Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rockefeller's Design Plans For The New Met

met opera proposal The New York City that Never Was: Part I Buildings

When the old Metropolitan Opera House at Broadway was sold and demolished, the Metropolitan Opera Company needed a building to move to. Before they had decided on their current Lincoln Square location, John D Rockefeller Jr submitted plans for a new civic center, with the new Met being located in the center. With the crash of the Stock Market, the company was unable to secure funding and so Rockefeller redesigned it into the Rockefeller Center that stand their today. 

Photo: Untappedcities 

Monday, February 25, 2013

960 Fifth Avenue

The apartment building at 960 Fifth Avenue is considered one of the nicest apartment buildings in New York City. The large building was designed by Whitney Warren and Rosario Candela and included a 17-room apartment with a two-story ceiling. It is famous for it's many apartments, most of which are designed differently and have different floor plans. Among it's many different residents have been Mrs Henry 'Sister' Parish, who occupied a first floor apartment and Johnny and Noreen Drexel, whose top-floor apartment occupied half of the floor. 
The apartment first started when the owner bought the William Clark mansion occupying the spot. It was one of the largest and most expensive homes in New York City and cost $7 million to build (Over $100 million today).

The Clark Mansion 'FOR SALE' 

The owner first acquired the Clark mansion, then bought the five mansion surrounding it. Down went the grand homes and up when luxurious apartment. Excitement was already in the air and one wealthy millionaire insisted on buying an apartment before completion. He then went on to demand that the living room of his new 17-room apartment be two-stories high.

The Living Room

Though that was awhile back, the apartment building is still extremely popular. Most apartment owners in the building have net worths above $100 million and almost all of the apartments cost $15 million. Today, it remains one of the most luxurious and exclusive apartment buildings in the New York City. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Heck of a Divorce Settlement

The 1951 B-52 Bomber The Was Part of Porfirio's Divorce Settlement 

In 1951, Porfirio Rubirosa divorced from the enormously wealthy Doris Duke. Doris, who had inherited $100 million from her father at age 12, was called 'The world's richest girl' and had a supreme net worth of over $1.3 billion ($11 billion today). Rubirosa's settlement included more than $11 million(in cash), a NYC apartment, a french chateau in Paris, a stable full of polo ponies, 15 different sports cars, B-52 Bomber, a fishing fleet off Africa and $25,000 annually until remarriage. It was said to be one of the most expensive divorce settlements in America. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013


'Wilderstein' was built by Thomas H. Suckley in 1852. His son Robert inherited the house
upon his death and commissioned several large scale renovations that turned it into the mansion
it is today. His daughter, Margaret 'Daisy' Suckley, a cousin of FDR, was the last owner of the estate. It was here that she raised several of her famous dogs, one of which she named 'Fala' and
gave to President Roosevelt. She became the archivist for the Presidential library and was one of four woman standing next to FDR when he died. In 1980, she established 'Wilderstein Preservation Society' and gave the estate and grounds to the society. Daisy died in 1991, in her 100th year. 

Photo: Robert Bruce 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Kennedys

I recently started (and finished) a miniseries about the Kennedy Family, called 'The Kennedys'. I was very great and informative, a portrayal into on of the most famous political families in the U.S. The costumes were great and the acting was wonderful (though the Oval Office set was kinda crappy and their portrayal of Hammersmith Farm made it look like it was a mountain house). Overall, it was a great and informative miniseries. 

Jack Kennedy

Jackie Kennedy

Robert Kennedy

Ethel Kennedy

Joseph P. Kennedy

Rose Kennedy

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Remembering the Birthday of CZ Guest and the Death Anniversary of Candy Van Alen

On this day, famed society debutante and Truman Capote 'Swan', 'C.Z.' Guest would have been 93 years old. It was her birthday, but it was also a memorable day for Newport fundraising hostess and Tennis Hall of Fame co-founder, 'Candy' Van Alen, who 11 years
ago died on this day at her apartment overlooking central park. These two ladies were greatly admired and are surely missed and remembered.  

Monday, February 18, 2013

Villa Chez Nous - MIddletown RI

Many of you (if not all of you) will not recognize this place. It is not a famous home, being located in not Newport but nearby Middletown RI. The home, known as Villa Chez Nous, is located directly across from 'Vinland', where the owner of this house worked for nearly 40 years as chef-de-cuisine. His name was Joseph Donon. 

French Chef Joseph Donon In The KItchen of The Twombly Estate 'Florham" 

He previously worked for the Henry Clay Fricks, and was about to go with them onto the Titanic, but Mrs Frick broke her ankle and they didn't go. He was lured away from them by Florence Twombly, who wanted him to cook for her at her three homes. 

'Vinland', The Twombly Cottage In Newport RI, Across From Villa Chez Nous

After Florence Twombly's death in 1954, and after a year of waiting for his replacement, Joseph decided it was time to retire. Mrs Twombly had left  him nearly $100,000 in her will, though he only received about $5,000 due to the massive inheritance taxes on her estate. In addition, he had been paid very well by the Twomblys and he also received a stipend for his services in the French Regiment. He retired to Villa Chez Nous, where he actively participated in fishing and cooking as a hobby. He made a guest appearance at 'Marble House' for a special event held by the Preservation Society and served as Head Chef. He died in 1982 and the home is currently in heirs hands. 

Photos Courtesy of Robert Bruce. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Seaview Terrace

Edson Bradley's $2 million Newport 'cottage' Seaview Terrace, which was originally in Washington DC. He decide to move to Newport because of his wife's heath and commissioned architect Howard Greenly to disassemble his DC palace, known as 'Aladdin's Palace' because of it's size, and reassemble most of it on a large Newport plot he bought had bought. Here are some photos I found of the mansion during the Bradley Tenure. 

The Entrance Hall

Exterior View

View of The Tower

Tower Entrance

Ballroom Entrance

Stair Hall

Photos, Courtesy of Bill Branch Collection 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Palm Beach Heart Ball

News Photo: ball at Flagler Mansion which is being turned…

In honor of Valentine's Day, here are two photos of guest at Palm Beach Society's Annual Heart Ball, normally held at The Everglades Club, though with the rare exception of the 1960 Heart Ball, held at 'Whitehall', the Henry Flager mansion. The Heart Ball was a fundraiser ball given every Valentine's Day and was usually headed up by Palm Beach Society Queens Mrs. Arthur Bruck, Mary Sanford and Barton Gubelmann. On average, it netted $10,000. 

Mary Sanford(L) With Brownie McLean(R), Whose Mother-in-Law Owned The Hope Diamond 

 Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Poor Little Rich Girl

Billionairess Doris Duke Walks With A Friend At A Party in Newport RI

In 1937, two years after her marriage to James Cromwell, Doris Duke began construction on a large oceanside estate in Honolulu. The estate included a large, one-story mansion with two guest bedrooms, several large pools, a Hawaiian fishpond, tropical garden, numerous water terraces, a playhouse which is a miniature replica of the main house, pool house, Turkish Room, Mihrab Room, Mughal Gardens and a gorgeous upper lawn, all situated on 4.9 acres. She named the estate Shangri La.

Doris Duke At Shangri La

Click HERE To Read A Wonderful Article By LIFE Magazine About Doris and The Estate. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Rich Are Different

When asked why she was carried around
everywhere by big burly guards and attendants
the dime store Woolworth fortune heiress 
Barbara Hutton, whose fortune exceeded $1.3 billion in
today's money, replied "Why Should I 
Walk When I Can Hire Someone To Do It For Me?"

Click HERE To See My Pinterest Page With More Anecdotes Of The Wealthy, Super Rich and The Just Plain Loaded - Titled 'The Rich Are Different' 

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Guy and Cynthia Cary Townhouse, New York City

Avery Architectural Archives
In 1922, multi millionaire Guy F. Cary, a prominent New York attorney, commissioned Mott B. Schmidt to build a large georgian mansion on upper Fifth Avenue for him and his second wife, Cynthia Roche. The cost of the mansion was $1.3 million. 

Mark Alan Hewitt, after working drawings in Avery

Mark Alan Hewitt, after working drawings in Avery

Architectural Elevation and Floor Plans 

Besides New York City, the couple also wintered in Newport RI, at the Roche cottage 'Elm Court'. The Carys, especially Cynthia, were prominent art collectors and they amassed an extremely extensive art collection, now housed at the Redwood Library and known as the Cynthia Cary Art Collection. They filled both their homes with their wonderful collection of artwork, tapestries and sculptures. 

Cynthia Cary Made Yearly Trips To Europe To Buy Artwork

Avery Architectural Archives
The Cary Townhouse Contained The Largest Private Wine Cellar on Fifth Avenue 

The Carys lived in their townhouse during the winters and Newport in the summers for 28 years. In 1950, Guy died at his philadelphia estate, leaving the home and a bottomless bank account to Cynthia. Since 'Elm Court' was already owned by Cynthia, Guy left her some rental property downtown. Cynthia was devastated and closed down the townhouse and headed off for Newport, though she was back next season and living in the townhouse. She continued to winter there every year until her death in 1966. 

Avery Architectural Archives
Entrance To Backyard Garden

Cynthia's son, Guy Jr, lived in the home for a time. He was already sharing 'Elm Court' in Newport with his siblings, when he decided to sell the mansion and downsize to an apartment. He emptied the wine cellar (he had made sure to find an apartment that had a wine cellar big enough to accommodate all his mother's wine collection, which had decreased in later years), shipped the art collection to 'Elm Court' and evicted the servants (some of whom were working for them in Newport). Christie's of Manhattan was called in and the furnishings and jewelry were auctioned off. The mansion in turn was sold to the Dalton School, who are still in residence today. 

To read more about Cynthia Cary, Click HERE and HERE.

Photos of the mansion, courtesy of Mott B. Schmidt. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ca' d'Zan Mansion, Sarasota FL

Above is a postcard of the John and Mable Ringling Mansion in Sarasota Florida, which I recently purchased. John and Mable Ringling were prominent collectors and they had scoured Europe for the finest designs for their new mansion. Today, the building is home to the Ringling Museum.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mrs John R Drexel Sr.

Mrs. John R. Drexel, Sr. (d. 1947)

Mrs John Rozet Drexel Sr, Alice G Troth, who prominently carried on her family's lavish and expensive way of excess living until her death in 1947. In New York City, her husband had Horace Trumbauer build a lavish limestone palace at a cost of $500,000 ($5 million in today's money). In Newport, they had a large tudor mansion erected, which they gracefully named "Fairholme". Both of these homes Alice had filled with the finest antique furniture she could find. She also showered herself with millions of dollars in jewels and gems, and clothed herself in the latest and most expensive costumes straight from Paris. After a few years of parties, and the elopement of her daughter to a invalid, the Drexels set of for Paris, where they purchased a city townhouse, and never returned. When her husband died, and her son being extremely irresponsible, she became vastly close to her grandson, John R Drexel III, who had married Noreen Stonor. When she died in 1947, she left everything to her grandson. This included all of her money (in cash, $7 million), jewels, gems, paintings, silverware, gold, furs, clothes, personal affects, furniture, rugs, chairs, vases, artwork, statuary, sculptures, glassware, antiques, masterpieces, documents, personal papers, stock, interest, Paris property, New York property, Newport property, Philadelphia property and a large trust. Most of the antique furniture went into redoing the Drexels Newport estate, Stonor Lodge. A large monument was erected in honor of his grandmother. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chateau Sur Mer

Chateau Sur Mer was built in 1852 for William S. Wetmore, a wealthy China Trade merchant who wanted a oceanside mansion to display his wealth. The grand mansion was designed in a heavy victorian style, with antique walls and ceilings. Since he was in the China Trade, he had developed a large collection of china, which he housed in a large walk-in china closet. 

When he died, the chateau and a large fortune was left to his son George Peabody Wetmore. A life long Republican, George served as governor of Rhode Island and was in the electoral college in 1880 and again in 1884. He brought in architect Richard Morris Hunt to turn the simple villa in a palatial chateau. Besides adding a ballroom and guest wing, Hunt also moved the entrance to opposite side of the house, under the newly constructed porte cochere. When George died, the house and estate was inherited by his two daughters, Edith and Maude. 

Edith Was A Passionate Gardener Who Had A Taste For Pearls

Edith and Maude had both grown up at Chateau Sur Mer, living the typical Newport lifestyle: Mansions, yachts, jewels, parties and money. Maude, the eldest, followed in her father's footsteps and became a staunch Republican supporter and she, for 30 years, headed up Rhode Island's Women's Republican Committee. Edith became a passionate gardener and she had a lavish taste for jewels. They had grown, unlike many Newport debutantes, to love their freedom and both chose not to marry. The men in their lives were their relatives, friends, lawyers, advisers, bankers and servants. Edith lived at Chateau Sur Mer year around, while Maude wintered in Washington DC. 

The Floor PLans

With Maude's passing in 1952, Chateau Sur Mer became Edith's entirely. With the death of many of her friends and the people she had grown up with shortly after, it prompted her to say "There is no use talking about it, we are the end of an era if you please". In 1962 she was photographed by Nancy Sirkis for her book "Newport: Pleasures and Palaces". It showed her presiding over her brilliant silver tea service (the photo of her shown above). That same year, she was visited by her distant relative Julia Stonor, who was the niece of Noreen Drexel. In 1966, Edith died at her home. She was "The end of an era", the Wetmore era that is. Chateau Sur Mer was left to the Preservation Society of Newport, which both Maude and Edith had been founding members of. The society still manages the estate and recently completed a major restoration of the house. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Thank You Doctor Engler!

I have to give a big thanks to Doctor Alan Engler in New York City for again helping me with my research. You may of heard about him in one of my previous posts about his book Walking in Time, which he kindly sent me a free copy of. Today, he sent me three wonderful magazines about the Winter's Antique Show in New York City, which I was not able to go to. The magazines are great and I am so thankful to Doctor Engler and all of his help. Thank You Doctor Engler!

Happy Late 100th Birthday Grand Central Terminal!

Yesterday, February 1, 2013, The Grand Central Terminal in New York City celebrated it's 100 Birthday. Thousands of New Yorkers showed up to celebrate and the massive celebration included Michael Bloomberg, Alfred G Vanderbilt III, Paul Szapary and Caroline Kennedy as speakers. A giant sign with the number "100" on it was hung up outside the building and shops gave enormous discounts to celebrate. 

Caroline Kennedy, Whose Mother Jackie Played A Large Part in Preserving The Terminal, Speaks At The Celebration

The terminal was built in 1913 and was constructed by Reed & Stern and Warren & Wetmore. Throughout time, several additions were made and a massive renovation was undertaken between 1994-2000. Besides platforms, the Grand Central also includes several dining rooms such as the Oyster Bay and several dining rooms on the dining concourse. It is a true New York City landmark!

Click HERE, HERE and HERE For More.

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