Thursday, January 15, 2009

Harbor Hill - new blog header!

In case you haven't noticed, I've finally found a blog header. Thats important to me, my blog has felt naked all along! What do you think of it? The image is by the famous architectural firm, McKim, Mead & White, of their project for C.H. Mackey, Harbor Hill. Stanford White was the architect of note and it was the largest home he ever designed.

The house, on Long Island, was built between 1899 and 1902 for Clarence Hungerford Mackay as a weekend/summer home 20 miles east of New York City. The Mackay fortune was from a silver strike in Virginia City, Nevada found by Clarence's father, John William Mackay. John later invested in telegraph and cable companies to gain a fortune estimated at $500 million by 1902 when he died and left everything to Clarence.The house was a collaboration between Standford White (architect) and Clarence's wife, Katherine Duer Mackay. She asked White for books about French chateaux and then later sent him a sketch of a proposed first floor plan with the suggestion he study the Chateau de Maisons by Francois Mansart (1642), seen below. White followed through and based the design on this chateau with a mix of other influences. The house was so expensive that multi-millionaire Clarence wrote White ,"don't suggest any statues of any additions, as I don't want another thing at all"

The original estate was originally comprised of 688 acres. The landscape architect Guy Lowell was brought in to do the landscape. The tallest hill on long island, overlooking hempstead harbor, was flattened to create a view from the back terrace, seen above. I guess they just don't build them like they used to!
Unfortuantely the house and stables were demolished (by hardcore dynamite!) in 1947. The blog, Old Long Island, which I love, has featured the existing estate 6 times. Today the property has Roslyn High School, Roslyn A.N.G. Station and a housing development. The stone main drive entry still exists, now leading to the town pool which utilizes the old entry gate as a snack stand! The water tower, designed by Mckim, Mead and White, stands in the middle of the housing development. An original statue of a horse and rider is now at the front of the Roslyn High School. Four equestrian statues designed by Henri-Leon Greber were saved and sent to Kansas City, Missouri where they are still located in the Country Club Plaza, seen here below.
Clarence's life reads like a soap opera. Besides divorcing his wife in 1914 (she ran off with his doctor in 1910, also leaving the children) -he gained and lost fortunes and befriended fascinating celebrities. His 2nd wife was the opera singer Anna Case whom he wouldn't marry till his first wife died in 1930, despite beginning to date her in 1916 because of his strong catholic faith.
The one thing Clarence Mackey is known for to this day is donating the Mackay trophy in 1911 which is currently on display at the Smithsonian National Air & Space museum here in DC. The award is given each year by the United States Air force for the 'most meritorious flight of the year'
There is a book about the estate, which I have not seen that you can find HERE on Amazon.

You can see great vintage photos of the interior online HERE

History about the house and the family can be found HERE

26 comments:

David said...

It's a very popular fountain here, appearing in countless photographs from wedding albums to high school homecoming snapshots. It's just off the Plaza in a little park that I wish got more attention from the park department.

columnist said...

Beautiful chateau. A bit of stone cleaning would make it more so. Fascinating post!

A-M said...

OMG it's absolutely divine. You have exquisite taste. It's perfect and I am so jealous! I am waiting for my house to be built so PVE Design can draw it for me for my header. A-M xx

maison21 said...

great image for your header! gives your blog a finished look- good choice.

Cote de Texas said...

beautiful house, beautiful header!

An Aesthete's Lament said...

And Mackays' daughter, Ellin, married Irving Berlin!

Linda Merrill said...

Wow, this place was spectacular. Thanks for posting it, and also what's happening on the property now. Stanford White's life was pretty soap opera-ish as well, what with getting murdered by the husband of a jealous showgirl and all! His work certainly left it's mark, tho.

kathleen said...

Well, they wouldn't dynamite it today.

willow said...

I thought that looked like a picture of the Plaza! I lived in a cute as a button bungalow just south of the plaza in the most charming little neighborhood. Kansas City is a very classy town. I really miss it.

Excellent new header. Perfect for you.

Pigtown-Design said...

Love the header! Now that you know how to do it, you can switch them out monthly like i do!

Athenaeus said...

Great house, great header.

Renee Finberg said...

Nice, i like it.

re-usable bags anyone ?

xxxxxxxx renee

Patricia Gray said...

It's a great header!!!

Kwana said...

Love the new banner. What a home. I'd give a toe to be able to walk through today.

pve design said...

Stefan,
Every man should have a castle! I love it and hope you like what I sent - not that you need to change this perfect one. Like you said, "You are not married to it" I love that line.
pve

That's Just Me said...

The header is beautiful and your post was excellent! Very well-written and informative!

Mrs. Blandings said...

Not only is the header beautiful - it's perfect for you. Agreeing with David that the horses - known here as Nichol's fountain - are a local landmark. They are also gorgeous in the snow.

Homer's Odd Isn't He. said...

Stefan, a good choice and a great post. It looks terrific. Onward in 2009. Cheers, Homer.

Visual Vamp said...

The header is as beautiful as you are!
Do you know another old Long Island estate and house called Oheca Castle?
xo xo

thomas said...

great header!

Grant K. Gibson "the blog" said...

I love the header! PERFECT! You have inspired me to get to getting on a good one for me! Love the post too!

Janet said...

Excellent choice...plus it has history and meaning! It does take a while to figure these things out.

larkspur said...

Love your header. Weren't these the guys called in by Daniel Burnham (FlatIron Bldg in NYC) from Chicago to consult on the World Columbian Exposition in the late 1980's?

J. Shearron said...

Great Post! I have thing for those old aerial views of American Country Houses of this era... they're so telling of true vastness of the properties and how elaborate and over the top some of the gardens were.
Have you seen the collection on either the Smithsonian or is it Library of Congress website? Wouldn't just aerial views of estates of this era make a great book?

ArchitectDesign said...

Larkspur - M, M & W was one of the most important firms of the later part of that time period, but weren't one of the main architects called to the World Columbian Exposition , they did do the ny state building at the fair (and basically 1/2 of the most important buildings in the country nationally of the time period!)

J. Shearron, I agree with you -I love the arial photographs of any projects, but especially these old estates to get a scope of the magnitude. I'm headed to both of those websites right now to see what I can find!

Anonymous said...

Follow this link to more photos of Harbor Hill.
http://www.oldlongisland.com/2009/10/harbor-hill-in-architectural-record_24.html

http://www.historicaerials.com has aerials photos back to the 1930's in some areas.