Saturday, October 27, 2012

Miramar, The Mrs. Alexander H. Rice "Cottage", Newport

On April 15 1912, the brand new luxury liner, Titanic, sank to the bottom of the ocean. It was her maiden voyage. There were over 1,500 people still onboard. One of them was George D Widener and his son Harry. In one of the 20 lifeboats sprawled around the wreckage was Eleanor Elkins Widener, mother of Harry and wife of George. That night Eleanor became a widow.

Eleanor Had Come From The Immensely Wealthy Elkins Family of Philadelphia. You Could Say She "Grew Up With A Silver Spoon In Her Mouth"

Eleanor returned home without her husband and her son and was met by the Widener Family's private train. For months she mourned at the Widener estate, Lynnewood Hall, alongside her other son and daughter. Finally three years after the sinking, she married Alexander Hamilton Rice, a famous explorer .
Alexander Hamilton Rice On One Of His Numerous Safari Expeditions, Which Were Paid For By Eleanor's Money

As a memorial to Widener, Eleanor had their Newport cottage, Miramar, completed, which had been started before the Titanic. She lived there for most of her mourning period and continued to live there with Rice.

Miramar Was One Of The Largest Homes In Newport, It Was Built In Less Than 3 Years And Only That Long Because Of Eleanor's Mourning Period

The most sumptuous part of the estate was it lavish gardens and grounds. On the property were a large garage unit, rose gardens, green houses, ice house, gardener's cottage and a small house toward the front of the property.

The Service Court, Which Was Normally Filled With Rolls Royce Limousines, Was Cleaned Daily By 5 Workmen

The Garage Unit, Where The 16 Rolls Royce Limousines Were Cleaned Daily, Whether Used Or Not, By 10 Men

The Lavish Rose Gardens Were Maintained By A Staff Of 17 Gardeners, Who Resided In A Large Cottage Near The Entrance

The Ground Floor contained a large vestibule, stair hall, reception room, living room, ballroom, dining room, service pantries and two loggias. The second floor held the master suites, guest bedrooms, guest suites, bathrooms, boudoirs, guest sitting rooms and the stair hall. The remaining floors held several servant rooms, two bathrooms, the servant's sitting room and a storage room.

The Living Room, Which Was Basically The Library. It Was Filled With Rice's Collection Of Expedition Volumes
The Reception Room, Where Eleanor Had Tea Every Morning, The Paneling Around The Fireplace Was Imported From Europe

The Dining Room Of Miramar, The Table Could Seat 50 People. The Rice Held Most Of Their Entertainments In Here

Miramar was officially opened with a large ball in August, with 500 guests in attendance. Eleanor greeted the guests with her daughter, (Eleanor) Mrs. Fritz Eugene Dixon, who also lived at Miramar. The guest danced in the ballroom and on the terrace, right next to the sea. The trees of the estate were adorned with electrical illuminations and the music was provided by the three orchestras.

Eleanor, Her Son George and Miramar's Architect Horace Trumbauer Attending A Lawn Party In Newport

Eleanor died in Paris in 1937. He $14 million and her three homes passed to Alexander. After his death, the homes passed to Eleanor and George.

George Widener And His Wife Jessie Sloane Attending A Party Given By Brooke Astor At Her Residence In New York City

George and Jessie continued to reside at Miramar, giving several large and lavish parties. Eleanor sold her mother's New York City and Palm beach residences and moved to her estate, Ronaele (Eleanor spelled backwards).

In Their Later Years, The Wideners Retired To Their Large Farming Estate, Giving Miramar To The Rhode Island Episcopal Diocese

Miramar passed through many hands, eventually ending up in David B Ford's. He is now immersed in a restoration renovation with John Tschirch (architectural historian at the Preservation Society of Newport).

                     Miramar Undergoing Renovations, Lead By David Ford and John Tschirch.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Beechwood, The Astor Cottage, Newport

Beechwood was first built for merchant Daniel Parrish by architects Andrew Downing and Calvert Vuax. The first cottage burned down in a fire and the one that stands there today was built. The mansion and grounds were purchased by millionaire William Backhouse Astor Jr for his wife Caroline Schermerhorn, Queen of New York City Society. Caroline brought in architect Richard Morris Hunt to redesign the "cottage" and turn it into a mansion capable of holding lavish parties. The renovations included the adding of a large ballroom to the back of the house and the adding of a servant's wing. After her son, John,'s death, Beechwood was sold by his son, Vincent, to Count and Countess Paul De Kotzebue. The Count sold the estate to Mr. and Mrs. William C. Clark of Newport and Palm Beach. They closed down 11 of the estate's 48 rooms and used the house for lavish entertaining. Today it is undergoing restoration renovation by billionaire Larry Edison. Click HERE to find out more about the Astors and their mansion in New York City. Click HERE to find out more about Beechwood.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hammersmith Farm, The Auchincloss's Newport Estate

Hammersmith Farm is a large Newport "cottage", formerly owned by the Auchincloss family. It was first sold to John Winthrop Auchincloss, who sold it to his brother, Hugh D. Auchincloss. When Hugh died, the estate passed to his son, Hugh D. Auchincloss Jr, whose 3rd wife was Janet Lee, former wife of Jack Bouvier. His stepdaughter, Jacqueline Bouvier, was married here to Senator John F Kennedy. After Hugh's death the property was sold. It has passed through many hands and is today a private residence. The Auchincloss family still resides on the property and own most of the grounds, though. Hugh D. "Yusha" Auchincloss III, Hugh's son, now lives in "The Castle", a large house that was originally the guest house. "The Palace", formerly the garage, is now occupied by Hugh III's sister. "The Windmill", a large non-working windmill by the ocean, is resided in by Hugh III's half sister, Nina. To read about "The Windmill", "The Castle", "The Palace" and other surviving Newport estates, click HERE.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Champ Soleil Estate Article

Below is an article of the large Newport estate Champ Soleil. The estate was built by Lucy Drexel Dahlgren and was later purchased by the enormously wealthy Robert Goelet, who was downsizing from his other Newport estate, Ochre Court. Click HERE for more.

Articles Courtesy Of Polhemus & Coffin

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Whim, The Newport Cottage Where Oatsie Charles Spends Her Summers

The Whim is the Newport cottage of Oatsie Charles, formerly the caretaker's cottage of the estate Land's End. Mrs. Charles had originally lived in Land's End, but she moved to the cottage after her husband's death. Mrs Charles renovated The Whim before she moved in, turning it into what she called "an elegant jewel box". In The Whim she placed her large collection of furniture and rare artwork, which included the antique paneling that she purchased from the auctioning of nearby Marble House. She made her biggest renovations on the grounds, which she turned into magnificent gardens. She recently had decorator John Peixinho redo the study at The Whim. "I told him I wanted a media room" said Charles "Not that I had any idea what that was. But I liked the sound of it". He completely redid the room, even re-covering her late husband's Barcalounger. Today, Oatsie still lives at The Whim and enjoys walking through her topiary wonderland. Click HERE to find out more about Land's End. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tennis At The Newport Casino

Above is a photo of a tennis match going on at The Newport Casino, built by James Gordon Bennett. Tennis was popular at the Casino, especially after Jimmy Van Alen (whose mother was Mrs. Louis Bruguiere and whose family had been summering in Newport for over four generations) founded the Tennis Hall of Fame and VASSS (Van Alen Streamlined Scoreing System). The Newport Casino is still open today. For more click HERE.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Four Seasons Manor

Nestled in the south Tulsa hills, a palatial French-inspired estate coined "The House of the Four Seasons" tells tales of the 17th century. It also tells the story of the family who dreamed it into existence. After eight years, the home of Ed Taylor and his late wife, Nancy, was finally finished in 1998. Currently on the market for $9 million, it's approximately 20,000 square feet and sits on nearly 4 acres of prime land near Oral Roberts University. "If this house were in Beverly Hills, no one would blink an eye," said Dennis Tate, executive manager of the Taylor estate. "All things are relative, and for a home in the Midwest, it captivates people." After the home was completed, a full-time staff of 12 worked inside. There were also executive-level butlers, a full-time gardener and a carpenter. The house has gold-plated sinks, marble floors, nine fireplaces, and it's packed to the gills with French antiques, oil paintings and fine draperies. And no one has ever lived in it. Taylor-made riches The mansion was Nancy's dream. Ed amassed a fortune in the communications industry in the '70s and '80s. "I figured I spent a lot of money buying up satellites, so she should be able to spend some of the money how she wanted," Ed Taylor said. In 1976, Taylor and his Southern Satellite Systems Inc., were called on by multimedia giant Ted Turner. Turner wanted his local TV station in Atlanta to be offered by satellite. "Most people in the country thought we had lost our minds," Taylor said. "Putting Ted Turner up on satellite? They thought we were nuts." Taylor did what no one else wanted to do. Afterward, Turner sold Taylor the rights to the new superstation's signal. Taylor paid $1. The two proved wrong the doubters and raked in millions in the process - Taylor from the nationwide sales of the signal and Turner from the advertising opportunities those sales created. Taylor, who has remained friends with Turner, went on to develop new channels - his most noted was what eventually became CNBC - and became a shareholder in many communications innovations. The advances in satellite TV have astonished even one of its pioneers. "HBO came along with a little dirty stuff, and Pat Robertson came along with a little religion," Taylor said. "No one dreamed that 20 years later it would be what it became." In 2008, Taylor eventually sold the majority share in his company - a 51 percent stake that made him $100 million richer. Already a wealthy man, the money didn't change his life much, except that he couldn't share it with Nancy. Lady of the manor Nancy Taylor was a patron of the arts, a former dancer who had a passion for architecture and antiques. She wanted her new home to rival a French chateau. And she got it. The exterior walls are stucco; the interior walls are plaster, not drywall. The beams on the 26-foot ceilings are intricately hand-painted. The wainscoting is wrapped in fabric - true to French life before electricity. Dual staircases frame a massive entryway chandelier that was rescued from a hotel in Monte Carlo. The bar in the "trophy room" is made of copper. A 3,400-square-foot master wing is home to two bathrooms, a study and 1,500 square feet of closet space. "This was (Nancy's) home. (Ed) built it for her; it was her dream," Tate said. "They traveled the world together, filling up the home with authentic furnishings. They discovered things together. It was almost as if the journey was greater than the destination." One of the couple's most prized finds was a one-of-a-kind Steinway and Sons piano that was commissioned for the 1878 World's Fair in Paris. It is golden, with hand-painted artistry flanking the sides. A family on Park Avenue in New York was selling their family heirloom, and the Taylors bought it sight-unseen. "Nancy and I happened to go to Buckingham Palace," Taylor said laughing, "and there sat an old Steinway, but it didn't have any of the paintings on it. "So my wife says about the queen's piano, 'That one isn't as nice as ours.' " Across the home's grand parlor, above the antique marble fireplace from a European castle, is an ornate frame. But there isn't a picture inside. It just sits empty because as early French culture dictates, that spot is reserved for the lady of the manor. "We commissioned an oil painting," Taylor said. "Nancy bought a very, very expensive dress to wear for the portrait. She just got too sick." 'Couldn't break her heart' Nancy first became ill in 1987. "No one knew what it was," Taylor said. "They later found out she had an autoimmune disease. But at that time, they were newly discovered and no one knew how to treat it." From 1987 to 1997, until Nancy couldn't any longer, the couple traveled the world. Despite their deep pockets, the Taylors didn't own homes in other states or exotic places. "We rented a place in Arizona when Nancy was in a (health) study there," Taylor said. "We didn't want to own a place anywhere but Tulsa." As Nancy's health worsened, Ed did everything he could to keep her spirits lifted. Before the construction on the new home was complete, Taylor said he knew his wife's dream wasn't going to be realized. "She was too ill to move," he said. "It couldn't be done, she wasn't going to be able to live there, and I wasn't going to tell her that. I couldn't break her heart. "I think if she had known when I knew - if she wouldn't have had that hope, something to look forward to - she would have given up. I wanted her with us as long as possible." She didn't live long enough to become the lady of the manor. After 20 years of suffering, Nancy Elizabeth Taylor died July 22, 2007, at 73. She and Ed had just celebrated their 53rd anniversary. Assessing his wealth You'd never know it based on his love of Tulsa, but Ed Taylor was raised back East and adopted Oklahoma in the '70s. When business took him back to New York in the '80s, he said, "We proved that you actually can't go home again. We hated it." So back they came. Ed was once the owner of a private jet, and he rubbed elbows with the likes of Turner and Rupert Murdoch, but for an interview with the Tulsa World, he pulled onto the sprawling grounds of his estate in a tan Buick sedan. He's surprisingly down-to-earth, somewhat uncomfortable in front of a camera's lens and a note-taking reporter. Ed is now remarried, and he and his second wife, Sylvia, live in the modest place the Taylor family called home for years. "Anymore, I'm just happy to find some other old folks who like to play bridge," he said. Ed still enjoys his fortune, no doubt, but he is also spending more time using it to meet community needs. He spoke with passion about his involvement with the Town and Country School, a haven for children with disabilities. His daughter, an architect who had to give up her firm because of arthritis, has also inspired him to give to juvenile arthritis programs. "There are 300,000 children right now suffering from arthritis, and they are going to get a whole lot sicker over their lifetimes," he said. The Taylor Family Foundation, run by one of Ed and Nancy's sons, helps many other charitable causes. "At this stage in my life, there are things God would rather me be doing with my money," he said. Ed Taylor has moved forward since Nancy's death, but he isn't afraid to talk about the home's history, a direct link to the first wife he loved dearly. "It was her dream," Ed Taylor said. "I only wish she had lived to experience it." So there the mansion sits, on a hilltop. Tulsa's movers and shakers come and go for parties and fundraisers. Prospective buyers pop in now and again. It has spent two years on the market and now is at a few million less than the starting price. With a wide smile and a head full of memories, Ed Taylor takes a deep breath and revisits one of the best deals he ever made. "Who wants to buy it?" he asked jokingly. "If you can pay the taxes, I'd give it to you for a dollar." By Brandi Ball

Click HERE for more

Friday, October 12, 2012

Beacon Towers, The Alva Belmont Estate, NY

Beacon Towers was a large, castle like estate, built for the Women's rights campaigner Alva Vanderbilt Belmont. Alva had been married to the enormously wealthy William K. Vanderbilt, but divorced him for her second husband, Oliver Belmont. On Belmont's death, Alva had the architectural firm of Hunt & Hunt build a massive estate on Long Island, which she would name Beacon Towers. Toward the end of her life, Mrs. Belmont began to sell her many properties. Brookholt (click HERE for more), her estate also on Long Island in 1915, her townhouse at 477 Madison Avenue (click HERE for more) in 1923 and later on her Newport estate, Belcourt Castle (click HERE for more). Finally she sold Beacon Towers in 1927 to William R. Hearst. The estate was eventually demolished into a pile of rubble.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mrs. Louis S. Bruguiere

"My Darling Mother" Jimmy Van Alen once said of his mother "Was The Last of Those Running A Taut Ship". He was right. Mrs. Bruguiere had originally been married to James Laurens Van Alen of Newport and she had lived with him and their family at his family's Newport estate, Wakehurst. Daisy, as Mrs. Bruguiere was known, had once said that "Wakehurst is the last properly run estate left in Newport". She was considered queen of the Old Guard and was, for 6 decades, Matriarch of the Van Alen Family. Once when a friend called to ask whether or not Daisy had received a art book she sent. Daisy promptly replied "I did and I promptly threw it in the wastebasket, you know I don't like those kind of books". I am currently seeking out information regarding Mrs. Bruguiere and the Van Alens with the plan of eventually writing a book about them. The photo above is of her in the sitting room of Wakehurst.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Design For The Entrance Grill To The Vanderbilt's Marble House

Above the design for the entrance grill to the Vanderbilt family's Marble House, their cottage in Newport. The cottage was built by Richard Morris Hunt and contained about 500,000 square feet of marble. It had been constructed for William and Alva Vanderbilt. Alva later on divorced William and claimed Marble House as part of her divorce settlement. Afterwards she married Oliver Belmont, who lived in another Newport cottage not far from Marble House, called Belcourt Castle. Shortly before her death, Alva sold the cottage to the Frederick H Princes. In 1957, Marble House was the scene of the Tiffany Ball , held by the Preservation Society of Newport to raise funds for their preservation work. Marble House was later bought by Harold Vanderbilt (Alva and William's youngest son), who donated it to the Preservation Society in honor of his mother. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...