Wednesday, July 18, 2012

'Spring Hill'

An aerial of 'Spring Hill', originally the William L. Stow estate designed by John Russell Pope c. 1903 in Old Westbury and for many years owned by Henry Carnegie Phipps.  The photo shows the house sometime in the teens or twenties as by 1932 the reflecting pools had been replaced by a swimming pool.  Click HERE for more on 'Spring Hill' and HERE to see a 1932 aerial.  Photo from the Olmsted Archives.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like garden much better with the reflecting pools.

archibuff said...

The 10 acre site of the Phiipps mansion seems to still be unsold at Spring Hill by Kean although the site at the southern end of the allee of trees appears to have construction underway.

The demolition of the imposing mansion in the 1970's was a major loss to LI's architectural history.

Zach said...

So far there are two houses that are about halfway complete on either side of the driveway (which can be seen on google earth) and two or three more in the pipeline so far (including one in the field at the front of the property).

The main lot is still unsold.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Although the house leaves me cold personally, it is undeniably a masterful work, inside and out. The handling of the transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces, and changes in levels in the gardens, framing of vistas, all done with a sure hand, a sure sense of spatial effect. It shows what a really good architect can do in the classical idiom

Zach said...

And to think Pope was in his late 20s when he designed this place (along with a handful of others in the area at the time).

He was living on Jericho Turnpike then.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Gives one pause, doesn't it, that before 30, he was already so in command of his art, and being trusted with such commissions. Talent does out.

In other news, how's Otto?

Kellsboro Jack said...

While 28-yr old (or so) is remarkable by 2012 standards wasn't that somewhat typical for working architects of the era?

In an era when life expectancies were far less and following graduation from architectural school, did the standard European tour, and cut their teeth under the wing of an established firm I'd say a 25 - 35yr old was the best age to tap into clients, if so socially connected.

Harrie Lindeberg was already done with MM&W and designing with Lewis Alboro when he was 26-yrs old. Another MM&W grad, Charles Lewis Bowman, who is exceptionally underrated, also was in a solo practice at 28-yrs old.

Zach said...

Indeed. I think I meant more along the lines of the development of this specific neighborhood given Spring Hill was one of the early houses in the area.

Of the big estates built between 1890-1906 in the immediate area I think of:

Harbor Hill and Wheatly, both MMW commissions where they would have been in their late 30s and early 40s come 1890.

Roslyn House and the Lanier place, both James Brown Lord commissions which would have made him 31 in 1890.

Westbury House was designed by George Crawley when he was about 40.

Thomas Hastings was 43 when Knole was built.

Pope would have been working on Spring Hill and Jericho Farm (1906)...then Old Acres in 1907 and Chateau Ivor in 1908.

Zach said...

Oh and Otto is...recovering. He's using his leg to walk but not to stand still. He makes a lot of cracking noises but he's certainly moving in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned Pope lived on Jericho turnpike - is the house extant and are there photos?

Anonymous said...

I think this aerial portrays the terraced lawn at its finest. The 1932 shot leaves the impression that the stock market crash and the Depression put a sizeable dent in Mr. Phipps' finances.

Zach said...

^ Perhaps...but unlikely. According to Forbes in 2002 the extended Phipps family (of 100 members) was worth over $7 billion (not to mention the $35 billion under their management at Bessemer Trust).

http://www.forbes.com/2002/02/28/0228dynasties_12.html

The Ancient said...

To me, the 1932 aerial looks as if they'd been having some problems with the grass -- maybe those mysterious "army worms" that come by night! -- and had put down new sod, but only in places.

The landscape beyond looks as if Long Island had been suffering a drought. And lo and behold -- http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/mwr/060/mwr-060-12-0254.pdf

Anonymous said...

Why do you think they got rid of the reflection pools?

The Ancient said...

Anon 4:26 --

Haven't a clue. I think it looked better with them.

But take a look at the 1932 picture. What's that dark rectangular patch of grass towards the front of the picture? It seems the wrong dimensions for croquet, and too large for badminton. Still, there's benches on both sides (and new steps just behind the bench closest to the house). Do you suppose someone once played tennis there? Small children perhaps?

Zach said...

Ancient...it was for court tennis. Ogden was very good.

Zach said...

From his 2002 obit:

"Mr. Phipps excelled at golfing, boating and tennis and won the United States tennis championship seven times in the 1930's and 1940's and the British amateur title in 1949. He was inducted into the International Court Tennis Hall of Fame in 2001."

The Ancient said...

Zach --

Thanks!

P.S. Addendum on the reflecting pools: They look really wonderful in that early aerial. But who really knows how they looked from the house or the terrace? And isn't that all that matters?

Zach said...

As for what they looked like from the terrace...this is the best view I've yet come across:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_OlaVeajrP30/Subj3fBTT8I/AAAAAAAAERw/ykEnhkFMlbg/s1600-h/Spring+Hill+Rear+Terrace+View.jpg

Anonymous said...

They look very nice to me.

archibuff said...

Now that is a beautiful view of the garden. One can only hope that whatever gets built upon the site does justice to the property and formality of the remaining garden elements.

Anonymous said...

In looking at this photo opposed to all the other rear elevations of the house, I notice the windows/doors on both rear wings of the house do not seem to be arched as in all the other photos. Upon looking even closer, it appears that the rear terrace balustrade does not line up with the two wings as in all the other photos. Perhaps the terrace was extended at some point, or the wings reached further out towards the retaining wall in this picture. It appears to me as though the wings were deeper, but why would they have been shortened? This is puzzling me!