Not far from Atlantic City, New Jersey, are the remains of the nineteenth-century Estellville Glassworks, which was in operation from about 1826 to 1877. These buildings are unusual among New Jersey glassworks in using local sandstone with brick arches. Visited on a balmy Autumn day.
Just up the hill from Colorado Springs is Manitou Springs, which was built up around a series of natural mineral springs beginning in 1872. Eight free-flowing fountains are scattered around the town now. Most of the city is included in the Manitou Springs Historic District.
Two different perspectives on houses and preservation that should have more of an overlap in Long Island, New York
Featured image: The Geller I house by Marcel Breuer in Lawrence, New York. Demolished 2022. Source: Docomomo/Syracuse University.
Featured image: The Gothic-styled Union Trust Building, built in 1916 as the Union Arcade by Henry Clay Frick.
Recently we visited Manitoga, a National Historic Landmark that is the studio and home of industrial designer Russel Wright. A prime advocate of what has been called “Livable Modernism,” Wright, with the aid of his wife, Mary, became one of the most influential and well-known designers of the 1930s to 1950s. His pottery, tableware, and furniture brought Modernism to the American masses (quite literally: his most popular line of pottery and one of his furniture lines were both named American Modern).
Together, they wrote the 1950 manifesto Guide to Easier Living which promoted radical ideas like “buffet suppers, one-pot meals, portable seating and lots of double-duty storage…They may be the inventors of modern grad student storage: wooden shelves on cinder blocks hidden behind a curtain” (Alexandra Lange, “Easier Living, By Design”, The New York Times July 23, 2010).
Manitoga came later in his career. He and Mary purchased the land in the Hudson Highlands north of New York City around 1942 and spent many years modifying the landscape, including turning an abandoned quarry pit into a swimming pond complete with a waterfall.
They lived in a cottage (still standing, but not part of the Landmark) next to the quarry. It was not until several years after Mary’s death in 1952 that Russel began building the house and studio (designed with architect David Leavitt). It was completed in 1960 and Russel lived there with his daughter Annie and her governess/housekeeper until his death in 1976.
Dragon Rock is a rare instance of Mr. Wright contradicting his theory of “easier living,” — his daughter, Anne, recalls arduous hours spent vacuuming the rocks and keeping all 11 levels in some semblance of order.Richard Horn, “Collecting Russel Wright” The New York Times August 23, 1979.
If this 54 room home looks a little bit small for something with both “Vanderbilt” and “Mansion” in its name, maybe it’s because Hyde Park was just one of several houses Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt owned. They also had a New York City townhouse, of course, and at various times, a Newport, Rhode Island mansion (Rough Point, later owned by Doris Duke), an Adirondack camp (Pine Tree Point), and a Bar Harbor, Maine mansion (Sogonee, later owned by radio tycoon A. Atwater Kent).
Construction began in 1895, the same year that Frederick’s kid brother, George Washington Vanderbilt II, completed his modest 250-room summer house, the Biltmore Estate.
It’s cold out and there’s been snow on the ground for two weeks so it was a short visit to the Updike Farmstead, part of the Princeton Battlefield/Stony Brook Settlement Historic District and headquarters of the Princeton Historical Society.
The Rogers House is a fine example of 18th century pattern brick architecture that unfortunately was neglected long enough that by the time funding was acquired, the only option was to preserve it as a stabilized ruin. Mercer County acquired the house in 1970; the preservation project was not completed until 2019. Still, a stabilized ruin is better than a collapsed house.
“Pattern brick” means that letters and numbers are built into the walls using glazed brick ends inset among unglazed brick stretchers. On one end is “1751” commemorating when the house was built (although there has been debate about whether the third digit is a “5” or “6”). On the opposite side are the letters “J + R R” for John and Rachel Rogers, the original homeowners. The rest of the walls are built a Flemish bond with alternating brick headers and stretchers.
As the plaque above clearly shows, the 1969 Woodstock Concert is legitimately a site of historical importance. While the rule of thumb is that only sites at least 50 years old are considered for listing on the National Register of Historical Places, Woodstock was placed on the Register in 2017, only 48 years after the three day festival of music took place on Max Yasgur’s farm near Bethel, New York.
The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts and the Museum at Bethel Woods maintain the Woodstock site with the goal of preserving the historic landscape. The actual stage and seating area are now open grassed areas. Across the road there is a small wooded area known as Bindy Woods or Bindy Bazaar. In 1969, trails were cut through the woods and rocks were gathered and stacked to create simple foundations where vendors at the “Aquarian Crafts Bazaar” could set up makeshift stalls to sell goods to the concert goers.
In 1977 the Cincinnati Zoo, where Martha lived and died, created a memorial to the extinct passenger pigeon in one of the few surviving original animal houses. The photo above shows part of the large wooden door covered with carvings of passenger pigeons at the entrance.
The pagoda-style building was built as an aviary to display many types of birds. It and two other animal houses that also date back to the zoo’s opening in 1875 have been designated a National Historic Landmark.
The creation of the memorial was due in large part to the efforts of Richard Fluke who, as a child, frequently visited Martha at the zoo.
“The world lost a great bird,” said Fluke, his voice still emotional at the memory, even after 74 years. “She was just magnificent. When [she died], I felt that I had lost a pal, because I always went around to see her.” Perhaps this is the greatest value of Richard Fluke’s testimony. Others mourned Martha’s loss — and still mourn it — in the abstract, as the point final in the tragic history of a species wasted through human greed. But the little boy who sat in the yellow pagoda, talking to her, stroking her feathers, feeding her tiny bits of food, mourned the passing of his friend.T. F. Pawlick, Martha: The Last of Her Kind. 2018