A Ballroom Beauty on the Hilltop
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The quiet house on the western edge of Prescott Avenue as it winds its way from Valley Road toward Wellington Circle is a collaborative effort by architects William A. Bates and Kenneth How and was originally built in 1912 for William Van Duzer Lawrence. Situated on a craggy hillside, the property presented a unique challenge to the architectural team as it slopes both side to side and front to back. The ingenious use of the topography resulted in a dual house with mirror-imaged floor plans offering generous living space, completely private gardens, and a structure that deceptively conceals six stories, only three of which are visible as one approaches from Prescott Avenue.
William A. Bates was a master architect and is considered the father of Bronxville architecture for his extensive work in Lawrence Park and throughout the village. He began designing for the hilltop when Mr. Lawrence brought him to Bronxville in 1890 to assess the land he had recently purchased from the estate of James Prescott. By his death in 1922, Bates had designed over fifty private homes in the village, becoming well known for his Shingle style houses in Lawrence Park. His partnership with Kenneth How, beginning around 1910, led to several innovative designs, including the multiple family community house grouping of Beverly Gardens, Field Court, Kensington Terrace and Willow Circle. Bates and How also built Eastbourne, Westbourne, Northgate, Southgate and Gramatan Court on Sagamore Road.
The dual house designed as 16-18 Prescott Avenue was the first multiple house in Lawrence Park and was built where Mr. Prescott’s barns originally stood. Anna Lawrence Bisland was given #16 when her father began dividing his rental properties between his four grown children. While she never lived in the house, the house has been occupied by well known writers, a Broadway actress, a doctor to the President and the Mills family, who have a deep interest in theater, art, and technology.
Architects: William A. Bates and Kenneth How