by Susan Emery
“Built to Last: Stories in Stone” is the apt title for this year’s spring house tour. Given the architectural richness of our community, our annual tours generally include a diverse range of styles. This year is no different. As in the past, there is a stylistic assortment of exteriors and interiors that will be
highlighted on the tour.
In certain years, however, a theme or common thread among the houses has been difficult to discern. This year the theme was readily apparent. All five of the houses on the 2009 house tour are distinguished for their varied examples of stonework, from a Colonial Revival house partly clad in uncut stone, to a second Colonial Revival style house that incorporates field stone in its original construction and matching stone recovered from the property for its 2001 addition, to an Arts & Crafts home and a Tudor that include
partial random ashlar facing, and a second Arts & Crafts house that features not only a stone foundation but actually appears to have been constructed atop a hill of stone.
This group of houses also shares interesting histories, as each is connected to the early development of the neighborhood in which it was built and some
of the personalities involved were rather intriguing. Yet in addition to distinctive stonework and great history, there are numerous other features and decorative elements that grace these homes. But why wait until next month when the individual homeowners open their doors to the LHS membership to discover what is in store?
While the five addresses will not be revealed here, read on for a taste of what to expect, as well as an introduction to some of the descriptive vocabulary associated with the houses (see the accompanying glossary for an explanation of terms highlighted in bold). From the clues, perhaps some
clever readers might even be able to identify a few of the houses!
The five houses on this year’s tour are scattered across Larchmont. Just one house is in the Manor and one is in the Village, while three are located in the unincorporated section of town. Additionally, four of the houses have never appeared on the LHS house tour before. And one house was recently awarded an LHS Century Homes Club plaque! As mentioned, the architectural styles range from early Colonial Revival to Colonial Revival Style to Arts & Crafts to Tudor. One of the two Colonial Revival houses incorporates an old stone gatehouse that was originally part of a late 19th century Weaver Street estate; the other Colonial Revival house was among the first houses in the development originally known as Larchmont Park. One of the Arts & Crafts houses was an early structure in the Larchmont Gardens development; the other is one of several authentic Gustav Stickley houses in Larchmont Woods. The Tudor house was designed by the architect of the Larchmont Shores development and built for the man who developed Larchmont Shores.
Water is a theme at all five of the houses. One house is actually located on the water, connected to its neighborhood by a causeway, while another has a natural waterfall on its property, a third is built near a waterfall, a fourth has a miniature pond with waterfall added by the current owners, and the fifth house once had a small pond used for swimming and skating! In addition to
water, several of the properties are large and feature lovely gardens.
One property in particular had the good fortune to have been re-designed by the famous landscaping pair Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd of North Hill Garden in Readsboro, Vermont. North Hill is considered one of the most famous private gardens in America, and Mr. Eck and Mr. Winterrowd came to
Larchmont and worked their magic on delightful grounds that our tour-goers will be able visit next month. These gardens boast a boxwood parterre and a potager. Interested in learning more? Then attend the slide lecture that Mr. Eck and Mr. Winterrowd will be giving at St. John’s Church on April 25th,
the afternoon before the house tour. They will be selling and signing copies of their most recent book, “Our Life in Gardens,” as well.
Aside from their common themes of stonework and water, the five houses boast numerous other individual architectural features that enliven their facades. Look for a gambrel roof on one of the Colonial Revival houses, a pergola on the other Colonial Revival example, a standard gable on one of the Arts & Crafts homes, and a cross gable on the second Arts & Crafts house, while the Tudor features timber framing. There is a great variety of windows, including several types of sashes and casements, a Palladian window, and an oriel window. Two of the houses possess an assortment of stained glass windows, including a large stairwell skylight in one home and five unusual
roundels in the other.
Interior architectural details to be found include transoms, a coffered ceiling, an original hammered copper fireplace hood, original light fixtures and hardware, decorative plasterwork, French doors, carved woodwork, and more. Decorative motifs abound. In one house, you will see fleur de lys tiles on a powder room floor. In another house, the fleur de lys motif is incorporated into the border of a stained glass window. Decorative styles abound as well. One house has delightful dose of chinoiserie, another features contemporary artwork, while yet another is more traditional, and the others are perhaps eclectic.
If your curiosity has been piqued, or if you think that you have guessed some of the houses described, then please join us on Sunday April 26th for the house tour. A reception and art show will be held afterwards at Mamaroneck Artists’ Guild.