Friday, March 30, 2012

The Dr. Clarence C. Rice Estate

The Dr. Clarence C. Rice estate designed by Grosvenor Atterbury c. 1899 in East Hampton. Rice, an ear, nose and throat specialist, practiced for fifty years and was connected to the New York Post-Graduate Medical School and Hospital where he was Professor of Diseases of the Nose and Throat and Emeritus Professor of Laryncology. He was the house doctor for the Metropolitan and Hammerstein Opera Houses and treated many notable singers. Some of his other notable patients included H.H. Rogers, Speaker of the House Thomas B. Reed, Lillian Russell, Enrico Carsuo and Elsie de Wolfe. The house was later owned by D.W. McCord but burned in 1920. It sat on Hither Lane.

Photos from Architecture, 1911.


The Down East Dilettante said...

Clearly he did very well--and had good taste in architects.

minor correction: Elsie, not Elise.

Zach L. said...

What I get for typing too quickly and not rereading closely enough. Thanks

archibuff said...

Shingle style summer home on Long Island or ancient Mayan temple being engulfed by the jungle? Vines growing up, over and running across the roof? Must have become a maintenance nightmare.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Archibuff, I am president of the board of a small house museum. We try hard to keep restoring the house back to its appearance in 1820. The exception is a giant hop vine, which would destroy the clapboards.

aZch, wat do you maen, tpying too fsast?

The Down East Dilettante said...

Our esteemed research colleague, Ancient, is having blogger problems this morning, so here are his links and comments, via Dilettante mail:

(Floorplan, p. 75.)

(Rice is divorced by his wife.)

(Wife downsizes, displays a mildly dodgy color sense.)

(Wife dies. See first column, below.)

(Rice's obituary.)

Doug Floor Plan said...

I agree it’s a good looking house; but the floor plan is a little odd (to me), even for 1899:
• The entrance hall is more like a reception room because even though it’s a large area from there your only two choices are to go onto the porch or into the living room.
• There is no bathroom or half-bath on the ground floor.
• There are no back / servants’ stairs – the only two staircases to the second floor is the internal staircase in the round projection seen in the first photo & the external staircase also seen in the first photograph. The only stairs to the third floor are on the landing near the interior staircase.
• The floor plan shows nine bedrooms, no servants’ rooms, on the second floor – but only two bathrooms. Even the master bedroom suite – two bedrooms separated by a sitting room (over the entrance hall & porch in the first picture) does not have its own bathroom.
Maybe Mrs. Jeanne Durant Rice divorced Dr. Clarence C. Rice over his aversion to indoor plumbing? Or, as they say in country music: maybe she was just dissatisfied so she wanted a D I V O R C E. I found an episode of ‘Antiques Roadshow’ where they were appraising a piece of pottery from the Durant Kilns in Bedford, NY – good looking pottery & valued at between $1 & $2 thousand.

DED, have you considered covering your house museum in artificial hop vine? You could wait until they were having a clearance sale at ‘Michaels.’

Kevin B., North of Boston said...

I was pleased to find this page on the East Hampton home of Dr. C.C. Rice. He is of interest to me because of his association with Mark Twain. (see Mark Twain and Medicine: Any Mummery Will Cure by K. Patrick Ober, University of Missouri Press, 2003, pps. 295-298.)

Recently, I read two memoirs written by Gladys Durant Rice Saltonstall/Hemmings/Brooks, daughter of Dr. Charles C. Rice and Jean Durant Rice.

Van Wyck Brooks was Gladys's third (and final) husband. Brooks, a literary historian, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1937 for The Flowering of New England.

Gladys was the mother-in-law of Benjamin Bradlee (of the The Washington Post and Watergate fame) who married Gladys's youngest daughter, Jean Saltonstall.

Bradlee describes his first meeting with his future mother-in-law: "I knew Gladys was going to be different when I first laid eyes on her--both of us were naked as jaybirds--on Roger Baldwin's stretch of South Beach on Martha's Vineyard island." (pg. 52, A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures (1995) by Ben Bradlee. It is a hilarious passage and gives some sense of Gladys's personality.

Gladys lived to be 97. Her obituary appeared in the New York Times, on Feb. 2, 1984, Section B, Page 5 of the National edition with the headline: GLADYS RICE BROOKS:


Gladys Rice Brooks, a writer and musician, died on Jan. 19 at a nursing home in New Milford, Conn.

She was 97 years old.

Mrs. Brooks wrote biographies and memoirs, including ''Boston and Return,'' ''If Strangers Meet'' and ''Gramercy Park.'' The latter book described her childhood in New York on Irving Place and her study of the violin.

She was the widow of Van Wyck Brooks, the literary historian. She is survived by a son, John Saltonstall of Sacramento, Calif.; three daughters, Priscilla Catlin of Hamilton, Mass., Betsy Tower of San Francisco and Jean Haussermann of Cambridge, Mass.; 11 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren.

As to Jeanne Durant Rice's divorce from her husband--she sued and was granted a divorce, the name of the correspondent and other details to be sealed. It appears that more than plumbing was involved in the dissolution of the marriage.

Anyone interested in hearing an interview from 1967 on WNYC with Gladys Brooks about one of her books may follow the link below. Though she does not talk about the East Hampton house, it is fascinating to hear the woman who once lived there.

With best regards,

Kevin B.
North of Boston