Douglaston Historic District, Douglaston, Queens, New York City, New York, United States
Architect: Wilbur S. Knowles Original Owner: Solomon Mayer Type: Freestanding house
Style: Arts and Crafts/Colonial Revival Structure/material: Frame with wood shingle siding
Notable building features: Hipped roof with overhanging eaves; stucco-covered chimney with brick coping; hipped dormers; round, projecting bay at corner; wrap-around porch, partially enclosed, with Doric columns, central pediment, brick steps, and wood railings; multi-paned entrance vestibule (added after 1962); first-story oriel.
Alterations: Most windows are non-historic replacements; bases of porch and conservatory covered with concrete; through-the-wall air conditioners; chimney covered with stucco after 1962.
Related structure on lot: Attached, rear conservatory with polygonal plan and monitor roof, added in 1916; matching two-car garage, entered from Shore Road, contemporary with the house.
Notable site features: Mature trees; stucco-covered retaining walls with brick coping; brick garden walls with cast concrete balusters; brick steps and posts; cobblestone-framed sidewalks, driveway and curbs.
The Douglaston Historic District contains more than 600 houses set along landscaped streets on a mile-long peninsula extending into Little Neck Bay, at the northeastern edge of Queens adjoining Nassau County.
Its history over the past four centuries ranges from a native American settlement to an eighteenth-century farm, a nineteenth-century estate called Douglas Manor, and an early twentieth-century planned suburb, also called Douglas Manor.
The Douglaston Historic District encompasses the entire Douglas Manor suburban development, plus several contiguous blocks. Most of the houses in the proposed district date from the early- to mid-twentieth century, while a few survive from the nineteenth century, and one from the eighteenth century.
The landscape includes many impressive and exotic specimen trees planted on the mid-nineteenth-century estate, as well as a great white oak, located at 233 Arleigh Road, believed to be 600 years old.
Douglaston’s location on a peninsula jutting into Flushing Bay at the eastern border of Queens County is an important factor in establishing the character of the district. The very early buildings surviving in the district include the c.1735 Van Wyck House, the c. 1819 Van Zandt manor house (expanded in the early twentieth century for use as the Douglaston Club), and the Greek Revival style c. 1848-50 Benjamin Allen House.
Much of the landscaping, including the specimen trees, survives from the estate of Douglas Manor, established by George Douglas and maintained by his son William Douglas.
Most of the houses in the historic district were built as part of the planned suburb of Douglas Manor, developed by the Rickert-Finlay Company, that was part of the residential redevelopment of the Borough of Queens following its creation and annexation to the City of Greater New York in 1898.
A set of covenants devised by the Rickert-Finlay Company helped assure a carefully planned environment, including a shorefront held in common, winding streets following the topography of the peninsula, and single-family houses ranging in size from substantial mansions along Shore Road on the west to more modest cottages closer to Udalls Cove on the east.
The houses of the historic district, which are representative of twentieth-century residential architecture, were designed in a variety of styles including the many variants of the Colonial Revival, many houses in the English manner incorporating Tudor Revival, English cottage, and Arts and Crafts motifs, as well as the Mediterranean Revival. In most cases, they were designed by local Queens architects, including over a dozen who lived in Douglaston itself.
The district includes three houses of the Craftsman type pioneered by Gustav Stickley. Eight of the houses in the district were designed by Josephine Wright Chapman, one of America’s earliest successful women architects, and they constitute an important body of her work.
The Douglaston Historic District survives today as an important example of an early twentieth-century planned suburb adapted to the site of a nineteenth-century estate. The stylistically varied suburban residences, the distinctive topography, the landscaped setting, and the winding streets create a distinct sense of place and give the district its special character.
HISTORICAL AND ARCHITECTURAL BACKGROUND OF THE DOUGLASTON HISTORIC DISTRICT
Native American and Colonial antecedents
The Native American presence on the Little Neck peninsula today known as Douglaston included the Matinecoc,1 one of a group on western Long Island linked by culture and language to others in the area surrounding Manhattan Island (including the Nayack, Marechkawieck, Canarsee, Rockaway, and Massapequa). A number of finds from those settlements have been identified at various sites on the peninsula.2 The Matinecoc, who fanned the peninsula and apparently also produced wampum, were summarily evicted in the 1660s by Thomas Hicks, later Judge Hicks, in what has been described as the only such seizure of property recorded in Flushing town records. In the 1930s, according to local histories, a Matinecoc burial ground was destroyed to make way for a widening of Northern Boulevard, and the remains reinterred in the cemetery of Zion Church.3
The property seized by Thomas Hicks in the 1660s passed through the hands of several of his family members, and several subsequent sales to other families, before being acquired in 1813 by Wynant Van Zandt. In 1819 Van Zandt bought an adjoining farm from the Van Wyck family. Both tracts had been farmed during the eighteenth century. The Van Wycks built and lived in a shorefront house which still stands (the Cornelius Van Wyck House, at 126 West Drive aka 37-04 Douglaston Parkway, a designated New York City landmark).
Nineteenth-century country seat: Wynant Van Zandt. George and William Douglas, and Douglas Manor
Wynant Van Zandt (1767-1831) kept his property in agricultural use. Unlike his predecessors, mostly local formers, Van Zandt was a prominent New York City merchant, active in New York civic affairs. As a city alderman, Van Zandt served as chairman, starting in 1803, of the building committee for City Hall, and in 1804 as chairman of a committee on water supply, among other duties. Van Zandt established his Queens County property as a country estate, and built himself a manor, or country seat, in 1819; the building survives, with additions, as the Douglaston Club.
In May 1835, following Wynant Van Zandt’s death, George Douglas acquired the estate from Robert B. Van Zandt; the deed identifies Van Zandt as a "farmer" and Douglas as a "gentleman."5 One obituary, in the Flushing Journal Weekly, described Douglas as "what the world would call an eccentric man."6 Another, in the New York Evening Post, described him as a wealthy young man from Scotland, who during a fifteen-year stay in Europe "collected some very valuable pictures," and later turned to philanthropy.7
Douglas’s son, William Proctor Douglas, inherited the property after his father’s death in 1862. The younger Douglas served as vice-commodore of the New York Yacht Club in 1871-74. During his tenure, Douglas Manor became a center for New York society yachting and polo. In later years, Douglas rented out the estate house to a variety of well-connected tenants, including European royalty.8
In 1869, Douglas hired landscape architect William McMillen to, in the words of McMillen’s daughter, "superintend the Estate, improve driveways, and lay out plantings and trees and ornamental shrubs."9 McMillen was later associated with Frederick Law Olmsted and his work on the park system in Buffalo, New York.10 Although McMillen spent six years working on the estate, it is not known exactly what he undertook for Douglas. From turn-of-the-century photographs and other records analyzed in a landscape history undertaken in 1994, it appears that under Douglas’s
ownership the landscape was characterized by "an informal ‘English’ look…with English ivy, winterberry, Boston ivy and wisteria."11
It was also during Douglas’s tenure that a number of exotic specimen trees were planted on the property. Local histories suggest a connection with Samuel Parsons (1819-1906), a pioneer horticulturist with a nursery in Flushing; Parsons owned land near the Douglas Estate. The trees have been a distinguishing characteristic of Douglas Manor since William Douglas’s day.12
Early suburban subdivision
Although the suburban development called Douglas Manor dates from 1906, William Douglas apparently attempted a suburban subdivision half a century earlier south of Douglas Manor. The dominant force propelling development was the gradual extension of the Long Island Railroad, which ran as far as Flushing until 1866 (with stage coach connections for points east), when its extension to Great Neck opened. Even in the 1850s, anticipating the railroad’s extension to the Little Neck peninsula, William Douglas had subdivided part of his property (the area today known as "the Hill").
Douglas donated land for the railroad’s right of way, and later, according to local histories, relocated one of his farm buildings to be used as a railroad station, asking in exchange that the new village be called "Douglaston" (instead of Marathon, a competing name).13 He named a number of new streets after the abundant trees on his property (Pine, Poplar, Willow, Cherry).
The Rickert-Finlav Realty Company
Besides the three early surviving houses already mentioned (the Van Wyck House, the Douglaston Club, and the Allen House), almost all the rest of the houses in the historic district were built as part of the early twentieth-century planned suburb of Douglas Manor, named for Douglas’s estate, laid out by the Rickert-Finlay Realty Company. The redevelopment of Douglas Manor was part of the vast transformation of much of the newly created Borough of Queens into new residential neighborhoods. In 1906, the year Rickert-Finlay bought Douglas Manor, several major transportation projects to speed connections between Manhattan and Queens were underway: the Pennsylvania Railroad and Long Island Railroad tunnels under the East River, and the Queensborough Bridge at 59th Street.14 According to the Real Estate Record and Guide of that year:
The development of numerous farms into building lots and the erection of hundreds of new buildings have necessarily advanced the value of real estate in that section of Greater New York. It is said that more than 8,000 new apportionments have been made in the Borough of Queens during 1906, and that considerably more than 10,000 acres of land have been cut up into lots….
Chief among the new developments cited:
Title has just been taken to the Douglass [sic] homestead of about 180 acres by the Douglass Manor Co. This will probably be the highest class development on the island. It has a mile of water front and most magnificent shade trees. This property will be subdivided immediately.16
The Rickert-Finlay Realty Company, which bought Douglas Manor, was active in real-estate development in Queens and Nassau Counties in the early years of the century, buying up large farms and estates on the north shore of Long Island, preferably those with attractive topographical features, and subdividing them into new suburban communities. Their projects included Norwood in Long Island City, Broadway-Flushing in Flushing, Bellcourt in Bayside, Douglas Manor in Douglaston, and Westmoreland in Little Neck.17 By 1908, the company, with offices at 45 West 34th Street in Manhattan,18 was advertising itself as "The Largest Developers of Real Estate in Queens Borough ~ over 10,000 lots within the limits of New York City."19
The company’s typical strategy for selecting development sites was described by E.J. Rickert in a 1914 article in Architecture and Building: "It was selected because it was on high ground, with a splendid outlook . . . and only four blocks from a railway station. It was . . . noted for the magnificent row of maples and lindens, nearly a mile long, extending through the entire property."20 The company then developed each tract according to a formula based on past successes. E.J. Rickert described the progression of the firm’s ideas:
The first property developed was Bellcourt in Bayside, which was improved along the same lines as had heretofore prevailed on Long Island — that is, gravel sidewalks were laid, streets were graded and shade trees were set out, no other improvements being made. In the sale of Bellcourt, however, it was found that there was a demand for better improvements, and, consequently, when Douglas Manor was developed, cement sidewalks were laid, macadam roads were built and trees and hedges were set out. Broadway-Flushing and Westmoreland, which came next, were developed to about the same extent as Douglas Manor, all then being considered the best improved properties on Long Island.
The next development, Kensington, saw the addition of complete "sanitary sewer system, water mains and underground conduit for street lighting."
The new suburb of Douglas Manor
The qualities of the nineteenth-century Douglas Manor on which the Rickert-Finlay development capitalized included its hilly topography, its mile-long waterfront accessible to the entire narrow peninsula, and its lush plantings, especially the specimen trees planted during Douglas’s tenure. The development also based its new road system on the major farm roads already in place, which became West, East, and Centre [Center] Drives.23
The company then established a series of protective covenants to guarantee a certain manner of development and density within the new suburb. In an era pre-dating the adoption of zoning regulations,24 the character of a new development could be guaranteed in no other way.
The covenants affected the architectural character of the houses only peripherally — by prohibiting flat roofs, thereby encouraging a more romantic roofline. Instead, they focused on the kind and size of houses and the nature of the landscaping of the new development. They required all houses to be single-family residences, with the sole exception of the Douglaston Club (commercial uses and two-family buildings and flats were specifically prohibited). They encouraged an economically mixed development, with a boulevard of substantial mansions along the Shore Road waterfront, while smaller, less expensive houses would predominate on the peninsula’s east. (Such conditions were guaranteed by requiring houses of a certain cost and lots of a certain size). A verdant landscape was ensured by requiring houses to be set back 20 feet, leaving room for greenery, and by prohibiting fences and encouraging hedges, creating vistas not of individual, fenced-off gardens, but rather of a continuous, green, park-like, landscaped environment.
Rickert-Finlay went even further, taking steps to protect that environment and shape the community’s social character by creating, in 1906, the Douglas Manor Association. Its stated objectives were the creation and maintenance of a club house to promote "social intercourse" among the residents, and to preserve and protect the development’s physical amenities, including the roads, parks, shorefront, and plantings.26
Selling Douglas Manor
Promotional brochures prepared by Rickert-Finlay characterized the new neighborhood as a private community of houses, nestled in a landscape similar to Central Park, surrounded with a mile of shorefront, just blocks from each home.27
Douglas Manor’s convenience to Midtown Manhattan via the Long Island Railroad was compared favorably to subway commutation to new Bronx neighborhoods. The commute was touted at "only 33 Minutes to Manhattan, 52 Trains a Day," and predicted to become "20 Minutes to Herald Square, when Pennsylvania-Long Island Tunnels are completed." The neighborhood was just three blocks from the Douglaston station, itself very near the Long Island Sound, "being the only station on the line near enough to the Sound to bring the shore front within easy walking distance. "28 The history and character of the old Douglas estate were emphasized, especially the trees planted by Douglas: "Scotch Holly, Magnolia, Japanese Maidenhair, Chinese Cypress, European Beech, Scarlet Maple, Horse Chestnut, Tulip, Lime, evergreens… Even Central Park does not possess a greater variety of rare trees….
" This park-like effect would be "preserved and increased by setting out hedges along winding roads, following the natural contour of the land as much as possible…. The shore drive, curving along the bay for over a mile, will be made the finest boulevard on Long Island." To all these suburban advantages, Douglas Manor also boasted the services provided by the City of New York: "city water, stone sidewalks, macadamized streets" and the "full benefit of all departments of the city government, including schools, water, police and fire protection."
From 1906 through the Depression, several hundred houses were erected in Douglas Manor, following the plan suggested by the Rickert-Finlay covenants. In general, the lots along Shore Road on the west were developed first, with larger, more substantial houses, followed by the more modest
homes to the east towards Udalls Cove. Property owners often acquired lots adjacent to those on which their houses were built to accommodate more generous lawns or gardens. The mile-long waterfront remained undeveloped, held in common by the Douglas Manor Association. The large caliper specimen trees planted in Douglas’s day remained in place. The grounds of the various houses were separated by perimeter hedges only — no fences. Two smaller lots formed by irregular street intersections were planted as small parks, maintained by the Association. Together, the parks, commonly held shorefront, specimen trees, and hedged gardens created something close to Rickert-Finlay’s version of Central Park, surrounded by water, with several hundred houses nestled in the landscape.
The Architecture of the Douglaston Historic District
The architectural styles of the over 600 houses and some 150 related structures (mostly garages) in the historic district reflect three centuries of Douglaston’s built history. From the eighteenth-century colonial Van Wyck House, to the early nineteenth-century Van Zandt House and mid-nineteenth-century Allen House, to the twentiethth-century suburban houses of the Rickert-Finlay development, to the additions of the post-World War II period, they tell the story of the development of this part of eastern Queens, part of the larger developmental story of New York City and the country as a whole.
The Cornelius Van Wyck House, at 126 West Drive, survives as the oldest extant house in the district, and one of the oldest in New York City (it is a designated New York City landmark). Built c.1735 for an early Dutch settler as a farmstead, the house reflects eighteenth-century New York colonial styles. Douglas, who transformed the farm to Douglas Manor, is said to have used the house as an "entrance lodge to his estate.w29 In 1907, one year after the acquisition of the Manor by the Rickert-Finlay Company, the Douglaston Country Club enlarged the building for use as a clubhouse. In 1921, the Van Wyck House passed back into use as a single-family residence, and its owner, E.N. Wicht, hired Frank J. Forster, designer of Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival style houses in the new Douglas Manor development, to restore it to its original Dutch Colonial appearance.
The Wynant Van Zandt House, at 600 West Drive, reflects both the older and the newer history of Douglaston. Built in 1819 as a home for Wynant Van Zandt, it was significantly altered after 1906 for use as the Douglaston Club, but still reflects some of the character of Van Zandt’s original two-story Greek Revival manor house.
The Benjamin P. Allen House (a/k/a the Allen-Beville House, a designated New York City landmark) at 29 Center Drive, built c. 1848-50, is another rare Queens farm house. Predominately Greek Revival in style, it also shows the influence of the newly fashionable Italianate style, especially in its cornices and brackets.
Almost all the other buildings in the district date from the twentieth century, and the greater number of them from its first three decades, when Douglas Manor was developed by the Rickert-Finlay Company. Douglas Manor is a contemporary of several other planned communities in New York City, notably Fieldston in the Bronx and Forest Hill Gardens in Queens, all three of which began as subdivisions in the first decade of die century, and blossomed in the late teens and twenties. Like them, Douglas Manor was developed with houses based on historic styles of the past.
The first few decades of the century constituted a period of ferment and development in the design of American single-family houses. The epoch has been characterized as "a resurgence of individualism and an indulgence in residential architecture, a reaction to the standardization of the previous two decades. Fanciful cottages in fairy-tale styles were part of that image."30 In some ways, that approach is a logical continuation of late nineteenth-century architectural eclecticism, characterized in the 1890s as "rampant eclecticism in all fields of life and taste, of triumphant individualism, when authority sits so lightly on men’s interests and lives; in this age of archaeology, when the different periods of history are made to live again in our imagination. "31 At the same time, residential architecture was affected by notions of progress and efficiency, and a drive toward simplicity and sanitary conveniences in home design.
Rickert-Finlay’s protective covenants left the architectural character of the buildings almost entirely in the hands of owners and architects, requiring only that building roofs not be flat.32 The result was a collection of early twentieth-century eclectic residential styles, ranging from grand Colonial Revival mansions on the Shore Road waterfront, to picturesque Tudor Revival or Mediterranean Revival houses or houses in the English cottage manner or Colonial Revival houses on the blocks between West and East Drives, to modest cottages near Udalls Cove. Houses were sited in harmony with the topography, which tends to get hillier in the southeastern section of the peninsula.
One Douglas Manor architect, Alfred Scheffer, expressed his point of view in an article published in 1929. He described the Tudor Revival house he designed for himself at 216 Beverly-Road — a particularly useful indication of both the architect’s and the client’s point of view. Tellingly, the very first observation he makes is about the siting of the house, overlooking Long Island Sound: "The water is only a stone’s throw — of a conservative marksman — from our front door and the second floor bay window has a certain suggestion of the forecastle deck of a ship, for the intervening land and highway are quite lost to sight and I can get a fine sense of sailing the seas, when I stand there." Only then does he turn to the formal style of the design, and sums up in a sentence the attitude of his day towards historically-inspired styles: "The construction is quite definitely in the English manner although / was not concerned with making it exact or authentic [emphasis added]
Scheffer then lists the elements that make his house "English": "stucco and halftimber walls with slate roof . . . The substantial chimney of common brick is typical of many English country houses. . . . The main entrance doorway of the house, at the end of a narrow flagstone walk, forms a Gothic arch of oak timber, framing a paneled oak door with iron straps and two small leaded glass windows, the effect completed by a semi-circular stone stoop. Beside the door is a lantern of pierced wrought-iron in the shape of an inverted tunnel, with wrought-iron bracket." Clearly it is details like the paneled oak door and leaded glass windows which give the house the English "effect" Scheffer wanted. But when he turns to describing the interior, practical matters take precedence: "The interior of the house was designed to take full advantage of our gorgeous outlook over the water."
Historical details are listed — "The walls are of rough English hand finished plaster" – but so are the "built-in bookshelves," "built-in comer cabinets," and "convenient and numerous closets and the very large closet and bathroom which join the master bedroom and add much to its convenience." "The interior of the house," concludes Scheffer," will probably grow from year to year. Things will be taken out and others put in until eventually, it comes near to realizing my mental image of what it ought to be. Already, I think, it has the liveable quality which is most essential of all."33
The majority of houses in the historic district reflect a variety of styles, loosely adapted by architects like Frank Scheffer, typical of suburban residential architecture across the country. The predominant style is the Colonial Revival in several variants, ranging in date from c.1910 to the present. Most are of frame construction with shingle and/or clapboard siding. Besides a generic Colonial Revival style, the district has such distinctive variations as the Dutch Colonial Revival, New England Colonial Revival, and Cape Cod Colonial Revival. Colonial Revival houses of brick, or frame with brick facing, often have a more formal neo-Georgian appearance. The English manner, the other major stylistic mode, is expressed with Tudor Revival, English cottage, or Arts and Crafts details. These houses, too, are often of frame construction with stucco facing and brick and/or stone trim. The Mediterranean Revival style was also popular.
These houses usually have stucco facing and tile roofs. The district also has a handful of houses of the Craftsman type pioneered by Gustav Stickley. Suburban houses of the type found in the district were judged by their picturesque qualities. The Architectural Forum, for instance, featured a Douglas Manor house by Frank Forster, the same architect who restored the Van Wyck House to something approaching its original Dutch colonial appearance. The writer praised Forster’s "excellent use of half-timber in connection with brick or stucco," but more importantly his "rare skill in grouping, which creates a picturesque and architectural composition, wholly unaffected or exaggerated and involving no sacrifice in the matter of interior planning to secure this effect."
An additional group of houses in the historic district, on the south side of Bay Street, predates the Douglas Manor development by several years. Designed c.1900, they are excellent examples of the Colonial Revival and Queen Anne styles popular at the end of the nineteenth century.
Playing an important role in the historic district are the many related garage structures, often designed in architectural styles compatible with the houses they serve. Some were constructed originally as carriage houses and stables, often with residential accommodations, and later converted for garage use. By about 1920, the automobile had supplanted the horse, and garages were built as freestanding structures, some with chauffeur’s quarters at the second story, usually situated close to a side or rear lot line. By the late 1920s, some houses were constructed with attached garages, or garages were constructed later, atttached to earlier houses. After World War II, many houses were built with basement garages, while other earlier houses were modified to provide basement garages.
The Douglas Manor Architects
A few prominent New York City architects with Manhattan offices received commissions in the new neighborhood; however, the vast majority of Douglas Manor houses were designed by local Queens and Brooklyn architects, and a surprisingly large number by architects who themselves lived in Douglas Manor or had offices nearby.35
Among the better known firms from outside the neighborhood who worked in the historic district, Buchman & Fox, architects of many Manhattan office buildings, designed 1008 Shore Road, a substantial Colonial Revival mansion overlooking the Bay. George Keister, whose practice included churches, hotels and Broadway theaters, designed 24 Knollwood Avenue, an Arts and Crafts style house, and 104 Hollywood Avenue, a Colonial Revival house. Diego DeSuarez, who planned villa gardens at both La Pietra, outside Florence, and Vizcaya, outside Miami, designed a one-story Mediterranean fantasy at 231 Beverly Road. Lionel Moses, of the firm of McKim, Mead & White, designed a house in the English cottage manner at 1102 Shore Road overlooking Little Neck Bay. The architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White is credited with the formal French Renaissance Revival style house at 4 Ardsley Road. Dating from 1919, it is constructed of hollow terra-cotta block, a form of fireproof construction, and faced with stucco.36
Architects from Brooklyn and Queens represented in the historic district include Arthur H. Allen, an architect very active in Forest Hills (a Colonial Revival house at 217 Ridge Road); Philip Resnyk (Tudor Revival, English cottage manner, and Colonial Revival houses on Warwick, Beverly, Grosvenor, Hollywood, Knollwood, Richmond, Kenmore, Richmond and Manor); Benjamin Dreisler (an Arts and Crafts/Colonial Revival house at 243 Forest Road); Louis Feldman (English cottage type houses at 211 and 217 Forest Road); J. Sarsfield Kennedy (a Tudor Revival house at 369 Beverly Road and a grand English bungalow/Arts and Crafts house at 1114 Shore Road), and Shampan & Shampan (a Colonial Revival house at 110 Arleigh).
Almost 60 of the over 600 houses in the historic district, built in the first decades of the century, are known to be the work of fourteen Douglaston architects.37 Alfred Scheffer, whose views are quoted above, designed at least ten, most in the Colonial Revival style or English cottage manner with Tudor Revival or Arts and Crafts detail.
John C.W. Cadoo designed at least sixteen houses, mostly Colonial Revival in style. Frank Forster designed at least three houses, one Colonial Revival, the others in the English cottage manner, as well as overseeing the restoration of the eighteenth-century Van Wyck House. Albert Humble designed at least ten houses, most in the Colonial Revival style.
Josephine Wright Chapman
Eight houses in the historic district are known to have been designed in the 1910s and 1920s by one of America’s earliest successful women architects, Josephine Wright Chapman (1867-?). Chapman was professionally active from 1892 to 1927, but little is known about her education or commissions.
She pursued her interest in a career in architecture over opposition from her family, working from 1892 to 1897 as a draftsman in the office of Boston architect Clarence H. Blackall. Very few academically trained women became architects in the last two decades of the nineteenth century, and Chapman may have entered the profession as an apprentice.
By 1898 she was listed in the Boston City Directory as an architect, and developed a successful practice, despite the rejection of her application for membership in the American Institute of Architects.
Chapman’s first major project was the New England Building at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901. Other known work includes the Craigie Arms Apartments (1897) in Cambridge, Mass., the Episcopal Church in Leominster, Mass., and the Women’s Clubs in Worcester and Lynn, Mass.
In 1905, Chapman began to devote herself to the design of houses. She preferred the "English type," long, low and rambling, with gables and timber and plaster detailing. In 1907 she moved to New York, where she was listed in directories as an architect until 1925. Among her few published works was a sixteen-story apartment building on Park Avenue, described as demonstrating "the feminine idea of correct planning . . .and many innovations were to be introduced."
While in New York, she also received the commission for Hillandale, an Italian Renaissance style villa in Washington, D.C., built 1922-25. In the words of historian Gwendolyn Wright: "Neither Chapman’s early public success in Boston nor her conversion to professional pursuit more appropriate for a woman qualified her for coverage in the architectural press.
But her career was remarkable, for few women had the financial independence to experiment with their own offices."
Chapman’s known Douglaston houses, which date from 1909 to 1917, are in the historic district’s two prevalent stylistic modes — five Colonial Revival and three in the English cottage manner.
They share picturesque silhouetttes with rooflines that feature gambrel or gabled roofs with hipped or shed dormers, and exposed brick chimneys; and distinctive entry and porch details, including one with Tuscan columns, one with a pointed-arch batten door, and one with a panelled entrance with side-lights and transom.
The Craftsman style houses
Several Craftsman style houses, including No. 122 Arleigh Road, 140 Prospect Avenue, and 111 Hollywood Avenue, may be one of the largest such collections in any New York City neighborhood.
Furniture designer Gustav Stickley of Rochester, New York, created the Craftsman architectural movement and disseminated it throughout the country via his Craftsman magazine.
The Craftsman aesthetic drew on the English Arts and Crafts movement, California Mission design, Japanese architecture, and Native American design, and was supported by an ideology influenced by concepts of socialism, the nobility of work, and the value of manual training.
Stickley developed his interest in architecture in the years 1902-05, initially as a way of creating the proper environment for his furniture. He hired architect Harvey Ellis to help develop a Craftsman architecture, and the Craftsman magazine began publishing prototype houses initially designed by Ellis, encouraging the public to take them as models for their own homes.
The published houses included floor plans, sketches, renderings of room schemes, elevations, and descriptions of appropriate rugs, fabrics, furniture, and color schemes. Stickley then encouraged his readers to alter the plans to suit local conditions.
In 1909, Stickley became involved in the actual construction of houses when he organized the Craftsman Building Company, which constructed houses in New Jersey and on Long Island.
The company was active for just under a year; the exact number of houses built is unknown. Most "Craftsman" houses were built by contractors using Craftsman plans.
The Craftsman house embodies a number of characteristics in its exterior. It is generally designed to take advantage of its site and views. Picturesque in its composition, it incorporates an "honest" expression of its materials and structure.
It makes use of exposed or emphasized structural elements, especially a broad, overhanging roof, often supported by large, open rafters extending beyond the eaves.
There may be wooden elements including curved roofs, or exotic piled capitals. Often such houses include pergolas, porches, balconies or verandas. Windows are grouped together to create large openings.
Craftsman houses use a variety of materials, preferably local. Stonework is often textured and ornamental, with variegated colors and shapes. Other common materials include clinker brick, and stucco, often mixed with rough sand or bits of glass.
Historical and Architectural Introduction
No. 111 Hollywood Road was designed by the Craftsman architects in 1914.55 The interior follows the Craftsman aesthetic, while the exterior borrows the distinctive eyebrow window and brick Tudor arched entrance from neighboring houses.
No. 122 Arleigh Road corresponds to Craftsman plan number 70, a "Ten-Room House for Town or Country Life" published originally in the Craftsman in July 1909 and again in More Craftsman Homes. Its horizontal orientation, large living porch, emphasis on structural elements including low, spreading, overhanging eaves and extended rafters, and central entrance and symmetrical facade with grouped windows, all reflect the Craftsman mold.
No. 140 Prospect Road correspond to Craftsman plan number 85, a "Small Two-Story Cement House with Recessed Porch and Balcony," published originally in the Craftsman in March 1910 and again in More Craftsman Homes. Its low-pitched roof revealing the rafters, porch and balcony, decorative use of structural elements, and grouping of windows and openings, all fit the Craftsman aesthetic.
A number of other houses in the historic district reflect the Craftsman aesthetic, even though they do not follow published Craftsman plans.
Prominent residents and later history
The first residents to move into the new Douglas Manor development, in 1907, were "the Misses Butler, of Flushing." They were followed by a number of newspapermen including "Mr. Mayer, World cartoonist, on Shore Road and Knollwood Ave.," "George C. Minor, of the New York Herald" on West Drive and Knollwood, and "Arthur Greaves, city editor of the New York Times" on West Drive, as well as a Mr. Slater of Manhattan and a Mr. Burtis, "manager of the Brooklyn branch of Swift & Co."56 Country Life in America the following year showed houses for sale in Douglas Manor priced at $8500 and $10,000.
Over the years, the historic district has attracted many famous residents, including a number of people in theater and the arts. Besides the above mentioned Herbert Mayer, cartoonist for The World, and architect Elbert McGran Jackson, who also illustrated covers for the Saturday Evening Post, artists included Percy Crosby, author of the "Skippy" comic strip; Robbie Robinson, another
illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post, Norwegian born sculptor Trygve Hammer, whose house is at 329 Forest Road,59 and satirist George Grosz.
Douglaston’s location on the Long Island Rail Road, which made it convenient to the Astoria Studios in Long Island City, an early movie center, attracted many actors in the days before the ascendancy of Hollywood.
Residents have included Ginger Rogers, Hedda Hopper, Richard Dix, Ward Bond, Bonita Granville, Clifton Webb, Arthur Treacher, Jack Donahue, and William Collier Sr., as well as Ziegfeld Follies star Margaret Corry.
Other notable residents have included author Ring Lardner, as well as Olympic swimmer Annette Kellerman, tennis pro John McEnroe, Jr., and pianist Claudio Arrau.
Douglaston resident Anne E. Hayes was one of the first women to attend Cornell University’s medical school, and later became a clothing designer.
In the half century since the end of World War II, the Douglaston Historic District has seen numerous houses altered or demolished, and much new construction. Some of the new houses have maintained the scale and repeated the materials and styles of earlier houses; others have not.
They have ranged in style from ranch houses to modern versions of the Colonial Revival. Overall, however, the Douglaston Historic District survives, maintaining much of its original architectural character as a planned suburban community, as well as rare surviving reminders of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and significant landscape features including the commonly-held waterfront, specimen trees, and generous landscaping.
All create a distinct sense of place, recalling a significant period in the history of Queens.
– From the 1997 NYCLPC Historic District Designation Report
Tagged: , 11/27/2010 walk , 27 de noviembre de 2010 , 27.XI.2010 , Borough of Queens , Douglaston , Douglaston Historic District , EE.UU. , Estados Unidos , Etats-Unis , Historic District , Historic District of New York , Historic District of New York City , Historic District of NYC , Historic Districts , Historic Districts of New York , Historic Districts of New York City , Historical District of New York , Historical District of New York City , Historical District of NYC , Historical Districts of New York , Historical Districts of New York City , Landmark , LP-1957 , New York , New York City , New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission , New York City, New York , New York City, New York, United States , New York City, NY , New York, New York , New York, NY , November 27, 2010 , November 27, 2010 walk , Novjorko , Nueva York , Nueva York, EE.UU. , Nueva York, Estados Unidos , Nueva York, Nueva York , NY , NYC , NYC, NY , NYC, New York , NYCLPC , Paseo del 27 de noviembre de 2010 , Paseo del 27.XI.2010 , Queens , U.S. , U.S.A. , United States , United States of America