This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
A villa-mansion was erected by me, a year ago, in the Italian style, which may serve to illustrate the class of house which, under certain requirements, would be fitting for erection elsewhere.†
The situation for which my services were required to design an appropriate building, was one which, although possessing some peculiar features, had a character not unfre-quently to be met with. The land was elevated, commanding a most extensive view across Long Island Sound, and the intervening and surrounding landscape. It was removed .about two miles from the water, and at the same distance, from the village. A public road skirted the upper boundary of the place, and the surface of the land and general disposition of various portions of the estate required that the building should be somewhat near to the road. From this road the land rose upward in a gentle slope to a nearly level table, just large enough for the building, and on the other side it dipped down at an angle so abrupt as to render terracing necessary, and to cause the foundation walls at that point to be of considerable height, so that the rear aspect of the lower portion of the house became so open and airy as to suggest a convenient and pleasant bestowal of the kitchen and domestic offices in the lowest floor, which, as it is entirely above ground, so far as used for such a purpose, can hardly be called a basement.
The most cheerfully shone upon sides, and those from which the most desirable points of view of the landscape could be enjoyed, proved to be the rear and side; the front looking toward a comparatively fiat expanse of meadow and woodland beyond the road, and the other side having a northern exposure.
The owner required rooms of large size for entertainment and adequate accommodation for the family; also a preference was expressed for ample hall and passage ways - so arranged, however, in summer time or for evening occupancy, as to be converted as it were into inner apartments. A summer kitchen was also thought desirable; and so, with these requirements to guide me, and the knowledge of local circumstances gained by careful and frequent study upon the spot, the plan of the principal floor shaped itself as follows.
In front, a terrace, a few steps in height, leads to the door of the entrance vestibule, No. 1, in which are inner doors to the principal hall. One pair of doors is filled in with a perforated metal panel, to admit air in summer, and is furnished with a close shutter to fit in during cold weather. Upon each side of the vestibule are hall closets, Nos. 2 and 3, with sash doors toward the hall.
The main hall, No. 4, is of magnificent proportions and extent, and in it is a deep recess for the principal staircase, connected with the hall by columns and antae, which correspond with the other columns in the hall shown in the plan.
On the left of the hall, in front, is the library, No. 5, a room twenty-four feet by fifteen, lighted by a window toward the north, and by a projecting bay in front Connected with this room is a fire-proof closet or safe, by the side of which is an inclosure containing a dumb-waiter, which conducts from the floor below to the attic, and is used to convey clothes from the laundry to the drying-room. Upon the other side of the hall is the drawing-room, No. 6, which is, exclusive of the projecting window, twenty-seven feet by twenty, and the projecting window ten by six.
PLAN OF PRINCIPAL FLOOR.
Next to this room is a small salon or vestibule, No. 7, from which a French window opens upon the side veranda, and which also connects with the family sitting-room or parlor, No. 8. This latter room is seventeen feet square, and is so situated as to be the pleasantest apartment upon this floor. A wide veranda stretches on two of its sides, and connecting with it are large closets for family use.
Sliding doors open upon one side into the vestibule, No. 9, at the end of the principal hall, which terminates in double doors leading to the veranda.
Next to this end of the hall is the dining-room, No. 10, which is twenty-four by eighteen, having in its long side a projecting window, which is supported upon brackets from below, and overhangs the deep stone wall that the slope of the ground renders necessary. Immediately under this room is the kitchen, and the projection of this bay window serves as a canopy to its windows.
In the rear of the dining-room is a private hall, No. 11, in which are a flight of stairs to the floor below, a servants' stairway to the chambers, a large china-closet, and a dumb-waiter for transmission of dishes from below. The smallness of the scale renders these portions somewhat minute, but they are all of ample size and convenient arrangement.
From this hall an entry leads to a summer-kitchen, No. 12, which is fifteen by nineteen, and so placed as, though sufficiently removed from the main building to prevent heat or odor penetrating the interior, is conveniently near for use.
On the other side of the private hall are a large pantry and store-room, No. 13, a lobby conducting to the main hall, and a sleeping-room of large sire, No. 14, either for use of a man-servant or of a member of the family.
The extent of the front of this building, exclusive of the projection containing summer-kitchen, is sixty-six feet, and its greatest depth, from front line to end of dining-room, is sixty-nine feet two inches.
The spacious verandas that fill up the outlines of the plan, so as to make them nearly a square, are of great value. From that surrounding the two sides in the rear the most lovely view that can be conceived is enjoyable; and, as the level of the ground falls away so rapidly, it is on the rear greatly above the surface, and descent to the terrace and gardens below is by a flight of broad steps. Beneath these rear verandas a screen protects the offices from sight, and upon this side a conservatory is formed, with glass in front and at the end.