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Wychwood Apartments



Surveyor's Name: Michele Boyd

Date of survey: July/August 2000; resurveyed August 2006

Building Address: 8 Barstow Road

Block/Lot: 204/134

Building type: Residential apartment with commercial spaces at ground floor

Owner's name: Wychwood Owner’s Corp.

Building name: Wychwood Apartments

Historical name: Wychwood Apartments

Date of construction: 1929

Architect: Schwartz & Gross (Manhattan)

.Building dimensions: Not available

No. of floors: Seven

Decorative features: Brick corner quoins, decorative brickwork, terra cotta belt courses, sills, and trim

Siding material(s): Brick and terra cotta

Roof style: Flat roof with gabled parapet alternating with low-pitched, hipped roof with widely overhanging eaves

Roofing materials: Rounded red ceramic roof tiles

No. of entrances & placement: Main entrance to apartments at southeast side of building (Barstow Road); private garden entrance at south (Barstow Road), two additional entrances on northern (South Station Plaza) elevation.

Chimneys & placement: Three at northern (South Station Plaza) elevation, one at corner of Barstow Road and South Station Plaza, two at southern (Barstow Road) elevation, two at western (Middle Neck Road) elevation. All chimneys interior.

Architectural integrity: High

Architectural style: Italian Renaissance Revival

Description: The Wychwood is an extremely striking red brick elevator apartment building in a V-shaped plan. It sits prominently on the triangular lot created by the intersection of South Station Plaza, Barstow Road, and Middle Neck Road. The open part of the “V” faces onto Middle Neck Road; this was once the front of the building, accessed through a large landscaped garden. The garden plot along Middle Neck Road was developed into a shopping center in the 1950s. At present these commercial buildings back onto the Wychwood, and the landscaped garden is fenced in as a private, rather than public, space. The main entrance is now at Barstow Road. Residents use the former front entrance as a garden entrance.

Clinker brick is laid in a variety of decorative patterns to create a rich and varied surface texture. Golden terra cotta is liberally used as ornament in window trim, belt courses, and the classical columns of the garden entrance door surround. A terra cotta sill course is at the first floor and an elaborate terra cotta belt course at the fifth floor. Terra cotta and brick spandrels visually link the sixth and seventh floor windows. Seventh floor windows are topped with semicircular terra cotta arches; some are enframed in engaged columns.

The street-level commercial spaces on South Station Plaza have bronze, transomed windows and bronze grillwork at their bases. Some small windows in the shops still have their original prismatic glass glazing. Two classical limestone entrances open onto South Station Plaza; one is flanked by large copper lanterns.

Italian Renaissance Revival elements include the hipped and tiled roof form, the sill course used to delineate the first story, the elaborately molded belt course over the fifth story, double and triple sets of windows unified by single sills, and semicircular arches over the top-floor windows.

Interior: The reception hall and first floor hallways are paneled with oak. Golden bottle-glass double-hung windows overlook the landscaped garden from the hall. The building has its original 84 units.

Early ads for the Wychwood highlight "wood-burning fireplaces, open loggias, concealed radiation, soundproof walls and a private bath for each and every bedroom" as well as individual electric refrigerators, electric laundry equipment at no charge, cross-ventilation in each apartment and landscaped garden space for “small children and adults.” Open loggias are visible in an early photograph of the Wychwood at Village Hall. The loggias have since been enclosed.

Historical information: Built near the site of the former Brookdale Hotel and Wychwood Garden Tea Room. The Tea Room, owned by a Mrs. W.P. Plummer, offered “club dinners” at $1.25 on weekdays and $1.50 on weekends, as well as “catering” for bridge parties and luncheons. Construction began in 1928.

Advertising emphasized the Wychwood’s convenience to the train station and its “advantages of the country” with “every comfort of city apartments” at a “cost less than city apartments.” The Wychwood originally included a post office, a restaurant offering private service to residents, and shops on the first floor. The 1937 Robinson’s Business Directory includes a listing for “Doniger's Wychwood Pharmacy.” Although the post office and pharmacy are gone, the ground floor is still used for retail businesses and a restaurant. By 1935 several furnished apartments were offered for sublease in the Great Neck News.

The New York firm of Schwartz and Gross was a prolific designer of apartment houses. Their work includes 30 Fifth Avenue, 140-142 W. 55th Street, 100 Central Park South, the Beaconsfield at 136th Street and Riverside Drive, and the Paterno at 116th Street near Riverside Drive. According to Andrew Dolkart in Morningside Heights: A History of Its Architecture & Development, Schwartz & Gross was one of three firms (along with George Pelham and Neville & Bagge) responsible for more than half of the apartment houses on Morningside Heights as well as thousands of other apartment buildings located throughout Manhattan.

According to local residents and amateur historians, the Davis Family owned and operated the Wychwood, due to the Great Depression which prevented them from hiring a management company. The Davis family lived there until the 1950s when an improved economy provided the necessary capital to turn over the day to day operations to a superintendent. The kitchens were intentionally constructed as small spaces, since the Davis family envisioned the Wychwood more as a hotel than as a permanent living apartment building. In some apartments the obsolete dumbbell waiter is still visible.

.Sources:

Ellen Cole, Historic and Natural Districts Inventory for Great Neck Plaza (Setauket, N.Y.: Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, 1977), GNP-4 (VGNP Historic Preservation file).

“Great Neck Apartment. Ground Floor of Seven-Story Edifice Will House Post Office,” New York Times, 2 Sept. 1928, p. 17.

Advertisements for the Wychwood, Collection of Long Island Traditions, Port Washington, N.Y.

Historical photos of Great Neck, Collection of Village of Great Neck Plaza, N.Y. (Village Hall).

Great Neck Street Directory (Robinson’s Directories, Inc., 1937) (Great Neck Public Library).

“The Wychwood at Great Neck—Long Island’s Finest Suburban Apartment,” Great Neck News, 18 Jan. 1935, p. 36.

Andrew S Dolkart, Morningside Heights: A History of Its Architecture & Development (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998).

Interview site visit with Marc Bomser, August 2000 by Nancy Solomon.

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