Georgian Court Mansion/Georgian Court University
The Gould family occupied the mansion for twenty-five years, entertaining their guests in an English country manor style on their private gold course, polo grounds,, and the Casino where the Goulds exercised their horses and ponies on an indoor pony track. The Casino was converted into an auditorium when the Sisters of Mercy bought the estate in 1924. They adapted the other buildings and elaborate formal grounds, replete with classical statuary as a women's college, called Georgian Court College. 1 Miller, Pauline
Backstory and Context
It was Mr. Gould's intention to build a house that would cost about $70,000. So tempting were the opportunities of elaboration and decoration, however, that the first estimate of cost, exclusive of the grounds, was considerably more than trebled. It is well within bounds to say that Georgian Court, with its grounds and appurtenances, represents an outlay of $500,000.
The house faces the lake drive, and the glimmering waters of Carasaljo Lake are about 300 feet distant. Visitors to Lakewood frequently comment on the picturesque Indian name of this lake and make inquiries about its origin. Whenever such inquiring visitors chance to meet one of the "old residents" of Lakewood they learn that a one-time owner of all this property named the lake, abbreviatively, after his three daughters; Caroline, Sarah, and Josephine. This is one of the Lakewood legends.
A fine grassy terrace slopes from the Gould mansion down to the lake drive, and where a little arm of the lake reaches up into Mr. Gould's grounds an artistic bridge has been built. Opposite the north side of the house is a great circular flower bed, beyond which are the stables and a large recreation building, containing tennis court, bowling alleys &C. Off to one side on the main road are the cozy lodge and entrance gate, and near by is the substantial machinery building, in which there is a complete electrical plant.
Georgian Court, although it has been described as of the Italian villa style of residence, takes its name from the English Georgian period. It is in the main of the style of architecture that prevailed in England at the time that the old colonial mansions were being built in this country. Mr. Bruce Price of this city is the architect, and in speaking of Georgian Corut in a recent number of the Architectural Record he said: "I look upon it as a consistent design throughout, yet it contains several features of widely separated origin. It was in fact, an attempt to put a French chateau roof on an English Georgian house. In English and American houses the first floor is the fine floor; it is not so in French houses. On the other hand, there are no English roofs, except the Elizabethan, which are mostly thin and poor, and not habitable. In France the roof has been superbly developed, with big dormers, forming, in fact, the best part of the design. I took these two things and placed them together. I do not think there is a diversity in actuality, for there is no chateau detail, and the style throughout has been made consistent."
Mr. Price explains that the theory of the inside had been to carry out the idea of an English house. White and gold are the colors chiefly used. The entrance hall is of white, qualified by crimson walls and rich colors in the Canterbury frieze. The dining room is white with green walls and green tints. "In the library," continues Mr. Price, "you have the rich bindings of the books as the chief element in the color scheme, and there the wood is dark. The billiard room is also dark. In the music room the wood is gilded in keeping with its style, and in harmony with the painted panels of the walls. The morning room has more gilt on its wood with panels of white silk embroidered in colors."
There are about thirty rooms for family use, and the principal ones took out on the lake. Prentice Treadwell, who has an intimate knowledge of Mr. Price's methods, says; "The color study of the interior of Georgian Court was made first as a whole, each room being a chord in the general harmony, and considered in its relation to all the others, while each room is a complete harmony in itself in every detail, both fixed and movable. In this house was presented a very fascinating and difficult problem that of creating in a pine forest a home for a gentleman of large means who desired his Winter residence to be commodious and attractive, but without a touch of grandeur or display."
Georgian Court was completed on Christmas Eve, 1898, and has been occupied by Mr. Gould and his family nearly all of the time since then. Its builder was George A. L'Hommedieu, and the materials used in its construction were brick, terra cotta, and stucco. Its interior finish is in marble and hard woods. The main hallway, with its golden staircase, constitutes a magnificent feature of the structure. This spacious hall rises through two stories, a marble balcony letting into the rooms on the second floor. The stairway is wide and ciliptical, with broad marble treads and an ornamental gold railing.
From each end of the main hall, to the right and left, runs a corridor that connects every part of the building. As Architect Price says, "the moment you enter the house you have the whole of it before you. You not only know where you are, but you see the entire house as soon as you have come into it. This seems to me an immense advantage. Not only is it a perfectly logical utilitarian plan, but you are at home the moment you are inside the door. There is no need to find your way around." There is a chandelier in the great hall composed of 150,000 separate pieces of glass. It is pendent from the ceiling and its style is a luster of French form done in classic detail.
Nearly every piece of furniture was made from special designs which conform to the architectural detail and color scheme of each particular room. In the dining room, the prevailing color of which is green, the chairs are of mahogany, covered with embroidered velvet, and executed in the style of the Georgian period. The carvings and tables are in the same wood and are finished with ormolu gold mountings. The dining table, which is oval in shape, is massive and rich in design. The library table and chairs are of bog oak and are covered with blue velvet. They are richly carved and in design fellow the old Italian school. In the great hall the furniture is of the period of Louis XIV. Each piece is gilded with powder gold and covered with crimson silk velour, ornamented with gold galloons. There is a superb Louis XIV, writing desk which Mr. Gould purchased in France at a figure approximating $20,000.
In the music room there is a grand piano richly decorated in a style to harmonize with the wall decorations. The furniture in this room is handsomely carved, and gilded with powder gold. It is covered with Auburson tapestry from designs made and executed especially for this purpose. All of the drawing room furniture is in gold, the gilding being done on Circassian walnut. Tapestry is liberally used for covering. In the main suite of rooms up stairs there is a beautiful bedstead with a canopy, in the style of Marie Antoinette. The wood-work is gilded, and the head and foot boards are tufted with silk broche. There is a reproduction of early Colonial furniture in mahogany in the principal guest chamber. In all of the original work on the furniture in the Georgian Court perfection was the object sought. In the choice of woods, in the carving, and in all details of mounting no expense or effort was spared to obtain the best material and talent possible.
In the building and furnishing Mr. Gould has secured to himself and his family an inviting home, as well as a magnificent house. A writer in The Architectural Record says: "The furnishing is on a scale seldom before attempted in this country, yet a the same time it has been done with such good taste that it gives no sense of repulsion on account of its magnificence. On the contrary, it imparts a feeling of hospitality and warmth from the moment one enters the great hall. The bedrooms though perfect in every detail, are striking in their simplicity. There has been skillfully avoided in them that sense of heaviness which seems so often inseparable from rich furnishings.
At the same time they are faithfully correct in all cases where they have been reproductions of historical models. Each room at Georgian Court has an individuality of its own that gives a feeling of being in a private room of a dwelling rather than in the showroom of a store. This has not been the result of chance, but hard study on the part of experienced artists and designers. Tapestries and silks, brocades and velours have been especially woven and tried until there was nothing left to be desired."
A variety of marbles were used in the interior work of this house, including Green Vermont, Pavanazza, Royal Irish Green, Black Egyptian, and Gray Billear Roman. The woods chiefly used are quartered white oak, Zambesi, East Indian mahogany, San Domingo mahogany, white pine, and poplar. The main walls of the interior of the building are finished in grayish white stucco, made of Atlas Portland cement and white beach sand, the surface being finished with Brussels carpet floats. The floors of the porches, piazzas, and terraces are laid with red Tierra cotta from Welsh quarries, imported especially for this work. The system of lighting is characterized by the subordination of the fixtures to the decorative treatment of each room.
Simplicity marks the design of the stable as well as of the house. In order to suitably accommodate the large number of horses and carriages used by Mr. Gould's family, the stable was made very capacious. Under its roof there is a laundry for the house and sleeping and dining rooms for the men employed in the stables. A water tower was needed for the distribution of water over the estate, and instead of erecting a detached and gaunt scaffolding, the water tower was made the central feature of the stable.
The grounds surrounding this commodious country home are laid out and beautified in a most artistic manner. The approach to the house has been fittingly described as being quiet and restful. The central garden between the house and the stable is an imposing yet harmonious mass of color. At the west end of the house is a large and well-stocked conservatory. In this conservatory some entirely new features in furnishing have been introduced, among these being portieres of specially woven linen and mohair. The lighting brackets in the conservatory are in classic design, finished in Verde antique, and are of an uncommon and interesting form.
Mr. Gould is very fond of his Lakewood home, as is each member of his family. Since he has become an avowed citizen of New Jersey he has manifested much interest in the welfare of Lakewood and its institutions. He has contributed generously toward the building up of the place. Usually he leaves his office, in the Western Union Building, New York, each afternoon in time to catch a 4 o'clock train for Lakewood, in order that he may reach home in time for a romp or a pony drive with his children before dinner. Each child has its own pony and little vehicle, and in addition is supplied with every desirable means of outdoor exercise. Mr. Gould has been fond of athletics since his boyhood, and he enters heartily into all of the healthful sports and games which a country life affords. He is an expert at polo, tennis, and golf, and is a liberal patron of the Lakewood Country Club.
2 Medina, Miriam.