Sunday, July 1, 2012

"Winfield Hall"



   SINCE well-to-do Americans began to build costly country houses during the ninth decade of the last century the style and character of these houses has passed through a number of different phases. The first type consisted of the villa, erected usually on a rather limited site and situated on the sea-shore. It was, of course, the country house of a city business man, intended for occupancy only during a few months in the year. When these villas began to be built soon after 1880, conditions of life, even among rich people, were comparatively simple. 

   The American millionaire was still much more interested in making money than in spending it. He did not maintain a very large establishment, and his seashore residence was usually an informal rambling structure, belonging to no particular architectural style, surrounded at most by a few acres of land and in every way lacking in pretension and in social self-consciousness.

   This particular phase did not last very long. American fortunes quickly increased during the eighties in number and in amount; and the increase was immediately reflected in domestic architecture. The typical country residence of the New York millionaire during the last decade of the nineteenth century remained a villa, erected on a comparatively small acreage of land near the water and intended for occupation only during the very hot weather, but it became an elaborate, costly and even palatial villa. The type passed quickly from informality to formality, from a nondescript architectural style to many specific styles belonging to as many specific periods, and from a complete lack of social pretension to a conspicuous assertion of social position. Most of the houses of this type were situated in New York. They indicated clearly that the family of the American millionaire, if not the millionaire himself, had become interested in spending money and in reproducing in this country the manner, the way of life and the architectural scenery of rich Europeans of high social position.

   The palatial villa did not, however, remain in favor for very long. The families of the millionaire soon demanded country houses in which it was pleasant and convenient to live during the spring and the fall as well as during the summer and which furnished to their owners a larger variety of interests and occupations, associated with life in the country. This demand jumped into prominence early in the present century, and it was immensely stimulated by the improvement of the automobile and the consequent diminution of distance as an impediment to social intercourse in the country. 

   Millionaires began, consequently, to buy estates with considerable acreages, situated within motoring distances of the large cities, and they began to build on them houses which they proposed to occupy five or six months of the year. On the whole, these houses tended to lose the palatial appearance which characterized the villas of Newport, but they remained, of course, elaborate and costly residences which required for their operation and maintenance large numbers of servants, which provided the scenery for a life of some leisure, and which were occupied by people given over chiefly to country sports, such as hunting, polo and golf. In design these houses were usually an improvement on their predecessors. They were less formal and less pretentious and occupied a more close relation to the lives of their occupants. Their architects were allowed to spend much more money on designing the approaches to the house and the lay-out of the grounds surrounding it than had formerly been the case.
PLOT PLAN - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.
   The house of the late F. W. Woolworth, Esq., at Glen Cove, Long Island, occupies an interesting relation to the two different types of domestic architecture which are roughly sketched above. In most respects it belongs to the second class of country house. It is situated on a comparatively large acreage within motoring distance of New York, and the architect has given quite as much attention to the lay-out of the grounds as he did to the design of the house. But it also bears an interesting relationship to some of the larger of the Newport villas. It tends to be palatial in its dimensions and in the magnitude of its effects. It is an extremely formal building, which is entirely lacking in that homely atmosphere which surrounds many of the more modern country houses of comparatively rich people. It is designed rather to be seen and admired than to be lived in by a particular family with interests and occupations of its own associated with life in the country. On the other hand, its formality is simple and spacious. The architect has in the facades of the building carefully avoided any excess of ornamentation and he has in every aspect of his design, both inside and outside, been scrupulously correct.
VIEW FROM BELVEDERE, - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.

BELVEDERE, FROM FRONT ENTRANCE - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.


BELVEDERE - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.

   The estate consists of some wellwooded land overlooking the Sound. It is approached by a long winding driveway, lined by trees, which does not afford a view of the house until the visitor reaches a long oval court, lined by evergreens to which the scale of the house is nicely adjusted. The relation between the building and the formal approach to it is one of the most interesting aspects of the design. The house itself is one of the few successful examples of the flatroofed residences in this country. A flat-roof, of course, forbids anything like a picturesque and informal effect, and it almost forces the architect to use stone in the structure of the building rather than brick. Flat-roofed houses tend, consequently, to be palatial and they also tend to be dull. The Woolworth house is saved from dullness only by its successful formality. Its exterior is conceived and executed in the grand style. Notwithstanding the large number of rooms the plan is simple and convenient.
ENTRANCE - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH, ESQ., GLEN COVE. L. I.    C. P. H. GILBERT. ARCHITECT.
MANTEL IN HALLWAY - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.

DETAIL OF HALLWAY - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.
   The visitor enters through a spacious hall which runs through the house and leads straight to the formal garden on the other side. 
MUSIC ROOM - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.

DETAIL OF MUSIC ROOM - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.

PICTURE WINDOW IN MUSIC ROOM - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.
   As you enter there is a foyer hall on the left which leads to the music-room. This is the largest and the most important and the most elaborately designed room in the house. This same foyer hall also provides an approach to the library. 
DINING ROOM - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.
   On the right of the entrance hall is the dining room and to the right of the dining room the kitchen, pantry and offices. The interior design preserves the grandiose character of the exterior; but except for certain rooms it has not preserved the same simplicity. 
MANTEL IN BEDROOM - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.

DOORWAY IN BEDROOM - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.
PORCH - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.
   The design of some of the apartments is hurt rather than helped by the amount of ornamentation, but it should be added that the ornament is always correct and the house contains some very interesting examples of modern woodwork.
GARDEN AND TEA HOUSE - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.

WEST PORCH - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.

WEST TERRACE - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.
   The interest of the Woolworth house is increased rather than diminished because of the fact that it belongs to a type of domestic architecture which is destined to disappear. In the future it is improbable that even very rich men will want or can afford a big grandiose formal residence of this kind. The high rate of income taxation will diminish the number of those who can build them, and the enormously increased cost of service will cut down the number who can operate and maintain them. Moreover, it is probably that families who occupy buildings with more than a limited provision for the accommodation of servants will eventually have to put up with special burdens. There is a tendency to tax luxuries which may in the end include dwellings with a certain number of servants' rooms in its scope. The country residence of the American millionaire of the future will, we may confidently predict, again become a smaller and more informal and a less pretentious building.


FIRST FLOOR PLANS - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.

SECOND FLOOR PLANS - RESIDENCE OF F. W. WOOLWORTH. ESQ., GLEN COVE, L. I.   C. P.  H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT.

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3 comments:

  1. A true picture window!

    Do we know the decorator?

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  2. The large picture window in the music room framing the LI Sound beyond is a beautiful idea.

    Finally some even handed, unbiased opinions and criticism on Winfield Hall to appreciate.

    Great first hand 1920's account on the country house genre and where Winfield Hall's place stands within that category and what burden taxes would bestow upon such places in the future. The period photos also show the once commanding water views Winfield once had from the terraces and first floor rooms.

    archibuff

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  3. "My firm did the rooms of the second and third floors," says Helwig Schier, of Theo. Hofstatter & Company, Fifth Avenue decorators... "those bedrooms and bathrooms were the most elaborate our company has ever done." SPLIA makes no distinction saying Hofstatter did interiors as a whole with Woolworth's input - "persisted doggedly in influencing it". What credit can be given to Gilbert on the interiors I wonder???

    ReplyDelete