Thursday, May 20, 2010

“The Corner, Rosemore,” 136 Great Plains Road

This home, on the southeast corner of Cooper’s Neck Lane and Great Plains Road, was built in 1900 by Dr. George E. Brewer. It’s in such excellent shape; it certainly doesn’t look that old. It has an octagonal tower feature that responds to its corner location, and reminds me of old train stations due to its big brackets at the eaves (which by the way are NOT in regular rhythmic locations) and craftsman-like color scheme. Its first story is clad in cedar shingle siding while its second story is finished with an off-white stucco.

Dr. George E. Brewer (1861-1939) was a noted surgeon, anatomist, and anthropologist as well as the son of a physician. His obituary was published in the New York Times on Christmas Day, 1939 and contains a ton of information about his noteworthy career. He married Effie Leighton Brown (d. 1925) in 1893. They had two sons, Leighton Brewer, and George E. Brewer Jr. During his ownership, the house was known as “The Corner,” not to be confused with “The Corners,” on the northwest corner of First Neck Lane and Ox Pasture Road.

The second owners of the house were Morgan and Rose O’Brien. Combine Rose with Morgan and you get “Rosemore.” Morgan J. O’Brien (1852-1937) was a lawyer and former presiding justice of the Supreme Court, Manhattan. He was born in New York City and was the son of a merchant who immigrated to America from Ireland. His obituary was published by the New York Times on June 17, 1937 and is, again, full of notable professional accomplishments during his lifetime. In 1880 he married Rose M. Crimmins and in 1930 they celebrated their 50th anniversary, a milestone that seems more and more rare these days. They had nine children: five daughters and four sons. One of their daughters and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. William F. Cogswell, would be the next owners.

I am fortunate enough to know the grand-daughter of the second owner of this house (Cynthia Cogswell Johnston Eaton) who has spoken about it with me here and there over the past few years. She also loaned me her copy of an August 2008 Hamptons Magazine which included a small feature of the house when it was under renovation by Charles Rich LLC. Before renovation in 2000, the house had been in disrepair for some time, had been insensitively added onto, and painted all white, with a black asphalt roof. Cynthia mentioned that the third story of the tower used to be where her Uncle had his office and had a wonderful view to the ocean. It’s so nice that the house has only been owned by three families, and the current family has owned it 53 years (even though there was a 28 year period in the middle of neglect). That has definitely contributed toward the vitality of the structure.

Property Owners (incomplete):

Scott C. & Kelley L. Johnston, Liber 12015 of deeds, page 345, 1/21/2000
Katherine M. Blaine, Liber 11331 of deeds, page 92, 10/18/1972
Estelle O’Brien Cogswell, Liber 7606 of deeds, page 302, 6/26/1964
William F. Cogswell, Liber 2303 of deeds, page 456, 8/16/1943
Morgan J. O’Brien
Rose M. O’Brien, Liber 1463 of deeds, page 287, 10/17/1929
George E. Brewer
Sophie Kilbreth and son James T. Kilbreth, Liber 492 of deeds, page 109, 5/4/1900

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