Little is known about Ronald H. Pearce. His name first appears in the archives of the museum in correspondence dating from 1922 between the architectural firm of Warren & Wetmore and William K. Vanderbilt. The subject of the letter is the construction of the walls along Little Neck Road. In 1923, Vanderbilt wrote to Pearce in care of Warren & Wetmore concerning the pool and other matters. Other correspondence dealing with numerous contractors such as interior decorative painters and changes to the power plant document his involvement with improvements at “Eagle’s Nest” until 1930.
Published sources about Pearce are equally elusive. The first that appears in connection with the Vanderbilts is an article by Pearce for the Architectural Record [December 1926], which describes the newly completed Deepdale Golf and Country Club in Great Neck [Warren & Wetmore, Architects]. The article is meticulously complete with regard to the building, but offers little editorial comment about the architecture or the architects. In 1928, a New York Times article refers to a piece by Pearce that had appeared in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects about the reconstruction of the Library of the University of Louvain in Belgium. Also dating from 1928 is a Town and Country article entitled “A Rambling Spanish House on Long Island” in which the author states that William K. Vanderbilt had “sent Mr. Ronald Pearce to Spain to study the architecture of the different parts of the country” and that “the result of this profitable journey is a coordination of the different architectural expressions found in the North and the South of Spain into the attractive, rambling composition which is “Eagle’s Nest” on Northport Harbor.” The article thus implies that the altered and enlarged summer estate, which was transformed from a “four-room English cottage, useful for week-end visiting” into a Spanish-inspired mansion and complex of numerous other buildings, was quite possibly the work of Ronald H. Pearce.
From the museum’s archive of architectural drawings, Pearce’s name appears for the first time on an architectural drawing proposing an addition to the Hall of Fish. A Town and Country article in 1937 credits Pearce with the original design for this building , although the earlier drawings have not survived. In all probability, Pearce had begun working on the “Eagle’s Nest” project in the early 1920s and continued as Warren & Wetmore’s architect for the estate after the retirement of Warren from architectural practice in1931. His drawings for the Memorial Wing and other alterations to “Eagle’s Nest” indicate that he was a competent Beaux Arts architect with dramatic flair. Most importantly, he was skilled at designing additions and alterations that harmonized with previously built sections of the estate.
Ronald Hoyt Pearce maintained an office in New York City at 11 East 44th Street between 1932 and 1940.