Ormonde Boathouse, George R. Preston summer residence
Cazenovia, NY

See earlier posts on the Frank Furness designed “Ormonde" and George R. Preston’s city residence at 2135 Walnut Street in Philadelphia.

From the National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Ormonde, by Kathleen LaFrank and James Warren:

Ormonde’s boathouse has stylistic similarities with the main residence and it s situated to afford maximum lake views. The two-story shingled structure has a square plan at ground level (where the walls splay), but its second story is circular, surmounted by a conical, wood-shingled roof that is supported by large wooden brackets. Even larger brackets support the circular open porch, located at the base of the second story, defined by a Stick Style balustrade and accessed by a ramp that rises from the lakeshore. A two-story rusticated stone chimney with an arched opening at ground level is north of the ramp.

In c1979 the boathouse’s first story was severely altered. The boat slip was replaced by two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom, and three steel I-beams were inserted under the porch to support the second story and to buttress the changes on the ground level. A metal spiral staircase was also added. Despite these interior alterations, the boathouse retains substantial exterior integrity and still conveys its important functional association with the main house.

Many large lakeside estates also possessed appropriately decorated outbuildings, such as carriage houses, gardeners’ cottages, greenhouses, tool houses, ice houses and boathouses. Prior to 1959, the Ormonde estate had a two-story, shingled carriage house with Queen Anne style sash north of the main residence. At unknown locations on the estate there were also an ice house and a tool house. It is not known if Furness also designed these outbuildings. Although Ormonde’s boathouse is its only surviving outbuilding, its exterior retains a high degree of integrity. Boathouses were significant buildings on the estate because they served both utilitarian (a place to store and launch cruising vessels) and social (a place in proximity to the water for social gatherings) functions. A boathouse often consisted of an enclosed slip with a storage area and a hoist operated with a pulley at water level and an entertainment space above. One contemporary critic called Ormonde’s boathouse “one of the finest upon an inland body of water.” Inserted carefully in the midst of a deliberately rustic, thick undergrowth (“hardly outdone in the wildness by the woods of the Adirondacks”), the boathouse had its own breakwater and a commanding lake view. On the interior, “luxurious divans, glossy furs of the black bear, and soft Daghistan rugs cover the hardwood floor…The hearth is of cracked glacial pebbles and boulders and the fireplace is built high of rough stone.”