Monday, October 6, 2014

"Shorelands" the Seaside Villa of Henry Seligman, Esq., Elberon, New Jersey

SEASIDE property which is bounded on one end by the principal driveway of its town, and on the other by the Atlantic Ocean, and contains within it vegetable and flower gardens, lawns and tennis courts, a lodge, stable and bathing pavilion, while the mansion itself is amply secluded within spacious stretches of grass, possesses some elements of novelty and many properties that lend themselves to delightful and charming treatment. Such at least are the salient features which Mr. Seligman's house, designed by Mr. C. P. H. Gilbert, architect, of New York, at Elberon immediately offers to the visitor. 

A Pair of Doric Columns Marks the Entrance to the Grounds

The roads limits of the place are defined by chains, fastened to posts of interesting design, with two lofty columns at the driveway, surmounted by globe-lights. 

The Lodge Is a Pleasant two-story Structure

To the left is the lodge, a pleasant two-story, flat-roofed structure with wings of one story. The space between it and the entrance driveway is filled by a lovely garden of the gayest-blooming flowers. 

Only the Central Court-like Recess Makes Known the Stable

On the right is the stable, a structure whose identity is at once proclaimed by its central covered court, but which, being designed in harmony with the other buildings on the property, has, save for this feature, little of the outward characteristics of such buildings. Both structures, as well as the house, are of wood, painted white, with blinds of Indian red. The grounds are beautifully hedged here, and within them is the vegetable garden, arranged in blocks and groups, and having a true ornamental character of its own. The land beyond stretches away in ample lawns to the house, which, while by no means situated at the furthest extremity of the property, is located at a considerable distance from the outer highway.

The House Is of Wood Painted White, with Shutters of Indian Red, and Is Abundantly Porched on All Sides

A splendid curve brings the carriage directly before the entrance portico. The house is H-shaped, with a central body and wings at either end, projected on the entrance front. Across the middle is a covered porch, with a projected center, and which at each end is connected with the terraces that are carried all around the house. These terraces, on the entrance front, have their own separate steps. At the base of one are carved sphynxes of marble; at the base of the other are upright lions supporting shields. The house is two stories in height, with an attic so boldly developed as to have the real architectural character of a third story. Directly in the center is a roof garden, surmounted with a pergola, supported on the front by elaborately carved gaines. The windows are everywhere rectangular in design, with simple frames; those on the ends of the wings are doubled; those elsewhere are single. At each end of each wing, on the entrance front, is a doorway, instead of a window, which admits to a side porch contained within the outer lines of the house.  Both entrance porch and terraces are enclosed within paneled railing boxes, which are repeated above the porch, where they enclose a terrace at the level of the second floor. The brick base of the building is hidden behind a low-growing hedge, while further relief is found in an abundance of bay trees and pots and jars of foliage and flowering plants and gaily planted boxes standing on the terrace steps and above the porch. One can not look for trees so close to the shore, and relief from the sun is obtained by awnings attached to the porch. 

"Shorelands"   The Wings Form an Open Court at the Entrance Front Where the Solid White of the Housed Is Very Agreeably Relieved by Plants and Flowers

A great double door, completely glazed and with side windows which extend to the floor, admits to the central hall. This is a spacious apartment opening onto the ocean side of the house.

The Spacious Hall Is Paneled in Oak, Above which Is a Plain While Frieze.   At Each End Is an Arcade of Elliptical Arches

 At each end is an arcade formed of low elliptical arches, of which the middle one is much the widest, supported on wood columns. A high wainscot of paneled oak is carried completely around the room; the upper wall is finished with a plain white surface. The ceiling is white and beamed, with large panels. The mantel is under the arcade to the left. It has brick facings within oak columns supporting a frieze, below which is a relief. On the right the entire wall is filled with a series of glazed doors, curtained, separating the hall from the dining room. There are handsome Oriental rugs on the hardwood floor. The curtains at the windows are red damask, and the furniture, for the most part, is covered with red leather and velvet. The stairs to the upper story rise on the entrance front and are carried across the entrance doorway by the platform. The walls of the upper hall are covered with a diapered pattern.

Library Is a Mission Room in Various Tones of Green

On the left of the hall is a passage that leads to the library, situated in the furthest wing of the house and on the entrance front. It is charmingly furnished in the Mission style. The prevailing color is green; the hardwood floor, the rug, the wainscot, the upper walls, the wood of the furniture, the velvet curtains at the windows, the beams and panels of the ceiling, are all in beautifully harmonized shades of green. The chairs are covered with a reddish brown leather; the wainscot supports a shelf, and a handsome copper electric chandelier desends from the center of the ceiling.

The Drawing-room Is Pink and White : the Furniture Includes Some Fine Old Pieces of Great Variety

Behind this room, but not connected with it, being entered by a separate door from the hall, is the drawing room. This is a sumptuous apartment in pink and white, very beautifully developed. The walls have a low wainscot of wood, painted white, and picked out with bands of green. Above they are covered with white watered-silk paper, with the same green bands in the corners and margins, thus forming large panel-like divisions. The cornice is white and richly detailed, and the ceiling is without ornamentation. The wood mantel has facings and hearth of light mottled buff Roman brick. The color of the room is supplied by the rug, the furniture and the curtains. The rug is in two shades of pink. The curtains are of white net with applique borders of pink flowers and green leaves. The furniture is covered with white velvet decorated with a similar pattern in green and pink; a curtain of the same fabric hangs over the entrance doorway. The grand piano, in one corner, has an exquisite cover of light-colored brocade. There are some fine pieces of old furniture in the room, which is lighted by side lights. 

The Dining-room, Designed in the Dutch Style, Is Oak and Blue

The dining-room is on the opposite side of the hall, and overlooks the ocean; it has windows on three sides, two of which directly face the water. It is beautifully designed in the Dutch style. The color scheme is blue and white. The walls are iencasedwith a high paneling in natural oak, which reaches to the tops of the doors: it carries a shelf on which are placed a number of blue and white pieces of pottery, a couple of fine Wedgwood plaques, a Delia Robbia relief, and other ornaments. All these stand in relief against the frieze of plain pale blue. The ceiling is beamed, with panels of light blue. There is a blue and white rug on the hardwood floor, and the oak furniture has covers of blue leather. The mantel, which supports a paneled overmantel, has facings of dark buff Roman brick. The side of the room which adjoins the hall is, as has been stated, completely filled with glazed doors, over which are blue and white curtains. The curtains at the windows are of blue velvet.

The Billiard Room Is Paneled in Green, with Rough Plastered Walls

The billiard-room is in the same wing on the front of the house. The walls have a wainscot of green stained oak in upright boards; above are panels of rough plaster with  intersecting circles, the whole being crowned with a shelf. There are numerous pictures above, chiefly hunting scenes. The plain cornice corresponds to the wood used below. The ceiling is plain, with three central lights depending from the center over the table. The floor is stained green. The furniture is of oak, covered with green leather. The buff window curtains have bands of green with billiard ornaments on the lambrequins.

The Sunken Garden Lies Below Brick Walls Surmounted with a Handsome Balustrade

"Shorelands": Marble Statues at the Base of the Steps to the Sunken Garden

On the south side of the house is a portico in two stories; a long flight of steps descends from this to the sunken garden which has been built on this side. It is also reached by steps from the entrance and ocean front, and is a true sunken garden, contained within bricked walls, surmounted by a paneled balustrade. Marble statues stand at the base of each of the side steps. There is a fine old well head in the center, and the surrounding space is laid out with panels of grass and borders of flowers. The walls are covered with vines and partly screened with hedges.

While the house sets well back in its surrounding land, it is still a considerable distance from the ocean. The ocean front has a long porch, below which is the tennis court. The buildings are completed with the bathing pavilion, which is designed in harmony with the other structures and which is directly in the center on the extreme ocean edge. It is a gracious two-story structure, with an upper belvedere, or observatory, a fine outlook pleasantly arranged.

"Shorelands" in 1920
"Shorelands" twenty years later. Stable is gone. Note the shoreline recession, beach pavilion is gone.

"Shorelands" in 1947

"Shorelands" in 1953, the house is gone.

"Shorelands" in 1979

Todays view showing a 1993 build. The lodge survives with additions.

Henry Seligman

Seligman was a senior partner in the prestigious investment banking firm of J. & W. Seligman & Company, founded in 1864 by his uncles and his father, Jesse. The Seligmans established themselves as one of the pre-eminent German-Jewish families in the United States and became known as “the American Rothschilds.” Henry Seligman was also influential in financing railroad construction in the American West as well as serving as a director for several major industrial and artistic organizations across the United States.  In his book "Our Crowd: The Great Jewish Families of New York", Stephen Birmingham said the Seligmans "virtually invented" international banking in the United States.

Henry and Adelaide(Walter) Seligman purchased property in Elberon, New Jersey, a popular summer retreat for German-Jewish families(The Jewish Newport). C.P.H. Gilbert received the commission, and his “improvements” for their summer house included “a large residence, stables, gardener’s cottage, bathhouses, &C. The couple also had a townhouse in new York City, also by Gilbert and a villa called “Casa Mia” in Palm Beach, Florida. For their Spanish style Palm Beach house they retained architect Marion Sims Wyeth. 

Addie Seligman was a double Seligman, having married, first, Joseph Seligman's son David, and, upon his death, his first cousin, Henry. All through the twenties her parties, in her houses in Elberon, Palm Beach, and in East Fifty-sixth Street, were celebrated. She had a butler, De Witt who she liked to say "set the standard for a whole generation of German Jewish families. He was stationed at the foot of the stairs, and arriving guests learned to fear his look of icy disapproval.

Henry died in 1933 and Addie in 1936.

Elberon, New Jersey

ELBERON is a continuation of Long Branch on the south, practically belonging to it although not within the corporation limits. The ground was purchased of Benjamin Wooley by Lewis B. Brown (from whose initials and name Elberon was formed) being an area of 100 acres. This plot was laid out with much taste, many improvements being added to a naturally attractive site, the result being one of the most complete  and elegant resorts on the Jersey coast. Among the handsome residences of this place is the Francklyn Cottage, rendered famous as the refuge to which President Garfield was brought, and where he was lulled into his final sleep by the murmur of the sea. General Grant's former summer home is also at Elberon. The ground at Elberon is higher and more rolling than at the resorts directly on the sea and thus gives the place a distinct topographical character. Source

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