24 October 2022

The McCune Mansion has a Twin in New York City

The architectural styling of Salt Lake City's McCune Mansion was based on the John H. Matthews home in New York City (but reversed).

Salt Lake City's McCune Mansion, 2022

Salt Lake City's McCune Mansion, 2022

The John H. Matthews home was built in 1891 at the corner of Riverside Drive and 90th Street in Manhattan, a grand boulevard between NYC’s Central Park and the Hudson River. At the time, Riverside Drive in NYC was similar to South Temple in SLC, home to many fine mansions of the ultra-rich.

Matthews Mansion in NYC 1920s. From the Museum of the City of New York

The Matthews house received a lot of attention, it was featured in the Oct 1898 edition of Munsey’s Magazine and was part of the “Greater New York Illustrated” (1897+) photograph book. The architects of the Matthews house, Lamb & Rich, also designed abundant buildings throughout the East Coast.

In April 1900, the McCune’s architect, Samuel C. Dallas, was sent to NYC and other large East Coast cities to find some architectural ideas for Alfred and Elizabeth McCune’s new home. After a month Alfred joined him in NYC and together they inspected the finest residences. Shortly after their return, the plans for the McCune mansion were decided upon with Elizabeth, who chose the architectural styling of the Matthews house. Construction began soon after and Elizabeth set about choosing the interior finishes and furnishings.

The 3-story McCune Mansion has 21 rooms and 5 marble fireplaces. Elizabeth chose woods such as bird’s eye maple, South American blond mahogany, and English Oak. Marbles were from Italy, Africa, and Scotland. Rugs were handmade in Persia and roofing tiles were from Holland.

Each room has a different theme. For example, the banquet room adjoining the ballroom is English Renaissance and is based on Haddon Hall in England. It has mahogany woodwork, hand-embroidered wool tapestries were hung on the wall, and the walls adorned with painted hunting scenes and woodlands reminiscent of Robin Hood.

Here are some additional images of the Matthews House from the Museum of the City of New York:  in 1895, 1903, and 1921.

Tours of the McCune Mansion are available through Preservation Utah.

Deseret News March 6 1900
Salt Lake Herald March 6 1900
Munsey’s Magazine Oct 20 1898
UDSH McCune Mansion file
The Lost John H Matthews House
Greater New York City Illustrated 1905

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