Tuxedo Park, New York – Katz Architecture – Medium

A vintage shingle style Tuxedo Park house from the late 19th century (Courtesy of Creative Commons).

Besides being the namesake of the fancy dress suit worn at weddings and extravagant affairs, Tuxedo Park is a village in upstate New York, where the population is less than 1,000 people (as of the last census). Nonetheless, the historical significance of this tiny village is mighty.

In the colonial era, the area it sits on, hugging the Appalachian Mountains, was popular because of the deposits of iron discovered in the land. Mining began along the Ramapo River in the early 1800s. When the iron was depleted, the land was used for lumbering.

In the 1880s, the tobacco baron Pierre Lorillard IV established a hunting and fishing reserve for his friends and family in the area. Small cottages were built and soon, the Tuxedo Club was formed and the original clubhouse was designed by famed architect Bruce Price.

As the years progressed, Tuxedo Park established itself as one of the first gated communities in the United States. Less than 400 families live there now, many of whom are part-time residents who live in Manhattan, which is less than an hour away.

Vintage photo of Tuxedo Park from Tower Hill (Courtesy of the Tuxedo Park Library).

Despite a small number of homes built in the area, relative to neighboring towns and cities, those that are there boast some of the best designs of the Gilded Age. Among the firms and architects whose work can be found are Delano & Aldrich, McKim, Mead, & White and John Russell Pope.

Indeed, in the 20th century, Tuxedo Park became known for its architectural flair. The shingle style cottages that Bruce Price helped pioneer have even been said to influence architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright. As the village grew, and bounced back from a period of despair after the Great Depression, building styles also became more diversified as families returned from Europe and wanted houses with grandeur, resulting in Mediterranean style homes and Tudor mansions.

In 1952 Tuxedo Park became incorporated. In recognition of its historical and architectural significance, it was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

As of late, there is renewed attention of buyers seeking refuge from Manhattan. Buildable land, however, is very limited and because the community rigorously protects its historic architecture, the approvals process is taken very seriously.

Initial renderings of our planned Tuxedo Park project.

We are in the process of adding a home to the rich history that already exists in Tuxedo Park. The lakefront project sits on a sloping site and takes its cues from the early work of Bruce Price. It will feature a local rusticated stone base, stained cedar walls, copper detailing, two chimneys and a great wraparound deck. From the interior, there will be marvelous open views across the lake.

With every design decision, we are being careful to take into account the abundance of architectural history present in the neighborhood and making sure that our choices will only enhance the beauty of this special place.

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