In a letter written in 1970, David Rockefeller
thanked Mott Schmidt for twenty five years of service to the Rockefeller
family, aptly describing the special qualities of Schmidt's architecture:
"I know of no one in the country who can design Georgian houses with the
style, warmth and quality that you do. Our house could have been there for a
couple of centuries rather than a few decades. It is both elegant and friendly,
and it fits perfectly into the landscape. I am happy to have this opportunity
to tell you once again how much we have enjoyed living in it during the past
quarter century." These remarks are typical of the satisfaction expressed
by Schmidt's clients.
Mr. Rockefeller was speaking of Hudson Pines, the house Schmidt designed in 1938 for his sister, Abby, and subsequently altered for his own family. Schmidt began working for the Rockefellers in 1937, executing the lavish city apartment of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., on Park Avenue, containing a splendid collection of art and antiques. When sold in the 1970s it was billed as one of the grandest apartments in the city, taking most of the 15th and 16th floors of 740 Park Avenue (1929-30, by Rosario Candela). Eventually Schmidt would execute some dozen commissions for the celebrated family, including three houses on the Pocantico estate and several New York City apartment alterations. Hudson Pines remains one of his finest country houses, while the charming Pocantico estate stables (1948) and Hillcrest for Martha Baird Rockefeller (1962, now the Rockefeller Archives) are indicative of the care and quality Schmidt put into his later work for the family, probably his most important patrons. Despite their championing of Modernism through the Museum of Modern Art, the Rockefellers remained conservative and traditional in their domestic tastes. Schmidt's work was a perfect embodiment of the graceful way of life that these tastes supported.