Lockwood was born in Norwalk, Connecticut and grew wealthy on Wall Street, where he began work for a New York City brokerage firm at age 18. He was only 23 when he became a partner in the firm Genin and Lockwood, Brokers. He went on to act as vice president of Michigan Southern Railroad, and in 1863, he was appointed treasurer of the New York Stock Exchange. Once the Civil War began, Lockwood sold war bonds in Europe to raise funds for the Union. Upon his return, he started work on the Mansion.
His fortune reversed in 1869, however, with Black Friday--the crash of the American gold market, brought about by the interference of Jay Gould, James Fisk Jr., and other speculators. Lockwood and his firm (now called Lockwood and Co.) went bankrupt. Although he recovered somewhat from the blow by selling his vice presidency of Michigan Southern Railroad to Cornelius Vanderbilt, and by mortgaging his house, he passed away in 1872 without fully restoring his former wealth or reputation. The house was foreclosed in 1874.
In 1876, Charles and Rebecca Matthews purchased the house; they and their family lived there until 1938.
Interior of the House
The Mansion contains a stunning Library on the first floor. Its door frames and book shelves, which can accommodate 3000 volumes, are made of hand-carved black walnut. Five kinds of wood were used to make the star pattern of the parquet floor. The coffered ceiling consists of black walnut panels and brightly colored frescoes in pink, blue, and gold. Although the original wallpaper, made to resemble leather, does not survive, it has been recreated.
Inside the Music Room, vines and rosettes adorn the walls, and the ceiling features light-colored frescoes with images of musical instruments. These decorations date to 1868. The room also has a 19th-century harp and an Italian marble fireplace.
Above the Rotunda is a cove ceiling with a skylight, which provided both natural light and ventilation. LeGrand Lockwood kept pieces from his personal art collection in the Rotunda. On its north side stands the black walnut grand staircase, which includes carved lions' heads and garlands.
The Mansion's numerous other rooms include: a Conservatory, Card Room, Billiards Room, Servants' Quarters, and a Moorish Room, whose decorative aesthetic takes inspiration from Middle Eastern designs and Spain's Alhambra.