Thursday, April 4, 2024

TALENTS OF AN ARCHITECT - William H. Vanderbilt 640 Fifth Ave. New York, NY First Floor Plan


William H. Vanderbilt 640 Fifth Ave. New York, NY First Floor Plan

As an Armchair Architect  I admire people who can walk into a room and sketch a floor plan.  Here we have an Architect who can take texts from an earlier post I did on the William H. Vanderbilt property "Beetlehead's" 640 Fifth Avenue and create the first floor plans. 

As far as I know original plans have never been seen.


Thursday, March 7, 2024

THE WHITTALL RUG SALON 5 East 57th Street New York City

East 57th Street at 5th Avenue
 Rendering by Vernon Howe Bailey

5 East 57th Street New York City
Rendering by Otto R, Eggers

5 East 57th Street New York City
Rendering by Maurice Feather

    Turkish or Ghiordes knot (also called the symmetrical knot).

At the corner of Fifth Avenue and East Fifty-seventh Street - No. 1 East 57th Street, the Famous Marble Row. No. 3-5 East 57th Street is the Mansard-roofed brownstone. 

Emory Roth's 1926 No. 5 East 57th Street
In 1880 the Bernheimer mansion at No. 5 East 57th Street was completed at a cost of $40,000—a little over $950,000 in 2016 dollars.   When Luther Kountz purchased what The New York Times described as the “overlarge” and “handsome” residence in December 1889, he paid $110,000; nearly three times its original cost.

5 East 57th Street New York City
Marble Row and No 3 East 57th still stand after the Emery Roth designed skyscraper is built.

Emory Roth's 1926 No. 5 East 57th Street
On a single day in 1925 William Randolph Hearst and Arthur Brisbane announced their plans to erect “a group of commercial” buildings on East 57th Street, and one on West 54th.   Among the 14 structures being demolished was No. 5 East 57th Street.

The New York Times reported on June 13 that the project included “a twenty-story office and store building at 5 East Fifty-seventh Street.”  It added that the “clearing of the sites…will see the passing of the old home of Mrs. Luther Kountze, for many years a social leader in New York.”

5 East 57th Street New York City
Temporary location of retailer Channel while their  15 East 57TH Street store is going through renovations.

Temporary location of retailer Channel

Matthew John Whittall

In the 18th century Kiddermeinster, England began producing woven carpets. Matthew Whittall, was born in Kidderminster, England in 1843. At 21 years of age took a job with a local carpet manufacturer. There he learned the carpet manufacturing business including loom work. He married in 1868 then moved his family to the United States in 1871. 

In 1880, he established his own Whittall Carpet Company.  The White House in Washington, D.C., and many U.S. government buildings were furnished with Whittall carpets – reflecting the success that made Whittall a prominent local industrialist.  In business through the mid-20th century, Whittall became the largest employer in South Worcester.  The company’s manufacturing complex physically transformed the city’s landscape while his workforce of carpet weavers, imported from England, created a distinctly English enclave around the factory and St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church on Southbridge Street.

The Whittall Rug Company filled its advertisements with pictures of Arabs, camels, and palm trees in order to cash in on the desire for products that seemed exotic.

Consumers' Imperium
In keeping with appreciation of foreignness, decoration experts urged shoppers to buy goods that expressed authentic foreign taste. To capitalize on foreignness, purveyors of Oriental rugs embellished their advertisements with pictures of berobed and turbaned men, camels, pyramids, and reclining Oriental women. 

A blank shell of an advertisement whose text could be customized to the magazine in question.

Imports had so much cachet that decorating magazines reported on high-end retailers who duped purchasers as to the provenance of their goods, representing them as from England, France, almost any country excepting our own. Realizing the prestige of European affiliations, devious retailers spuriously claimed connections with a home office in London or Paris.

On the plot of land that is now a shopping plaza was the Whittall residence. An impressive mansion with carefully manicured grounds, an entrance gate and a long driveway.
On the opposite corner from St. Matthew's Church (at the corner of Southbridge and Cambridge Streets), Matthew Whittall placed his Worcester home, Hillside. " The home has extensive grounds, laid out in excellent taste and forms one of the pleasantest and most attractive residences in the city." (The Worcester of 1898).  It has been said that Mr. Whittall built his stately Worcester residence across from the church to keep a watchful eye on who turned up and who did not for Sunday service.

The Whittall family lived at their city residence until building a great white Georgian summer estate in 1912.

Juniper Hall

Juniper Hall, as Mr. Whittall named his Shrewsbury estate, became a landmark for many miles around. It held one of the finest views in Central  Massachusetts because of its location on the highest point in Shrewsbury. Its overlook includes Lake Quinsigamond and extends beyond Worcester to the hills of Paxton and Rutland; to the north can be seen Mt. Monadnock and Mt. Wachusett.

Juniper Hall

In the summer of 1922 Vice-President Calvin Coolidge visited Juniper Hall.

Juniper Hall

The land currently known as Prospect Park was sold in 1912 to Matthew J. and Gertrude (Clarke) Whittall as a 100-acre parcel consisting of 70 separately owned pieces of property on top of Meetinghouse Hill. Matthew was an internationally known carpet manufacturer. The couple built a “great white Georgian summer estate,” which they named Juniper Hall, on the property, for $80,000. On top of Meetinghouse Hill (the highest point in Shrewsbury), with sprawling views of Lake Quinsigamond, the hills of Paxton and Rutland and even Mount Monadnock and Mount Wachusett, the estate boasted four fireplaces, a music room, a reflecting pool and a two-story reception hall. Along one side of the house was a huge sun porch overlooking a sea of elaborate and extensive formal gardens full of wild irises and wisteria and “picking flower” gardens. Because the gardens were open for public viewing, the estate became one of the premier show places of Worcester County, with people traveling from far away to see the flowers in bloom. Lilac week at Juniper Hall drew the greatest crowds of all.

Juniper Hall

Juniper Hall

The 74-acre parcel of land on Prospect Street was originally owned by Matthew and Gertrude Whittall who, in 1912, built “a great white Georgian summer estate” that they named Juniper Hall.

The Whittalls owned the land until 1927, when it was deeded to the Massachusetts Grand Lodge of Masons, who transformed it into the Masonic Hospital.

In 1976, the town purchased the property and demolished the mansion in 1979. Some of the only remnants of that past glory are the pergola, named the “Garden of Sweet Remembrance” by Gertrude who had it erected to commemorate her husband’s death, and the stone walls and steps of the original gardens.

Today, Prospect Park is cared for by the Friends of Prospect Park, Inc., a nonprofit organization which has seven board members but more importantly, a lot of friends and community groups who help maintain and enhance the beauty of its grounds.

Juniper Hall

Juniper Hall

Masonic Hospital & Grounds

Juniper Hall in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts is fronted by two large urns containing plants in the midst of climbing vines.

Exterior view of the Whittall Estate shows the house in the background, with a field, leading up to a sloping lawn, in the foreground.

Entrance to the grounds of Juniper Hall in winter, Shrewsbury, Mass., January 1915

Exterior view of the Juniper Hall, seen from the back. 

BOSTON GLOBE - WORCESTER - Nov 4 - The beautiful residence of the late Matthew J. Whittall, a 33rd degree Mason, who died five years ago, in Shrewsbury, known as Juniper Hall, and the 100 acres of land and gardens which surround it, have been given by Mrs Whittall to the Grand Lodge of Masons of Massachusetts to be used “for the relief of suffering." It is understood that the place will be transformed into a hospital for the treatment of members of the Masonic order in this State.

The house occupies a site on the top of Meeting House Hill in the highest point in the town, and it commands a wide view of the surrounding country. It was erected by the late Mr Whittall in 1912 and was considered one of the show places of Central Massachusetts, especially because of its beautiful gardens, which have been thrown open for public inspection on many occasions.

Everything about the place is picturesque. A sun porch fronts on the formal gardens and takes up nearly all of one side of the house, the rooms of which are all unusually forge.
massive staircase le&ds from the first floor main corridor to the upper story, which can easily be fitted up for rooms for patients when the hospital plans are completed.

He lived in Worcester at a home he called Elmhurst, with his second wife. They purchased land in Shrewsbury which at the time was known as Meetinghouse Hill. It contained almost 100 acres and it had views that you could see for miles in every direction. The home which was a two story white Georgian style house built by the Norcross Brothers construction. It became their summer home and Brother Whittall and his wife spent hours in the gardens. It became Worcester County showplace. Many events were held at the home including the annual "Lilac Weekend". Even Vice President Calvin Coolidge visited the home.

The house which sat on a hill 700 feet above sea level cost 80,000 dollars to construct. The first floor had a reception hall that had a two story ceiling with a wrap around balcony. There was the Butler's Pantry, Music Room, Dinning Room, Living Room and Breakfast Room. It also had a sun porch which covered one length of the house. The second floor had four fireplaces and four large bedrooms with a sitting room.

On October 31, 1922 Brother Whittall passed away, his wife Gertude named the Pergola which was built in 1912 around the pool "The Garden of Sweet Remembrance" in memory of her husband. She continued to live there until 1927 when she decided to donate the land and the house to the Grand Lodge of Masons of Massachusetts. She wanted it to become a retirement and convalescence home for the memory of her husband.

The home operated as a Masonic Hospital until the Grand Lodge sold the home and property to the Town of Shrewsbury in 1976. After some years of neglect the town made a decision to demolish the home in 1979. Only the gardens and the Pergola around the pool remained.
Front exterior view of the Juniper Hall.

Juniper Hall

Juniper Hall

All the rooms in the two-story house were large, especially those on the first floor. The reception hall had a ceiling extending to the second floor with a surrounding balcony.  Also on the first level were a butler's pantry,  music room, dining room, living room and breakfast room. There were four fireplaces, four bedrooms, and a large sitting room on the second floor. The sunporch, which looked out on formal gardens, covered nearly all of one side of the house.

Gardening was a particular hobby of Mr. and Mrs.Whittall. Juniper Hall became one of the show places of Worcester County, with its layout of the formal gardens, swimming pool, and the "picking flower" gardens. The grounds were famous, and familiar to many people, because the public was welcomed to visit and see the flowers in bloom. Lilac week at Juniper Hall was one of the season's major events for those who were interested in flowers.

Juniper Hall

Juniper Hall
Add caption
On Oct. 31, 1922, Matthew passed away at Juniper Hall. In his memory, Gertrude named the pergola in the gardens “The Garden of Sweet Remembrance.” On the fifth anniversary of Matthew's passing, Gertrude deeded Juniper Hall and all the real estate to the Grand Lodge of Masons of Massachusetts. Matthew had been a 33rd-degree mason. It was her wish that the house be used for the relief of suffering. Juniper Hall became known as the Masonic Hospital.

The Friends of Prospect Park host work events the second Saturday of each month from March to November, 9 a.m. to noon. Anyone interested in helping to preserve and maintain the park is welcome to attend. Workers meet at the main entrance.
The estate was bought by the town of Shrewsbury in 1976 and in 1979, the building was demolished. For those who visit the park today, there are visible reminders of the Juniper Hill estate and the lavish gardens that once graced the property and attracted visitors from afar. Nestled within the stone walls, which were once home to flowing gardens and an elegant reflective pool, remnants of lives once lived there remain. 

1930 Cadillac V-16 Roadster by Fleetwood
 Sold For $1,100,000

The original Cadillac build sheet for 701761, a copy of which is on file, records its delivery through the Fitzhenry Cadillac Company, of Worcester, Massachusetts. It confirms the car’s identity as a style 4302 roadster that featured a Boone Brown chassis, body panels trimmed in Thorne Maroon, a Radel leather interior, a Burbank cloth top, and wire wheels, which were painted Gold Bronze and striped in the same maroon. Unusually, no extra equipment is specified. 

Noted on the build sheet is “Tag Whittall,” with the “Tag,” in 1930s Cadillac parlance, referring to the car being prepped and kept for delivery to a specific customer. For a dealer in Worcester in 1930, no customer could have been more important than a member of the Whittall clan.

Kountze Family at Delbarton 

Luther Kountze was a member of the Gilded Age’s noveau riche, but having worked hard to acquire his fortune he did not take his position lightly. After establishing banks in Denver and Central City in 1862, he studied banking and finance in London and Paris.

He married into American aristocracy when in 1875 he wed Annie Parsons Ward, one of Philadelphia’s preeminent families and a direct descendant of the French DeLanceys and British Barclays. Together, Annie and Luther raised four children, William De Lancey, Barclay Ward, Helen Livingston, and Annie Ward.

Passaic and Mendham Townships

Luther purchased 4,000 acres of land upon which architect George Harney constructed the Colonial Revival and Queen Anne style estate, which was comprised of local dove-grey granite. For over 25 years the Kountze’s entertained and hosted family and friends at the estate they named Delbarton.

By the time the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 took Luther’s life at the age of 76 much of his wealth had evaporated, the result of the war’s effect on private banks combined with his heavy investments in German bonds.

Annie moved back to New York and placed the house up for sale, and their two surviving children, William De Lancey and Annie Ward, inherited approximately $5 million – an impressive sum but a mere 1/10th of Kountzes’ pre-World War I worth.

November 29, 1922


Founder of Banking House Bequeathed Bulk of Estate to Widow and Children.

For twenty-five years, the Kountze family enjoyed a life of leisure at their summer home, hosting family and friends at Delbarton house parties. Those years were also marked by tragedy. In 1901 25 year old Barclay Kountze died at Delbarton of typhoid. His sister Helen, a newlywed married to Robert Livingston II, passed away in 1904 at age 23-Kountze died in New York City at age 76 during the influenza pandemic of 1918, and his widow Annie chose to remain in Manhattan. A year later DeLancey sold Delbarton to two women who, rumor had it, used the estate as a speakeasy during Prohibition. In 1922, the property reverted back to Kountze for non-payment, and he sold it the following year to a New York businessman for conversion to a country club called Mount Royal Gardens. This too failed; the estate was foreclosed for a second time in 1925.

On August 18, 1925, St. Marys Abbey, then in Newark, purchased the historic house and about 400 acres for $155,000, $2 million in today's dollars. Prior to the sale, the family
had removed most of the decorative pieces; The following spring the first group of monks arrived at the estate to begin the monastic life of St. Marys Abbey in Morris County.
Kountze’s mansion became the main building, and the name gradually evolved to its current title of respect: Old Main.

Delbarton, the mansion of New York banker Luther Kountze, was constructed on a 4,000-acre estate in 1886 on Rt. 24, Morris Twp., from granite quarried on the property. Prior to 1900 it was simply known as The Farm. There were farms, a carriage house, cottages and dormitories for the help, an ice house, creamery, and a lake. Today it is Delbarton Preparatory School.
In the 1880s Luther Kountze began to amass the four thousand acre estate which included what are now Delbarton, Morristown National Historical Park and Lewis Morris County Park. He developed the northeast corner of his holdings as a summer retreat with a large stone mansion, a working farm and several outbuildings such as barns and a dairy, a carriage house and stable, which later served as Delbarton’s first gymnasium. The mansion was completed in 1883 and the Italian Garden to the west of the main house was added after the turn of the century.

Among the many distinctive features was a carriage porch, or porte-cochere, with a distinctive arched alcove to protect guests from inclement weather.

Delbarton Center Hall

Inside, a spacious 18’ x 69’ foot center hall included a large staircase and welcoming fireplace. The interior design layered dark wainscoting with lighter walls and plaster frieze above. An impressive 10' tall stained glass window, The Twelve Immortals by Clayton and Bell of London, was installed at the top of the grand first floor landing. Oak and mahogany paneling, stair rails and wainscoting were hand-carved and imported from Europe. Walls were hung with tapestries, and the kitchen had an immense coal stove.

Delbarton Staircase

It features likenesses of genius minds from the past, including Dante, Titian, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Homer, Virgil and Chaucer. In its center an angel holds up the words. “Blest be the art that can immortalize. — Cowper.”

Delbarton -  George Washington Memorabilia Display Room

Typical of the moguls of the Gilded Age, Kountze was a great collector with an eye, and the money, for fine art and architecture. He filled his grand hall with a prized collection of arms and armor. His extensive collection of Washington memorabilia occupied the room to the right of the main entrance. 

Delbarton Dining Room

An elegant portrait of Kountze in equestrian garb kept a watchful eye from above the fireplace in the paneled dining room.

Upstairs were sixteen bedrooms, each with its own fireplace, and eight bathrooms to accommodate the family and staff. The estate also included a creamery, sawmill, homes for
workmen, multiple barns, a woodwork shop, nursery, chicken house, tennis court and 60,000 gallon water tower.

Kountze was one of the first millionaires to have an automobile in Morristown. When he got off the millionaire’s express after coming home from New York, he would get in his Panhard model car and be driven out to the estate. Other millionaires either rode horseback or got in their carriages.

Delbarton Garden View

Kountze had cannon in front and he used to fire them occasionally, for kicks.

Pillars were imported from abroad for placement in a Greek garden that never was built. Plans were dashed when Mrs. Kountze became ill and, for years, the pillars lay fallow in the woods around the school. Now they’re scattered over the campus, some upright, others on their sides, for classical artistic effect.

 Statues imported from Italy and Greece by Luther Kounzte atop walls and pillars in an Italian garden at Delharton. 

Autumn in the Guise of Priapus
Two statues made in 1616 by Pietro Bernini (1562–1629) with the assistance of his more famous son, the sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680), for Cardinal Scipione Borghese. Each consisting of a half-body merging into a tapering pedestal, they originally stood in the gardens of the Villa Borghese in Rome, at the entrance to the cardinal's Vigna di Porta Pinciana. The two statues are on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  

Spring in the guise of Flora

They stood just inside one of the gateways into the Borghese Gardens, their eyes and attention focused upon the point of entry. A visitor to the garden, unaware of their presence until actually stepping through the gate itself, would suddenly find himself actively in the thrall of these two wildly cheerful presences, fixing him full in the eye, Flora to his right, swaying in giddy delight as though caught in a gust of breezy passion, and to his left Priapus, brazen face suffused with mirth.

They were probably brought to America by Kountzc some time around 1891, when the Borghese sold their villa and when many of their statues disappeared.

In architecture, a term means pedestal topped by a bust.

Colonnade Row

WHEN it was built in 1833 Colonnade Row was the biggest thing in New York since the British occupation, a 200-foot-long sweep of glistening white marble in the form of a Corinthian colonnade, nine houses combined into one great Greek revival statement on what is now Lafayette Street, opposite the Public Theater.

Life on Colonnade Row: The Hidden History Behind the Columns

But five of the houses were destroyed early in the last century, and their graceful fluted columns and Corinthian capitals were carted away, vanished from the city with the dust of demolition. 

The Mystery of the Lost City
Pillars for a Greek garden, never built, lie abandoned on the estate. 
Vanished, that is, until a garden designer and a Benedictine monk solved the decades-old puzzle of a mysterious Lost City in the woods of a New Jersey monastery.

Mrs. Kountze

Kountze Family Burial Plot
Woodlawn Cemetery, New York, Plot Oak Hill, Section 84, Lot 8995

Luther Kountze(pronounced koontz)

Additional works of Vernon Howard Bailey 

This artwork was auctioned on September 06, 2017

Sketches of European architecture and architectural details attributed to early 20th century American artist Maurice Feather.

This artwork was auctioned on April 03, 2015


Whittall Mills
The last Massachusetts carpet weaving company.

After WWII a major flood destroyed most of the mill’s equipment, that with changing trends resulted in the closure of Whittall Mills.