Monday, January 28, 2013


Click video for the opening song to the movie REVERSAL OF FORTUNE filmed at "Knole"

Inside main entrance gate - 2002 - click HERE for more  

THE NEW RESIDENCE OF HERMAN B. DURYEA, ESQ. at Westbury, Long Island Designed by Carrere & Hastings, Architects

Called a experimental Italian-inspired villa, Hastings was asked what he might build as his ideal house. He replied that he had already done so at "Knole"
 MR. DURYEA'S new place at Westbury is purely an architect's citation in the midst of what was but two years ago an untouched and characteristic bit of Long Island landscape.

  A clump of wooded knolls was selected for the building operations, and a thrifty second growth of dogwood, hickories, oaks and chestnuts was deliberately cut away, not only upon the space to be occupied by the house itself, but to form an unbroken vista across the garden and continuing on for several miles over the low undulating land. Standing in the middle of this one can almost recognize the distant sea. This outlook through the enclosing woods obtained, and the house adjusted to it, the immediate surroundings of the structure became a question of great importance. Here, however, the advantage of a background for any decorative treatment of the ground already existed, and there was needed only the system of trellises at the end of the garden to speak the last architectural word before the eye is lost in the depths of a wild wood beyond.

The grassed walk, looking south - 1904
North allee looking towards ruins in winter - 2001

The ruins were musicians played during lawn parties - 2004 - called the Love Temple, it has cherub-topped columns with fruit baskets on their heads. Cracked in an ice storm, part of the structure has fallen.

The long walk - 1904

The long walk - 1984

One can proceed to the end of the axis and take in the views of the estate, or turn back to see the masses of the loggia wings and the villa beyond

  The design of the ground is so extremely simple that its plan can be read from the illustrations. The vista alluded to passes across the ends of the wings, and within their limits it is a formal walk bordered with hedges. Considerate of the pool, it curves outward in the center and so completes a border of green surrounding the water. Beyond the confines of the house, it meets the character of the hillside and becomes simply a broad turf walk, extremely beautiful and imposing, and suggesting in miniature the tapis verts of Versailles and Compiegne.

The courtyard and basin - 1904

The courtyard and basin - 2002

Garden entrance detail - 1904

A view from the garden entrance - 1906
Reflecting pool is tapered for perspective - 1984
The basin after being restored - 2004 - brick has replaced the original marble

The gardens and its background - 1906
The sunken garden -  1904

The garden courtyard - 1906

View of the garden from the loggia - 1903
Open loggia off the dining-room - 2004

The courtyard and basin - 2004 - enclosed loggia connected to the drawing-room
 The effect of calm dignity is furthered by restraint in giving over areas to flowers. Floral color, therefore, merges in effect with that of shrubs, with rich green turf and opulent hedges of box, brought from Holland. The treillage, too, is a green, yet darker, and the note of all is a sharp contrast with the severely white exterior of the house. Many cedars, fifteen to twenty feet in height, were brought from near Boonton, N. J., and successfully reestablished on the grounds.

Its intended precedent is the Villa Giulia in Rome, one of Hastings' favorite Italian buildings

Main facade - 1904

A foreboding front block intended to induce the false impression of an impenetrable screen -  2004

  The character of the structure is that of the Louis XVI. style, and it is built of brick, stuccoed with cement and finished with a brilliant coat of shell-lime and marble dust. There is little exterior enrichment, except upon the center of the garden front and the first impression of the interior is one of spaciousness, due as well to the large rotunda, open through two storeys, as to the broad reaches of halls and the ample scale of the rooms. There is, also, an ingenious contriving of the different storeys in such a manner that the first floor upon the garden side of the house lies at a level midway between the basement and the first floor upon the entrance front. Steps reaching these rise and descend from the rotunda and disappear beyond a series of arches that are plastered in semblance of French Caen-stone walls.

The basement plan

Entrance hall - 1920's 
 ***The entrance hall is square, the pilastered walls of pink Caen stone. Steps between a screen of Doric columns lead to a corridor connecting with a suite of bedrooms on the right, and with the service department on the left. Two curved stairways, one on each side, are the approaches to the upper hall, which is the center of the house—the point to which everything radiates and by which the plan is dominated. Barr Ferree - 1904***

The hall - 1904

Rotunda - 1920's

Rotunda - 2002 - George II carved giltwood pier mirrors, circa 1740, attributed to Benjamin Goodison shown on the  second level balcony 

The vertical circulation system serves to organize the entire series of indoor and outdoor rooms directing the visitor either outward, toward the garden, or inward, toward the bedrooms and balconies on the upper floors - 1904

  Into the rotunda open the smoking-room and the reception-rooms, the panelling of their lofty walls colored a French gray ; and beyond these are on one hand the dining-room, in Circassian walnut illuminated with gold, and on the other the living-room. The walls of this beautiful apartment are clothed with old crimson damask found in Italy and hung within panels with that care necessary to preserve such a rich remnant of Europe's old textile art. The woodwork runs to the ceiling and is lead-colored, making the finest background for the large canvases of old masters which give at once a great interest to the walls, and balance the chimney-piece, to which the eye is first attracted by an elaborate mantel of carved Siena marble and a gilt rococo mirror above.

Main floor
Smoking-room - 1904 - Mr. Duryea's office
***It has dark green walls, on which are many old colored prints and other sporting mementos. The mantel is of green marble, and the furniture of the same color. Barr Ferree - 1904***

The drawing-room - 1904 - living-room - measuring forty-feet by twenty-two feet
***The drawing-room is paneled in pearl. Great panels of red damask, curtains of the same brilliant color, and furniture from Battle Abbey in red and gold, give the dominant color. The fireplace is of yellow marble, with a paneled overmantel and a rare old mirror. Barr Ferree - 1904***

The dining-room - 1904
***The dining-room, which occupies the space corresponding to the drawing-room on the left of the oval hall, is paneled throughout in Italian walnut, with pilasters at the windows and doors, all very beautiful in color. The ceiling is elliptical and perfectly plain. The lights are girandoles. There is no mantel, but an English stone fireplace. Above it hangs a portrait of Mrs. Duryea, by John W. Alexander. An open-air room, identical with that at the end of the drawing-room, opens from the dining-room. Barr Ferree - 1904***

Portrait of Mrs. Herman Duryea - c. 1900 by John W. Alexander - Ellen Homer Winchester, widow of William Weld - born in Boston, MA 15 August 1861 and died in Bern, Switzerland 23 December 1927 - William Fletcher Weld, a third-generation Weld, was born in 1855 and died in 1893. (He established a Weld Professorship at Harvard Law School in 1882.)  The widow Weld married Duryea in 1895.

Mrs. Duryea's bedroom - 1904 - 
***A flight of marble steps leads from the center of the oval hall to the upper corridor, which opens into it. Here are Mr. and Mrs. Duryea's rooms, the latter a large room, with a boudoir adjoining it in the corner of the house. All these apartments are delightfully furnished, each with its own scheme of harmonious decoration and its own special color. Barr Ferree - 1904*** 

The third level

***...stairs lead to the upper third story, the corridor here forming a picture gallery. The rooms are entirely set apart for guests, and are arranged en suite with bathrooms. Each is furnished in chintz, very beautiful in color and delightfully varied. Barr Ferree - 1904 - each with different moldings and patterned wood floors. ***

Attic level

The vista through the wood - 1906
Loggia exterior - 1904

The west facade - 1906
The west facade - 2004
House with balustrade, iron work, and bronze medallions - two tier rose garden - 2001
Overall view of rose garden with statue of Ceres -photo taken from third floor window - 2001
Lower formal garden - 1984
View of lower formal gardens of south end of villa - 1984

Statue of Ceres with whimsical topiaries - 2000

Circular garden off lower formal garden - 1984

Stairs leading down to circular garden from the terrace - 1988

Fountain with cherub holding fish, surrounded by impatiens with urns - 2001
Service court - 2004

  The stable of the place lies apart and unseen from the house, and therefore does nor conform to the style of the mansion, but it is a charming structure of dignified, yet low and graceful lines ; and, especially within its courtyard, there is a local touch in honor of Long Island's indigenous dwellings, which makes it a harmonious companion to the original farmhouse of the estate, which is situated close by. This building the owner and his architects have wisely preserved as the superintendent's dwelling.

The stables could hold up to forty-seven horses - 1904

The wood-shingled stables burned in the mid 90's 
The stable courtyard - 1904
Harmanus Barkulo Duryea, sportsman and philanthropist, b. in Brooklyn, N. Y., 13 Dec., 1863; d. at Saranac Lake, N. Y., 25 Jan., 1916, son of Harmanus Barkulo and Mary (Peters) Duryea. The name of Duryea originated in France as De Deuilly .....

  Duryea's personal wealth allowed him to devote his entire life to sports and leisure. Faced with growing anti-gambling sentiment in America, Duryea shipped his stable of racehorses to France and sold all his race horses in training during a notable sale with H. P. Whitney. Duryea sold the house in 1910 to Bradley Martin Jr. and the former Helen Phipps(daughter of steel magnate Henry Phipps). With a revival in horse racing he returned to America in 1915 but died in 1916 killing plans to resume breeding and racing.  

  The Martins made a number of changes, adding a library, breakfast-room and a indoor tennis court, bringing Hastings back to do the work. 

  To the left of the rotunda the new breakfast room replaced the smoking-room, finished in light green and dominated by hand-painted chinoiserie wall panels depicting children at play. Through a pair of mirrored doors is the baronial dining room, a pine mantel added by the Martins is styled after Grinling Gibbons, elaborately carved with game birds.

  Down several steps from the rotunda the library had served as maid's quarters. Here, a secret door is masked by a false bookcase that seamlessly blends with the room's other leather-bound volumes and rich oak paneling. It opens to a small hall and a set of stairs that lead down to a large billiard room. Family expansion  necessitated a nursery wing addition to the south corner of the house, above the living room consisting of matching pine-paneled bedrooms and room for a governess. The tennis court was destroyed by fire in the mid 1960's. Click HERE to see its location at wikimapia.

"Knole" is said to be the house that architect Hastings most wished he could have built for himself

The garden front of the house

The family used to swim in the reflecting pool, which is six feet deep at one end

  Two generations of Martins called "Knole" home and maintained the estate for nearly 100 years. In 2002 the family put the remaining thirty-two acres(out of the original 100) on the market for $16 millionSothebys held a sale for the important  pieces of furniture from the estate the same year.

George II white and Sienna marble chimney piece was acquired in 1911, the year after the house was purchased by the Martins, to replace the original simple drawing room mantelpiece. This features a central tablet carved with a mythological scene depicting putti and a lion.

circa 1740, by Matthias Lock a veneered jasper slab on a frame supported by cabriole legs headed by finely sculpted lions' masks. In the center is a frieze carved with the mask of Hercules with a headdress of the pelt of the
Nemean lion

George III marquetry inlaid and gilt-metal-mounted commode, attributed to Matthew and Ince, circa 1775. The firm of John Mayhew and William Ince was one of the most successful and enduring partnerships of cabinetmakers in the 18th century. In the early 1760s, Mayhew and Ince developed a close relationship with Robert Adam, one of the foremost architects of his era, and many of his most important clients, making furniture both to Adam's designs and their own.
  A developer intending sub-division purchased the property in 2004 for $11 million. Another turn-over in 2007 led to the removal of the remaining outbuildings and a new road, Maple Crest Drive, cut into the property. Plot plans show room for five homes.  The first one is pictured below. It took out the Love Temple at the end of the Long Walk.

  January 14, 2013  comment by a anonymous poster at states "home  itself is deserted and being let to ruin."

  Click HERE to see "Knole", Thomas Hastings dream home at wikimapia. BING.  View a 1966 aerial showing the estate undeveloped, the indoor tennis court, stables, greenhouses and Superintendent's house still standing. 

Photo of the stable shown HERE.


  1. How could I resist NOT posting "Knole"! Thomas Hastings' dream home, the epitome of his phrase "one half for the pudding, the other for the sauce." - l'oeil du plan - and I found my song!

    Trivia - Controversial advice can be found in the past(link) - I followed it, thank you very much;)

  2. A lot of wonderful elements of Knole but this really shows the beauty of the whole. All these pictures separated by a century are so great to see. Thank you! Please let someone save it.

  3. Marvelous post.

    Drives me absolutely starkers that developers can't arrange their lots around, rather than through, 100 year old landscape features that would actually only enhance the division.

    Such a horrid fate for something that lasted so long.

  4. The Italian villa atmosphere is somewhat lost without the window shutters.

  5. The extensive trellis work and terraced gardens were a magnificent backdrop for the house and I totally agree that the 'before" and "after" photos are really great to see, although somewhat disheartening to note how much has been lost. Another terrific post. archibuff