“Barberrys” is set on one of the highest points on Long Island’s North Shore, with a site overlooking Long Island Sound, Oyster Bay, Center Island, and Cold Spring Harbor. Constructed in 1916 for publisher Nelson Doubleday, it was designed by Harrie T. Lindeberg, an early twentieth century master of large country houses who was known as “the American Lutyens.” Lindeberg concocted a cosmopolitan vision that combined Tuscan, Colonial Revival, and English Arts-and Crafts elements on the exterior with interiors favoring Regency and Georgian Revival. A landscape laid out by the Olmsted Brothers frames the house with a formal geometry of gardens and driveways, enclosed in turn by a picturesque woodland setting and dramatic water views.
Over the years Lindeberg’s design had been subject to a series of incremental changes that blurred the character of the original architecture. When our clients purchased the house in 2012 they immediately began a campaign of targeted interventions to restore the entire property.
Our work involved a series of small but telling adjustments. We reopened the major axis through the house—inexplicably closed in some previous alteration—restoring the view of the water from the moment you came down the driveway. We replaced wood doors with elegant bronze units, designed screen doors with the slimmest of profiles, and developed new trim for the major spaces. Dozens of paint samples were rejected before we hit upon the subtlest of shades for windows, shutters, and trim, and we expanded the octagonal entry court just enough to accommodate the turning radius of modern automobiles.
We assembled a team of leading preservation technicians. Steven Tatti restored the finish on the cast bronze zodiacal figures from the front door while the sgraffitto reveal – a dream-like vision of birds and flowers – was brought back from obscurity by Evergreene Studios. Using the gentlest of washes masons removed a yellow topcoat from the face brick and years of biological growth from roof tile without erasing their distinctively soft patina.
New designs were inspired by the original architecture. The front door surround—a combination of brick, terra cotta tile, and slate—is patterned after a similar element on the water side of the house, while new lanterns were interpreted from a blurry archival photograph.
Nelson Doubleday would think that nothing had changed.