“This particular Chapter of our lives is a collaborative factual and memory effort by Dad, Hubert and Son, Chris, about the country home built by Grandpa, (Pop) Gus in which Chris still lives today. We hope you enjoy our journey through the life of a hand-built Gem.”
First, a bit of History about Lake Lincolndale in Somers NY
In the early 1930’s developers built a dam creating our 20-acre lake and founding our original clubhouse. Between 1934 and 1936 the Lake Lincolndale community was built and the Lake Lincolndale Civic Association was established.
There was a small real estate office across from the clubhouse which was the ‘on site’ location by which lots might be purchased. The price per lot was $50, a minimum of 2 adjacent were required and each was 20’x100′. One could build on a 40×100 lot and some houses there today still exist on those small lots. From 1937 to 1939 lots in the neighborhood became available through developers, advertised in the New York Post and Daily Mirror. One of the first homes in the neighborhood, referred to as Trailblazer, sits next to the clubhouse parking lot.
The territory of the development back then was roughly Lovell Street on the east, the entire hillside to the north to the Power Lines and Putnam county line, west and south to beyond Lake Shore Drive to where Kereyl Lane exits back onto Lovell Street.
It was also around this time that the Lake Lincolndale Civic Association changed its name to the Lake Lincolndale Property Owners’ Association (LLPOA), and the Ladies Auxiliary came into being. Today the Ladies’ group is still active with a membership of over 30 ladies. From 1940 to 1945 the community progressively grew in strength, as the LLPOA members were instrumental in bringing about the repair of the roads and the paving of Lovell Street, YES it was dirt road all the way from RT. 202. Lake Lincolndale was mainly a summer residence for people coming up from New York City. Many amenities slowly grew into what exists today. In 1948-49 a day camp was established for the children in the neighborhood, , and in 1950-51 an athletic field was purchased and the beach was widened.
Now how about the unique story of “The House on Flower Drive”.
The history of Gus and Theresa Laubis and their adventures about finding their way through to life here in America is written in detail throughout this web site. Here we bring you a brief picture as background to a huge undertaking.
Theresa Kottler (Oma) emigrated from Muggensturm, Germany to Baltimore, Maryland in 1927 at the age of 27. She made it possible for her future husband August, (Pop) whom she knew in Germany, to follow her to America. Pop arrived in New York from Basel, Switzerland aboard the ship Milwaukee on March 10, 1930 at age 29 and moved into an apartment in Astoria NY. Oma and Pop were married in 1932 and remained in Astoria for a short while. Both had the good fortune of working for a wealthy Manhattan family which steered Pop into great opportunity employment. His first great job was when his employer put him as Superintendent.in the Bronx at a complex called Rochambeau Gardens.
This move was very instrumental to the story of the “House on Flower Drive”. As immigrants always do, they meet others who were of their same heritage. My Aunt Elizabeth was born in 1935 and Dad was born in 1939. Oma and Pop came to know these people of their own age with kids, who also were also immigrants from Germany and Switzerland. Their names were Bachmann, Portman, Klauss, Albrecht, and Gerritsen. Oma and Pop first first learned about Lake Lincolndale when in the mid-1930s his friend Joe Portman bought lots and built a summer cottage there. Walter Klaus and Anthony Bachmann soon followed. Key players in this story are Joe Portman and Walter Klaus who were carpenters by trade. They built their own houses there along with men from their Bronx businesses.
Its time to Buy some lots!
Now Oma and Pop had a decision to make. This was an easy one for Pop because he was a ‘thinker and planner’ kind of guy. First decision was buy near to their friends from the Bronx. Looking at what was available close by was the old original farmhouse lying in the rubble remains of its once proud fieldstone self. They purchase 6 lots (120’x100′) somewhere around 1940. The lots they chose had old farmhouse remains on them.
Pop had a vision for all those fieldstones because they could be used for building the foundation of his house. A side benefit was there was also an old ‘Dug’ well which could be used for a water supply for anything from mixing cement to keeping things cool. It was about 20′ deep. So when the family went up for the day, they would lower the beer, milk, ice tea etc. down into the cool water. Dad remembers that very well. I am letting him take the description for a while, he lived it!
The Portman’s and our family were very close friends. They allowed us to share their home with us during the building process. They had a nice big porch we bunked in and in the picture left to right are my sister Elizabeth, myself, with Sonny and Gloria Portman. Topside is Oma and Pop. Mrs. Portman must have taken the picture.
We are entering a new Phase of the construction as you can see in one of the above pictures. The Germans were carpenters, not stone workers. So we introduce two new names here. There were two Italian immigrants, Mr. Morelli, an who had already build his home next to ours out of stone and Mr. Cappelletti who worked for my father in Parkchester. They both enter the picture in about 1941 after the family moved to Parkchester in the Bronx. Both these men were skilled stone masons who could fit and shape the stone into a beautiful wall. As I recall, these walls are 18″ thick. Mr. Cappelletti, while he worked in Parkchester, lived on Arthur Ave., Bronx’s Little Italy which was near Fordham Road by Fordham University. Why this is important comes next!
Mr. Morelli worked alone on the foundation during the week but was joined by Mr. Cappelletti and Pop on the weekends. When Pop and I left Parkchester on Saturday morning with the daily provisions, we would pick up Cappelletti in front of Fordham Campus on Fordham Road in the Bronx and he would always have a bucket of cuttings from the campus hedges with him. He would meticulously plan these along front property line to start the hedge which Chris still manicures to this day. This continued on into 1947 when Pop was promoted and we moved down to Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan, Cappelletti had great gardening skills so after foundation was complete, he worked with Pop in creating the environment around “The House on Flower Drive”.
Here is a picture of the original casement windows which Pop rescued from an old burned down garage on Rt. 100. I can still see Pop, cleaning and painting them in Mr. Morelli’s driveway getting them ready for installation in ‘the build’.
Also shown in this picture is the detail Morelli put into the finished concrete after the walls were put up. This detail can also be seen on the house that was his next door to Chris’s . The windows were later replaced by Chris to make them more efficient and usable.
OK! Time to call the Carpenters Back to the Job to cover up the stonework!
Here are some picture of the house when all it had was a flat roof. Not a simple task. It stayed that way until around 1950. Reason for delay was twofold! One, money to continue the build and second, the shortage of supplies because of the WW2. Enjoy these various scenes. Many show not only the house but the many people who visited and joined Oma and Pop’s dream retreat house.
Since the ‘HOUSE’ is our focus here, we should look at some details.
Please relook at the above pictures. You may pause them if you wish using the II button.
A house does not function without ‘infrastructure’, so I will point some things out to you.
- First of all you can see how young I was when all this happened in the picture with Pop. My memories of this is like it was yesterday.
- Next look at the side view picture and notice the following points: The slope of the roof had to be there so the water would run off toward front. This had to be made in such a way that it could be removed when the upper level would be built.
- You should also notice the stovepipe stack for kitchen wood stove as well as the hole in the chimney base for the fireplace ‘ash dump’ cleanout and a rain-barrel to catch roof water runoff. This was vital as a bucket full could be used to flush toilet till indoor plumbing was installed. All the waste pipes for that were installed under the floor before concrete was finally poured to finish off the floor.
- On the front view, there are two views as the hedges grow into place. The garage door was hand-built by Mr. Portman and survived until Chris finally put a new one in. On the right of that you see a long post off the roof where the electric service was brought in from the street.
- Next you see the sidewalk to the rear of the house. This was no small task. They were handmade by Pop. He built forms for the plates as well as the sidewalls. Each week before we left to go back to the city, he mixed cement, filled the forms so the following week he could add them to the walk. One sidewall piece still has a few pennies in it that were placed there by me.
- Finally, you see us all sitting with the Kihn’s, our cousins from Baltimore, having dinner cooked by Oma inside the house. You can see the old wood stove used for cooking and an ‘ice box’ for the food. Remember now, that the finished part of the house, contained the garage, a bathroom (toilet only) , a kitchen area, and a large front room. Somehow, the Kihn’s would be up each summer for a week’s stay. Oma and Pop made it happen! By the way, the bucket (sparingly) of rain water would flush the toilet and it went into the septic system installed out by and under the garden area.
Chris, more to come and pics to repair. I am learning all over again! Love Dad
In 1941 and August held a position with Metropolitan Life until he retired in 1966.
- In here I need the story of the acquiring the land and erecting the foundation
- Date of purchase?
- I need the story behind the lone chimney and what existed here before
The Laubis family remained on lower east side of Manhattan but enjoyed the good life of rural country living on weekends and during the summers. They enjoyed simple living in the foundation of the house for more than 10 years. In between working on their properties, the men played horseshoes and cards, and the women took the children swimming at the lake and managed family life.
- In here I need the story of the hedges from Fordham Road
- When did the roads get paved and when were neighboring houses erected
August and Theresa began making plans to turn the summer dwelling into their retirement home. They needed to build the upper level. Good friend Joe Portman became the head carpenter on the project, but raw materials were scarce and expensive. Somewhere August bought a truck load of used lumber. It still had nails in it which the family had to remove before it could be re-used. All the wood needed to be carried to the back, stacked according to size and covered safely for future use. Ultimately the lumber was applied to the outside at a 45-degree angle.
- In here I need additional information about the second level construction, decorating, furnishing, etc.
- What’s the significance of the 45-dgree angle
- Where did other materials come from
August and Theresa moved out of New York City in 1966 and into their completed retirement home in Lincolndale. By that time Elizabeth had married Alfred West and Hubert had married Evelyn Murphy.
Elizabeth and Alfred’s daughter Lisa came in 1961 and they lived in Rumson, New Jersey. Hubert and Evelyn’s son Chris came in 1966 and in 1967 they moved from Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan to a home on Aspen Road, across the lake from August and Theresa.
In 1972(?) Lisa West came to Lincolndale to live with August and Theresa and attended Somers schools. August Laubis passed away on December 7, 1978 at the age of 77, leaving Theresa and Lisa living in the house on Flower Drive.
Lisa West began dating Lincolndale resident Ted Montini in 1978 and when they were married in 1980, Lisa moved out. The newlyweds rented a cottage in Carmel, New York. Timothy Montini was born in 1982(?) and Kristin Montini followed in 1984(?).
In 1984(?) the property was divided into two lots, the southern lot upon which the house sits, and the northern lot which was sold off to a builder. Hubert and Evelyn Laubis relocated to Germany for a two-year business assignment from 1985 to 1986(?). By the time they returned, it was clear that Theresa, now 86 years old, needed additional support, so Hubert and Evelyn took her into their home in Granite Springs. Lisa, Ted, Timothy and Kristin Montini then moved to Flower Drive in 1986(?).
On November 13, 1988 Theresa Laubis passed away and ownership of the house passed to her son Hubert Laubis. In early 1989(?), the Montini’s bought their first home and moved back to Carmel and the house was empty for the first time.
Chris Laubis had spent the past 5 years living in Staten Island, New York. On June 1, 1989 Chris moved into the house on Flower Drive.