Calvert Vaux - Table of Contents .......................Architecture Around the World

Lydig Munson Hoyt House
Staatsburgh, NY, on the Hudson River

By Calvert Vaux


Calvert Vaux



1998 owner:

State of New York
There are no plans to restore the house

See also:

Francis R. Kowsky, Lydig Munson Hoyt House

Click on illustrations to enlarge

Calvert Vaux (rhymes with "talks"), Architect

Hoyt House

Hoyt House

Hoyt House floor plan

Hoyt House floor plan


Front (south) elevation

Front (south) elevation

Front (south) elevation

Front (south) main entrance porch

Front (south) main entrance porch

Front (south) main entrance porch.
"... brown stone, all laid on its natural bed"

Front (south) main entrance porch
"Brown stone"

Front (south) main entrance porch.
"Blue stone ... The pointing mortar used in this building was specified to be of a dark red"

Left side (west) elevation

Left side (west).
"... unless the principal floor is stilted up some distance from the surface, the rooms in the basement will be dull, dark, and cheerless."

Left side (west).
Patterned, colored slate roof

Rear (north) elevation

Rear (north) elevation. Note quoins

Rear (north) elevation
Vergeboards on roof gable

Rear (north) elevation
Vergeboards on dormer

Detail: Vergeboard

Right side (east) elevation

Right side (east)

The following text is reprinted from "Villas and Cottages," by Calvert Vaux. Harper & Brothers, 1857

Design No. 31
Picturesque Stone Country House

This design has been carried into execution for a gentleman residing at Staatsburgh, on the Hudson River. The estate is of considerable extent, the drive-road, as it passes the house, being perhaps a third of a mile from the entrance to the grounds. Still the actual building spot is somewhat limited in size, because it was necessary to select an elevated situation commanding the best views, and this happened to occur in a part of the property which was not only very varied in surface, but entirely covered by a handsome growth of trees, which it was desirable to preserve uninjured as far as was compatible with a convenient arrangement of the plan. After much examination of the different parts of the property, and due deliberation pro and con, for there were many points to be discussed, the site that seemed the most appropriate was ultimately determined on, and it then became a question how to suit the design of the house to the formation of the ground, and, so far as might be necessary, to adapt the site to the house.

It seemed proper to make the plan nearly square, and without a wing, for several reasons. In the first place, a sufficiently extensive arrangement for kitchen offices above ground would have rendered it necessary to cut down several more of the trees, and this, as above remarked, was to be avoided, if possible. In the second place, a wing must have blocked up the west or north views, which command the river, and are in every respect delightful; or otherwise, as it could not come on the south or entrance front, it must have been placed on the east, which is the first seen, and the most prominent at all times from the approach road.

The ground was so irregular and broken, moreover, that it seemed judicious to aim at a varied outline and picturesque effect in the immediate vicinity of the house, rather than to attempt smooth extents of lawn on a level, or nearly so, with the principal floor, for this would have still farther increased the expense for filling in and grading, which must, under any circumstances, be large in such a situation.

Basement Kitchen

Taken altogether, it would probably be difficult to find a building spot better suited to illustrate the propriety of sometimes designing a country house with a basement kitchen. Mere economy is always in favor of this arrangement; but on level ground, unless the principal floor is stilted up some distance from the surface, the rooms in the basement will be dull, dark, and cheerless.

Blue Stone

This house is built of blue stone taken from a quarry a few hundred yards from the building site, the stones being of various sizes and comparatively rough - the quoins, the dressings to the windows, the porch, and some few ornamental features being carefully executed in brown stone, all laid on its natural bed.

The pointing mortar used in this building was specified to be of a dark red, so that by means of this warm color in the mortar joints, the cold and somber tint of the blue stone should be modified as far as possible, and made to harmonize with the cheerful character of the rest of the house.

In ten or twelve years this blue stone will begin to change its hue, and then every month will add new beauty to its color. This kind of stone is undoubtedly most harsh and monotonous in appearance when first taken from the quarry, but after about fifteen years of exposure it assumes a delicate, luminous gray tint, each stone differing just so much from the one next to it as to give life and brilliancy to the general effect in the sunlight. When this point is once arrived at, it is unrivaled as a building material, being as durable as granite, and, in connection with landscape, far more beautiful in color than any brown
stone, marble, or brick.

Floor Plan

The plan may be thus described: A porch connecting two verandas opens on to a vestibule and hall which gives access to library, drawing-room, dining-room, billiard-room, and principal staircase. The rooms are all disconnected in accordance with the instructions of the proprietor. The vestibule is fitted with permanent seats, and a terrace extends round two sides of the house. This terrace is covered by a large hood extending over it some eight or nine feet in front of one window in the billiard-room and one in the drawing-room, and reaching down to within seven feet of the floor. The shade that would be afforded by a veranda is thus obtained on this side of the house without there being any posts to interfere with the view from the windows.

In the dining-room is a large bay-window recess, and the ceiling is so designed that this recess forms part of the room, and adds much to the apparent length of the house in this direction; it also increases very materially the available space for attendance on the dinner table. The pantry is of large size, and is fitted with various conveniences, including a lift from the kitchen, several closets, and a sink.

The billiard-room is so planned that a full eighteen feet is obtained in the clear of the fireplace and walls in the narrowest part. The two side windows open to the floor, so as to afford access to the terrace, and there is a closet for cues, etc.

The drawing-room is a handsome apartment, 18 x 24, opening on to the terrace and veranda. The library was originally designed to be finished with book-cases in the angles, and subsequently, at the owner's request, I furnished him with a plan for an ornamental ceiling, and a suitable design for furnishing the whole room with continuous book-cases and oak fire-place, thus carrying out the original intention in a more complete manner.

There is a side entrance under the landing of principal staircase, and connected with this is a dressing-room and water-closet. A cloak-closet is also planned near here, and a lift to bring coal, etc., from the basement to this floor and the floor above. The plan is so arranged that the flue of the kitchen fire-place, which is under the dining-room, is carried away behind the closet in pantry, so that it may not heat the room unpleasantly during the summer months. A servants' staircase was thought unnecessary by the proprietor, as the principal flight is inclosed from the main rooms.

In the chamber plan will be found two large bed-rooms, a dressing-room, a linen-closet, a house-maid's sink, a bath-room and water-closet, and a nursery 14 x 18. The upper hall opening on to these rooms is amply lighted, and is roomy and open, which is a great desideratum in the country, provided it can be obtained without a sacrifice of privacy.

In the attic will be found two spare bedrooms, entered near the head of the stairs, and shut off from the attic hall, which communicates with three servants' rooms and a garret.

The greater part of the basement is finished off, and supplies kitchens, sink-room, servants' bedroom, pantry, wine-cellar, coal-cellar, and furnace-room.

A contract of $13,200 was made for this house complete, ready for occupation, and with a simple, substantial finish throughout. This, however, is exclusive of the cistern and drains, the hauling and the right of quarry, all of which were furnished by the owner, and not calculated for in the estimate. All other items, such as painting, ranges and grates, furnace, etc., are included.

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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