Thursday, January 31, 2013

The John Nicholas Brown House, Providence RI

In 1985, Anne S. K. Brown died at her Newport home, Harbor Court. She was the widow of the enormously wealthy John Nicholas Brown II, who was nicknamed "The Richest Baby in the World" since he inherited some $100 million at the time of his birth. Both her Newport and Providence homes were donated. Harbor Court to the New York City Yacht Club and the Providence home to Brown University (which John II's ancestor had founded). The Providence home had been built in 1792 by Caleb Osborne and was sold in 1814 to Nicholas Brown II (founder of Brown University). The home passed down through generation and ended up in John II's hands. He and Anne wintered at the home for most of their life, summering at Harbor Court. When he died, it went to Anne. Today, it serves as the John Nicholas Brown Center For Humanities and Cultural Heritage. 

File:Nightingale–Brown House Providence RI 2012.jpg

Click HERE For More on The House
HERE For More of John Nicholas Brown II

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Stonors

The Stonor Family was one of the most notorious families in England and Newport RI. The American part of the family started with the marriage of Mildred Sherman to Ralph Stonor, then Baron of Camoys. Like many young ladies of her time (such as Consuelo Vanderbilt, Louise Van Alen and Barbara Hutton) Mildred was a "Dollar Princess" and married Stonor for his title. It was her father's fortune that saved the Stonor's ancestral home Stonor Park. Her daughter Noreen (pictured above) was the one who cut a slash in Newport society. Her other daughter Nadine was a quiet and sweet socialite who quietly married a Pepys. Her final child Sherman inherited Stonor Park and the barony. He married the extremely abusive Jeanne and they lived miserably at Stonor. It was said by their daughter Julia (who is currently helping me with my book about Newport) that Jeanne murdered her husband and then was murdered by Julia's brother and her daughter. 

To See My Pinterest Page For Them, Click HERE
Click HERE To See My Post Titled "Remembering Noreen"

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

El Mirasol, The Stotesbury Estate, Palm Beach

In 1919, the enormously wealthy Edward T Stotesbury commissioned famed Palm Beach architect Addison Mizner to build a large Spanish colonial revival palace in the sand for his wife, Eva. Besides El Mirasol, the Stotesbury properties would also include a large Bar Harbor mansion called "Wingwood", a large country estate known as "Whitemarsh Hall" and a twin townhouse in Philadelphia. The mansion cost $657,000 and included, among other things, several patios, a theater, garage, 100-seater dining room, a teahouse and a zoo. It was the largest Palm Beach home built at the time, the ground floor alone being 35,000 square feet.

The Courtyard of El Mirasol

Stotesbury died with a mere $4 million (mere when compared to the previous $125 million fortune he had had when he married Eva) and a lot of debts. This would not be nearly sufficient enough to enable her to continue to live the lifestyle she was used to. She auctioned off all of the furnishings at Whitemarsh Hall and then sold the estate. She did the same thing to Wingwood and then as well to their townhouse. The staff was cut from 40 to 15 and the yacht was sold. She sold all of their limousines, except for her custom-built Rolls Royce, and most of their art collection. All of the money from this, plus the totals from the sale of most of her jewelry, allowed her to keep El Mirasol and live in relative luxury and comfort. After her death, the Spanish mansion was demolished in 1959. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

The 2013 Winter Antiques Show

Congratulations New York City! this years 2013 Winter Antiques Show, held at your very own Park Avenue Armory, will be featuring items from Newport's famed Preservation Society mansions. Items from the following mansions: The Elms, Breakers, Marble House, Rosecliff, Chateau Sur Mer, Hunter House, Chepstow and Kingscote will be there. If I were you, I would go, but I don't live in New York City! 

Slab table. Attributed to John Goddard, Newport, ca.1755. 42 ¼ in. x 20 in. x 28 7/8 in. Mahogany and marble. Hunter House. 

Attributed to John Goddard (1724-1785), this serpentine form marble slab table was made circa 1755. Goddard was the foremost practitioner of the serpentine style, and his pieces were popular in Newport. The front legs terminate in boldly carved ball and claw feet, the rear talons of which have the distinctive extra knuckle favored by John Goddard.

Dr. William Hunter’s Spaniels. Gilbert Stuart, Newport, ca. 1770. 30 ¾ in. x 35 ¾ in. Oil on canvas. Hunter House.
One of his earliest recorded works, this oil on canvas painting was created by Gilbert Stuart around the year 1770. It depicts two spaniels resting beneath a serpentine tea table. Stuart is recognized as one of the foremost portrait painters of the late 18thand early 19th centuries.

Mrs. Elizabeth Drexel Lehr (later Lady Decies). Giovanni Boldini, Paris, 1905. 46 in. x 86 in. Oil on canvas. The Elms.
This full length portrait of Mrs. Harry (Elizabeth Drexel) Lehr was executed in Paris in 1905 by the artist Giovanni Boldini. Born Elizabeth Wharton Drexel, she was the daughter of Joseph William Drexel, partner of J. Pierpont Morgan, and Lucy Smith Wharton. She married Joseph Vinton Dahlgren in 1889 and following his death, married Harry Symes Lehr in 1901. In her autobiography King Lehr and the Gilded Age (1935), Mrs. Lehr describes how her new husband revealed on their wedding night that theirs was to be a marriage in name only, and that he was only interested in her money. In 1943, Lady Decies was immortalized in a photograph by Weegee, entitled “the Critic,” depicting her with Mrs. G.W. Kavanaugh, in formal dress and diamond tiaras at the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera, while a homeless woman looks on.

Centerpiece.  Paul Storr, England, 1822-1823. 43 in. Silver. Marble House. 
This silver centerpiece entitled The Judgment of Paris was made by renowned English silversmith Paul Storr for the Baron Henrique Teixeira de Sampaio of Lisbon, Portugal.  Storr worked in the neoclassical style and created everything from simple tableware to large scale sculptural pieces.

Vases. John Bennett, England, ca. 1880.  Kingscote.   

Ceramicist John Bennett was instrumental in bringing a taste for Aesthetic Movement ceramics from Great Britain to America.  Bennett’s style and choice of subject matter – flowers, birds and fruits stylized into flat, two-dimensional patterns – had much in common with Japanese prints and works by British designers such as William Morris.

Caryatid. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, American, 1913. 5 ½ in. x 5 ½ in. x 22 ¾ in. Bronze. The Breakers. 
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney created this bronze statuette of a male figure in 1913; it is one of six studies made for the Three Graces fountain at McGill University in Montreal. This cast was displayed in an early Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney exhibition at the Newport Art Association in 1916. Two of the other statuettes are in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Trinity Church, The Worship Place of The 400

In 1846, Richard Upjohn was commissioned to rebuild a large, gothic church at the intersection of Walls Street and Broadway in New York City. This church was known as Trinity Church. 

File:Trinity Church Bird's Eye View New York City 1846.jpg
Trinity in 1946

The church was a hit with the prominent members of New York City society. An example of this, was that in 1877, more than 30 years later, an altar was erected in memory of William Backhouse Astor Sr. The Astors were upstarts at this time. It was only through the help of William's daughter-in-law, Caroline Webster Schermerhorn, whose mother was good friends with Daniel Webster's wife, that the family rose to the top of New York City aristocracy. 

Caroline, a deeply religious woman, was always an attendant of Trinity Church. Every Sunday she could be seen at the Astor pew, always alive in pearls, bursting out the hems. When Caroline died in 1908, a large cenotaph was erected by her daughter in honor of her. 

Caroline Astor Cenotaph 

After Caroline's demise, however, Trinity Church was slowly falling away from the hearts of New York City's prominent 400, though it always remained in the hearts of the Astors. Nevertheless however, many famous people have been scene worshipping there. Among them billionairess Doris Duke, sing/actor Frank Sinatra and President John F. Kennedy. 

Among the famous people buried in the cemetery are, besides Astor memorials, Clement C Moore: the man who wrote " Twas the night before Christmas", Booker T Washington III: grandson of Booker T Washington, John J Audubon: the famed artist, William A Darling: A Republican congressman representing NY and Fernando Wood: Democratic mayor of NY. The church itself continues to be New York City landmark and is visited by thousands of people every Sunday. 

 Photos Couresty of NYC Architecture
To Read More, Click HERE

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Leonard Jerome Mansion

The Leonard Jerome mansion was the home of financier Leonard Jerome, whose daughter became the mother of Winston Churchill. The mansion, the first of it's kind compared to the surrounding dowdy brownstones, featured a ballroom over the carriages, a 27-seater breakfast room, a dining room that could hold 100 people and a movie theater that could hold 600 people.

The carriage house was built first and the family lived there while the house was under construction. It was one of the grandest homes along Madison Avenue, costing $200,000.

The Jerome's entertained very frequently and lavishly at the mansion. One Jerome ball cost $300,000 and featured guests dressed as Bible figures. Despite their simple costumes, most of the guests felt the need to down themselves with thousands of dollars in gems. 1,000 bottles of wine were consumed that night and the dinner featured 10 courses. 

When Jerome moved uptown, the mansion was sold and housed a series of private clubs including the Manhattan Club, a bastion of Democratic politicians such as Grover Cleveland, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Alfred E. Smith.

The building was given landmark status in 1965, but when the owner was unable to find a buyer for it after two years, it was permitted to be torn down in 1967, to be replaced by the New York Merchandise Mart.

The Mansion in 1967

Photos Courtesy of Private Collections, Click HERE For More

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The $1.5 Million Astor Diamond Ring

Pinned Image

Once owned by Empress Eugene, it was purchased in 1906 directly from the Empress's jewelry box by Caroline Astor, queen of New York City and Newport society. She often wore the diamond ring to her many dinner parties and balls at her fabulous mansion overlooking Central Park. When she died, her son John placed the ring along with several of her other valuable pieces in the Astor vault. It was then pulled out by his son, John VI, who gave it as an engagement ring to Eileen Gillespie (later Eileen Slocum). They broke it off and the ring, then valued at $100,000, was placed back in the Astor vault. It was recently auctioned off for $1.5 million. 

Photo: Auction Website 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Clarendon Court, Poor Sunny's Newport "Cottage"

Probably one of Newport's most infamous "White Elephants", Clarendon Court, which was recently for sale, remains mostly intact in a time when most Newport estates are subdivided. The home was built in 1903 by Horace Trumbauer for Edward C Knight, who named the estate Claradon Court after his beloved wife Clara, who died in 1928. 

Floor Plan

Following her death, Knight moved to a much less elaborate Trumbauer estate, Stonybrook, in nearby Middletown RI. He sold the estate Mae Cadwell Hayward of New York, formerly the wife of Morton F. Plant. 

Mrs Hayward's Mansion in New York City, Built By Her and Morton, Which Was Across The Street From The Mansion of Her Friend, Grace Vanderbilt

Mae's changes to the house were limited. She changed the name of the home from Claradon Court to Clarendon Court. Probably the biggest renovation she made was the conversion of the service rooms (kitchen, servant's dining room and laundry room) into a large art gallery to house her expansive collection. She moved the service rooms to the basement. 

The New Floor Plan

Mae continued to summer in the home until her death in the 1950's. Her widower, now John E. Rovensky, inherited Clarendon Court and the NYC residence, along with half of her now small estate of $4 million. On his death 20 years later, his daughter sold the still shimmering mansion to  utilities heiress Sunny Crawford Von Bulow, whose parents summered at Champ Soleil. Sunny, then with a net worth of $75 million, bought the home for her and her husband, Claus Von Bulow, who would later be accused of trying to murder his wife. 

Sunny Was The Perfect Image of a Newport Socialite, Wealthy, Good Looking, Blonde, Fashionable and Blue Blooded 

News Photo: Claus Von Bulow twice tried for the attempted…
Claus Von Bulow Twice Tried For Attempting To Murder His Wife And Then Sued By His Step Children For $50 Million In Damages

Thanks to her mother's groundwork, Sunny and her family were able to enter Newport at the top of the social ladder. They were members of numerous clubs, including the Newport Reading Room and the Sprouting Rock Beach Association. Clarendon Court soon became the scene of numerous parties and events. Claus also served on the boards of The Preservation Society and Newport Casino. Though they seemed like a picture perfect family, the Von Bulows had deep deep-rooted problems, many of which would tear them apart. 

Clarendon Court Was About To Be The Scene of One Of Newport's Biggest Scandals, One Involving A Poor-Little-Rich-Girl Heiress and A Killer Husband

The story read like an early version of Fatal Vows. Claus, who had been forced by Sunny to quit his job and become a full time husband, was tired of being a "hired ornament" and wanted leave Sunny for his mistress, actress Alexandra Isles. But could he walk away from Sunny's immense fortune? Sunny told her children about her and Claus's problems and said she was fine with divorce, she had already done it once. Then, in 1979, while watching television with her husband, Sunny suddenly passed out while her seemingly unconcerned husband lay by her side. This odd behavior, aided by the fact that Claus failed to call for help, caused Sunny's personal maid, Maria, and Sunny's children, Ala and Alex, to wonder if Claus had his own murderous agenda. 

News Photo: Socialite Claus von Bulow sighted on June 23…
What Lengths Would An Estranged Husband Be Willing To Go To End His Marriage With His Wife And Still Get His Hands On Her Money

And then, one year later, Maria, Ala and Alex's worst fears were confirmed when Sunny slipped into a coma and never awoke. Ala and Alex persuaded New York attorney Richard H. Kuh to investigate and, after gathering evidence, presented his case to the judge. After a lengthy investigation, a Rhode Island grand jury delivered the words Claus Von Bulow never expected to hear "FINANCIER INDICTED ON CHARGE OF TRYING TWICE TO KILL WIFE". For months, Americans read about the real life soap opera: Sunny, the ultrawealthy wife; Claus the self absorbed husband who wanted a divorce; Ala and Alex; Sunny's pampered children with multiple trust funds; Cosima; Sunny and Claus's daughter who took dad's side and Maria; the devoted maid who went to the police with evidence of foul play. 

News Photo: Danish born British socialite Claus von Bulow walks…
Cosima Took Her Father's Side

All the while, Newport's cottagers were quick to decide which side they were on. Eileen Slocum and Candy Van Alen took Sunny's side, both being good friends with Sunny's mother, Annie Aitken, who was convinced, along with the rest of her family, that Claus had attempted to murder her daughter. Meanwhile on the side, Mrs John Nicholas Brown, Anne, took Claus's side, even announcing it at a dinner party. Most cottagers, though, were loyal to Sunny's family and thus believed Claus was a murderer. 

Clarendon Court Was Now A Mansion Of Scandal

Claus was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to 31 years, much to the glee of his step children and wife's maid. Claus demanded a retrial and he got one, though this time, they were held in Providence instead of Newport. Cottagers, who were enjoying the tourism, were devastated. The second trial found Claus not guilty and he walked free. As a result of her loyalty to her father, Cosima was disinherited by her grandmother. Claus told Annie that if she put Cosima back into her will that he would divorce Sunny (who was still in a coma) and not claim any of her money. Annie gave Cosima back her 1/3 of the estate and Claus left Sunny without a penny.  Sunny would last until 2008, dying a age 77.

News Photo: Daily News page 8 dated Dec 7 Headline…

Clarendon Court was sold to Glenn C. and Patricia Randall. When Mrs Randall died in 2010, their daughter put the mansion up for sale. It sold in 2012 and is now currently a private residence. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mrs Drexel and The Kennedys

Mrs John R Drexel Greets John F. Kennedy and His Wife, Jackie, Whose Dress Covers Her Pregnancy, At The Tiffany Ball in Newport. Click HERE to read about it. 

Thanks Julia

Julia with Prince William of Gloucester  

I just want to give a Thank You to Julia Camoys Stonor, an author of two books and who has said she will help me with information for my a new book I am writing about Newport. She is helping me with information regarding her late aunt, Noreen Stonor Drexel, Mrs John R Drexel III of Newport and Palm Beach. Her help will be instrumental and I want to say Thank You Julia!

As a courtesy to Julia, please visit her website, HERE, and you can read more about this wonderful lady HERE. Also, try out her books, Sherman's Wife and her new book that is coming out, Sherman's Daughter. Again, Thank You Julia!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Phipps Mansion, Westbury L.I.

The Phipps mansion in Old Westbury Long Island was the home of John Shaffer Phipps. It was built in 1903 and designed to resemble Mrs Phipps english family home in Battle Abbey. The 23-room mansion was designed by George Crawley, and expands over 160 acres. John, who spent his last year in a Palm Beach mansion called "Casa Bendita" now owned by his granddaughter, personally had the dining room from his New York City mansion reinstalled here before it was demolished. Today, the grounds and building are the Old Westbury Gardens.

For More, Click HERE and HERE.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Anglsea Estate, Newport RI

Built in 1880 by Detlef Lienau for dry good merchant Walter H. Lewis, is was sold to the Pierson Family of New York. Soon after purchasing the home, Mrs Pierson, the former Susan Rhodes, inherited a nearby cottage, Roselawn, which was right down the street. Like the Van Alen children, who split their early Newport summers between Wakehurst and Rosetta Cottage, the Pierson children split their summers between Anglsea and Roselawn. Mr and Mrs Pierson, along with daughter Marguerite, were included amongst Mrs Astor's 400. On the Piersons death, the house passed through several family heirs, eventually ending up in the hands of Mrs Beverly Bogert, a fashionable hostess who lived in the house till her death in 1996. Afterwards it was sold and it is now a private residence. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What Aristocrats Consider Poverty

 With his serious financial predicament (involving his American wife's fortune), Robert Crawley, as of Downton Abbey Sreason 3 Episode 2, Lord Grantham, is forced to sell his family's ancestral home. As a result, the Crawley family must "downsize" to a much smaller estate. They choose a small estate to the north they own, which they plan on calling Downton Place. For some reason this means that the Dowager Countess, Violet Crawley, Robert's mother, must also sell her georgian mansion, The Dower House, which is about the size of Downton Place. Unknowing where she will reside, she asks her son. 

Violet: And where will I live?

Robert: Well we still own most of the town

Violet: So I suppose I should live there and open up a shop?

Despite the town, Down Place also came with extensive lawns and gardens and several outbuildings. With a much smaller house, the family also must get accustomed to a much less grander lifestyle than they are used to. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Downton Abbey Season 3

I just started Season 3 of Downton Abbey today (yes, I know I am a little late, but I prefer to watch it without commercials) and it was just as you would have expected, Great! For those who haven't seen it yet (I can't imagine anyone later than myself, but who knows) I won't spoil it for you, but it is really great. Here are some photos I found of this upcoming season (which has already premiered in Britain). 

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