Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Drawing of The Cornelius Vanderbilt II Mansion

Sorry it has been so long since I have posted something, I have had a lot of things going on lately and I haven't had much time for GAE. Hopefully this post will be able to hold you off until I can everything figured out. Above is a drawing of the Vanderbilt mansion in New York City with the Heckscher Building towering over it from behind. The Vanderbilt mansion was the largest residence ever built in New York City. For more click HERE.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Enclosed Court Of The Astor Mansion

Above is a photo of the enclosed court of the Fifth Avenue mansion of Col. John Jacob Astor IV, of the fabulously wealthy Astor family. Besides New York City, John had a cottage in Newport RI named "Beechwood", a home on the Hudson named Ferncliff and a residence in Palm Beach. The mansion had formerly been shared with him by his mother, Caroline Astor, the queen of New York City society. After her death he had the house renovated and turned into one residence. The mansion was demolished in 1926. (PHOTO COURTESY OF CHARLOTTE BALLARD)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Henry Augustus Coit Taylor Townhouse, New York City

The H. A. C. Taylor mansion at 3 East 71st Street Fifth Avenue is probably one of the finest homes in New York City, although it is also the least well known. It was built for millionaire Henry Augustus Coit Taylor of Newport RI., who resided in the home until his death.

An Exterior View Of The Mansion, Around The Time Henry Built The Residence, A Small Garden Occupied The Adjoining Lot

The Dining Room Of The Taylor Residence Was A Large And Comfortable Room, With Views Of The Garden And Street

After Taylor died, his heirs sold the mansion and it was purchased by developers, who replaced the fine residence with another ugly skyscraper. A few years later, the area would become the heart of the fashionable district, with heiress Florence Twombly building a 70-room palace next door and the Blair mansion going up across the street, and the prices of lots would become very expensive, if only the Taylor heirs had waited a little longer, their father's mansion would be worth millions.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A View Of Willie Vanderbilt Jr.'s New York City Chateau

Above is a photo of the Willie K. Vanderbilt Jr residence in New York City. Constructed by Stanford White, the chateau had been built to help safeguard the area from commercial invasion. It had been a gift to Willie, given by his wealthy father, William K. Vanderbilt, grandson of the famous Commodore Vanderbilt. Willie had lived there with his wife, Virginia Fair, until their separation, after which he lived primarily at his Long Island estate.

(Top) Details And Facade Renderings Of The Vanderbilt Chateau, (Bottom) The First, Second And Third Floor Plans Of The Mansion

The Vanderbilts divorced in 1927 and the chateau was demolished awhile afterwards. Just a few years before, the mansion of William Vanderbilt Sr. had been demolished.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Eleanor Elkins Widener Rice Mansion, New York City

Eleanor Elkins Widener Rice had had quite an exciting and adventurous life for a socialite. She had started out being born to the enormously wealthy William L. Elkins and she grew up with her siblings at the family estate, Elstowe. She eventually married George D. Widener, whose also enormously wealthy family and their estate Lynnewood Hall was on acreage adjacent to Elstowe.

The Wideners Were A Happy Couple, Who, Like The Rest Of Their Families, Were Quite Active In Philadelphia, New York City and Newport Society

Shortly after their marriage, the Wideners had plans drawn up for a large stone cottage in Newport RI, which they named Miramar. The mansion would be one of the largest in Newport, occupying several acres.

They immediately set off for Europe to gather furnishings for the home. On their return home, they boarded the new ship the R.M.S. Titanic, which was going on it's maiden voyage. On April 14 1912, the Titanic struck an iceberg and two hours later, on April 15, it sank to the bottom of the ocean, taking George D. Widener with it. Eleanor had made it off on one of the last lifeboats to leave the ship.

Three Years Later, Eleanor Married The Explorer Dr. Alexander Hamilton Rice Jr., Who Was Famous For Exploring Dangerous Countries

As a memento to George Widener, Eleanor had Miramar completed and she lived their very frequently, along with her new husband, Dr. Alexander Hamilton Rice Jr., grandson of Republican governor and U.S. congressman Alexander Hamilton Rice. Eleanor also continued to reside at Elstowe, but by 1920, she and the doctor felt they needed a New York City townhouse and they commissioned Horace Trumbauer to build a fabulous New York townhouse that would be up to their standards. Construction was completed in 1923.

 The Beautiful Residence Was One Of The Few Great Mansions To Be Constructed During The 1920's

By the time the mansion had been completed, society had become younger, as many of the original members had died off, and they didn't feel compelled to maintain the large houses that their parents had found so necessary. Nevertheless the Rice moved in and promptly began to entertain lavishly. The lavish interiors were centered around a large courtyard. The ground floor held the stair hall, men and ladies' reception rooms, the servant's hall and the kitchens. The second floor held the salon, second floor hall, the dining room and the pantries. The third floor held the library, master suites and two guest rooms. The next two floors held guest and servant's rooms.

The Entrance Hall Had Beautifully Checkered Floors, Rather Modern Compared To The Floors Of Other Great Mansions

The Semi-Circular Stair Hall Had A Large Stair Landing Leading To The Circular Staircase, Which Rose To The Second Floor

The Ladies' Reception Room Was Especially Imported From France At A Cost Of $10,000, $136,000 In Today's Money

The Second Floor Hall Was Decorated With Several Antique Rugs, One Of Which She Had Wrapped Around Her When She Entered One Of The Last Lifeboats To Leave The Sinking Titanic

The Large Dining Room Was Frequently Used For Large Dinners And Parties, The Table Could Extend Out To Seat 30 People

The Beautiful Salon (Now In A Museum) Was Often Used As A Ballroom, It Was Mrs. Rice's Favorite Room In The House

The Third Floor Hall Looked A Lot Like The Second Floor Hall, The Same Statuary, Furniture And Floors

The Library Was The Only Room In The House Not Designed In The French Style, It Was Mr. Rice's Favorite Room

Mrs. Rice's Lovely Bedroom Was One of The Most Comfortable Rooms In The House, Designed Especially To Her Tastes

Mrs. Rice's Beautiful Bed Had Been Designed According To Her Specifications And Was Supposed To Fix Her Bad Back

Mrs. Rice's Office Area, Where The Millionairess Financed Her Husband's Expeditions And watched Over The Widener Empire

Mr. Rice's Small And Comfortable Bedroom Was Where He Planned Out He And His Wife's Expeditions Across The World

Eleanor died in 1937 and left an estate of $14 million. Her husband received the interest of the fortune, amounting to $1.4 million. Her two surviving children by George Widener, who had inherited massive fortunes from their father, were both given trusts of $3 million. Dr. Rice retained life tenancy of the Newport and New York City homes.

Meanwhile The World Around The Rice Residence Was Changing, Next Door Heiress Florence Twombly Built A Massive 70-Room Palace

In 1956, Rice died and the estate mansion was sold and demolished, along with the Twombly mansion next door. Today an apartment building occupies the spot.

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