Sunday, December 30, 2012

FOR ENTERTAINING AT OYSTER BAY The Playhouse of Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. F. McCann at their Long Island home



- THE SUNKEN ORCHARD -


"SUNKEN ORCHARD" - 1936
"Sunken Orchard" - 2005

  The main house was designed in 1916 by George Bruno de Gersdorff for Mr. and Mrs. Fay Ingalls, who called their property "Sunken Orchard". The original landscaping was by Innocenti and Webel.  Ingalls was a founding partner in the legal firm of Holter, Ingalls & Guthrie (Guthrie was the owner of "Meudon"). In 1927 Architect James W. O'Connor made minor alterations to the house and designed a playhouse and indoor tennis court for Mr. and Mrs. Charles McCann. Annette Hoyt Flanders received the Gold Medal of the Architectural League of New York for her work on the French garden surrounding the playhouse. The McCanns retained the name "Sunken Orchard".  

  Mr. McCann was also lawyer and a partner in the brokerage firm of Douglas, Armitage & McCann. Mrs. McCann, the former Helena Woolworth, reportedly spent $3.5 million for  "Sunken Orchard" and subsequent architectural improvements and the twelve gardens designed by Flanders.

    During the McCann ownership "Sunken Orchard" totaled more than 192 acres. 
Outside the French gardens were a path flanked by perennial beds, another large perennial garden, a house terrace, a swimming pool next to the outdoor tennis court, and a boxwood garden. The grounds included a woodland carpeted with wild flowers, a pond bordered with iris and azaleas, the sunken orchard(hence the name for the estate) was planted with a carpet of violets, a bridle path, a pond made in the woodland, and a dogwood allee surrounding the outdoor tennis court. In spring, a brilliant display of Darwin tulips, edged with tiarellacreeping white and lavender phloxviolacandytuft, and forget-me-nots filled the beds. In early summer views of the perennial beds along the path show delphiniums, phlox, Japanese iris, and Oriental poppies are blooming. 


ANOTHER VIEW THE THE SUNKEN ORCHARD
  
A VIEW OF THE MEADOWS FROM THE HOUSE
TERRACE OFF HOUSE
TERRACED GARDENS AND LAWN  OFF HOUSE
GARDEN VISTA FROM HOUSE

ENTRANCE INTO A EVERGREEN ENCLOSED GARDEN

EVERGREEN ENCLOSED GARDEN
ROSE GARDEN

GARDEN FACADE WITH TERRACED TURF PANELS

VISTA FROM THE OUTDOOR TENNIS COURT
DOGWOOD ALLEE NEAR OUTDOOR TENNIS COURT
LANDSCAPE PLAN - CLICK HERE TO SEE A 1966 AERIAL 
  The landscape plan for the French gardens shows a long vista that originates at the front of the building extends over a grass panel edged with ivy, then down a grass allee terminating in a classical temple. The reverse view of the long axis terminates in a treillage composition. The sculpture here and elsewhere in the garden was by Milton Horn. The grass panel and the allee formed the main axis of the composition, while a tapis vert on either side of the turf panel, each terminating in a fountain, formed the cross axis. On either side of the allee were axial and radiating paths running through the woods. Next to the music room, there was also a knot garden planted with white flowers and designed to be viewed from above.   

   The Playhouse and French gardens were a Versailles-like oasis designed for twentieth-century recreation and entertainment. Flanders wrote the playhouse and its gardens were "used for informal entertainment as well as for large formal affairs. Gardens designed in the manner of the formal French gardens best met the client's requirements for two types of entertainment, as they afford spaces for large numbers of people and more intimate places for small gatherings." The playhouse contained the indoor tennis court, a music room, a ballroom, and other smaller rooms for more casual gatherings. 


GARDEN PATH FLANKED BY PERENNIALS OUTSIDE THE FRENCH GARDEN



WOODLAND WALK BETWEEN RESIDENCE AND PLAYHOUSE


   FOR ENTERTAINING AT OYSTER BAY 
The Playhouse of Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. F. McCann at their Long Island home.

THE ENTRANCE PORTICO EXPRESSES A CHARMING BIT OF OLD-WORLD ATMOSPHERE
  James W. O'Connor, architect       
Annette Hoyt Flanders, landscape architect

  Against the light beige stucco walls, the ironwork, painted white, and the white trim afford pleasing contrast. Other ironwork, above the portico, makes an agreeable break in the parapet wall. As one enters, there are dressing rooms to the left and right and beyond is the lounge, opening on the enclosed tennis court. The Louis XIV terra cotta figures are especially interesting notes of the low wall, on which are salmon pink and vermilion geraniums.   On both sides of the portico is box and climbing up the walls are Dr. W. Van Fleet roses.


IN SPRING AND EARLY SUMMER THE FRENCH GARDENS OF THE McCANN PLAYHOUSE ARE A TRIUMPH OF SHADES OF PINK AND GREEN

   The not too formal design is carried out in boxwood with interior panels of ivy around which the wide walks have a fine cream-colored gravel. Stucco and cut limestone are used for the walls and steps while the amusing figures are limestone. Accenting notes of pink are attained by beds of begonias along the walls and dwarf azaleas in the cross axis gardens at the right and left of this center section. The pink is carried farther along by the Japanese cherry trees that line the allee leading to the limestone temple: their effect is heightened by Austrian pines and other evergreens, in summer, the wall urns have pink geraniums. The larger trees are chiefly swamp maples. By day as well as by night, when these gardens are lighted, the arrangement is ideal for entertaining on a luxurious scale.



ALL THE OLD COBBLESTONES FOR THE ENTRANCE COURT AND PARKING SPACE WERE BROUGHT FROM FRANCE

FROM THE MCCANN LOUNGE ACCESS IS HAD TO THIS DELIGHTFUL TERRACE LEADING TO THE FRENCH GARDEN

 Here the roses, en espalier on the walls, the euonymus, the oleanders in tubs and the Japanese cherry trees create a most engaging background for the French blue-green iron furniture.   The wing at the right houses the large music room, below the level of the other rooms.


LAWN OFF ENTRANCE DRIVE - THE TENNIS HOUSE WOULD BE TO THE RIGHT


ENTRANCE INTO THE FRENCH GARDEN FROM THE FORECOURT

CENTRAL AXIS OF THE FRENCH GARDEN
PLAYHOUSE GARDEN LOOKING BACK TO MUSIC ROOM
DETAIL OF STEPS AND IVY


VISTA FROM PLAYHOUSE TO TEMPLE

LOOKING NORTH FROM THE CENTRAL AXIS - ENTRANCE TO GARDEN FROM FORECOURT ON THE FAR RIGHT
LOOKING SOUTH TOWARDS THE CENTRAL AXIS - NOTE THE BLOOMING PHOLX
AXIAL VIEW TO FOUNTAIN


VISTA SHOWING MUSIC ROOM ON THE LEFT


FOUNTAIN  TERMINUS OFF CROSS AXIS 
KNOT GARDEN



ANOTHER VIEW OF THE TEMPLE
LOOKING BACK TO TENNIS HOUSE
INDOOR TENNIS COURT
TENNIS HOUSE TODAY


THE TAP ROOM IN THE McCANN PLAYHOUSE FINELY SUGGESTS THE QUALITIES OF AN ANCIENT ENGLISH INN
Decorations by Elsie  Sloan Farley

   Old oak is used for the panels and beams as well as for the furniture, which is of characteristic rural English style. Against the gold-tinted walls the collection of hunting prints and stirrup cups, some the traditional fox heads and others the rarer fish heads, gives what color is needed. The floor is tile and the windows have thin curtains of
gold to match the walls.

Paneling by Stair & Andrew, Inc.      Decorations by French & Co.

  The fireplace composition in the large music room is a keynote of the discriminating taste and judgment that have gone into the creation of it. Over the mantelpiece is a Van Dyck, flanked by Ming figures, and lower down are Eighteenth Century portraits of the English school. The curtains are of antiqued red brocatelle and the rugs are antique Fereghans. ***A connoisseur of Chinese export porcelain, her collection is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.***

THE OLD OAK PANELED LOUNGE IS A SUPERB EXAMPLE OF A LOUIS XV COUNTRY STYLE ROOM
    Besides the cream colored flowered brocade that is used for several pieces, some of the chairs are covered with material of a prune color which matches the ground of the Aubusson rug. The architectural treatment of the windows is highly pleasing and permits of unusual arrangement. The Louis XV cabinet is pale yellow and green. The chandelier is old rock crystal.


Decorations by Elsie  Sloan Farley

   One feels that here is expressed to a marked degree the personality of the owners, who are ardent collectors and connoisseurs. The lovely wall cabinet, for instance, has rare porcelains and china and first editions. A particularly fine old piece is the Louis XVI chaise lounge  covered with flowered brocade. The wing chair opposite has a dull green damask covering.


THE McCANN MUSIC ROOM IS ADAPTED FROM ONE OF THE GREAT EARLY ENGLISH HALLS
Paneling by Stair & Andrew, Inc.      Decorations by French & Co.

   In the manner of the late Fifteenth and early Sixteenth centuries, the walls are of oak, assembled from many old rooms, with the upper part of hand modeled plaster. The high pitched roof, of half-timber construction, is sustained by five great arched trusses. The north end of the room contains a minstrel gallery, with an organ console, while opposite is a large bay, the casement windows of which, like those on the east and west walls are embellished with finely colored Sixteenth Century English heraldic glass. Artistic merit and comfort are evident in the arrangement of the Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth century furniture and art objects. In general the sofas and chairs are covered with fine antique needle point tapestry and velvet: the larger easy chairs are of soft gold broeatelle. Among the magnificent tapestries this one, over a Renaissance walnut table, is early Sixteenth Century Flemish.   On the other side of the same wall is a Sixteenth Century carved French walnut cabinet, one of the finest examples of its kind extant.


THE INTERIOR FITTINGS OF THE MUSIC ROOM WERE DONATED TO POST COLLEGE(LIU) IN 1966
NOTE THE MINSTREL GALLERY


THE BONES OF THE FRENCH GARDEN SURVIVE
  The McCann house is still a private residence, although the west wing was removed in the 1960s and much of the land between the house and playhouse has been subdivided. Portions of the landscape near the house are also extant. The playhouse complex survives as St. Pius V Chapel - only the forecourt, turf panel, and tapis vert sections of the French gardens remain. The allee, temple, and woods have disappeared beneath the tennis court of an adjacent property. The sunken orchard is also extant, although most of the trees are gone. 

  Click HERE to see when "Sunken Orchard" was for sale.

The  DARKSIDE of the playhouse.


  Umberto Innocenti died in 1968. Richard Webel died in 2000. The firm continues to practice as Innocenti & Webel in Locust Valley, NY. 

The McCann's Manhattan townhouse is being offered for sale at $90million. They also owned "Beauport" outside Gloucester, Massachusetts.

  Fay Ingall's father was once known to be a candidate for President and was the organizer of the original "Big Four".

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