By Susan Kelty Law, Associate Real Estate Broker, Houlihan Lawrence
May 16, 2018: Intermittent gusts of heavy rain did not deter intrepid architecture buffs from hiking the yellow brick roads of Bronxville’s Lawrence Park Hilltop district this past Saturday morning, May 12.
Led by noted architect and Hilltop historian Anderson Kenny, over 30 participants gathered for the second annual “Breakfast with Mr. Bates,” organized by Susan Kelty Law, Rita Steinkamp, and Megan McSherry of Houlihan Lawrence. The event focused on the homes designed by William Augustus Bates, the creative right hand of developer (and Houlihan Lawrence founder) William Van Duzer Lawrence.
The event also marked the 130th anniversary of Houlihan Lawrence’s founding in Bronxville. The tour included first-floor viewings of two Bates homes currently on the market: 7 Valley Road and 16 Park Avenue.
Taking shelter from the rain in front of a fire in the immense two-story reception hall of the 1902 Bates house at 7 Valley Road, the group listened intently while Kenny described how Lawrence and Bates, both Midwesterners, set about developing the Hilltop to counter the ills of the Industrial Revolution.
The goal was to create their own version of a utopia: distinctive homes of the finest materials that looked as though they had sprung right out of the rocks they were built upon. And the proximity to shops and a recently developed rail system increased the utopian feel for all who came to Bronxville.
At 7 Valley, the group was shown a host of architectural details, including its curved bank of stained-glass windows rising towards an ornately painted ceiling with a minstrel’s balcony in the dining room and its wrap-around balustrade in the main reception hall designed for “high drama” entertaining.
Under a sea of umbrellas, the outdoor part of the tour then proceeded all the way up Valley Road past a number of Bates homes, around to Prescott Avenue, finally concluding with an interior tour of 16 Park Avenue.
Completed in 1908, 16 Park sits at the edge of one of the Hilltop’s remaining yellow brick roads that Anderson Kenny and The Bronxville Historical Conservancy were instrumental in restoring a few years ago. Kenny pointed out the stonework on the façade of the house as well as its prominent and unique terra cotta colored roof. Inside, he complimented the current owners’ careful preservation of its period millwork as well as the village views afforded by the back of the house.
According to Kenny, at the turn of the century, Bates (and Lawrence) wanted to create homes with great airflow that “let the outside in.” Built high on a hill above the yet-to-be-developed Bronxville School playing fields, 16 Park accomplished Bates’s goal of creating a much-needed retreat from the excesses of urbanization. The strong connection to the outdoors remains at both 7 Valley and 16 Park, along with so many other Bates homes today.
Editor's note: 7 Valley Road is one of Houlihan Lawrence's listings.
Pictured at top: Anderson Kenny speaking in the turn-of-the-century home at 7 Valley Road.
Photos courtesy Houlihan Lawrence
Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes press releases, statements, and articles from local institutions, officeholders, candidates, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.