Onteora Park was developed in the late nineteenth century as a Catskill retreat for artists and writers seeking to escape summer in the city. Today it is a year-round destination occupying a 3,000-acre preserve with houses scattered throughout the woods and a central clubhouse for members of the Onteora Association.
The Orchard, one of the premier houses of the original development, was designed in 1902 by Canadian architect George A. Reid. A massive rubble-stone base enclosed a generous ground floor porch and large public rooms, but the original house was curiously undeveloped above the first floor, both internally and externally. The resulting composition was that of a rather stunted head on a substantial body. It also fell short of contemporary expectations in its small kitchen (residents were expected to take their meals at the clubhouse), a general shortage of bathrooms, parsimonious sleeping quarters, and antiquated services.
Our design reconfigured the plan and doubled the interior floor area of the house. We upgraded or restored interior finishes, installed new services and bathrooms, and added a service wing with a large kitchen, mudroom, and laundry room downstairs and additional bedrooms above. On the exterior we replaced all windows and doors and added a porte cochere and shingled cladding in decorative patterns, as well as upper-level porches and fanciful dormers to give the upper stories and roof a character that now fulfills the expectations created by the base.
With the expansion of the house completed the owners have turned their attention to the site. Current projects include demolition of inappropriate structures and the design of a new, 3,600 sf carriage barn, whose walls will be enlivened by a full range of decorative shingle patterns and vernacular carpentry details.