Cliff Walk Trail Marker #8
Angelsea (Walter Herron Lewis House)
Angelsea, a seaside Victorian cottage along the Cliff Walk, was designed by Detlef Lienau, a German architect who is credited with having introduced the French style
to American building construction, notably the mansard roof and all its decorative flourishes.
The house was built for Walter Herron Lewis, a highly successful dry-goods merchant in New York.
The exposed site on Ochre Point cost Lewis only $100,000 at the time of purchase. The residence designed by Lienau provided a sea view on all four sides of the home, making each facade require the same amount of attention and detailing.
Angelsea, along with its nearby gambrel-roofed stable, underwent many transformations through the years. Initial elevations show that, similar to Richard Morris Hunt's Travers Block on Bellevue Avenue, the home was built in brick set off by decorative half-timbering. The later contract elevations produced by Lienau showed, instead, that the brick was supplemented by clapboards on the ground floor, and diamond and fish scale patterned singles on the second floor. This new elevation reflected the increasing desire for continuity in surface treatments. In both elevations of Angelsea, the multi-dormered and gabled roof was left unchanged, as well as the elaborately designed barge boards replete with decorative jigsaw work that European architects excelled in, often referred to as “Swiss.” The insertion of windows in the chimney appeared at first glance to be a rather eccentric juxtaposition on the east elevation, however it appears as a decorative element earlier in England in Charles Barry's work, as well as some of Frank Furness's Philadelphia buildings.
In 1886, Lewis sold the estate to Mr. Frederick Pearson, a former Civil War General, for $164,000 in order to move to Tuxedo Park. Between 1917 and 1922, the house and the stable were then altered extensively in the hopes of making the cottage fit in with the prevailing look of simplicity. Thus, the shingles, barge boards, and Lienau's jigsaw work all disappeared. The silhouette remains today as the lone reminder his beautiful work on this seaside commission. The Pearson heirs owned Angelsea until sold in 1996.
Today Angelsea remains as a private residence.