The Greenhouses

During the period from 1904 to 1910, the Vanderbilts continued to carry out major design changes in the formal garden area, most notably on the upper terraces with the replacement of the Langdon greenhouses. In 1905 plans were put forward by the Pierson-Sefton Company of Jersey City, New Jersey, who advertised themselves as horticultural builders and architects. The company proposed simple, twin palm houses intended to replace the more elaborate Langdon conservatory on the first terrace of the formal gardens. The palm houses were constructed in 1905, but were slightly different than the proposals.

In 1907 the Pierson U-Bar Company, which was based on Madison Avenue in New York City and likely a successor firm of the Pierson-Sefton Company, developed drawings and construction details for the greenhouse between the Gardener’s Cottage and Tool House. This greenhouse was configured somewhat differently than the preexisting structure in the same location, with a greater width and a central doorway opening to the gardens on the south side. The structure, known as the carnation house, was completed by 1908. Carnations were a favorite of the Vanderbilts, as reflected in the estate purchase ledgers. Early 1900s records indicate that the Vanderbilts sold over 500 carnations a year, while records from the 1910s through 30s record purchase of 100 to 600 carnation plants a year of four or five different varieties.

Pierson U-Bar also developed schemes for the replacement of the remaining range of four Langdon greenhouses to the south with a large two-winged rose house. The remaining Langdon greenhouses were removed and the new rose house was completed by 1908.

Last updated: August 28, 2020

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