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  #1  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2013, 12:39 PM
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Floorplans for Gilded Age Mansions.

Yes yes, I know this is a SKYSCRAPER Forum. But well, I know of no other place with achetecturally minded individuals who can appreciate what must be some of the most amazing homes ever built!

I have over the years collected a large range of Floorplans, and I like ot think that looking at them aginst the layouts of modern "Mega Mansions" show just how much htings have changed in terms of what the Rich like to do with money...

Want to start by posting two of my all time favorite. The absolutely MASSIVE "Breakers. And the plans to Vanderbilts New York Mansion.

The Breakers




Vanderbilts New York Mansion
[IMG]43[/IMG]
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Old Posted Jun 14, 2013, 2:44 PM
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umm.. impressive and done nicely.

Every once in a while (like once a month), the floor plans for a oversized McMansion crosses my desk and I get a good laugh at the gaudiness and excess in these things. Always going for a faux French Chateau these people... live-in nanny suites are all the rage.
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  #3  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2013, 3:55 PM
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BAH! it would seem something ate most of the rest of my post, mnot sure why only the Breakers posted there... But you are VERY correct Tony. I and a friend of mind surf several "Mega Mansions" blogs purely for the joy of seeing just how tacky and tastless the newest McMansion is. Floor plans are often a mess, with huge empty wasted room, rooms that make no sense or serve no function, and of course, the ever popular closests that are bigger then a whole bedroom.

Part of why I started collecting floorplans to historical houses was just to see the huge contrest between then and now in terms of the flow and space use.

As for the Mansion, here is the one that got cut off.

Vanderbilt Mansion 1st Floor


Vanderbilt Mansion 2nd Floor


Vanderbilt Mansion 3rd Floor
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"God damn modern architect's and their Brtualism, and 'realism' and damn concrete boxes. Why I remember back when buildings had STYLE back when you would have real ARTISTS working away both inside and out!
"Um, aren't you like barely 30?"
"Thats not the point you damn whipper snapper!"
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  #4  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2013, 6:34 PM
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Not much closet space.
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Old Posted Jun 14, 2013, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by jg6544 View Post
Not much closet space.
Everybody used wardrobes, and at any given time, dozens of items of clothing were circulating through the army of servants that kept them clean.
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  #6  
Old Posted Jun 15, 2013, 2:57 AM
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Love floorplans. I drew extremely extravagent floorplans for my mansion when I was a pre-teen. Still have them. Alas, all grown up without a mansion.
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  #7  
Old Posted Jun 15, 2013, 4:28 AM
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Wink

Yes, why have closets when you can instead have an exquisitely carved series of wooden wardrobes? Besides, it's not like these people are dressing themselves.

Something I've never quite understood is why these houses always have doors between bedrooms. Might I be so bold as to inquire why, at the town house, Mr. V's bedroom opens directly unto the (wet)nurse's? It can't be because he's headed to the sitting room...
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Old Posted Jun 15, 2013, 5:27 AM
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Originally Posted by paytonc View Post
Something I've never quite understood is why these houses always have doors between bedrooms. Might I be so bold as to inquire why, at the town house, Mr. V's bedroom opens directly unto the (wet)nurse's? It can't be because he's headed to the sitting room...
The master and mistress of the house, along with their children, have a private suite within the home. This allowed hallway activity to remain invisible from in-suite activity, so that servants could move about without being seen and family members could move about at night without going into the more "public" hallway. In such a home, there would be many visitors for various reasons, and it was often smart to lock the suite off when guests were present. During these times, the family could still go from room-to-room without using the hallway.

This is common not just in the mansions of robber barons, but in many homes belonging to the well-to-do from this era.

The lack of closets is equally common in pretty much all houses for this era. The mistress of the house had a boudoir which was often used to store clothes (dresses of the period being large and bulky) but until the 20th century it was far more common for people in all strata of society to store clothes in furniture (chests, wardrobes, tallboys, chiffarobes, etc). I grew up without a closet and still find it awkward to use one.
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  #9  
Old Posted Jun 15, 2013, 3:57 PM
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The commonality of Doors leading from one room to another was mostly something put into place for the servants of the house, Allowing them to go form one room to another room more easily when the family was away.

One thing to keep in mind about 'Mega mansions' of the gilded age, is they were far more like a small "Hotel" then what we think of as a house. Guests would often stay for weeks or months at a time. So have Six or ten guest rooms was common. When someone came over to visit, it was unlikely he'd stay for a few hours and then leave: staying as a guest for months wasn't uncommon, because travel took a really long time. Then, if we go far enough into the past, you had the fact that a manor was often an administrative center of your estate as well as a house, thus it needed all the facilities to allow it to function as such: stables to provide transportation, an office, quarters for the middle managers (who were sometimes noblemen themselves!) etc.

Many "Super Mansions" of old were so large because many rich people wanted all the comforts of the world at their finger tips. Sure they had the money to travel, but at the turn of the century it took weeks to go on a world cruise.

And of course there are the parties. Back then if you wanted to make 'Business connections' the only way to do so was to invite over 50 to 100 other rich people and hope to get along with them. For that you needed vast ballrooms, extra kitchen, hotel like houses to hold so many extra guests.
These days we have the internet...

Take a look at this next house home to Andrew Carnegie
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"God damn modern architect's and their Brtualism, and 'realism' and damn concrete boxes. Why I remember back when buildings had STYLE back when you would have real ARTISTS working away both inside and out!
"Um, aren't you like barely 30?"
"Thats not the point you damn whipper snapper!"
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  #10  
Old Posted Jun 15, 2013, 10:20 PM
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excess is always excess. (arguably) better done than in later years but still a sad commentary on society when any one individual/family feels the need and has the means to acquire such an extravagant and resource intensive "home."
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  #11  
Old Posted Jun 15, 2013, 11:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jg6544 View Post
Not much closet space.
Armoires, lots of huge ornate armoires.
https://www.google.com/search?um=1&n...mg.xPfKN0LrFYM
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Old Posted Jun 15, 2013, 11:57 PM
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What's the "organ" room in the basement of the Carnegie house?

edit: Never mind, I found other sites that mentioned the pipe organ at the end of the main entrance hall, and see it on the ground level plan, so those are probably mechanicals in the room in the basement.

Quote:
Every morning Walter C. Gale, a renowned church organist, would arrive and begin to play the massive Aeolian organ in the main hallway, its pipes extending through three floors. The music drifted to the second floor bedrooms of the Carnegies where they were gently wakened by their favorite tunes.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...5GdvnQlhIYH4XA
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Old Posted Jun 17, 2013, 3:17 AM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
I grew up without a closet and still find it awkward to use one.
You would hate renting in my 1920's building. My 700 sqft apartment has 2 walk in closets and an extremely oversized wardrobe closet. I was wondering if maybe there was some reaction to lack of closet space in the 1800's to excess in the 1900's. They always say you can't have enough storage but I'm using them to store empty cardboard boxes, an absurd waste of premium space.

Can you imagine the cost of heating one of these beasts today? Huge volumes of space. Even with all the fireplaces I'm sure they were drafty.
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Old Posted Jun 17, 2013, 7:39 AM
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If the closets are original, then I'm guessing they are a reaction to high-rise living (you do live in a tower, right?) In a large rental tower, it's impractical to continuously haul up lots of wardrobes and dressers, even with a freight elevator.
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Old Posted Jun 17, 2013, 12:41 PM
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Can you imagine the cost of heating one of these beasts today? Huge volumes of space. Even with all the fireplaces I'm sure they were drafty.
Most of the mega mansions of the turn of the century were built in a "compartmentalized" layout. With doors everywhere between rooms. There were very few 'open' doorways. Almost every passage between rooms would have a door or slidding door.

The reason for this of course was to close off rooms you were not using at the time to save heat. I remember long ago reading a story that, during one very cold winter, the Vanderbilts lived in just about six rooms of their massive New York mansion, and had the rest of the house shut off.

Also I have made a Discovery!
I came across the floor plans to Bishops Palace in Galveston! Not really a gilded age mansion, but one of my long life personal favorties. Should be able to post it on lunch break today.
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"God damn modern architect's and their Brtualism, and 'realism' and damn concrete boxes. Why I remember back when buildings had STYLE back when you would have real ARTISTS working away both inside and out!
"Um, aren't you like barely 30?"
"Thats not the point you damn whipper snapper!"
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Old Posted Jun 17, 2013, 5:01 PM
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I would say that roughly 50% or more of the homes that were built between 1890-1925ish here do not have closets in every single bedroom. My semi only has a single small closet in one of the three bedrooms.

When people renovate their homes, they often add the closets at that point.

Also, thanks for the insight ardecila.
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  #17  
Old Posted Jun 17, 2013, 5:50 PM
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As promised, the floorplans to the famed "Bishops Palace" formally the "Walter Gresham House" Personally I have been in Love with this house since I was a kid and first saw it in a book. For me it is one the THEE Best victorian houses on the period ((even if its style is not strictly Victorian per-say))
It incorporates all of the features one usually associates with victorian houses:
*Huge front covered pourch
*Solarium/attached greenhouse
*Three standard stories plus basement
*A 'lookout tower' elevated slightly higher then the rest of the house.

If ever I had the money to build my own mansion, it would be a modernized version of this grand estate.





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"God damn modern architect's and their Brtualism, and 'realism' and damn concrete boxes. Why I remember back when buildings had STYLE back when you would have real ARTISTS working away both inside and out!
"Um, aren't you like barely 30?"
"Thats not the point you damn whipper snapper!"
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Old Posted Jun 17, 2013, 10:00 PM
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Great idea for a thread. Loving all of these floorplans. Wish they were a bit larger.
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Old Posted Jun 18, 2013, 3:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyler Xyroadia View Post
I and a friend of mind surf several "Mega Mansions" blogs purely for the joy of seeing just how tacky and tastless the newest McMansion is. Floor plans are often a mess, with huge empty wasted room, rooms that make no sense or serve no function, and of course, the ever popular closests that are bigger then a whole bedroom.
Does anyone have any examples of this kind of floor plan for comparison?
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Old Posted Jun 18, 2013, 4:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyler Xyroadia View Post
Most of the mega mansions of the turn of the century were built in a "compartmentalized" layout. With doors everywhere between rooms. There were very few 'open' doorways. Almost every passage between rooms would have a door or slidding door.

The reason for this of course was to close off rooms you were not using at the time to save heat. I remember long ago reading a story that, during one very cold winter, the Vanderbilts lived in just about six rooms of their massive New York mansion, and had the rest of the house shut off.

Also I have made a Discovery!
I came across the floor plans to Bishops Palace in Galveston! Not really a gilded age mansion, but one of my long life personal favorties. Should be able to post it on lunch break today.
You couldn't technically "save heat" back then. Houses were always losing energy. They were just always burning coal, wood, whatever. These sources were always readily available regardless of level of wealth.
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