Wednesday, July 11, 2012

South Gate Lodge at "Deepdale"


South gate lodge - "Deepdale", Vanderbilt estate, Long Island. John Russell Pope, Architect. 
IN THE United States there has always been an elusive quality lacking in the design of small country houses. Just what this quality is may best be felt by studying the charm of the English country house of the same type. There the charm and interest have been achieved by the essentially artistic point of view of the architect and the temerity of the client, who, between them, evolve a dwelling full of quaint and unexpected features, yet one which seems ever a harmonious whole in itself as well as a consistent part of its surroundings. The English country house is full of an architectural individuality which has been approached in few. other types of house, while the American house has seemed always a little forced, as though its designerhad felt bound by certain constraining conditions and its owner had felt himself bound by imwritten conventions. As a rule we do not sanction a house with a quaintly diversified roofline, picturesque chimneys and variously disposed leaded easements because we are afraid, in a vague way, that somebody will laugh at us. Consequently we look first at our neighbors house before we think of the design of our own, and we are sometimes disturbed with a wondering query as to what is the matter with American domestic architecture. Why must a house be a replica of a French Chateau or an English country place in order to be good? Our own work has generally seemed successful only in so far as it has shown a skillful adaptation of some foreign style. When we essayed it ourselves the “contractor and builder” gave us an elaborated packing-box with interior compartments, and Eastlake inflicted upon us his fantastic vagaries of spindles, rosettes and generally weird proportions and details in an architectural chaos.

The trouble in the matter, perhaps, lies in American self-consciousness in matters of personal expression. The Englishman speaks French with considerable practical bravado because he does not mind being laughed at a little, while the American too often keeps a self-conscious silence. The English architect builds a house which is a. fearless expression of his personal ideals in the matter, while in this country we are ever prone to lean on precedent, or if original, to indulge only in platitudes.
South gate - "Deepdale"- Vanderbilt estate, Long Island. John Russell Pope, Architect.
South gate lodge -"Deepdale" - Vanderbilt estate, Long Island. John Russell Pope, Architect.

The work was completed in 1906 by J. C. Udall Contractors - New York.
The exterior panels are plastered with gray plaster with a rough finish.

The first story is of chestnut timber framing with brick filling and backing.
The second story and roof wood framing - all exposed wood being chestnut.

The Vanderbilt Gate Lodge - "Deepdale'' - Long Island - John Russell Pope, Architect. The Honest House - 1914.
The Chestnut wood work is light gray in color having a greenish tone.

The chimneys are of red brick laid with wide gray mortar points.

The foundation in gray stone laid random with horizontal and vertical joints.
With such a deplorable state of affairs too generally prevailing it is interesting to find, in John Russell Pope, an architect with the strength of his convictions, and to discuss the qualities which have been achieved in his individual rendering of a gate-lodge on the estate of Mr. W.K. Vanderbilt, Jr., on Long Island. While it is true that the feeling in this house is of a distinctly Elizabethan English type, it is of importance to observe the freedom and lack of restraint with which Mr. Pope has carried it out. The first glance will indicate that the lodge is of half-timber construction. This does not mean that a thin coat of stucco has been applied between boards, but that the building is actually half constructed of timber. By reason of the fact that the modern carpenter does not understand this type of work, Mr. Pope was at some pains to obtain the services of a venerable ships carpenter, who, pursuant of the training of his craft, hewed the timbers from the rough with an adze and morticed and pegged them together. There was obtained in this manner an interesting irregularity and unevenness, which is further enhanced by the visible marks of the adze on the wood. Here was the first bit of finesse in detail which went to make up the unique appearance of this little building. The feature, however, which strikes the most significant note of dzference is the introduction of the carved grotesques, which run entirely around the building on a. line above the windows.
A detail of the Vanderbilt lodge at "Deepdale" showing the carved gargoyles.
Each one of the gate-lodge grotesques is different from the rest, and all hold an excellent similarity in the general character of their treatment. At every angle and on every side the eye is jovially accosted by a fresh variety of quaintly bizarre corbells, and the prevailing sense of architectural fitness is admirable throughout. ***Grotesques depicted six different emotional states in a medievalizing version of the Beaux-Arts exercise of the tetes d'expression(heads of expression).***
Detail of grotesques - gate lodge at "Deepdale", Great Neck, L. I.  John Russell Pope, Architect.

Detail of grotesques - gate lodge at "Deepdale", Great Neck, L. I.  John Russell Pope, Architect.

Detail of grotesques - gate lodge at "Deepdale", Great Neck, L. I.  John Russell Pope, Architect.
In no part did the lodge suffer from inattention or lack of careful study. The roof tiles were sought throughout Europe in vain, but nowhere could the exact kind that were wanted be found until they were met within a little church almost two hundred years old, in Indiana. The church was in ruins, so the old, handmade tiles were secured and laid here, and the chimneys were built of carefully selected brick. 
Designed in the Norman style of half timber architecture, the Vanderbilt lodge, at "Deepdale", Long Island, is interesting especially because of the thoroughness with which the design was carried out. The half timber is real half timber, the tiles are real old tiles, and the whole house has an aspect of age. There are few more perfect examples of small house design. The Honest House -1914.
Commonplace chimneys would have marred the charming ensemble of this unique building, so Mr. Pope was at no small pains to impart to their design the same remarkable individuality which he had attained in the hewn timber work and the carved grotesques. The field stone used in the foundations gave occasion for still further careful selection. Each piece was picked from old walls in the vicinity, and each was chosen with the care of collector of rare specimens. All were required to show grey weathered faces, mottled with dull green lichens.
First floor plans, Vanderbilt gate lodge, Long Island. John Russell Pope, Architect. The Honest House- 1914.

Second-story plans, Vanderbilt gate lodge, Long Island. John Russell Pope, Architect. the Honest House -1914.
Here, its values not to be denied, is a work of art - an assemblage of materials and forms so woven together as to produce a perfect whole - and a testimonial that an actual building that shows European ideals of sincerity in architecture can be realized in this country.

Map showing Vanderbilt estate in yellow.
No detail of small house architecture is so neglected in this country as the garden wall. This house and garden is located on the Vanderbilt estate on Long Island. John Russell Pope, Architect. The Honest House -1914. 
Above photo shows the main gate for the estate. The map might indicate it stood just north of the lake???
1927 aerial of the Vanderbilt estate "Deepdale"
 Surprisingly even thou current publications state the south gatehouse was demolished the structure still stands. Click HERE to see at wikimapia. HERE for Bing Streetside. HERE to read the back story on its relocation and current photos Click HERE for more on "Deepdale".

With this commission John Russell Pope broke into the upper ranks of society and would work for some of Americas most influential families.  

Click HERE to see the gate lodge today.


  1. It is absolutely charming. (Coincidently, I am currently working on a Norman style project; I don't think I'll be able to use true half timber construction as done here, but I will work on making it look more authentic with pegs, etc.). Thanks for all the details.

  2. Could that gatehouse be anymore charming and picturesque? From the timber framing, animated corbels and incredible brickwork on the chimneys, it is outstanding and a survivor of suburban sprawl in western Nassau County. Great post


  3. Interesting note to the above main gate photo. I can only trust the source that the architect was Pope. What I find interesting I've never read anything else regarding Pope's involvement at "Deepdale". The south gate lodge was Pope's first design in the Norman style and had possible input by Mrs. Vanderbilt. After her divorce from Willie in 1910 she had Pope design her new house in a similar half-timbered style.

    1. Pope is cited as architect in 1913
      article in The International

    2. Also House Beautiful in 1910

  4. Architectural drawings are perfectly in accordance with the constructions.