Nuits (Cottenet–Brown House)
A centerpiece of the Italianate Style, Nuits is named after his birthplace of Francis Cottenet, a French-born American immigrant who made a substantial fortune from importing silks and other goods. The Italianate style was a popular alternative to the Gothic Revival style, influenced by of traveling Americans’ loose descriptions of the villas of the Italian countryside. From French-imported stone to the woodwork, Nuits is a symbol of the wealth possessed by some during the 19th century. Most of the once-40-acre estate has been sold off, leaving it to four-and-a-half acres. It has seen renovation from owners in the subsequent years. It would be added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
Backstory and Context
In 1822, Francis Cottenet emigrated from France to New York City. He would become very successful through importing silks and other luxury goods. He commissioned Detlef Lienau to design a summer house looking over the Hudson River in Ardsley-on-Hudson, a section of Irvington., in 1852.
Lienau was the one who decided to design the house in its now-iconic Italianate style. The Italianate style was a popular alternative to the Gothic Revival style. Influenced because of traveling Americans’ loose descriptions of the villas of the Italian countryside, elements of the Italianate style included “gently pitched roofs, arched windows, and jutting towers.”
Construction would be completed in 1853. Cottenet named the house after his birthplace of Nuits-St.-George, France.
From the walls, imported from Normandy, to the sophisticated woodwork, Nuits is an elegant example of the architecture of the time. Lienau also designed additions to the house that were completed in 1860; this included a glassed-in conservatory and a large wing.
After Cottenet, it was owned and renovated by Cyrus Field, the layer of the first Atlantic cable, then John Jacob Astor III, who would eventually create a deed to protect the future use of the house, and Amzi Lorenzo Barber, whose work in the paving industry would earn him the title of “The Asphalt King.”
Most of the once-40-acre estate has been sold off, leaving it to four-and-a-half acres. It has seen renovation from owners in the subsequent years.
It would be added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
Mancuso, Anne. "A Mansion Where an Astor Lived." New York Times May 1st 2015. .
NUITS National Register of Historic Places, 1977, www.irvingtonhistoricalsociety.org. Accessed April 29th 2020. https://web.archive.org/web/20090105173204/http://www.irvingtonhistoricalsociety.org/nrhp/nrhp05.html.
Williams, Gray. Picturing Our Past. Elmsford, New York. Westchester County Historical Society, 2003.
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