I had heard rumors for some time that a Joseph Knapp had another place on Long Island. Many had told me it was in Islip, but I knew that was Harry Knapp's place and there was no relation. Also no one seemed to know which Joseph Knapp. Then I had heard possibly of a home in Southampton. The rumor became reality after a phone conversation with author /historian Robert B. Mackey.
"Tenacre" was designed for Joseph Palmer Knapp in 1920 by architect John Russell Pope. Pope's name might not be as familiar to the average American as say Frank Lloyd Wright or Stanford White's is, however Pope's work has probably been visited by more people than both Wright and White combined. The Jefferson Memorial, The National Archives, National Gallery Of Art and Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. , Metropolitan Museum Of Art and The Frick Collection in New York City, Yale and John Hopkins Universities, where he worked on proposals with the James Gamble Rogers grandfather of one of my dearest friends the late Gamble Rogers of Florida. *
Pope did residences on Long Island for William K. Vanderbilt, Marshal Field, Charles A. Gould among other very prominent families. Author Steven McLeod Bedford has done a definitive work on him with his fine book, "John Russell Pope.... Architect Of Empire" 1988 Rizzoli Publications, NY. It was in this book, I found the drawing of "Tenacre" a Southampton residence for Joseph Palmer Knapp circa 1920 -22. The fact that Knapp was only associated with the home for two years suggests to me he may of placed the homes for sale when his wife Elizabeth Laing McIlwaine Knapp passed away in 1922. I do not know yet if it still stands, or suffered the fate of other Knapp homes. I will hopefully know the answer soon. Although "Tenacre" is very different looking than the Mastic Beach mansion of his children, from looking at some of Mr. Pope's earlier work from 1900-1915, I would say it is highly probable he was involved with the Mastic Beach home too and the Tolfree Estate Island Manor House near Smith Point.
"For publisher Knapp, the architect designed a house in Shingle Style. Although it was a relatively small commission, the romantically sloping gable and relatively loose massing, skillfully handling of the shingles as a membrane and effectively sympathetic plantings demonstrate Pope's skill in this mode. A contemporary critic on the reserved interior, noted that 'those elements of refined gentility that have become that have become the outstanding feature of our domestic architecture' were present in Pope's design. "
Unfortunately, Elizabeth Laing McIlwaine Knapp did not get to enjoy her Southampton Home for very long. She died here on June 24, 1922. Here is her obit from the New York Times