity from a family that should have known better. Other Phipps family homes serve the Great Neck school district and of course there is Old Westbury Gardens so the family was well aware of the logic to preserve such an architectural masterpiece. Hopefully the Kean development team can get a noteworthy classically trained architect to design an appropriate replacement for Spring HIll instead of allowing some hack to construct the typical steroid bloated, awkwardly proportioned, taste challenged, inferior knock-off that is so prevalent in Old Westbury these days. Oh Hell, dust off the original plans, scale it down, modernize the floor plans and just rebuild it. Pass the 6% design fees onto the purchaser.

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

Take a look at my blog, Mansions of the Gilded Age, to see an aerial of Spring Hill before it was torn down.
http://garylawrance.blogspot.com/2010/05/long-island-gold-coast-estates-from-air.html

Zach said...

KJ -

The stables and roughly 30 acres surrounding them were purchased by a family who keeps a few horses there. I do not believe there are any intentions of converting the stables to a residence (as they are used as stables) and they are safe from development.

archibuff...Ogden had his own house on the property so the chances that Spring Hill would have become a school or some sort of public property were nil. He continued to own it as did his children until Kean bought the property in 2004 (and Cynthia Phipps remained in Ogden's house until her death in 2007). He used the former garden below the house as a helicopter landing pad.

Don't get me wrong, I wish more than anything that Spring Hill still stood...but every other Phipps house in Old Westbury is still standing so all things considered 4/5 ain't too bad.

Zach said...

And some of the other possibilities for Spring Hill included a golf course and a development with 4x as many houses as Kean Development is planning on building (which is now even less as 3 of the 4 current property owners have bought more than 1 lot).

archibuff said...

Well Zack I hear you, but they choose the wrong 1 out of 5 to demolish. It was worth going out of the way to preserve, not just decide to remove it to reduce ones property taxes, as if it reduced them much at all considering the scope of the estate that remained. A very bad decision from an otherwise preservation minded family, which in itself is a rarity.

THe aerial view from the 30's is spectacular on Gary's site and the additional views of Morgan's Matinecock Point are equally as good. Never saw the 2 formal gardens infront of the mansion in all their glory until viewing the aerial.

The Down East Dilettante said...

It ain't bad, but it ain't 100 per cent good either. Knole has lost all context, and sits marooned like an ocean liner in a mud flat. And the development of this estate, no matter how well done, will never replace the open spaces lost.

As for railing about how the house should have been saved---yes, of course it should have, in our opinions. But, as Zach points out, there were many other factors, and always are. Even people with Phipps size fortunes can be attracted by the idea of dramatically lower maintenance and taxes. And there are never more than a handful of people in the world who can afford and want to live in a beaux arts palace. And should they have made it another tourist attraction, it would have had to be endowed, which would have pissed off heirs...it's always far more complicated than saying that they should have been enlightened enough.

On the other side of the coin, here is a link to an estate in Brookline MA, where the family has taken measures to put the land in open space easements, and they allowed the big house to continue to stand, leasing it to non-profits. http://thedowneastdilettante.blogspot.com/2011/01/faulkner-farm.html

Zach said...

Oddly enough, the only two intact Phipps estates were the ones actually designed for Phipps family members (OWG for Jay Phipps & Erchless for Howard Phipps).

The three that have been altered in one way or another were all designed for others; Spring Hill for William L. Stow, Templeton for Alfred duPont and Knole for Herman Duryea.

archibuff said...

"They should have been enlightened enough"

Isn't someone supposed to be at the publisher today and not scrolling through the blogs?

The Down East Dilettante said...

hmmm, and there's a whole lotta tackiness going on at White Eagle/Templeton (Estate grounds almost never survive attractively into institutional ownership).

There are no solutions, are there? We're never going to be like England, where the Country House is revered, and the visiting of same is a National (and major tourist) pastime. Sad.

lil' gay boy said...

I used to pass by Spring Hill in my childhood, and on certain days in late autumn and barren winter, one could still glimpse it through the trees, shining in the sun. It seemed to be in good repair.

Much as I liked the house (Zach, were the murals in the library, I think, ever salvaged or lost with the house?) I can see how the decision was made, once a downsized home was in place, to not seek to place the home within the public domain (get out of my azaleas!)

The tax advantages go without saying; still, it's a shame.

My guess would be that not only do we Americans not have the same take on social strata that the English have (nor their particular fascination with the upper classes), but in the current economic clime Gold Coast mansions serve to highlight the growing gap between the haves & have nots. And as a young country, we simply don't have the same sense of history older cultures do (not too many structures predating the 1600s).

Too antiquated? Gut it and remodel... Too much acreage? Sell it off and plant some shrubs... Too unwieldy/expensive? Raze it and build a dower house...

Tsk, tsk, tsk...

James said...

Speaking of Phipps properties, any idea of the architect responsible for 10 Hastings Rd, in the south east corner of the Spring Hill area?

Old Grey Dog said...

Thank you, Zach, for the photos on your Spring Hill Blog entry of April, 2008. Is the Terace/Garden balustraded wall still extant ?
The cement-construction was crumbling back in whatever summer those photos were taken . . . but I noticed a marble garden seat in the center niche and wonder it it's still there ?!!

Security word: "outtemop" ( really!) Almost a combination of two noteworthy Pups I know !!!

The Down East Dilettante said...

In the upper left corner of the aerial photo of Spring Hill is a good looking French manor house. Whose is or was it?

The Down East Dilettante said...

oops, never mind--the question was answered in the next click of the mouse :-)

ChipSF said...

Hi Zach -
I've been reading the new book on the Medill-McCormick-Patterson clan, "Magnificent Medills". Along with the great Chicago and Washington D.C houses, two Long Island houses have come up. One is Falaise (Alicia Patterson married to H. Guggenheim) and a Sands Point place called Harbor Acres (Cissy Patterson). I have not been able to find any pictures or much information on Harbor Acres - do you have any?
Thanks.