History of Glenview

Glenview was built by John Bond Trevor, a highly successful stockbroker, who, like many other businessmen of the late 19th century, preferred to live in comfort in the newly accessible suburbs of New York City.

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In 1861, he purchased Seven Pines, a relatively modest house in Yonkers, near that of his friend and partner James Colgate. After the death of his first wife, Louisa Stewart, Trevor married Emily Norwood, daughter of diplomat Andrew Norwood and great granddaughter of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge.

Early in 1876, Trevor purchased 23 acres of land adjoining his Seven Pines estate. To design Glenview, he engaged New York City architect Charles W. Clinton, whose offices were near Trevor’s own. Ground was broken for Glenview in May 1876. By autumn of the following year, the showplace was ready for occupancy. Nothing was spared to make Glenview a paragon of taste, luxury, and modern comfort. It had indoor plumbing, gas illumination, and a coal burning furnace to circulate warm air throughout its 37 rooms.

The exterior was designed in the height of eclectic fashion. With elements of Victorian Gothic and French Second Empire design prevailing, its grey stone facade was constructed of blocks hewn from a Hastings-on-Hudson quarry, and with decorative sandstone lintels and strong courses brought from Indiana. The mansard roof was finished with colorful slate tiles—red, ochre, and grey—arranged in a decorative pattern. Built by local tradesmen under the supervision of Yonkers builder S.F. Quick, Glenview’s stately exterior was more than matched by its stately interior scheme. 

Because he had always been interested in horticulture, John Bond Trevor spent hours planning Glenview’s grounds. Specimen trees like copper beech, oriental pine, and ginkgo were brought in for placement in attractive sites. Trevor had a small gardeners’ cottage of clapboard, designed in the Eastlake mode, built near the entrance to the estate and close by the greenhouses where he himself cultivated prize chrysanthemums. And, of course, the trotters’ stables, originally a part of the Seven Pines property, were an important part of the enlarged estate.

The Trevors often entertained John’s New York business associates, as well as military men and prominent politicians, for he was active in the Republic party. Senator William Allison, General Sherman, and Lord Sackville-West—Queen Victoria’s ambassador to the United States—were among Glenview’s notable visitors.

Running a great house such as Glenview took many hands. Seventeen servants—a butler, maids, nurses, washerwomen, stable, and liverymen, gardener, and groundskeepers—were said to be employed by the family. Families like the Trevors, whose fortunes came from America’s post-Civil War industrial expansion—and the stock growth it fostered—could easily afford to keep and house many servants. The houses they built reflected an opulent lifestyle, whose elaborate rituals of etiquette and entertainment could not have proceeded without such household help.

The Trevor family lived happily at Glenview for many years. “At home” in spring and fall, they traveled to Europe, the Catskills, and Maine in the hottest part of the summer. Each year, just before Christmas, they returned to their townhouse in the city. It was there, in the winter of 1890, that John Bond Trevor died. Surrounded by visiting children and grandchildren, Emily Trevor continued to live at Glenview into her old age. She died in 1922.

The following year, the house and its furnishings were put to auction. The City of Yonkers purchased the house to use as a museum, but Glenview’s furnishings were scattered among many buyers. To make Glenview more useful as a museum, the City removed many of its original fireplaces and changed the interior walls to make large rooms out of small ones on the upper stories. However, the west side of the first floor, with its fine woodwork, tiles and staircase, remained relatively untouched.

The Hudson River Museum had the elaborate stenciling in these rooms restored to its original appearance. Descendants of the original Trevor family have provided photographs and other family records to aid the staff in documenting the interiors as they appeared in the last quarter of the 19th century. Although the present furnishings are not the ones used by the Trevor family, they are appropriate to the period. And today’s visitors can see the tiles, woodwork, and ceiling decorations just as they appeared in 1877—the start of the Gilded Age in America.

Adapted from text by Mary Jean Madigan