Friday, April 13, 2012

The Wayne Johnson Residence

The Wayne Johnson estate designed by John Russell Pope c. 1925 in Southampton. Johnson, an attorney, was chairman of the Democratic National Finance Committee for New York State during the 1932 and 1936 Presidential elections and head of the National Finance Committee during the 1940 contest. He was also on the board of directors and general counsel of the Columbia Gas and Electric Corporation as well as the Davoe & Reynolds Co. (paint manufacturers). The house is extant (according to the Pope monograph) but I have yet to locate it. Sketch from Country Life in America, 1925.

23 comments:

The Down East Dilettante said...

We forget now what an instant effect the creation of Colonial Williamsburg had on American architecture because the descendants of that movement are so ubiquitous on the landscape---and here we see that John Russell Pope wasn't even immune. In sketch, this house looks a bit like a highway reception center. But in its design, we detect at least half a dozen Olde Virginia favorites---the roofline and cupola from the Governor's Palace, the arcades and panels over the windows from Woodlawn, the portico from Gunston Hall, along with the one story mass, the Palladian composition from Carter's Grove and Westover, etc etc. etc.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Hmmm. the dates don't entirely back up my thesis. despite the fact that the central block's roof mass and cupola appear to directly reference the Governor's palace at Williamsburg, the engraving from which the Palace was reconstructed wasn't discovered until 1929---according to Wikipedia, which as we know is NEVER wrong--never, ever ever (insert snarky grin), and this house was built in 1925. Yet, there it is. Hmmmmm.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Am I just sitting here talking to myself? See what's come on the market at East Hampton (and I see that lil' Gay boy beat me there)

http://realestalker.blogspot.com/2012/04/contemporary-art-dealer-lists-east.html

Zach said...

Featured on Curbed Hamptons about 3 weeks ago:

http://hamptons.curbed.com/archives/2012/03/20/amagansetts_got_itself_a_new_most_expensive_listing.php

Anonymous said...

"Am I just sitting here talking to myself?"

No, I'm here listening. I'm happy to listen to you wherever you happen to be talking. When's the BA, dadgummit. Just hope the book tour brings you down closer to where I live, that'll be me in the front row.

-President of your Fan Club

The Ancient said...

It's not a very Popish house, is it? It *almost* looks like an upmarket builder's house in suburban Virginia (McLean, say), circa 1955.

TDED --

Your instincts were right, and the elements from Gunston Hall and Woodlawn are certainly there. Who knows where the balustrade and cupola came from? (Maybe the ghosts of Wren and Jefferson took Pope out one night and got him drunk.) In any event, the effect is to make the entire composition look a bit crowded -- at least to me.

The Ancient said...

P.S. I think Bottomley did this sort of thing better, back in the day. (Halfway House in The Plains, for instance.)

http://www.acanthuspress.com/ps-37-3-the-architecture-of-william-lawrence-bottomley.aspx

The Ancient said...

P.P.S. And in fairness to Christopher Wren, the cupola might have been nicked from Mt Vernon.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Finally, everybody else is up and had their coffee.

Ancient--I'm right about the Governor's Palace roof too---it's just that the date discrepancy doesn't explain how I can be. Zach, whence came this picture? ( I notice that the date is 'circa' 1925. Maybe its actually a little bit later.

Ancient again. Funny you mention Halfway House, as I came across just this morning while looking up something else---very delightful. Even 'Long Island Country Houses' suggests that this is perhaps not Pope's most successfully integrated design.

The Ancient said...

A few odds and ends:


http://www.history.org/Foundation/journal/Autumn04/perry.cfm

(A dateline regarding the restoration of Williamsburg, and the discovery of The Bodleian Plate in 1929.)

http://jeffstikeman.wordpress.com/otto-r-eggers/

(Otto Eggers, who drew the sketch above. One could infer that the sketch was drawn for the client before construction and, by design, showed the house as it might later appear. Everyone should take time to read this one.)

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=F60B12FF3A5A1B7B93C0A81788D85F438485F9

(Wayne Johnson's obituary. Apparently, Southampton did nothing to keep him young.)

The Ancient said...

Dilettante --

The picture comes from the October 1925 issue of Country Life in America.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Country-Life-America-Oct-1925-/280730993921

So the question is how much earlier it was actually drawn.

Zach said...

FWIW... Both the SPLIA book and the Pope monograph put the date at 1925. I just always use circa to be safe.

Kellsboro Jack said...

A lovely home that sadly wouldn't appeal to many folks in the current era yet it drips of quaint charm. The mature landscaping in the illustration makes its such a homey location.

Aside from Bottomley's work for Halfway Farm in Virginia you can also see exhibit B in Middleburg, VA which is Salamander Farm (off Zulla Road)

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2093/2502597189_e77cd03aea_b.jpg

The Down East Dilettante said...

well, the dates make it impossible that the roof and cupola are inspired by the Governor's palace---but most strange---that roof composition exactly echoes what would not be built (or discovered) until four years later.

Zach said...

Most importantly...has anyone found this place on the map?

The Ancient said...

Ask Sally Spanburgh. She seems to know the status of ever old house in the Hamptons.

http://shvillagereview.blogspot.com/

Her blog is great, btw.

archibuff said...

I think I spotted this house on Montauk Highway between a McDonalds and Mobil Station, although I can't determine whether BofA or Chase operates there.

Either suburban bank designs have become very sophisticated, or we have so over used the "Williamsburg" colonial design principles that this nicely detailed sketch could easily be mistaken for any number of commercial structures found up and down the east coast. Either way, this resembles a suburban bank building (most typically the old Franklin Savings Bank chain) sans the ATM drive-through.

archibuff said...

FYI: off topic - Following the near certain loss of the Villanova mansion by Trumbauer last week, it appears the fate of 4 other commissions are up in the air. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 9th about the current status of Georgian Terrace, Chelten House, Elstowe Manor and Lynnewood Hall. Due to various circumstances the properties all seem to be on the market, a great twist of fate for Lynnewood Hall, which has suffered uunder the ownership of the quasi-religious Korean Church organization that occupies it and its equally shady owner, now with questionable tax exempt status pulling the property away from him, thank god.

Both Chelten House and Elstowe Manor are reported to be in exceptional condition after years of restoration by a conservancy group which recently lost ownership of them both.

The township appears ready to work on preserving the properties (Hello Old Westbury? Anybody listening?) and there even appears to be interest in re-adapting them for contemporaty uses, again a blessing for Lynnewood Hall which is slowly falling into ruin at the hands of its current owner.

Hopefully the new interst in the mansions and their re-adaption will also be attached to some much needed funding. Maybe preservation isn't completely dead yet?

http://articles.philly.com/2012-04-09/news/31313364_1_widener-george-elkins-mansions

The Down East Dilettante said...

Archibuff---the ruination of Lynnewood actually started before the Korean Church (although they inexplicably hold on to the property despite the repeated refusal of Elkins Park to grant the desired zoning variance.

When the seminary that owned Lynnewood for many years fell into financial trouble, they sold off many parts of the property---paneling, fireplaces the major fountains from the garden, pieces of garden balustrade, etc.(the marble dining room completely gone), and stopped making repairs. They were taken to court and stopped, but much of the damage was already done, and the Korean church has just been the icing on the cake (though if anyone can explain to me why the church holds on to it?)

IMHO, Lynnewood Hall tout ensemble was one of the most important of the gilded age estates--not the best architecturally, but the whole as developed under Joseph Widener---house, gardens, collections, and amusements constuted one of the best of its kind. Much as we all rant, the fact is that there is no way to salvage and repair the place now--that kind of money for preservation doesn't exist in this country. It was doomed the day Joe Widener gave the collection to the National Gallery and the family put the house on the market. It's just been a slower death than usual.

archibuff said...

DED, I have seen photos of the room stripped of its interior finishes,a very sad site and I know a court order stopped the wholesale gutting of the place when the seminary was looking for cash. However, I have corresponded with various town officials over the years and they have always said there are legitimate buyers anxious to purchase the property, have made solid offers in the past, but the Korean Church refused to listen to reason and sell the place. Maybe, just maybe, now that the courts are finally questioning the absurd "church" status of the property, they will relent and sell the place. With the town's efforts, maybe there won't be a slow death after all.

montana channing said...

all the whining notwithstanding, if the house looks as nice in person as it does in the sketch, i like it but if its between mcdonalds and something else - probably not.

i sure hope the penn mansions face a better future and lynnewood hall has a better end than poor whitemarsh. even a dog didn't deserve that fate.

these new security words suck but anyway - "fficeyo some" - what i do after eating hot mexican food.
well, i didn't type that one right i guess and it gave me a second one which is hilarious - "litsocki oftrype" - nouveau riche polish cattle baron

send flowers said...

home in the snap is looking beautiful one.

Anonymous said...

This was my grandfathers vacation house and my dad sometimes came here. I go to southampton every easter and summer