Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Last Great Mansion Built On Fifth Avenue

 In 1926, ten years after her husband's death, Florence Vanderbilt Twombly, Vanderbilt heiress and reigning grande dame of New YOrk City's Old Guard, decided she wanted a new Fifth Avenue palace. She sold her mansion at 680 Fifth Avenue and bought a long narrow plot way uptown, facing Central Park on one side and facing the Henry Clay Frick mansion on another. Next door was the townhouse of Mrs Alexander Rice, a survivor of the Titanic. 

Florence Twombly Inherited A Total of Around $80 Million From Her Father, William H Vanderbilt, And Her Husband, Hamilton

Florence Twombly Commissioned The Famed Architect Whitney Warren To Design Her New Palace, Which Would Cost $1.3 million (Photo: Robert Bruce Collection) 

Construction began that year, and continued through 1927. The mansion featured the latest and most up-to-date gadgets of the time, which included 2 elevators, central heating, bathrooms with every bedroom, a modern kitchen and 2 boilers in the basement. Florence would occupy the home during the winters with her daughter, Ruth, whose bedroom would be on the third floor, across from Florence's. 

Ruth Loved To Party, Normally Partying Till 4 AM And Sleeping In Till 2 PM, She Spent Most Of Her Time At The Twombly Estate, Florham

Furniture for the home was imported from England and Paris, with a few antiques and heirlooms being taken from the 680 Fifth Avenue home. The beautiful parquet floors in the ballroom were especially crafted in Italy and so did the ballroom's 3 massive crystal chandeliers. The dining room table was capable of seating 55 comfortably. The oak library held an antique collection of 100 volumes. The reception room came from a chateau in Paris. The total cost, $1.3 million.

The Circular Staircase At The Twombly Townhouse

The Reception Room At The Twombly Townhouse

In 1946, Florence's last surviving sibling, Emily White, died. This left Florence as the last surviving daughter of William Henry Vanderbilt and the last surviving grandchild of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, the founder of the Vanderbilt family. 

When Florence Twombly Arrived At The Opening Of The Metropolitan Opera House In A Maroon Rolls Royce And Attended By Her Chauffeur In Maroon Livery It Was Quite A Memorable Scene

Florence managed to tough it out till 1952, when she died at her New Jersey estate, Florham. Her estate of $22 million was diminished down to $4 million by the government, who took $18 million. Ruth died two years later and the Twombly residences were sold. The townhouse was demolished, along with the Rice mansion, and replaced with an apartment house, which stands their today. 

To Read About The Layout Of The Home, Click HERE 

Exterior Photo, Courtesy of The Robert Bruce Collection 
Interior Photos, Courtesy of Shirley Burden, Grandson of Florence Twombly 


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