Kykuit: Rockefeller’s major remodel

by Jean

First version of Kykuit

Even with all the money in the world (really, look at this list Rockefeller is at the top), figuring out how to best fit your life style into a space is tricky stuff, and you don’t always get it right the first time.

The following excerpts are taken from the book Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow. Book credits Rockefeller Archive Center with photo credits.

The before photo of Kykuit is above.  “ John and Cettie pretended to be thrilled with their new home, but they increasingly carped in private. The third floor, reserved for guest rooms, had tiny dormer windows that made them stuffy and unsuitable. They then discovered graver problems. The elevator made an awful din; the roaring plumbing in Cettie’s bathroom reverberated in public areas; the racket from the service entrance below John D’s bedroom grated on his nerves; rain water dripped into the dining room; the chimneys sometimes belched smoke, and so on and so on……. After a year, it was decided that the house would be completely revamped” (page 514)

Second version of Kykuit

The after photo of Kykuit is above. “Starting in 1911, the house itself underwent two more years of renovation and was transformed into a fine specimen of American Renaissance, a voguish style that bespoke the self-confidence of the burgeoning industrial class. Narrow but deep, the house had four floors above ground and two below that were gouged into the hillside. Gone was the old dormer-ridden third floor, replaced with a mansard roof. By turning the wooden veranda into a stone loggia, the forty-room house acquired new dignity and grandeur.” (Page 516)

You can find more info about the house here, here and here.

Explore other stories