Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday, Monday...

It's been days since the blogging muse has bit me, and even though she still hasn't, I thought I'd throw a few words into cyberspace just to let y'all know I'm still around.

Of note on the Recent Events calendar was the Historical Society's annual house-plaquing event, which took place Sunday afternoon just as the weather was clearing after several days of rain and gloom. We went to "Chelmsford", a late-19th century manor once situated on some 30 acres in the Rock Ridge area. Rock Ridge, BTW, was developed by Nathaniel Witherell, whose name still attaches to the Town's senior care facility (as I think they call it these days) on Parsonage Road, about which you have read in these pages recently. Witherell also played a role in the development of Belle Haven, where he had lived before moving himself and his attentions a mile or so to the north. He sure was in the right places at the right time; today, property in both these areas goes for about $100 a square inch.

"Chelmsford" was expanded in the early 20th century by two wings, both designed by McKim, Mead, & White, the largest and most prestigious architechtural firm of the time. MMW did the Boston Public Library, the Low Memorial Library at Columbia University, the Century Association, the Metropolitan Club, the Racquet & Tennis Club, the University Club, the Morgan Library, and the Harvard Club, all of NYC, not to mention the Farley Post Office and its late lamented cousin, the erstwhile Pennsylvania Station, which some considered their masterpiece. Ironically, there is now talk of moving the current Penn Station into the Farley site, thus perhaps undoing some of the architectural hooliganism that destroyed the original.

The house in Greenwich is as stately as the rest of MMW's work. The rooms are as wide as the wings themselves, with windows on both sides. The large living room flows into the library, which in turn flows into the billiard parlor. The kitchen/dining wing is as large as most ordinary houses in this Town (by which, of course, I mean those in the $2-4 million range). The grounds are still extensive, with gorgeous plantings and numerous amenities including not merely swimming and tennis, but a croquet pitch as well. This lovely estate is tucked away off the street, on top of a hill looking down into a ravine where Horseneck Brook burbles merrily along, and you would never know that you are less than a mile from the center of Town. There is nothing so plebian as the sight of a neighbor's manse to disturb your vista. It is truly a minature kingdom, which once had its own "gentleman's farm" attached employing dozens of gardeners and groundskeepers.

It's nice to know that at least a few people still live in the style to which some of us would love to become accustomed. Your scribe snapped a few pics, and they will appear in these pages in due course. In the meantime, it is also nice to know that the owners have "plaqued" their house in order to help persuade future generations to preserve it. While these handsome plaques, issued annually by the Historical Society, carry no legal weight, they do carry a good deal of moral suasion. Which is why those of us who care about the history and architecture of this Town are glad to support this noble effort. Just think, dear reader: if everyone in Town did the same, the parvenus and Philistines would never again rear their ugly heads in our fair community. If you have an extra $40 lying around, or can scrape it together, let me encourage you to visit the Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich website, and send it their way. Both present and future generations of townspeople will be grateful for your generosity.


Blogger ERiCA said...

It's nice to know that at least a few people still live in the style to which some of us would love to become accustomed.

Bwa! Ain't that the truth. =)

May 22, 2007 10:39 AM  

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