Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Meadow Croft

I've spent much of the past ten days touring extravagant old Long Island mansions and their equally extravagant gardens, which is just about my favorite thing to do ever. Therefore I took many hundreds of pictures with which I shall be overwhelming you in the next few posts.

We will start with the least extravagant and work our way up.

Meadow Croft was built in 1891, commissioned by John Ellis Roosevelt as a summer home for his family. He was an investment banker and spent most of his time in New York. John was Teddy Roosevelt's cousin and served as a legal advisor during his presidency. He isn't a very famous Roosevelt, and I did not take notes during our tour, so I can't tell you any more specifics. In general, he was a lover of all things new, especially if they were mechanical. He would have camped out in front of the Apple store for the first iPhone, bugs and glitches be damned! I think he was the first person on Long Island to own an automobile (but I might have made that up), and he was a big fan of bicycles, which we still newish at the time. He seems like the kind of guy who had a need for speed, if you know what I mean. He also had a swimming pool, and created canoeing pathways through the wetlands around his property.

The house is a Colonial Revival mansion built around a much older farmhouse. It is not, as mansions go, opulent. I'd love to show you a picture but I never took one of the front of the house. Durr. Here's the view from the enormous front porch.

As you can tell from the state of the grass, it had not rained in approximately six years. Naturally, it began to pour as we were leaving. That long driveway goes through a corridor of cattails, over a bridge, and leads out to the road. It is quite lovely, though if you meet another car going the opposite direction, you are out of luck.

There is a lovely flower garden, which possibly contains herbs and perhaps vegetables also. You can see the side of the house here, where the porch wraps around.

It's definitely more farmlike than grand-estate-like, although I suppose it might not be all the way restored to its original gradeur yet. My impression is that it was built a little too early to compete with the extraordinarily lavish places on the north shore where all the raging parties were held in the twenties. That, or John Roosevelt was not as insecure as, say, William Vanderbilt (whom we shall discuss later), and did not need to show off his enormous wealth in this particular setting.

Roosevelt's wife died of typhoid (I think), at this house (I think), long before he himself died (I think) in 1939. It seems like things kind of fell apart and the house wasn't really used for a while, and then it ended up in the hands of the county (I think). Clearly I really should have taken notes. Barney Loughlin, the son of the Roosevelt's caretaker, is 85 and still lives on the property. He runs Loughlin Vineyards, which is half a mile in back of the main house. Note the vines in the background of this badly-edited photo:

Hee-haw. My grandmother bought some white wine there. I liked it. And that is all I know about Meadow Croft.


Ivan said...

this is all well and good but when do we get to hear about the witches?

Christi said...

I like the little donkey - guy!! He's cute! I have a feeling I would have made him my friend if I were with you.

And this post reminded me of where I ever got my love of sarcasm from. It was most definitely not you, as long as you were definitely not the one being sarcastic.

... My attempt at Irony, however, could stand a bit of pruning. I'll leave that up to you.