Saturday, July 28, 2012

HOUSE FOR W. R. GRACE, ESQ., WESTBURY L. I.

 ***Published December, 1919.***
A HOUSE that has developed from a small Long Island Colonial farmhouse into a large and most interesting country residence is the home of W. R. Grace, Esq., at Westbury, L. I. 
First Floor Plan.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect
The original building consisted only of that portion of the plan shown ***above*** marked Room No. 3 and Room No. 4 with the staircase and small room at the right. Some time in the "seventies" or "eighties" an addition was made in the style prevailing at the time.


When Mr. O'Connor was first called in some ten years ago the building consisted of the old Colonial farmhouse and the adjoining building, much larger than the original structure. In order to make the old building conform to the style of the new building the Colonial roof had been replaced by one in the prevailing style. The result was typical of the period, the kind of building we consider impossible today. Mr. O'Connor restored the Colonial portion of the building and altered the rest to harmonize in design; he also constructed an addition of Colonial design. Three or four years ago Mr. O'Connor was once more called upon to design additions to the house, this time on a more extensive scale. 
The Court from the Entrance Archway.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect

View across the Court.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect
Detail showing Entrance Archway.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect


Entrance Archway from the Court.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect
Portions of the existing building were altered to suit new uses and new portions were built, forming the sides of a large paved court, which is entered through an archway that runs through the portion of the house at the west.
A Portion of the Riding Academy.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect
Riding Academy Detail.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect

Detail of Riding Academy.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect

Detail in Riding Academy Wing.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect

On the north side of the court were built the riding academy and the squash court, comprised in the "sports wing." At the east the court is enclosed by a high wall in which there is a wide gate.
A Portion of the South Front.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect
Detail showing South Elevations.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect
Each portion of the house has its own entrance, a very convenient feature where the building is so large. Entering through the porch, a photograph of which is shown ***above***, one enters an attractively furnished morning room or smoking room. 
Room in Old Portion of House(Room No. 4).
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect
Back of this room is the comfortable library and at the east, down a step or two, one enters the old Colonial portion of the building where the rooms are furnished appropriately. 
Dining Room.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect
Beyond this, to the east, is the dining room, with its appropriate and pleasing furniture and wall treatment. 
Alcove of Dining Room.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect
A feature of this room is the bay at the south which is fitted to serve as a breakfast alcove.

Hall on the First Floor.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect
If one enters through the door in the center of the south side of the court one finds oneself in a broad hall with a long hall extending to the right and left. On opposite sides of the hall are the coat room and dressing room. Near the west end of the long hall is a small staircase to which access is had through a door concealed in the panelling of the wall. The closet adjoining the stair also has a concealed door. This staircase provides a short way from the living room to the principal rooms of the family, which are above on the second floor.
West Porch.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect
From the end of this hall one goes down two or three steps to the foyer, that opens upon the west porch and gives access to the living room.
Living Room.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect

Living Room Wing.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect

Living Room
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect
Placed at the southwest corner of the house, with long rows of mullioned windows on two sides, this large panelled room is unusually pleasant.


Opening from the north side of the foyer is an entry that gives access to two bedrooms. Each of these bedrooms has a door opening directly into the entrance archway at the north.

Hall adjoining Entrance Archway.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect

Across the drive is a hall fitted up as a comfortable sitting room. Beyond are the squash court and riding academy.
Plan of a Portion of Second floor.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect
The portion of the second floor shown by the plan ***above*** includes the most interesting arrangement of rooms found in the southwest corner of the building, where are located the principal rooms of the family. Along the south side are the children's play room, with adjoining kitchen, and a series of bedrooms. 
Sitting Room, Second Floor.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq., Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect
At the north end of the corridor is a sitting room so furnished that it can be used as a dining room or breakfast room. The walls are covered with a French hand-blocked wallpaper in an old Chinese design. 
View from Sitting Room into Room over Entrance Archway, Second Floor.
House for W. R. Grace, Esq.,  Westbury, L. I.
James W. O'Connor, Architect
Beyond the sitting room is a pleasant room over the entrance archway. From this point one can reach the riding academy without going out of doors. The squash court and the riding academy are unusually interesting features of this residence. ***The pantry, kitchen and servants' hall occupy the section at the east of the kitchen.*** 


The exterior design shows a pleasant variety of treatment and a degree of informality in keeping with this kind of plan, while the unity of character has been well preserved throughout. The interiors are similarly varied, ranging all the way from the simple white panelling of the rooms in the original Colonial farmhouse to the rich, dark old oak of the living room.


As an example of the happy handling of a difficult problem in alteration, the entire operation is of special interest at this time, when the remodeling and reconstruction of old houses is receiving more than ordinary attention.  


Click HERE to see at wikimapia with links to oldlongisland.com(extensive additional information), Bing and historicaerials.com(1966).

11 comments:

  1. Fascinating, but more interesting in concept than execution, for the most part. I love the Riding Academy wing, though.

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  2. A sprawling, maze-like structure with some beautiful architectural features, like the riding academy, courtyard and arched entranceway. Would be curious to know if the very large complex still functions well today without the extensive staff that made it liveable back in the day. The main entrance gates and gatehouse located off the LIE service road are one of the best on L.I.

    Archibuff

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  3. Stunning. I especially love the riding academy. Great to see the drawings as well as the photos.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Jennifer

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  4. Archi....

    No it does not. The house is falling apart and very well might face the specter of demolition in the next ten years.

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    1. Disappointing to hear. From the Bing view you don't see abandoned cars or trash and the grounds look maintained. Some spiritual organization owns the property, right? People live there and perform services?

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  5. The head of the spiritual organization recently passed away. They were based in California. There are no services or anything performed at this house though there are some people that live there.

    Abandoned cars have nothing to do with the condition of the house anyway... it's not doing well.

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  7. If I may elaborate...

    We are seeing religious institutions selling off country houses all across the country at the moment...including Inisfada (the St. Ignatius Retreat House). Thomas Lin-Yun, the grandmaster of the Black Sect of Feng Shui, died last August. Like I mentioned, they are based in California. The Village of Old Westbury seems completely indifferent whether the house were demolished or not...and I say that with some level of inside information on the matter. The current occupants are not having the easiest time maintaining the house in its current condition..and it needs quite a bit of work. For anyone in the area... just take a close look at the wall along Wheatley Road and you will see a small slice of what I am talking about.

    So...if they chose to sell...which they might...is it likely a single family is going to come in and buy the property and renovate this huge house (with its ballroom, indoor tennis court and two swimming pools)? Or is it likely one of the name brand developers in the area takes a ball to it and builds three 2 acre houses and a small street on the 8 acres that the site currently sits on? I don't know. It scares the crap out of me everyday.

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  8. Oh No.... Zach
    Old Westbury really needs to get serious about preservation. It is too late for a number of buildings and estates, but not too late for what remains. When will they realize the very aspects that have given the village the cache of "Gold Coast" lifestyle, natural beauty and a bountiful architectural history are the very same things that they just dont seem to hold in high regard?

    Would hate to see this complex destroyed. With its very high visibility off the LIE, aside from Westbury House, this structure symbolizes Old Westbury's golden past.

    Archibuff

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  9. HPHS...the W.R. Grace link you have at the top (for Wikipedia) is the wrong Grace...that was the father...this was the W.R. Grace Jr. estate. He died in the 40s or 50s I believe.

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  10. Corrected. Since this article was published in 1919 and Sr. died in 1904 I should have... PLUS I should have remembered Sr. had his home "Graceland" in Great Neck.

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