Eastman Cottage, 55 Main St.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Henry Western Eastman was the most prominent of the local lawyers during the second half of the 19th century. His house, which he bought in 1854 and enlarged considerably subsequently, was included in the Landmark Society's House Tours of 1967 and 1968, and again in 1977 and 1978. A biographical description of Mr. Eastman, together with an account of the accumulation of his Main Street estate, is provided in the 1977 and 1978 Tour Guides. In short, Henry Western Eastman was born in Hempstead Harbour in 1826 and started his law practice in Roslyn in 1847. To supplement the income from his practice he also taught at the Locust Hill Academy, which was founded by Samuel Rose Ely, D.D., circa 1850. The academy still stands behind Dr. Ely's home, "Locust Hill", (Hendrickson-Ely-Brower House (T.G. 1962, 1964, 1983, 1984, 1994, 1995). In 1850, Eastman founded the "Roslyn Plaindealer" with Augustus William Leggett. The "Plaindealer" survived in Roslyn until 1852 when it was moved to Glen Cove. Eastman sold his interest in the Locust Hill Academy to E.H. Hyde and concentrated on his law practice. He had a long and distinguished career and, at his death in 1888, was President of the Bar Association of Queens County which he had helped found in 1876. With other prominent citizens, he founded the Roslyn Savings Bank in 1878, which operated in his law office (TG 1979-1980) until it moved to new quarters, on the site of its present building, in 1905. In 1863 William M. Valentine sold Henry Eastman a lot, immediately to the north of his house lot, for $1,000.00. It had 36'8" of street frontage (Queen County Liber 204 of Deeds, Pg. 124, 4/28/1863). The high price suggests that a building was already on the lot. If so, the building was #65 Main Street, the Henry Western Eastman law office. At the time it was built the Dower Cottage was sited between the Henry Eastman Residence (#75 Main Street) and the Henry Eastman law office, but to the rear of both so that its principal (west) front formed the east boundary of a small court. Originally this courtyard was much larger that it is today as the northern section of the Eastman Residence was not built until about 1890 and later. The space was further encroached upon by a small wing which was demolished in 1967. The 1977-78 Tour Guides describe the conveyance of the Henry Eastman Residence, Law Office and Dower Cottage by Helena Guillemin Moskowitz to Ann Blum and William Crain (Nassau County Liber 7527 of Deeds, Pg. 89, 8/18/1965. During the following year (1966) the new owners divided the property, selling the Eastman Residence to one buyer and the Eastman Law Office and Dower Cottage to another (Robert Bromley). Subsequently the Law Office and Dower Cottage were acquired by Charles Solomon who sold them to Floyd and Dorothy Lyon in 1977. The Lyons carefully restored the Law Office (TG 1979-80) and then turned their attention to the Dower Cottage. Because of the reduction of the courtyard west of the Dower Cottage by the late 19th century and later construction, and because of its location within a few inches of the new boundary line created in 1966, Floyd and Dorothy Lyon decided that the long range survival potential of the Dower Cottage, as well as its consequence to the Main Street Historic 49 District, would be enhanced if the Dower Cottage was moved to the north of the Eastman Law Office and then westerly so that the fronts of the two buildings were in the same plane. The relocation of the Dower Cottage was accomplished in 1979. The restoration was in progress, intermittently, and was completed in 1983(7). The carpenter for the restoration of the Dower Cottage as well as for Henry Eastman's Law Office (TG 1979-80) and the Tappan Johnson House (TG 1982-83) was Edward Ojaste. Actually the circumstances for the relocation were excellent. In its original location the first floor of the west front of the Dower Cottage was concealed behind a rubble retaining wall. The retaining wall upon which the west front of the Law Office rested continued for some distance to the north. This circumstance made it possible to site the Dower Cottage in such a way that its relationship to the topography was the same in its new location as it was in its original. The Dower Cottage does not appear on the Walling Map (1859). It is shown on the Beers-Comstock Map (1873). It seems quite obvious that it was built sometime during the period between 1863, when Henry W. Eastman acquired the site, and 1873, when it was published on a map. Since it is an extremely stylish building it seems likely it was built closer to 1863 than to 1873. Probably it was built at about the same time as the "Civil War Era", two-bay north addition to the Henry Eastman Residence (TF 1977-78). It is called the Henry Eastman Dower Cottage because local tradition suggests that Henry Eastman built it to provide accommodation for his mother, Mrs. Jacob C. Eastman, and the mother of his wife Lydia, Mrs. Frederick H. Macy. Its nicely finished interior suggests that it was built for a more important purpose than as a landscape ornament. EXTERIOR The original building was two bays by two bays and had a hipped roof which was pierced at its apex by the chimney. All this has survived, except that the original chimney was removed before the move and was carefully reconstructed after the move under the direction of Colonel Frederic N. Whitley, Jr. The elaborate Victorian chimney cap is a replica of the one which was replaced. The chimney is 2 1/2 bricks from north to south by four bricks, east to west. The upper three courses form the cap. Subsequent to its relocation, the Cottage was extended one bay to the east. The new addition is centered on the original building but is about two feet narrower from north to south to provide a visual record of this addition. The 2/2 east windows from the original east wall were inserted into the new east wall at both floor levels. The Cottage is two storeys in height and faces west. Like most of the houses along the east side of Main Street its main entrance is at the second storey (street) level. The second storey is board-and-batten on all sides. The first storey is clap boarded on all sides but the west which is brick above grade and rests upon a rubble retaining wall below. All other sides of the ground floor are totally above grade. The first floor rests upon a concrete foundation which is brick above the grade on the north, east and south fronts. All this masonry was completed after the relocation of the Cottage but, as with the chimney, replicates the original construction. Second Storey The second storey is the most important architecturally. The battens are moulded and consist, in cross section, of a torus with a projecting square fillet extending from both sides of the base. The mouldings are based upon a chain of wooden triangles, which extend completely around the house above the water-table. These triangles obvi50 ously are drawn from those of the Jerusha Dewey House and the Gothic Mill at Cedarmere. However, in those cases, the flat chamfered-edge battens actually pierce opposing right angle triangles and continue to the water tables. The water-table at the second storey level is a flat board which is canted outward at an angle of 45 degrees. This continues completely around the building although it rests upon masonry only along the west front. Almost all of the windows are the original 2/2 sash although there is a double window in the west front which retains its original 1/1 sash. The window sills continue around the building to form a string course. There are no drip caps as the windows are protected by the prominent eaves which have closed soffits. The door and window facings are plain. The window facings are 4" in width except for the wider facing strip between the double west windows which is the same width as the original door facings. The horizontal facing strips, above the door and windows, continue around the building to form a flat string course. The window facings continue, below the window sills, to the water-table, forming panels below the window sills. These are filled with crossed diagonals to form a flat, raised "X" in each panel. The corner boards also are plain and continue through the string course to the water-table. The front door is the original and consists of upper rectangular and lower square flat panels which are delineated with vigorous ogee mouldings. First Storey The first storey is almost invisible from the street. As noted above, it is constructed of brick, above grade, on the west front. The small west, first storey window was introduced during the restoration. The simple stoep platform was designed by John Stevens. The first storey north, south and east walls all are clapboarded. There are flat corner boards at the west ends of the north and south which separate the clapboarding from the bricks. Those at the east ends are continuations of the second storey corner boards. The first floor water-table is identical to that of the second floor except that it does not extend across the west facade. The second storey water-table serves as the dripcaps for the first storey windows. The first floor door-and-window facings are the same as those of the second, except that the facings are back-banded. During the Rosewood Nursing Home era (1946-1965) a small wing having a very large chimney was added to the north side of the Dower Cottage. This provided space for a second-storey bath in the Dower Cottage and for a heating plant for the Dower Cottage and die Eastman Residence. Both wing and chimney were removed during the relocation. A window replaces the second storey doorway and a new doorway to the exterior, at the first floor level, replaces the doorway to the furnace room. The most important architectural element of the first floor is the enclosed porch along the south front. This had been modified, possibly during the Nursing Home era, and only the roof with its gable-field has survived the move. The restoration of the porch structure was planned by John Stevens. The ridge of the pitched-roof porch extends from north to south and is roofed, as is the principal roof, with bands of pointed shingles stained red, and bands of square-butt shingles stained grey. The gable field is divided into four triangles by two diagonal and one vertical strips. Each of the four triangles is pierced with drill holes for decorative effect. The eave fascia is moulded above a flat facing strip from which wooden triangels extend with their apexes downward, in a manner opposite to the triangles upon which the second storey facade battens are based. The porch siding is board-and-batten and matches that of the second storey. Its water-table matches the original first floor water-table and articulates with it. There is a single, small 1/1 window whose sill is extended to form a string course. A similar string course springs from the top door and window facing strips. The porch door resembles the front (second storey) door and, like it, has a square, 51 moulded panel below. However, above, a four-light window replaces the upper rectangular panel of the front door. This glazing appears to be original to the door and not a modification to admit more light. Roof The roof, as is the case of most Gothic-style buildings, is the most important architectural feature and will be treated separately. When the later asphalt strip roofing was removed, after the house was moved, the original wooden shingles were found beneath. These were found to have been laid in a specific pattern to resemble slates. This consisted of four rows of square-butt shingles at the roof perimeter above which were three rows of pointed shingles. Above these were four courses of square-butt shingles, followed by two courses of pointed. Above this band the upper part of the roof was laid entirely in square-butt shingles. Paint analysis of the original shingles, by Frank Welch, disclosed that the pointed shingles all had been stained red originally; the square butts grey. These patterns and colors were replicated during the restoration. The roof slope is extended over the front doorway and over the north windows to form hoods. The hoods, in turn, are supported by a chamfered, lambs-tongued bracket on each side of each roof extension. The front doorway brackets are much larger and heavier than the north window brackets and have bisecting right-angled supports. Apart from the area of the roof extensions a strip of scalloped fascia ("Hamburg Edging") is an obvious attempt to provide a substitute for the verge- ("barge") boards of pitched roof houses of the same period. There are turned wooden drops which project downward from each corner formed by the "Hamburg Edging". The overhanging eave soffits are lined with beaded boards. There are facades over all the second storey windows which are not protected by roof extensions. The largest and most elaborate is placed above the double 1/1 window in the west front. Smaller facade gables cap the window openings of the south and east fronts. Those in the new addition date from its construction but the new east facade gables replace those of the original east wall. The principal (west) facade gable, like the south porch gable-field, is divided into four triangles by flat strips which resemble "half-timbered" construction. Each of the triangles is filled in with decorative scroll work in designs of central circles, flanked by triangles. The upper sides of the facade gables, as in the south porch, are trimmed with applied wooden triangles having their bases upward. The smaller facade gables of the south and east fronts are divided into only two triangles by flat, vertical facings. The two triangles thus formed in each gable are treated in the same manner as the more numerous triangles in the largest (west) facade gable. Shutters One would expect a house of this configuration and period to have been fitted with louvered shutters. If this had been the case, none have survived nor is there any evidence of "paint ghosts" of shutter hinge pintils although these may have survived under later paint. The window openings are rabetted which, in pre-screen and storm-sash days, suggest exterior shuttering. Paint Colors Microscopic paint analysis of the exterior sheathing and trim were completed by Frank Welch during the -restoration. At the same time samples of the interior trim were taken. The present paint colors, i.e., beige siding with brown trim and chocolate brown door mouldings, are based upon Mr. Welch's findings. A special effort was made to assure that the siding and battens were painted in the same beige color. 52 West Fence The fence was reconstructed from a late 19th century photograph of the Henry Eastman Law Office (TG 1979-80) and from an actual surviving gate found by Lee Blum in the Eastman Dower Cottage and now installed at the lower porch level of the Samuel Dugan II House (TG 1978-79). The fence consists of a series of massive square gate posts (12" x 12" in cross section) having chamfered corners with lamb's tongues and smaller, intermediary sectional posts 3" x 4" in cross section. The gate posts have large ball finials. All the timbers except the chamfered water-table and ground rail are set on the diagonal. There are horizontal top and intermediary rails which have widely spaced vertical pickets set between them. The pickets are arranged to form continuous squares, set on their upper and lower corner angles, between the intermediate rail and the water-table, the gates also consist of three horizontal rails placed on the diagonal. The pickets are arranged to form two large "X's" set side by side with their exterior faces flush with the gate frame. In the surviving original gate all the components have lamb's tongued chamfers on their exterior (street) surfaces. This fence, of course, originally ran along the street, as it does today, and was a considerable distance from the Dower Cottage. INTERIOR The Cottage is entered from the street to a small second storey hallway which retains its original 5" wide yellow pine flooring, as does most of the remainder of this floor. The baseboards are stepped and have an elaborate ogee-moulded cap. A section on the north (left) is a replacement, closing the doorway to the Nursing Home era bathroom, now removed. The same baseboard continues around to form the stringer for the stairway to the first floor. The doorway to the south and the inner casing to the front door both have vigorous ogee-mouldings and are back-banded. The inner panels of the front door also are ogee-moulded as is the four-panel door leading (south) to the small parlor. Both doors retain their original rectangular cast iron rim-locks. The window sash retain their original (authentic) porcelain knobbed latches. The parlor baseboards, like the entrance hall, are stepped and capped by vigorous ogee mouldings. Originally there was a doorway on the south side of tie chimney. This was closed up during the last restoration. The chimney originally was fitted with a parlor stove. There was no fireplace in this location. On the whole the entrance hall and parlor trim are richer than one might expect in a small cottage which could have been built as a garden ornament. This finding confirms the local legend that the cottage was intended for the occupancy of two elderly ladies in comfortable circumstances. The original floor plan is changed beyond the east parlor wall. The east-west wall, on the south of the new hallway, is original. The hallway itself, together with the new bath and closet on its north, originally was a small chamber. The four-panel ogeemoulded bath and closet doors are appropriate but were inserted during the recent restoration. The baseboard of the surviving original hall wall is plain, and is capped by a filletted torus moulding which is identical to the exterior sheathing battens. Apart from the entrance hall and parlor all the surviving original baseboards are of this type. Interestingly enough, filletted torus mouldings of the same configuration were used as minor dentils along the frieze of the Hendrickson-Ely-Brower House which is about three decades earlier. The original 5" wide yellow pine floor boards also survive in the hallway and the small chamber to its south. This chamber is entered through a new (1983) hall doorway in which an original four-panel, ogee-moulded door has been re53 used. Apart from this change, and the reconstruction of the original chimney, this south chamber is very largely original (authentic?). It has plain base boards with filletted torus caps and plain door and window facings with torus-moulded window sills. Initially it was entered south of the chimney, from the parlor. The closet, in which the chimney has been reconstructed, is original. The recent (1982) chamber at the east end of the house is entered via the new hallway. Its door and window facings, baseboard and flooring, conform to the original secondary rooms of this floor. The two 2/2 east windows have been relocated from the original east wall, which is now an interior wall. The exterior wall studs in this wall are 3" x 4" set on 17 1/2" centers. Originally (initially?) there was brick nogging, as an early form of insulation, between the studs. This new east room extends the full length of the house, from north to south. To reach the first floor it is necessary to return to the front hallway and descend the original stairway, which is completely enclosed. The stair stringer on the north is a continuation of the entrance hall stepped, ogee-moulded base board. The south stair enclosure, below the floor level, is made of beaded boards, 4 1/2" wide. The original doorway, at the lower end of the stairway, survives, although the original door is missing. The stairway terminates opposite a recent (1982) lavatory. The room opposite is in an early room. It retains its early plain base boards with filletted torus-moulded caps and its plain faced doorway, on the south, which opens to the restored, enclosed porch. The door in this doorway is the usual, mid 19th century, ogee-moulded type in that there is a lower, ogee-moulded square panel. The original flooring, which is 7 1/2" wide yellow pine, survives beneath later flooring. The small fireplace in the new chimney is itself new. The original room included both hallway and lavatory and ran completely across the east front of the original house. The kitchen is another original room which is entered alongside the chimney. This room was completely re-trimmed during the restoration. During the Nursing Home era it was sealed up. When Ann Blum acquired the house, her husband found the original fence gate stored there. The small west window in this room dates from the restoration. There also is a north doorway which opened to the Nursing Home furnace room, which now opens to the exterior. The new cellar stairway also is entered from this room. In it the under surfaces of the original 7 1/2 pine flooring may be seen as well as 3" x 7 1/2" sawn floor joists set on 24" centers. The new east room runs completely across the house from north to south. The trim replicates the original trim of the house. As in the new room above it, the two east 2/2 windows are the original which have been relocated from the original east exterior wall which is now the interior west wall of this wing. In the description of the exterior it was mentioned that it could not be established with certainty whether or not the house originally was fitted with exterior louvered shutters. Similarly, all the interior window stops have been changed so it can no longer be determined whether interior shutters had been fitted originally. Obviously the house must have been provided with one or the other. Interior paint analysis also has been completed and the interior trim has been painted in accordance with these determinations. A one and a half storey frame garage was built to the east of the cottage with board and batten siding during the winter of 1999. Guy Ladd Frost was the architect and John Scalfani the contractor. 54 Notes