The Roaring Twenties – Timeless Inspiration

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

We are often asked if there is a period in history that inspires our design style or philosophy. While many eras provide creative influence, we draw particular inspiration from the period referred to as the Jazz Age or “Roaring Twenties.” Remarkably, 2020 marks 100 years since this pivotal time in American history, characterized by vibrant economic prosperity and carefree post-war self-expression.

Still standing, Hempstead House is a Tudor-style mansion with 40 rooms and enormous vaulted ceilings that “incarnates the opulence and glamour of the roaring 1920s.”

In the 1920s, many of Long Island’s estates—along with similar homes built in communities like Newport, RI and Palm Beach, FL—were designed by architects who’s own design inspiration came from Europe. American architects like Addison Mizner, known as one who “epitomized the society architect,” or the great David Adler, would travel to Europe to study its historic buildings, and then return to the US to reinterpret that European model of classical architecture. In the 1920s, the architecture of Europe became the architecture of American success.

Historic Winfield Hall, also known as the Woolworth Estate, is an Italian Renaissance style home designed in 1917 by architect C.P. H. Gilbert. http://www.goldcoastmansions.com/ [Public domain]
Growing up on Long Island in the 1950s and ’60s, Patrick often drove to the nearby North Shore—known as the Gold Coast—to view the magnificent, abandoned mansions, many of which were built in the 1920s. Sometimes, he would walk the property to more closely study these edifices, which, though empty and overgrown, spoke volumes of a time when people “motored” to and from their stately homes and grand, outdoor lawn parties were the order of the day.

Built for John Shaffer Phipps between 1903-1906, Old Westbury Gardens is an English manor designed to resemble his wife Margarita’s estate, Battle Abby, in England. DeBevoise, C. Manley, (1862 – 1963) Old Westbury Gardens, the residence of Mr. and Mrs. John S. Phipps. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America.

When visiting these properties, he could easily imagine the lifestyle depicted in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel The Great Gatsby inspired during his visits to the very same Gold Coast. Studying the architecture and surrounding grounds, he could envision the wonderful parties those buildings once hosted, where guests arrived in exotic cars down curated, manicured drives. These homes were built to entertain, and that sense of indoor-outdoor living—along with their impactful arrival sequence—made a lifelong design impression.

The arrival sequence of this home on Martha’s Vineyard slowly unfolds as one moves down the long, wooded driveway and through the carriage house.

Throughout Patrick’s career, he continues to been inspired by the 1920s: the architecture, music, and clothes all celebrated an expression of the good life. Today, we draw from that era to help our clients celebrate things that enhance their own life experience. We talk with them to find and interpret those positive elements and design their homes with those features in mind. Whether they entertain frequently or simply want to enjoy a private oasis, important architectural features of the 1920s, like indoor-outdoor living spaces and meaningful arrival sequences, remain a critical part of our design process.

This oasis of indoor-outdoor living space provides ample opportunities for hosting grand or intimate gatherings.

“A style does not go out of style as long as it adapts itself to its period. When there is an incompatibility between the style and a certain state of mind, it is never the style that triumphs.”

― Coco Chanel

We believe that careful study of the past is crucial when designing for the future. The influence of the Roaring Twenties—a time when European architecture was recreated in the American idiom—continues to impact and inform our work a century later.