Friday, February 17, 2012


A crooked shot of the forecourt to 'Wheatly', the E.D. Morgan III estate designed by McKim, Mead & White between 1890-1900 in Old Westbury. Pictured to the left is the swimming pool (and wind mill). Click HERE for more on 'Wheatly' (be sure to scroll past today's post). Photo from the Elizabeth Morgan Jay Etnier Hollins archives.


The Down East Dilettante said...

A little bit Roman villa, a little bit Italian hill town, a little bit vernacular Long Island farmhouse, a little bit of the sensibility of an English country estate, a large dose of subtlety, immensely talented architects. Shake well, and this is what you get. The Hollins photographs have been a treat, because they allow one to understand the buildings in a way that even the elegant formal published photographs do not.

(In other news, the new verification word system, which challenges me to 'please prove that I'm not a robot' has come up with the elegant phrase 'iongor Glossaire'. Bien sur, mein komrad I am not a robot.

The Down East Dilettante said...

I left out one ingredient---self assured patrons who can think outside the box, and don't need marble and gilt to assert their position in the world.

and neggsub Volk, my friends, I am not a robot. I repeat, neggsub Volk.

The Devoted Classicist said...

D.E.D., no comment on the fountain in the forecourt? This is a rare example of a measure of success that will, no doubt, continue to be poorly copied at MacMansions across the country.

The Down East Dilettante said...

I've commented previously on the fountain---perfect scale and placement--and of course a superb antique (in the classical sense), or at least antique-influenced element. It forms punctuation and gives emphasis to almost any vista---look at the photo through the arch, and watch it give the forecourt the illusion of an Italian terrace, the balustrade in the distance turning the Long Island horizon for a moment into an Italian landscape.

And yes, TDC, as you so astutely point out, this is the ancestor of many a horrid rectangular McMansion forecourt, with ovolo corners, fake cobblestones, and a concrete garden center fountain in the center. (although when people buy some perfect, subtle old Long Island mansion, with sweeping drive, the first thing they seem to direct their landscape architect to do (or more likely the landscape contractor---please tell me no designer is involved) is rip out a sweeping drive by Ferruccio Vitale, and replace it with one of those abominations.

The Ancient said...

I wonder if the McKim, Mead & White archives contain any useful correspoondence about the construction of Wheatly. Letters between Morgan and the architects, or even summaries of discussions, would great fun to see. (Anyone with a friend at court at the New York Historical Society?)

For NYT subscribers only:

(Where did the money come from? The will of Morgan's grandfather.)

(Morgan sells acreage to William C. Whitney.)

(See column on far right -- further evidence, if needed, on why we shouldn't trust gossip columnists to get the details right.)

(Morgan's obituary, which is curiously silent on gainful activity.)

(A 1937 property sale.)

(One of Dilettante's old friends gets married, and is given a small party at Wheatly.)

The Down East Dilettante said...

Ah, dear old Susan Mary---the laughs we shared, those heady days in Paris with Duff and Marie-Laure...those afternoons on the terrace at Northeast Harbor.

Hardly an old friend, actually, but our social paths did cross a couple of times. Her charm was of almost professional quality, her accent impossible to imitate---think the love child of Jacqueline Kennedy and Mrs. Thurston Howell III, performed with a mouthful of whiskey soaked cotton balls. Her cousin from whom the photograph here originates, briefly spent time on an island here in Maine with her husband, a Philadelphia gentleman painter of indecently good looks.

Old Grey Dog said...

Morgan's entry in the hardbound "Who's Who in Newport, Watch Hill, Narragansett Pier and Jamestown ~ 1916" as follows . . .

Morgan, Mr. and Mrs. Edwin D.
Newport, "Beacon Rock" Harrison Ave., near Brenton's Cove.
w.r. "Wheatly", Westbury, L.I.
b.a. New York, 100 Broadway, pres.
(Mrs. Morgan was Elizabeth Moran )
Children: T. Archer, Katherine, Jasper.

Morgan, Edwin D., Jr.
With Mr. and Mrs. Edwin D. Morgan, Newport.

Verification words . . . rectabs flat; = Underdeveloped teenage youth !