Friday, May 16, 2014

"THE HEDGEGROW" Locust Valley

"THE HEDGEGROW" Locust Valley

     The Pleasants Pennington house in Locust Valley, L. I., proves that modernism does not necessarily involve the use of corner windows, iron pipe railings, and cantilevered roof terraces. Comfort, utility, and economy, the watch words of the modern movement, are all present in this residence, with its large windows and its cool, high-ceilinged rooms. The flat roof is economical and eminently practical, making possible a large, evenly distributed air space over the bedrooms, which is ventilated through flues in the chimneys. These can be shut off in the winter, making the house equally comfortable in winter and summer, and the plan throughout has been conceived with this double purpose in mind. The exterior, painted a delicate shade of yellow and recalling the simpler French residences of the early nineteenth century in its symmetry and proportions, fits gracefully into the residential tradition without being in any sense archaeological. Pennington & Lewis, architects

The dwelling is two stories at its center with single-story wings, one for guests and one for servants. The smooth brick exterior walls of were painted creamy yellow and left to ageTrees in perfect alignment border the main approach, a white gravel court that runs the length of the house and is balanced at opposing ends by a pair of tiny square outbuildings containing a garage and Mr. Pennington's workshop.

The main house consists of four bedrooms, two upstairs and two down, a dining room, and a sizable living room. An oversized paneled front door, painted black, opens to reveal a pleasant hall with vaulted ceiling. Sited in the hall's left corner is a graceful curved staircase under which a tiny rounded door leads to the staff kitchen. The entire first floor centers on the living room, the main space for indoor activity. A large crown molding of egg-and-dart motif runs along the top of its 12-foot high walls. The walls are flat with little molding, all their detail painted in shades of gray.  The west wall houses a faux-marble fireplace at its center. To the left of the living room is a small, elegant dining room. 

Three floor-to-ceiling triple-sash windows face south, overlooking the back terrace and gardens. A tiered clearing, which fans outward from the rear terrace, creates a vista to the south. There, gardens containing fruit trees, beehives, grape arbors, and an octagonal ornamental pigeon house provide country charm and visual interest.
On the Pleasants Pennington estate at Locust Valley, L. I. such a utilitarian feature as a dove cote has been made an architectural garden ornament in keeping with the classic atmosphere of the establishment.

Placed in a grove of trees to afford privacy, Hedgerow's gardens included both formal and informal elements. Four life-sized terra-cotta statues of tutelary goddesses Flora. Dora, Cora, and Nora, purchased by Pennington during a European buying trip, stand on a terrace wall facing the house. 

After Pennington's death in 1942 Lloyd Paul Stryker, attorney for Alger Hiss, was an owner.  


   Decorator Dorothy Draper started a company in the 1920's called the Architectural Clearing House which acted as matchmaker between architects and society clients. Draper and her favorite architect, Pleasants Pennington, had acquired thirty-seven acres and planned to divide them into plots of from two to four acres. By using clever architecture and walled-in gardens, they would manage to make the plots look like large country estates. The smallest house would have three bedrooms and two maid's rooms; the largest house would be twice as big. The landscaping was of paramount importance, for both Pennington and Draper believed that enjoyment of the outdoors was the chief reason for going to the country.

E. Belcher Hyde, Inc. 1927 

   NEW YORK EVENING POST, 1927  The ideas of the development is to  demonstrate that an ideal country home can grace a small place instead of vast acreage being required.

Dolph & Stewart 1939

March 3, 1927

PLANS IDEAL HOME COLONY. Mrs. Draper to Divide Piping Rock Tract Into Small Sites. To demonstrate that an ideal country place can be built on a small piece of property, Mrs. George Draper of 186 East Sixty-fourth Street, social leader, and Pleasants Pennington, architect, of 250 Park Avenue, have acquired thirty-seven acres on the Piping Rock Estate property, near Locust Valley, L. I., for development, it became known yesterday.

   They are dividing the land into plots varying from two to four acres, and are planning to build in the near future several types of small houses varying in size from a small house containing three bedrooms and two maids' rooms up to twice this number. The houses will be of distinctive design and will demonstrate how a small piece of land may be planned with walled-in gardens and orchards. Mrs. Draper and Mr. Pennington plan to build such houses for themselves.

    "Enter the Saturday Night House A Tiny, Perfect Cottage for Week-ends where One Can Dwell in True comfort and Simplicity Solves a Great Problem." Dorothy Draper

   She understood the modern need for overworked and overstimulated upper-class urban dwellers to decompress on the weekends.
    Simplest of all is the thatch-roofed, half-timbered cottage with its one large living room occupying practically all of the main space as shown in the plans. It has no cellar, no servants and no real bedrooms. Notwithstanding, it is comfortable and good-looking.

The first plan brings the cost of the Saturday Night House idea within the reach of almost everybody. It has no cellar. It contains only one real room. It plans for no servants, except a visiting gardener, taking for granted that one has placed it sufficiently near to a club or a hotel so that the midday meal will be taken there, leaving only breakfast and supper to be prepared in the house itself. It will achieve its loveliest effect if one can find a beautiful old boiserie (inexpensively?) with which to panel the inside—dark wood, much polished. The floor will be of flags or red tiles, polished again. Copper pots and pans —or those of brilliant enamel, red, yellow or green—delft tiles at the kitchen and around the stove and the sink, the rag or straw rugs, the fire place never without its glowing logs, the peasant china, the pots of flowers on the windowsills give it color, quaintness, charm—the air of those low-ceilinged Breton houses where the whole life of the family has a common center in a single room.

 The kitchen alcove opens  directly into  the living room. With its copper pots and pans, Delft tiles and peasant china it helps to produce the feeling of Brittany's low-ceilinged old houses. 
Here is the opposite end of  the  living  room  with the berth and fireplace.

Simplest of the three is the plan of the thatch-roof cottage. Here are shown the one large room and the garage, bath and little kitchen niche off one end opposite the fireplace.
The Bermuda cottage with its four double masters' rooms, its two servants' rooms and its three baths. You are asked to see in your mind's eye a local couple—a woman who can be simple cooking over week-ends and be laundress through the week, and handyman who is also a gardener of sorts. These are to keep your few possessions speckless, attend to your breakfast and supper, and ensure the fact that you yourself will be free from care under the white roof of your gay little house with its patio, its flowers, its lovely big living room with the inverted tray ceiling and the fireplace that  never goes out. 

The Bermuda cottage with its four double master bedrooms and service quarters, still retains the simplicity which a Saturday Night House should have. Its ground floor shown is so flexible that almost any desired additions may be made to it.

The third house is by far the most sophisticated—as it is, lamentably, the most expensive to build. But it would be so amusing to do that I shall never rest until I have it myself.

That cool white facade with sky blue niches, so correct, so perfectly proportioned in its every detail—that beautiful big living room, fourteen feet high: Can't you just see it—with 1830 woodwork throughout, tall mahogany doors with silver knobs, a black marble mantel for the fireplace, Empire or Directoire furniture, glazed English chintz for the windows, English chintz again for the slip cover of the Lawson sofa.

This last house, of course, calls for something more ambitious in the way of servants than the Bermuda cottage can do with. At best, one would think of a neat English couple—the man a butler-chauffeur, his wife a competent cook. One might spend as much money as one happened to have. But the staterooms should remain staterooms, for in them and in the big informal living room centers the whole idea of the place—never to be taken seriously or one would find oneself with the regulation country house on one's hands, and life would be just what it has always been, without the fillip of the unexpected.

Because of the Crash, the ideal home colony in Locust Valley would never be.

All of the lots created by Pennington and Draper were named after various species of trees. The community bordered the Riding Association trails and the Piping Rock Club, of which all the proposed residents were members, providing access to all the amenities ot a large estate without the overwhelming problems of its cost and maintenance. Maps Collection, Stony Brook University Libraries - 1938

    Where Valley Road and Crabapple Lane converge you can see the fan-shaped property of Pleassants Pennington's "Hedegrow". Today the property is called "Chanticleer". 

   The well delineated Valley Road was probably the initial main access into the planned development.  I don't know the specific outline of the original 37 acres. The only other Pennington build was for his neighbor to the southeast, Howland Auchincloss, a whitewashed brick Federal style house built in 1927.  "Appledore" was built for Hiram Dewing(stock broker) around the same time but was designed by Peabody, Wilson & Brown so I can't say if they allowed other architects to get involved.  Northeast of "Hedgegrow" is a Harrie T. Lindeberg  design for attorney Richard E. Dwight(Arm & Hammer Baking Soda money). Whether or not it was part of the development, it appears the Crash affected further plans. According to county records "Exterior walls - special brick. This house was built for Superintendent & main house was never built." Follow the wikimapia link below to see the whole area marked.


wikimapia location. BING.


  1. Always been charmed by this development, thanks for a fascinating post

  2. Fascinating piece. ..Could it be the first intentional suburban development on Long Island?

  3. Garden City was an idealized planned suburban community far before this development.

  4. Fascinating piece. My employer is writing a scholarly article on John Churchill, very well researched. She is an architectural preservationist and a prolific writer. I am unable to find the source for the photos on your post and we would like to include some of them in her article. Could you privately email me at This is of a very urgent nature