This current entry is of one of several that will focus on the floorplans and details of the house and garage.
The fact that these images exist at all is something of a miracle. I am extremely grateful for the extraordinary efforts made by the Plainfield Library to preserve and digitize the architectural history of so many of Plainfield's beautiful homes, including the house I grew up in. The library's Detwiller Collection is simply an amazing archive of information - not just for for the residents of Plainfield, but for anyone who is interested in the architectural heritage of the 20th century.
Interestingly, however, it is also clear that the set of drawings filed so many decades ago by the architects who built 920 Cedar Brook Road underwent substantial changes before construction began. I may never know why the drawings were altered. I only know that there must have been a great deal of discussion between the clients and the architects. And in the end, the design was scaled back significantly. But more on those particulars later.
Just to go back to the basic history of the house for a moment (see also "The Huntsman Mansion: A Jewel in the Queen City"), 920 Cedar Brook was designed by Augustus Marsh and Otto J. Gette, the architectural firm behind many of Plainfield's prestigious homes during the early 20th century. Marsh & Gette were commissioned to build the home at 920 Cedar Brook Road by John and Maud Huntsman, who, according to the 1910 census records, were already residents of Plainfield. They lived a few blocks away on Watchung Avenue prior to taking ownership of their new mansion on Cedar Brook Road.
And it was indeed a mansion. Certainly not the largest of its time, but a very substantial home that reflected the success and stability of its owners and offered gracious living spaces and a wealth of fine architectural details that even now, can clearly be seen to have been executed by master craftsmen. It also reflected what was already one of America's most beloved historical styles - the Colonial Revival.
There's much to say about that subject, too. But for now, I'd like to just post a few images from the blueprint file. We'll start inside, on the first floor.
|First floor plan for 920 Cedar Brook Road. Image reprinted courtesy of the Local History Collection of the Plainfield Public Library, NJ.|
I realize much of the detail of the plan may be lost in translation, although the scale of the house is apparent. So here are a few important things I'd like to highlight. First of all, the room sizes. On the far left is the living room. It opens to the piazza, via two sets of French doors that flank the fireplace. The room measures 25'2" long (front to back of the house) by 16'2" wide.
|Living room, about 1969.|
|View into living room, early 1990s. That's our sweet elderly dog, Gray.|
|Christmas in the foyer circa 1970s. Note original light fixtures.|
|Current view of foyer into dining room.|
The other room I'd like to mention is the library, which also opens off the foyer. On the blueprint, there's a door indicated between the library and living room. By 1968, this had been converted to an inset bookcase on the library side, which is still there. It has an arched top and at least three shelves, and if I remember correctly, it also has some built-in storage below, with doors. You would never know there had once been a door in that space; it was an interesting surprise when I first looked at the plans.
The kitchen is such an interesting subject I will save that for the next entry, with a closer look at that portion of the blueprint. For now, I'd like to close with this front elevation view of the house - and note that with the exception of the balcony over the side door, nothing here was altered from the architects' original vision. The house today retains the same graceful proportions and details.
|Original front elevation view of 920 Cedar Brook Road. Image reprinted courtesy of the Local History Collection of the Plainfield Public Library, NJ.|