Henry F. Spaulding Estate
4970 Independence Avenue
Charles Clinton, architect
Representing a rare example of the picturesque cottage Stick Style in New York City, this original coachman’s house was built in 1880 for the Henry Foster Spaulding (1816-1893) estate “Parkside” in the planned villa community “The Park—Riverside.” Spaulding was a successful woolen goods importer who served on a committee that investigated the corruption of Tweed Ring politicians controlling City Hall in the 1860s. He also served as treasurer for the American Committee for the Statue of Liberty.
Notably, this 2-1/2 story home lacks the excesses of ornate Victorian styles of the period and is reflective of the national mood for solid, but spare design in the wake of the financial panic of 1873. Indeed, the stick style, in use since the 1860s, flourished in the 1870s and remained popular even into the early 1880s, after which it was eclipsed by the use of shingles. This house shows the varied textures of board and batten siding on the first floor and crossed exterior sticks above. Designed in the cottage mode, the structure has dormer windows, jigsaw ornamentation, roof gables, twin chimneys, overhanging eaves, a slate roof, and a bracketed entrance porch.
The coachman’s residence was conveniently situated on the east side of Spaulding’s estate along the carriage route serving the area. The house was moved in 1909 from the west side of Independence Avenue (near Wave Hill’s rose garden), to its current location and was then remodeled in 1914. A smaller structure, also moved within proximity of the coachman’s residence in 1909 was attached on the house’s south side in 1968. This portion of the house is typical of simple cottages shown in mid-19th century architectural pattern books. Another addition was made to the east side of the house. Used as a private residence today, the house is set back from the street and retains a suburban feel surrounded by woods and lawns. Enough of the character of Spaulding’s original coachman’s house remained in 1981 that it was designated a NYC Landmark. The National Register of Historic Places also recognized the significance of the site in 1982.
Charles W. Clinton, the architect of the coachman’s residence, mastered wood frame design while training with architect Richard Upjohn. A charter member of the American Institute of Architects, Clinton designed the Seventh Regiment Armory in Manhattan and he was later a partner in the architectural firm of Clinton & Russell.
Janet Butler Munch