Monday, April 2, 2012

'Winfield Hall'

'Winfield Hall', the Frank Winfield Woolworth estate designed by C.P.H. Gilbert c. 1916 in Glen Cove. Woolworth was founder, president and chairman of the board of F.W. Woolworth Co., five and dime stores. Click HERE for more and HERE and HERE to see 'Winfield Hall' as it looked in 1947 during the ownership of Richard Reynolds (who purchased the estate in 1929). Reynolds converted the garage into a laboratory during WWII for use by his Reynolds Metals Company. In 1963 the estate was sold to the Grace Downs Model and Air Career School. Since 1975 the estate has been owned by Martin Carey, brother of New York Governor Hugh Carey. From 1980-1997 the home was leased by the Pall Corporation but has since returned to use as a private residence. Click HERE to see 'Winfield Hall' on google earth and HERE on bing. Click HERE to see Woolworth's namesake NYC building designed by Cass Gilbert c. 1913.

Photos from Architectural Record, 1920.


Doug Floor Plan said...

I'll repeat my previous comment that the marble entry hall is impressive & should be saved -- & oddly enough is one of the few things a "modern" builder might be interesed in having; the rest of 'Winfield Hall' is ... not as impressive.

There's probably in interesting lesson about life in all that F. W. Woolworth built (like the tallest building in the world at the time) & what remains 100 years later.

The Down East Dilettante said...

I'll stay absolutely silent, under the following conditions: The word "masterpiece" must not be used in reference to this building, and genius may not be used in reference to the architect. If so, I will start linking to true masterpieces---Bernini's colonnade at St. Peter's, Villa Rotonda, biographies of actual geniuses such as Palladio, Christopher Wren and Le Corbusier, etc., I'll once again do the 'Whitemarsh Hall' comparison, accompanied by a long pedantic lecture on proportion and detail. Understood? That's the price of my silence.

xoxo, Dilettante

magnus said...

Graceless,bulky, over solid, mausoleum like, I don't dispute. Deserving of it's current fate at the hands of its current delusional owner? Not one bit. A real tragedy.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Agreed with every single word, pro and con, Magnus.

Ann said...

Ah everyone is a critic! Ha, Actually I like this house. It is very solid but I would take it any day over anything we produce today.

archibuff said...

Ann you are sooo wise and have such good taste.

Love the garden views and the belvedere at the end of the long entrance drive is spectacular. Also love the excessively ornate music room, a magnificent setting to sit down and hear any type of concert or organ recital. And of course the marble entrance hall is a show stopper. One of the most elegant and beautiful entry halls ever built on LI.

So why this house always has to be compared to a masterwork? Now it has to compete with a Bernini or Palladio and not just be appreciated as most any other home is. Compare a great Delano & Aldrich or a Charles Platt home with a Roman Bernini palazzo or a Palladio villa in Vicenzo and I will take the Bernini or Palladio original home any day, hands down. So does that make Platt and D&A lousy architects?. So why should this house be held to such a lofty standard? Not fair, but critics are critics. The exterior is somewhat flat and overall a blocky composition, but it mimics the bulk and proportions almost exactly to the earlier home that Woolworth owned, but it is the interiors where the house shines. Yet now it has to be compared to Whitemarch Hall too? I guess every Italian villa knock-off built in the US should now be compared to La Rotunda and they all would fail. Again I dont get comparing this house to the lone masterwork on the planet when other homes are compared to the local design in a similar style located in the next town?

Oh Ann. You are a sane voice of reason.

Plus Woolworth has a incredible life story. A visionary who changed the concept of shopping and whose name became synonymous with the art of selling and retail worldwide and his architectural contributions from the Woolworth Building in NYC to hundreds if not thousands of early 20th century retail structures throughout this country is astounding, from art deco jewels to early moderne suburban stores. So if Woolworth asked CPH for his vision of a showplace and later critics find it too bulky and alitle gaudy, well so be it. I dont begrudge the fact that it suited him perfectly fine and that is what an architects job is. Please the client first. Critics dont pay the bills.

Too bad however that Winfield Hall is owned by the insanely delusional Martin Carey. Any building deserves a better fate than being owned by an ego-manaical jerk who allows historic properties to deteriorate into dust while thinking he is some benefactor or architectural saviour.

Oh almost forgot.........

What a MASTERPIECE designed by a GENIUS..........LOL. Oh boy, oh boy, critics. Just glad this home survived when so many others have fallen.

Doug Floor Plan said...

Ouch, Archibuff, in fairness to DED he did not compare ‘Winfield Hall’ to genius works elsewhere … what he said was that if anyone did try to give this house or architect a genius / masterpiece label DED would point out what really are masterpiece works.

If anyone is interested in seeing the former ‘Woolworth Building’ in NYC click on Zach’s ‘Beyond the Gilded Age (My Other Blog)’ & scroll down to March 29, 2012. Now there was a building that should have been saved.

archibuff said...

Doug..........I took the bait and mentioned masterwork and genius......I was however seriously making the argument that this home always gets compared to other examples of homes when most other homes featured on this blog are usually just discussed on their own merits or not. Almost never is there mentioning that this home doesnt match up to example "XYZ" in Chicago or in Boston so it is therefore lousy. Only this home gets that burden. I dont know why this and Muedon also have to stand up to Whitemarsh Hall for example, no other home in the country but Whitemarsh Hall is the standard for every house by CPH? I also know DED has this love/hate relationship with CPH and any positive comments about Winfield will needle him just a touch. I really think he is working on clarifying that publishing oversight by penning a masterworks of CPH designs, but he doesnt want anyone to know it yet. I hope DED knows I have fun with CPH at his expense, but I still like Winfield Hall.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Doug, what a perceptive reader you are, with a fine ear for nuance.

Now, as for you, Mr. Archibuff...
Seriously--no, really, seriously (DED tries to wipe grin off face)--I'm not really picking on this house on anything but its own merits and/or lack thereof. I think it's an interesting place. I think it is fascinating as a summation of Mr. Woolworth's success and aspirations. But, on a purely critical level, it's heavy, awkward in execution and proportion, instutional in its effect, and the work of a prolific, talented, but absolutely second string architect who seems in recent years to have been elevated to the pantheon solely because his buildings are big and elaborate. The comparison to Whitemarsh is apt, because they are both classical houses 13 bays wide, with projecting end pavilion in a five part composition, have 3rd floors behind balustrade, central pavilion portico/porte cochere, and looking at pictures of the two side by side is almost a lesson in what's wrong with the proportions and relation of parts in Winfield (Frankly, I find Whitemarsh a bit toooo 'correct', to the point of being a bit tame, but that's a different discussion.

And if one compares the plans of the two (and yes, I realize the main block of Whitemarsh is slightly larger), one plan has just a series of boxy rooms hooked together by doorways, the other has a plan designed for vistas and drama, with constant interactions of shape and height, and excellent circulation (hint: It isn't Winfield).

As to genius, great, and masterpiece, I do believe that you were the first to use those words regardng this house---and that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, agreed, but this place fails most of my tests.


PS. One of the things that interests me most about archictural history is the travel and appropriation and re-interpretation of themes and ideas, o actually comparison between buildings is a subject that often appears in my comments.

The Down East Dilettante said...

*so* actually comparison

The Down East Dilettante said...

New York Times article about the role and importance of architectural criticism

archibuff said...

Oh DED. I will leave it at that, but of course interiors are promised tomorrow so you can bring up Whitemarsh all over again, but criticism should be on a level playing field.

But seriously Whitemarsh? Slightly larger? Now I love Whitemarsh, but it is a gigantic, no colossal home with hundreds of acres of gardens, city park sized fountains, mile long vistas, built more as an art gallery, quasi-museum and hotel than an actual home and its upkeep, as well as the owners other enormous homes, led to the certain demise of the owners considerable fortune and the ultimate demolition of all their gigantic homes. Over 100,000 sf? Over 145 rooms? Two gigantic rotundas just because they look good in plan? A ballroom as large as Grand Central Station? Winfield is not on that scale, 13 bays or not, and yet it is supposed to be a comparable example? might as well compare a shack and the Taj Mahal. The building programs are completely different and there are no similarities in usage or purpose, except they were supposed to work as a residence. The only thing on LI that comes to mind that could be on the colossal scale and design program of a Whitemarsh Hall is Oheka and maybe even Harbor Hill. If you compare those two then its a fair argument. I dont see the comparison at all with Winfield Hall.

Compare Winfield to homes like Raymere and Ellencourt and Laurel Court and the Frank Goodyear home featured on Beyond the Gilded Age. They are more or less boxy structures with shallow exterior detailing, of a comparable size and program without the numerous art galleries and endless hallways and rotundas featured in Whitemarsh.

I also need to check the archives because I never throw around genius and masterpiece to describe Winfield, since I feel it's exterior is boxy and the pilasters are too flat, but all bets are off when describing the stair hall!!!

Tomorrow the interiors!!!!!

lil' gay boy said...

I must admit I've always been fascinated by this home, more for the lore that been attached to it that the architecture.

Although it sits imposingly on the site, the grounds always struck me as too meager for the design. And the fenestration on the portico fa├žade makes me want to grab a Rapidograph & start correcting...

What interests me more is that the ubiquitous Reynolds Wrap was supposedly invented in the garage-cum-lab, the catwalk concealed behind the soffit in the music room, and the sarcophagus supposedly concealed in a room beneath the portico.

I understand it did a stint as a set for some porn movies, but it was nice to see it (including that fabulous staircase) in Mildred Pierce.

Oh, and I absolutely LOATHE what Google has done; I'm not giving them my cell number to verify (because the last time I did I got endless, unwanted texts), so they've disabled ALL my accounts, and shunts you to a website that costs $48 a question to learn you HAVE NO CHOICE.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Oh Archibuff. Sorry, but size isn't the point here, and the comparison stands---whether one is a dolls house and the other is Versailles, the facades of the two are directly comparable. Put the pictures side by side. It's all about the proportions. The difference in scale doesn't matter.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Or, more clearly: They have directly comparable COMPOSITIONS, regardless of their difference in SCALE. And to compare those two similar compositions is an object lesson in PROPORTION.

Oheka may have more in common with Whitemarsh in terms of SCALE, but it has nothing in common in terms of COMPOSITION. (And far better PROPORTIONS than Winfield---or as Lil' Gay Boy points out---a definite reworking of the center part is particularly needed)

We weren't whipping them out for the measuring tape, we were talking about the COMPOSITION and PROPORTION.

Anonymous said...

I drove by the house yesterday, and it's under contract. Hope someone has the funds to bring it back to life, the outside isn't looking very good.