By Susan Law and Rita Steinkamp, Realtors, Houlihan Lawrence
Jun. 28, 2017: As lifelong village residents, the two of us have always respected the iconic designs of William Augustus Bates, especially in Bronxville. At the turn of the 20th century, he was the undisputed “right-hand man” of William Van Duzer Lawrence's, our company’s founder and the visionary creator of Bronxville’s historic artist colony known as Lawrence Park, now affectionately known as “the Hilltop.”
But did you know that in 1889, Lawrence’s first impression of the area was “altogether a desolate and forsaken place”? And did you know that Lawrence and Bates, both Midwesterners, developed the Hilltop as an outcry against the ills of the Industrial Revolution? The goal was to create distinctive homes of the finest materials that looked as though they had sprung right from the land.
We learned all of this and much more this past Saturday morning, June 24, when local architect and Bates expert Anderson Kenny led a crowd of 25 for a fabulous tour of three Bates-designed Hilltop homes currently on the market with Houlihan Lawrence.
After enjoying breakfast and conversation on the expansive stone porch of Bates's iconic 7 Valley Road shingle-style masterpiece, the group toured the first floor of the house. From its floor-to-ceiling stained-glass windows to its minstrels’ gallery to its stunning wrap-around balustrade designed for “high drama” entertaining, 7 Valley has features that Kenny noted “could not be replicated today, or could not be replicated without great difficulty.”
After the interior tour at 7 Valley, Kenny led the group up the winding yellow brick roads of the Hilltop to examine the distinctive architectural features of 18 Gladwin Place and 6 Chestnut Avenue.
Built in 1898, Gladwin was Bates's interpretation of an elegant Southern Colonial style with its graceful two-story Ionic columns overlooking a sweeping lawn below.
Chestnut, the former home of Elizabeth “Libby” Custer's, the widow of General George Armstrong Custer, was admired by the group not only for its shingle-style whimsy and Bates's use of pleasing arched mullions but also for the quality of its historic restoration.
We both are extremely grateful to Anderson Kenny for the expertise he brings that enables us to appreciate the quality and uniqueness of these fine period homes. And his work with The Bronxville Historical Conservancy has enabled the careful restoration of certain parts of our cherished yellow brick roads, another Hilltop treasure.
Pictured here (L to R): Rita Steinkamp, Anderson Kenny, and Susan Law.
Photo by Charlie Law