Saturday, February 8, 2014

Southampton Village to Boot Philip Johnson?



436 Gin Lane: "Halcyon Lodge"

Halcyon Lodge is a rare surviving two-and-a-half story example of the Stick Style in Southampton Village, of which there may only be one other remaining. In 1951 it received an addition designed by Philip Johnson for Mr. & Mrs. Henry Ford II. The current owners are now requesting to demolish the residence.
After purchasing this parcel of Gin Lane from the local Foster family for $2,392.50 in 1881, Dr. T. Gaillard Thomas sold it ten years later to Reverend William “Billy” Chester and his wife, Marion (Merrill) Chester for $1,500. Halcyon Lodge was built shortly thereafter. Dr. Thomas is usually referred to as the founder of Southampton Village's Cottage Colony, and this section of Gin Lane was developed specifically by his doing. The road would not even exist at this end if he hadn't made it happen.

The home is clad with gray-painted shingle siding originally applied within gridded stick work which also served as an organizing element of the fenestration. Overall, the house is rectangular in plan, with a front-facing gable, a west-facing cross gable and gabled and hipped dormers. The main north–south gables, which have wave-patterned shingles, overhang the second story by approximately thirty inches and are supported by extended and profiled bracket consoles, as is a second-story front- facing square bay projection. The eaves have exposed rafter ends. The windows were probably double-hung units originally, with two-over-two or six-over-two divided-light patterns, but have since been replaced. They are paired with paneled yellow shutters with alternating diamond- and heart-shaped cutouts. The beach side has a covered porch that wraps around the west side which is topped by a bay window and into which a shallow balcony is carved. To the west is a one-story flat-roofed original wing that used to have a decorative railing on top that matched the driveway gates. To the east is the Philip Johnson wing. It is two-stories and flat-roofed of course, constructed of glass, wood and steel. Its north and south fa├žades are glass and steel with operable canvas awnings on each story to diffuse the severity of the sun during the summer season, while its east and west sides are clad in vertical weathered California redwood. Glass and steel walkways connect the addition to the main cottage on both levels at staggered points. The architecture of both the Stick-style cottage and the eastern addition stand alone, distinctly adjacent yet quietly joined, providing anything but an inharmonious juxtaposition.
Halcyon, which is defined as denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful, was the name given to the cottage by its creators, Reverend and Mrs. William Chester. Reverend Chester (b.1867) was a grandson of Reverend Doctor William Chester, a distinguished minister of the American Presbyterian Church.

In 1946, the cottage was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford II. Anne McDonnell Ford (1920–1996) was the second daughter of the prominent Irish American McDonnell family. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. James Francis McDonnell Jr., owned a lot of property and resided in the nearby Wickapogue area, incorporated into the village’s boundaries around 1915. Her father was the founder of the Wall Street firm McDonnell & Company, and her grandfather was the noted electrical engineer and inventor Thomas E. Murray. After serving in the navy during World War II, “HF2” (1917–1987) was president of the Ford Motor Company, founded by his grandfather, from 1945 to 1960 and chief executive officer from 1960 to 1979. Anne was the first of his three wives. They were married in 1940 in Southampton at the Roman Catholic church Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and some referred to the marriage as the union of two of Irish America’s most powerful families.

The public hearing is scheduled for this Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 7pm, at Southampton Village Hall, 23 Main Street.