Thursday, January 15, 2009

Architectural Salvage Then

Between 1924 and 1926, Robert Philip Pope's Clare Lawn house [Richmond, London (U.K.), 1862, with additions by Sir Aston Webb and Ingress Bell begun 1893], built for hop merchant and orchid enthusiast Sir Frederick Wigan, was demolished. At the turn of the previous century, the structure had been ornately adorned with plasters by Walter Crane, marquetry by Stephen Webb, and a painting by John Everett Millais. Christie's of London auctioned the family's painting collection in 1915.

Four of Clare Lawn's cream marble/verde antique fireplace mantels were removed from the building before demolition. The Todhunter Company of New York offered the mantel above for sale from its 414 Madison Avenue showroom. Arthur Todhunter, a British immigrant, established the company to sell salvaged architectural materials (panelling, mantels, fireplaces, lighting fixtures) from his homeland. By the mid-1910s, Todhunter was creating its own reproductions of fine metal work and fireplace mantels. Clients for the mantels were not just New Yorkers: requests included a mantel for New Orleans architect Moise Goldstein (Craig Residence, 1925) and one for architect John F. Staub in Houston (Chris Miller Residence, 1929). Plans and drawings of the Todhunter mantelpieces are in the Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera at the Winterthur Library in Delaware.

Image above: Arthur Todhunter, "Gleanings from Old English Fireplaces." Arthur Todhunter, 414 Madison Avenue, New York City. undated catalogue, printed in England by Geo. Pulman and Sons, Ltd., London and Harrow. Architectural Trade Catalogs Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

1 comment:

Oakleaf700 said...

Clare Lawn, one of the largest Estates in Upper Sheen, Mortlake [not Richmond] was demolished- cannot understand why- My family are from East Sheen, and when researching the area, I found out about the large houses that once dotted the [then rural] area.
A great tragedy that so much of England's Heritage was shipped abroad, but also very interesting to see some of the treasures from Clare Lawn.
''Nothing is forever''. Clare Lawn like other large houses were idyllic places in large gardens with magnificent trees.
Wytch Elms, some of which remained in the 1970's, before the dreaded Dutch Elm disease was imported in a load of infected timber from the U.S- and put paid to so many of this countries beautiful towering elms.
The funeral pyres of the 1800's trees smouldered all over Sheen Common-quite heartbreaking.
The Georgian stables and coach house of Sheen House were a riding stables again until the 1970's when they were largely demolished and hideous modern houses built in the grounds- I managed to save some Georgian stable fittings, at age 11- only for my father to take them to the tip when I left home!
I borrowed some tools from a friend, and over the days we worked at the old fittings to free them before the buildings were pulverised.
It was an era where the old was stripped relentlessly from houses, and 'skip diving' was possible,saving modest Victorian fireplaces and doors from landfill.
The finest of course were shipped abroad.