Friday, February 20, 2015

"Meudon" The William Dameron Guthrie Estate, Lattingtown, N. Y.

    Mr. Guthrie's mother's family lived at Meudon near Paris in the XVIII century, and the name of her father's country place in Ireland was "Meudon". 


VIEW OF "MEUDON", AT LOCUST VALLEY, LONG ISLAND




January 11, 1903

ON the Long Island shore of Long Island Sound, a few miles to the west of Theodore Roosevelt's residence and the Seawanhaka-Corinthian Yacht Clubhouse of Oyster Bay, there lay several years ago a rolling strip of country unimproved, just as it had been for generations, with a few old-fashioned homesteads scattered here and there, and a mosquito ridden, pestiferous marsh at one side. A wealthy New Yorker came along, and at small sums per acre picked up these farms, the owners selling gladly and with a slight feeling of contempt for the buyer.

   To-day he who drives, rides, or walks over this corner of Long Island finds a tall iron fence, a mile back from the Sound coast line, shutting these acres off. As he looks between its bars the strip of countryside is no longer recognizable. Three short years have changed it beyond all precedent. Where woods and forests stood there are now cleared ground, smooth, beautiful squares, and panels of lawn. More beautiful squares, and panels of lawn. More remarkable still, where there was bare hillside and uninteresting level there are landscape pictures and vistas of mighty trees arranged so as to give the most satisfactory effect.

   This is the country seat of William D. Guthrie of New York, at Lattingtown, and the transformation in the character of its hills, dales, and woodland has been brought about through the modern, little understood science of tree moving.

   Given carte blanche as to expenses, made to feel that their bills will be honored without question, professional tree movers can accomplish wonders.

   Regarded by experts as one of the most notable examples of tree moving in America.

   In the case of Mr. Guthrie's place the entire face of nature was changed. Actually when these adjoining farms   were purchased there was nothing but a view. But in the eye of the landscape architect this bit of rolling country had great possibilities. The swamp at one side could be "subdued"-and this has since been done. It only remained to pay no attention whatever to nature and make a new countryside of it all.

   The house, a long mansion, was built over and in a little valley, its ends resting on two small hills. Toward the water all the woodland was cleared in a curving line, and from the mansion's back, overlooking the Sound, the ground, instead of sloping, was terraced in an Italian garden. It was in the front of the house, however, that the great and daring feat of tree moving on a great scale was performed.

   A small forest originally stood here on uneven ground. Getting in their minds to a nicety, making up a definite picture precisely what was wanted, Mr. Guthrie and his landscape architect demolished the little forest with one blow as it were. Not a tree was left upon its acres. Then, tree by tree, choosing each with care, the landscape gardener, leveling, turfing, built up a splendid lawn. Practically he painted a new landscape in front of the house, making use of not a vestige of the old material, only using real trees instead of paint and canvas.

   It takes time to build up a fine, velvety turf on bare ground, so that the great Guthrie lawn is not as yet nearing completion, or will it be for several years. But the new landscape picture is there, the trees set in  place. By nature  it would take a hundred years and generations of gardeners to make such a lawn.

   Some of the trees that have been moved here to gain this effect are Colorado blue spruce, another spruce thirty feet tall, a blue Douglas fir, a Colorado pine, elms, sugar and scarlet maples.  None of these have been selected haphazard. Each was chosen to fit into a certain place in the picture   And in addition to the trees boxwood at least a century old was moved.


DRIVEWAY AND APPROACH TO RESIDENCE
CHARLES P. H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT
ARCHITECTURAL RECORD 1902
ENTRANCE PORCH TO RESIDENCE
CHARLES P. H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT
ARCHITECTURAL RECORD 1902
The W. D. Guthrie home at Locust Valley, L. I. — C. P. H. Gilbert, architect — is lighted by three hundred electric lights operated by a thirty-horsepower gas engine. House & Garden 1910

VIEW OF "MEUDON", AT LOCUST VALLEY. LONG ISLAND

     By 1906 the east wing of the house was expanded, replacing the octagonal one-story bay and an adjacent pergola.   


VIEW OF "MEUDON", AT LOCUST VALLEY. LONG ISLAND

 FRONT VIEW OF RESIDENCE
JANUARY 1907
WEST CORNER, SOUTH FRONT 
JANUARY 1907
WEST END, SOUTH FRONT
JANUARY 1907
SOUTH FRONT DEMOLITION, 1956
GARY LAWRANCE COLLECTION
ENTRANCE HALL
A rounded glass-roofed conservatory jutted out to the left of the entrance.

THE LOUIS XV SALON

THE DINING ROOM
The carved oak dining room table extended to 18 feet 6 inches. 
THE STUDY

THE LIBRARY

THE LIBRARY
THE CHINESE ROOM
ONE OF EIGHT FRANCO-CHINESE PAINTED CANVAS WALL PANELS
Painted in pastel tones with rocky mountains, river scenes and groups of people before pagodas and pavilions.
Height 8 feet 6 inches; length about 32 feet
    Some of the other main ground floor rooms were THE CHINESE ROOM and THE GREEN ROOM.

THE EMPIRE BEDROOM
EMPIRE ACAJOU BEDSTEADS AND DRESSING TABLE, MOUNTED IN BRONZE DORE
MASTER BEDROOM
LOUIS XV STYLE, ACCENTED IN TONES OF ROSE AND PINKS
   Eight additional bedrooms and a sitting room completed the main second floor layout.

RESIDENCE
CHARLES P. H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT
ARCHITECTURAL RECORD 1902
FLORENTINE RENAISSANCE SCULPTURED LIMESTONE WELL HEAD
Quadrangular, truncated well head crisply carved with arrangements of huge plumy acanthus, centering an armorial bearing at one side; crested with a black-painted iron arch, wrought with arrangements of scrolling leafage, centering a pulley wheel. Height 10 feet 11 inches; width 5 feet 2 inches  
NORTH PORTICO OF HOUSE, UPPER TERRACE LOOKING EAST
SUMMER 1906


SOUTH SIDE OF UPPER TERRACE LOOKING EAST
SUMMER 1906
UPPER TERRACE FROM CENTER LOOKING WEST
SUMMER 1906

EAST END, UPPER TERRACE
JANUARY 1907
TAKEN FROM CENTER OF UPPER TERRACE LOOKING EAST
SUMMER 1906
CENTRAL BED AND STEPS, UPPER TERRACE
JANUARY 1907


THE UPPER TERRACE, 1956
WEST END LOGGIA REMAINS

JANUARY 1907

Beyond the house to the north, the garden descended in stepped terraces to a horseshoe-shaped lawn, its grassy slopes and squares contained by ornamental plantings, pavements, and sculptural decorations.
FEBRUARY 1917
Residence of Mr. Wm. D Guthrie, Italian gardens. Locust Valley, L. I.
VIEW FROM BACK OF EAST SIDE OF LOWER TERRACE
NOVEMBER 1905
FROM WEST SIDE LOWER TERRACE LOOKING TOWARD HOUSE
SUMMER 1906
LOOKING TOWARD RESIDENCE FROM WEST SIDE LOWER TERRACE
SUMMER 1906

VIEW OF MIDDLE AXIS TOWARDS HOUSE
FROM NORTH SIDE OF LOWER TERRACE
SUMMER 1906

"MEUDON"  Aerial View
  W. D. GUTHRIE   LOCUST VALLEY, NEW YORK
  C. P. H. GILBERT, ARCHITECT
DATE OF VIEW 1910-1925
VIEW OF "MEUDON", AT LOCUST VALLEY. LONG ISLAND
Robert Yarnall Richie Photograph Collection
DATE OF VIEW 1932-1934

VIEW OF "MEUDON", AT LOCUST VALLEY. LONG ISLAND
Robert Yarnall Richie Photograph Collection
DATE OF VIEW 1932-1934

VIEW OF "MEUDON", AT LOCUST VALLEY. LONG ISLAND
Residence of Mr. Wm. D Guthrie, Italian gardens. Locust Valley, L. I.
CENTER OF LOWER TERRACE, LOOKING EAST
SUMMER 1906

POOL, LOWER TERRACE
JANUARY 1907
CURB POOL, LOWER TERRACE
JANUARY 1907

SOUTH SIDE OF LOWER TERRACE, LOOKING EAST
SUMMER 1906
EAST SIDE, LOWER TERRACE
JANUARY 1907
EAST PERGOLA, LOWER TERRACE
JANUARY 1907
DETAIL OF EAST PERGOLA LOWER TERRACE
JANUARY 1907
LOWER TERRACE FROM EAST END, NORTH SIDE
SUMMER 1906
WEST SIDE, LOWER TERRACE
JANUARY 1907
LAWN MIDDLE, LOWER TERRACE
JANUARY 1907 

BANK NORTH OF LOWER TERRACE
JANUARY 1907
JANUARY 1907
DOWN EAST WALK, UPPER TERRACE
JANUARY 1907
DOWN WEST WALK, UPPER TERRACE
JANUARY 1907
CRESCENT-SHAPED REFLECTING POOL

CRESCENT-SHAPED REFLECTING POOL

    William Dameron Guthrie and Paul Drennan Cravath had an influential part in the development of the North Shore of Long Island as an area of fine country estates of the City's business and social leaders. Each built a magnificent place on the shore, at Locust Valley.

    By the late 19th century, estates began to replace Colonial farms. Cravath bought the Frost farm to build "Veraton", his palatial country home.

    The site acquisition and development of "Meudon" exemplifies the process of estate construction that characterized the Gold Coast. Like other Gold Coast millionaires who tended to settle near business associates or social contacts,  Guthrie and Cravath bought the land near their friends.

     Its been said John E. Aldred and Guthrie together purchased acres of already developed land in 1910, demolishing sixty houses in the process of setting up their estates.    Aldred's explanation has become part of the folklore of the Gold Coast "Mr. Guthrie and I destroyed the Village of Lattingtown to get the view we wanted."   

   Hmm? Guthrie and Cravath began their adjoining places in 1898. The grounds of "Meudon" were cleared and planted by 1903 as described in the above NYTimes article. Bertram Goodhue didn't receive the commission  for Aldred's "Ormston" until 1913. The house wasn't finished until 1918.

    Its always been portrayed that Aldred and Guthrie purchased and built together at the same time. Could it be, that Guthrie was just a broker of his own land?

"MEUDON"
The estate contained a Renaissance Revival mansion, gardens, stables and farm buildings, dairy, servants' quarters, kennel, and beach house.
STONY BROOK AERIAL DIGITAL COLLECTION, 1947

    Guthrie took as much interest in his building and landscaping problems as in his law practice. He sought to apply the same standards which he applied to his practice, and had many clashes with architects and builders.


"MEUDON"
Guthrie almost moved mountains in the readjustment of the landscape to make it just what he wanted.
STONY BROOK AERIAL DIGITAL COLLECTION, 1947
   To round out his tract and work out a particular bit of landscaping which he thought imperative, he wanted a small tract of adjoining property owned by one Peter Martin, of a family which had long lived on the Island. Martin was not eager to sell, and as he had little liking for Guthrie, he pushed his asking price higher and higher as Guthrie, buying up other surrounding properties, became more insistent. Finally he agreed to sell at a price well above current values. After the deed had passed, it was discovered (or perhaps Martin knew all the time) that the description left a 4-ft.-wide strip, about 100 feet in length, right in the middle of Guthrie's assembled tract. Martin, claiming a right of way by necessity across the Guthrie property, took possession of his small island, stopped Guthrie's workmen who were  putting an elaborate iron fence across it, and planted it with potatoes. Forthwith Guthrie brought all the real estate and procedural learning of his office to bear on Martin, obtaining a preliminary injunction and, finally, reformation of the deed.


"MEUDON"
Built at a time when neither cost nor effort was spared to create a superlative expression of taste and wealth.
STONY BROOK AERIAL DIGITAL COLLECTION, 1947

Guthrie donated the land across from "Meudon" in 1912 to form St. John's of Lattingtown. Lattingtown, one of the wealthiest of the North Shore home-rule municipalities, was incorporated under the guidance of Mr. Guthrie, who gave a corner of his estate for use of the officials and a police booth on the highway for the  village  department.

DOWN MIDDLE AXIS FROM HOUSE TERRACE
SUMMER 1906

TOWARD RESIDENCE FROM BOATHOUSE
JANUARY 1907
   It was arranged with a subsidiary of the American Bridge Company to build a bridge for Guthrie at a cost of $800—Guthrie to supply the abutments. When Guthrie's mason did not have them ready on the arrival of the steel, the bridge company men built the abutments, for which a charge of $25 was added to Guthrie's bill.  Guthrie, in a rage, refused to pay it.


"MEUDON" BEACH PAVILION


"MEUDON" BEACH PAVILION
Renovated for the use of residents of Lattingtown Harbor Estates. The
structure burned to the ground in a 1994 fire but was replaced using the original plans.


VIEW OF STABLE AND GROUNDS
Considered to the the largest and most beautiful structure of its kind on Long Island.
Aiglon Aerial Photos
DATE OF VIEW 1910-1925
    In 1939 the Armstrong family started renting 9 acres from the Guthries and began “Armstrong Dairy”. In 1947 they purchased the farm complex and expanded the dairy to include a bottling plant and local milk delivery.  

Guthrie died of a heart attack at his home at Locust Valley, Long Island, on December 8, 1935, at the age of 76. The bulk of his estate valved at $1 million was left to his widow.

   Guthrie's energy was of that nervous variety which made everyone about him jumpy. He drove himself ceaselessly and beyond his physical strength.  Guthrie successfully carried out the fight against a federal income tax until 1913 and served as the first mayor of Lattingtown after it was incorporated in 1931He was a vigorous foe of both the Prohibition Amendment  to the Federal Constitution and the proposed Child Labor Amendment. In 1924 Guthrie was mentioned for the appointment to the United States Supreme Court. 


William Dameron Guthrie


NY-4 MAID OF MEUDON
Guthrie was able to commute between his Lattington home and work in Manhattan by a 112-foot commuter, also known as "Meudon". Guthrie also owned a New York 30 sailboat, "Maid of Meudon". 

Ordered by members of the New York Yacht Club and designed and built by the great Nathaniel Herreshoff & Company, these boats were launched in 1905 and quickly became the most significant and beloved one-design class in the history of the New York Yacht Club.


STRIPPING BY AUCTION
Sold by the order of Mrs. Ella F. Guthrie and Mrs. Marian W. Johnson 

   Shortly after World War II, Meudon was sold with the provision Ella Guthrie could live there for the remainder of her life. Mrs. Guthrie (Ella E. Fuller) died March 27, 1958 at her daughters home Mrs. Arthur W. Rossiter. She was 100 years old. In 1956, the contents of the home were auctioned off, the house razed, and the property developed. 
 
 SUBDIVISION SCHEME "MEUDON"
Lattingtown Harbor Estates
LEFT TO RIGHT IS SOUTH TO NORTH
SOURCE
  
   Lattingtown Harbor Development Corporation, Inc., subdivided the property and built individualized homes, while retaining remnants of the formal landscaping and the rustic beauty of the natural landscape.

   wikimapia location showing perimeter of estate and remaining outbuildings. BING view.


Château de Meudon was the French estate developed by Louis XIV for his only legitimate child le Grand Dauphin.
http://chateau-meudon.wifeo.com/

3 comments:

  1. Superb collection of construction and development photos including the extensive gardens through the decades and the sad but eventual demolition shots which are hard to see. Magnificent estate

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  2. Thank you so much for this blog. We love being able to see what these majestic beauties looked like in the past and see what the area is like now using the mapping systems of today. Though we really enjoy it, it makes us sad that people allowed these great homes to decay and be demolished. There is a lot to learn from our past. Thank you again for all the time you have spent showing us your collection!

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  3. Thx so much for this feature. Solved several mysteries. It's still a magical place.

    ReplyDelete