A Fashionable Country Retreat

Mar 8, 2013

The C.V.S. Roosevelt Jr. mansion, built c. 1865, was a rambling country estate known as “The Hickories.” Its prominent tower would have been a landmark on the wooded slopes of South Mountain, signaling the social prominence of its owners. The design of the house exemplifies the romantic picturesque styles of architecture popular in America from the mid-to-late19th century and combines elements of the Italianate style with those of the Second Empire. These styles, not widely used elsewhere in Maplewood, had simple, rectangular massing, but were bristling with ornate jigsaw-cut brackets and railings.

The Hickories was asymmetrical in plan and covered with wood clapboards. The main portions of the house had simple hipped roofs with bracketed cornices, and were clad with standing-seam metal roofs. The house was composed of a rectangular block with a large two-story wing, slightly set back from the main block. There was a rear addition that likely housed the kitchen and servants quarters.

An ornately bracketed porch extended along the main façade. A projecting pavilion in the center of the main block of the house appears to cover a series of steps. The porch was covered, except for the section in front of the northern wing, and extended along the south side elevation. The expansive porch, detailed with fantastically ornate railings and brackets, projected an aura of graciousness and welcome.

The tower, with its mansard roof, ornate bracketing and window surrounds, was one of the hallmarks of the Second Empire style. This type of roof was used extensively during the latter half of the 19th century in France, during the reign of Napoleon III (1852-70).

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