Friday, April 27, 2012

'Hilaire'

 The first 'Hilaire', the George Ernest Fahys estate designed by C.P.H. Gilbert c. 1900 in Glen Cove.  Click HERE for more on Fahys' second 'Hilaire' located in Matinecock.  This house was demolished c. 1960.


Photos from Architecture, 1901.

36 comments:

Doug Floor Plan said...

To me, the exterior looks like something the ‘Addams Family’ might have appreciated. I am impressed this house had an elevator, but the wide open ground floor public rooms makes me wonder where someone went when they wanted some quiet time alone (same comment about many houses being built today). & I can’t figure out the back stairs – the way I read it the stairs from the kitchen go down into the basement & the stairs from the butler’s pantry go up to the second floor servants’ quarters … but where are the stairs to the third floor?

Anonymous said...

"the stairs from the butler’s pantry go up to the second floor servants’ quarters … but where are the stairs to the third floor?"

Continuing on upward from the same butler's-pantry-to-servants-quarter's staircase? Guessing that only servants would be charged with matters pertaining to attic storage and retrieval.

Doug Floor Plan said...

Thanks for input Anon 7:47am, but the only way those stairs could continue spiraling upward is if there was a door in some poor servant's bedroom, opening to the next flight of stairs ... not that it couldn't happen, but no door is indicated.

I even wonder if the main staircase could wind its way up to the third floor -- the way the roof is shaped it almost looks like there isn't enough clearance. LOL, could those windows be up there just for show? & yes, I noted the architect.

magnus said...

Although I have lived in North Country Colony for more than 40 Years, this house is a mystery to me. I think that I know where it was- on Valley Road, on the south side of Winfield Hall, where various garden ruins indicate that something fairly substantial stood. My guess is that this house was purchased by a William Bertles, an investment banker from the mid-west. He and his family divided their time between this Hilaire and Bermuda, where they spent their winters. But by the 1920's, this version of Hilaire would have been hopelessly out of fashion, and my guess is that it was substantially remodeled. To what, I'm not sure, and efforts to track down Bertles descendants have been unsuccessful.

Glen said...

I rather like the big open floor plan given that this was a summer house. It is very lodge like and invokes a less formal manner of living. There are plenty of bedrooms upstairs and I assume outside locales for spending time alone. It is curious that the back stair ends at the second floor, but the main staircase obviously extends all the wayto the third. It was probably more acceptable for servants to be seen in the less public second floor hallway than roaming around on the first floor. Given the very 19th Century flourishes of the exterior, I am surprised this house remained extant as late as 1960. I find the floor plan rather charming and whimiscal. The exterior much less so, but the gable and dormer pediments and window surrounds could easily have been altered to achieve a shingle style lodge design as opposed to haunted house. I suddenly have the urge to visit Eddie Bauer.

archibuff said...

Well most people posting today are going to be soooo wrong about this home. Is it really a shingle style gothic home? I like the proportions of the exterior gables, the roof and deep eaves. Would like to see what the waterfront facade looks like as the rear appears to drop off significantly. Its more suburban loft than buttoned up prim and proper 19th century home. Very nice.

But.......its from 1900? Probably designed in 1899? Yet the first floor plan is incredibly 21st century, just wide open, (as was mentioned) visually separated only by ceiling treatments and columns, but wonderfully spacious and open to what had to be great views of the water down the hill. Drop someone from 2012 in that main hallway today and they would absolutely love the open interior layout and the expansive water views from the large wrap around porch.

Plus every family bedroom had a water view, something many other homes located on the water from this period did not provide. There is also plenty of closet space, more than enough family bathrooms and an elevator in the main hallway. The childrens rooms even inter-connect which is nice touch for a nanny or parent. Aside from the usual servants wing, this layout is extremely contemporary and far ahead of its period IMO. CPH gets alot of criticism for his floor plans and here is a totally unique layout for him designing a late Victorian period home.

The main stair also seems to have plenty of head room to go up to the third floor and the large dormers would make it appear that the 3rd floor was very liveable and had useful family or guest rooms.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Okay, here goes. Do I begin with facade or floor plan? Okay, floor plan it is. First, add me to the list of those surprised by the extreme openness, unbalanced by even one little private space. Second, there's plenty of room for the stairs to the third floor--notice that the stairs do not take the full width of the gable. Third, the servant's thing is a mystery indeed. It is really unlikely that any staff below governess level would have slept in room accessible only by a main stair. Just wasn't done. But, look how sharply the ground drops away, and how many windows in the foundation on the service end. One could speculate that more servants quarters were in basement, which sometimes happened, particularly for menservants. So what was in that obviously used basement? Laundry? A servant's sitting room, missing from the first floor? A couple more servant's rooms? However, the bigger on the floor plan for me is one that no one else has asked yet: what's with the elevator that doesn't have a stop at the first floor, and unlike the staircase, couldn't possibly go to the third. An elevator from basement to second, no stop at first. Now that's odd.

And who knows what was on the third floor? Children's and nanny's rooms (the homeowners of that era had a disconcerting tendency to put their children on third, despite the inadequate ways down in case of fire). Maybe a billiard or smoking room? Attic only over the servant's wing?

Now, lest you think I was going to let this one go...

Tae a look at that facade. Take a good hard look. Particularly the central portion. Look at the awkward window placement. The very blah entrance porch. Ask yourself, is this really the work of a Great Architect, or merely a good one who had a little trouble resolving and editing his Big Ideas? Hmmm?

The Down East Dilettante said...

*bigger question*

The Ancient said...

I agree that the main stairs probably ran up to the third floor -- making the double window a good source of light. And I agree that the layout -- as much of it as we can see, anyway -- might be quite comfortable for some people. (This might be a floorplan with significant client input.)

What's objectively wrong with the house is all on the outside. Once again Gilbert confuses ornament with design, gets his proportions a little wrong, and does a few things that are just goofy -- such as that pointless balcony above the main entrance. And while I like the idea of a wrap-around porch, here he's done it in a way that makes the house look very unbalanced.

As for the presumed basement/lower level -- what's going on there on the lower right? Are the dark areas shuttered windows?

archibuff said...

Hmmm? In another post MM&W got criticized for their design of Florham in NJ because the owners were probably difficult so blame fell on the clients unyielding influence......but today CPH gets all the blame for a few tiny windows and a hefty shingled porch? If thats all you got, then I consider this a CPH succecss! lol. Like MM&W, CPH had to deal with owners too. Maybe they loved the porch just the way it turned out or sketched it themselves. Seems Fahys built 3 very different styled homes from a shingled styled Hilaire I to a pseudo Palm Beach Hilarie III so I think the owner had a great influence in his home designs and once again architects work for the guy paying the bills and ones objective is please your client or you wont be working too much longer and CPH had a very very successful businees for his time, probably more successful than the vast majority of residential architects.

I still say this was an interesting and extremely forward looking designed home for its era. Not perfect, but then nothing usually is.

The Ancient said...

CPH Gilbert Drinking Game --

Every time you see a different type of window on the front facade, take a shot.

The Down East Dilettante said...

'confuses ornament with design'. Exactly.

I really do not single out CPH for criticism---it's just that he's the architect who seems to be the lightening rod for polar opinions about what constitutes design quality. For me, Gilbert fails most of the tests most of the time---which does not mean that some of his buildings aren't good---though not Great---or at least interesting---or even a symbol of the excesses of their era, like Pembroke.

I measure the quality of his work by details, proportion, integration of parts, and resolution of design problems, and find it mostly lacking. Opulence and grandeur can be by-products of a design, but are not themselves indicators of design quality.

To say he was a good architect simply because he was successful is like saying Pamela Lee is a great actress because she has made a lot of movies. (In fact, I could make a fair analogy between the excessively appointed Ms. Lee and some of Gilbert's more overblown buildings, but we'll save that for another day.) Gilbert gave his clients what they wanted---impressive well built buildings. There is not a single true capital 'G' Great Building in his ouevre.

If professional success is the indicator of design talent, then many of today's McMansion architects are among the Greatest Designers of All Time.

archibuff said...

Variety is the spice of life!!!!

How come nobody has mentioned genius? masterpiece?

Zach said...

Criticism aside...this place would make one hell of a haunted house for Halloween.

I half except to see a see-through silhouette in the third floor window looking back at me.

The Down East Dilettante said...

*I of course meant Pamela Anderson, the artist formerly referred to as Pamela Lee*

Zach said...

Pam Anderson has made a lot of movies? I can't even think of A movie. Just Baywatch and that video...yes that one.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Okay, Zach, congratulations, you've driven me to an all time low, ever. I have just gone to IMDB and looked up the filmography of Pamela Anderson, something I never dreamed I'd spend a minute doing.

I amend my statement to read "...is like saying Pamela Anderson is a great actress simply because she has done a lot of TV and a few movies". Indeed, like CPH, her output is prodigious, and goes way beyond Baywatch (or do I mean beneath, if such a thing can be imagined?)

The Ancient said...

What's wrong with you guys?

Falconetti made one movie and she's still considered one of the greatest actresses in film history.

(I mean, have you *seen* BarbWire?)

Richard D said...

I was the one who mentioned many posts ago that I had suggested to Acanthus that they publish a book on CPH. It would still be fun to see one, though I admit the cogency of DED's arguments re his being good vs great and appreciate the specifics you offer (and of course there are MANY books on MMW). Anyway, what I have to offer re this house is that perhaps the drawings leave out the elevator door in the dining room. But even if so, it would be an awkward handling of the problem

The Down East Dilettante said...

I don't disagree that Gilbert deserves a book---flawed he may have been, but he was also prolific, and had some of the most important clients of his day, and had an impact on the cityscape.

archibuff said...

DED is either getting old or getting weak. Did he just state that CPH deserves a book?

And don't knock "barbed wire". Pamela as a private investigator of sorts, gets to fly a helicopter and considering the difficulty that she must have in reaching a steering wheel or operating controls of any kind, that performance is oscar worthy enough for me.

But to comment on the elevator issue, most elevators of this era were chiefly used in service areas of the home. Of course there are exceptions, but they were to aid servants in their duties of hauling heavy trunks and luggage to bedrooms or storage rooms, to transport linens and seasonal clothes from attics to bedrooms, etc, so an elevator going from the basement service/storage/laundry area to the bedroom level makes perfect sense to me. Both levels probably had the greatest amount of day to day servant chores to be done. You could easily skip the Dining room which is well served by the butlers pantry.

A 3 volume set on CPH? Hmmmmm? Winfield and Pembroke on the front and rear covers? One can dream...

Zach said...

For better or worse Gilbert is the third most featured architect on Old Long Island. Tied with McKim, Mead & White and ahead of Carrere & Hastings.

Gilbert doesn't need a book... it's mostly all right here (and on BGA).

The Down East Dilettante said...

Are we speaking actual numbers of buildings by, or posts featuring? The latter would skew actual statistics about who has the most built commissions on Long Island.

NYarch said...

Interesting to reflect on what drives a publishing house; either introducing a formerly untapped subject matter or the potential sales that a specific firm, family or design period might yield and who gets overlooked in the shuffle.

If Long Island includes Brooklyn, and it should, Gilbert designed dozens of attached rowhouses, speculative homes for builders and free standing town homes in the upscale brownstone neighborhoods of Brooklyn at the turn of the twentieth century.

Doug floor Plan said...

Zach, your reference to a "silhouette in the third floor window looking back at me" -- I believe there is someone in this house looking at the photographer; second floor, next to the last window to the right. According to the floor plan that window is in some kind of closet.

DED the actor reference I would have used is William Shatner -- why he has had a successful career is a mystery to many.

Zach said...

magnus...

That is precisely where the house was. According to the 1906 Belcher Hyde map it stood south and slightly west of Winfield in between Valley Rd and Woolsey Ave. I believe part of the property is now in that little patch of protected woodland.

Doug Floor Plan said...

Ancient, regarding your drinking game -- I count nine, & that's counting that Palladian collection of windows over the front door as one. Did I match your count?

magnus said...

Zach- if Ian correct, the house stood just slightly to East of the protected woodlands. There are currently three houses on the property, two of early 1960 vintage. When I was a child, one of these very banal ranch houses looked out on a large, circular marble basin and pergola, clearly the remnants of a fairly grand garden.

By the way, I find all the scrub trees around this version of Hilaire really odd- like an Adirondack camp more than a grand Long Island estate.

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...

Magnus - Two houses back from Valley, behind the A-frame with wings is a tan roofed house. I did check awhile back at mynas and that property had info indicating it was part of a small farm group. Since then property changed hands between relatives(per mynas) and that information is now gone. It does state is was built in 1904.

magnus said...

HPHS- I will have to take a ride down Harwood Road which seems to run parallel to Valley Road where Hilaire once stood to see if any of those houses look like they could incorporate an earlier building. I remember locating the Bertles family in the 1930 US Census and being struck by the large number of servants they employed- which seems to indicate that Hilaire was expanded into something larger and grander than its original version. There were also, if I remember, one or two employees involved in the care of horses, which would confirm some sort of farm group.

The Ancient said...

DFP --

After seven shots, I stopped counting.

So nine sounds about right.

archibuff said...

If anyone still is reading these comments on April 28th HPHS posted a very nice piece on none other than CPH Gilbert and his 5th Avenue townhouse for FW Woolworth in NYC.

magnus said...

I have just spoken to the neighbor of mine who owns the A frame house on Valley Road referred to above. she told me that she purchased the property in about 1958 and built her house on the foundation of the Bertles house, which we assume was the original Hilaire. She does not remember the house itself which she believes had been torn down three or four years before her purchase. She did mention a late friend of hers who remodeled an old barn in Glen Cove in the mid 1950's and would proudly tell people that she had used windows "from the old Bertles mansion" which she had purchased when the house was torn down. My neighbor siad that they were huge "floor to ceiling" windows, which leads me to believe that the Bertles must have, as I suspected, substantially remodeled Hilaire.

GMA said...

Hello:

I'm the owner of the carriage house that was part of the Bertles estate. We have been restoring it since 1982 and the family before us worked on it for many years before us. We would be FACINATED to learn more about this estate and see any associated photos of it. Thank you very much! GMA

GMA said...

Thanks for the interesting info!

Our family has owned a carriage house for 30+ years that was part of the Bertles Estate, built in 1904. Any additional info/photos would be so appreciated! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Yes gentlemen in fact I am the owner of the property/home that you have referred to above... we live in the carriage house that was part of the original Bertles Estate. The prior owners told us that the home was built in 1904 and housed their staff including the coachman who was from Scandinavia, named Ivan. The home still has the original stables and tack rooms and remains largely unchanged. We would be thrilled to hear of any additional information that you may have about our home or the original Hilaire...thank you. Gordon