Friday, September 14, 2007

A Swiss Villa and Garden, 1869

This shows only the facade and a very small plan of the house on its lot, but it's rather interesting looking, and does show an idea of Victorian landscaping.


Great difficulty is found in adapting European styles of architecture to
American practice. The climate of this country is so different from that of the
greater portion of Europe, the habits of our people, their requirements and ways of living, and their general ideas, have so little in sympathy with those of most parts of the old world, that our architects, in adopting any special style, find it necessary to make great modifications in the established forms and modes of construction. Hence it happens that, in this country, specimens of pure Swiss, Italian, Grecian, or other styles of architecture are rare. It is not that our architects and builders are unable to follow closely the European styles, but simply because these styles are not adapted to our wants.
The accompanying design is that of a residence erected about two years ago on a commanding site at Flushing, L. I. The general style approaches that of the Swiss as nearly as was found possible. The climate of New-York does not admit of the low ceilings which characterize the Swiss dwellings, and neither is it necessary that our roofs should be held down by large stones, after the Swiss fashion, moreover, that arrangement of the rooms which is usual in Swiss houses does not suit the requirements of our people; and therefore, certain modifications in the direction of the Italian style were found necessary, in order to produce a suitable design.

The villa was erected on a lot 75 feet front by 180 feet deep, and presents a front of 50 feet. The situation of the house and the arrangement of the grounds are shown in Fig. 2. The front has an entrance piazza, a large bay-window, and a side piazza. The windows of the second floor open on a balcony, and are protected by a broad projecting roof. There is also a rear piazza, as is seen in the small plan or diagram of the grounds, where also the arrangemeut of the roomswill be found.

A,.is the parlor;
B, the dining-room;
D, family room;
C, library;
E, dining-room pantry;
F, front piazza;
H, entrance piazza, fourteen feet square;
K, rear piazza.
The house faces the north-west, and the hall runs from front to rear.

The grounds are laid out with a lawn in front, and a separate entrance path. There is a carriage-road, ten feet wide, to a small stable, marked 4, for one or two horses in rear. The arrangement of the grounds of this small lot shows very well what can be done even in a place of somewhat contracted dimensions.
In the figure,
1 is a flower-bed;
2, grass plot;
3, vegetable-garden.
The position of the trees is well shown, they being mostly evergreens. We thus secure considerable variety in the shape of the walks and drives, at the same time retaining a lawn, and a garden large enough to grow all the vegetables required for a small family. Nothing indicates a greater want of taste than a plot of ground of this size laid out in straight lines and paths, or having neglected walks and overgrown lawns. Better not make the attempt to lay out the grounds tastefully, if it be not the intention of the owner to keep them neat and in good order. This residence is occupied by a party whose place of business is in New-York. No one having a lot of this size need fear that it is too large to be kept in order without outside help, if the leisure hours of afternoons and evenings after returning home be devoted to the work.
The cost of the lot was $1500; the house all complete in every thing, mantels, grates, etc., $6200, thus making $7700 for the whole. The small stable was built afterward, and cost $650.

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