Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Stately World of Newport

Being fitted for a costume ball, Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse tries on a 19th
Century Gown long treasured in a trunk.
Harold Vanderbilt and guest Winthrop Aldrich look out to sea from the
fog-shrouded lawn of Vanderbilt's Newport mansion, Rock Cliff.
In a Newport mansion a lady stood stately and erect while her maid pinned her gown. On the lawn of a palatial Newport estate two yachtsmen gazed wistfully toward the sea. They were all anticipating the excitement and splendor that they and the famous resort once knew - and would never forget. In Newport's grandiose prime a half century ago a party wasn't really a party in one of the great marble homes 200 guests, attended by 100 knee-breeched footmen, sat down to dinner before solid-gold plates. The grandeur has simmered down since then, but enough of it remains so that, on the proper occasion, the elite can once again perform extravagantly.
     This week, such an occasion arises with the sailing of the America's Cup races off Newport's shores. Mansions maintained by nostalgic owners with skeleton staffs of four to eight servants will come alive with lights and polite revelry. In great houses that have been turned into museums there will be enormous receptions. Harold Vanderbilt, victorious skipper in the 1903 America's cup defense, will reign as the resort's patriarch. The younger New Guard of Newport will, for this occasion, join with the Old Guard in a collective effort to show when Newport decides to entertain is has no peer for pomp

          ~ LIFE Magazine, September 21, 1962. 
Click HERE to read the full article, which also includes pictures of many of the Newport socialites and cottages. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Seafair - a.k.a "The Hurricane Hut"

'Seafair' - The V. Reed Cottage

In the 1930's, Verner Z. Reed Jr. (1900-1986); Vice-President of the Chase Manhattan Bank and later appointed Ambassador to Morocco by President Reagan; called upon British architect William Mackenzie to design for him and build an impressive mansion upon a monumental seaside plot of land. The cottage, once completed, was said to be the last of Newport's famed "cottages" built along the sea. 

After a series of massive hurricanes that hit the house ~ earning it the nickname "Hurricane Hut" ~ which did particular damage since the house sat jutting out, exposed to the sea. The house was sold, and later divided up into condominiums. In the 1940's, the home was rented out to William Van Alen, whose mother, Daisy Van Alen Bruguiere lived at 'Wakehurst' a few miles down. In 1945, a Hurricane hit the home as Van Alen and his family were evacuating. Eventually water struck the three Van Alen Rolls Royce, filled with Van Alen, his family and their servants, which were on their way to Van Alen's brother's place, 'Avalon', which was on higher ground. Three servants died in the incident, and soon after, Van Alen and his wife, Bessie, headed out for Philadelphia. 

After a wave of owners, a few more wave crashes, Seafair was finally purchased by Rick Bready, chairman of Nortek Inc. in Providence, RI. He and his wife occupied the estate for about four years. In 2013, the couple listed their high-price estate for $19 million. They also listed a separate condo on the property for $3 million. Check out the links below for more information on the listing. 

254 Ocean Av, Newport Rhode Island

Seafair - A Historic $19 Million-Dollar Waterfront Property in Newport, RI

Seafair - $19,000,000


If you are interested in Newport and it's historic "cottages", or even have a general love for architecture and the Gilded Age, and have a Facebook, please ask to join my group, "Newport ~ Queen of Resorts" for plenty of information, floor plans, photographs and stories of Newport cottages and the people who lived in them. Please also give The Gilded Age Era's Facebook page a like, by clicking HERE, and showing us your support. To see photographs of many of the Gilded Age properties, including the Vanderbilt homes, Astor palaces, Widener estates and Rockefeller compounds, please visit my Pinterest account, by clicking HERE

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Demolition of Inisfada

'Inisfada' Front facade. 

Today, December 5, 2013, demolition was officially begun of the historic 'Inisfada' estate on Long Island, which happens to be the 4th largest home built in the United States. Built between 1916 and 1920, the estate was constructed for Nicholas and Genevieve Brady, a wealthy Catholic couple. After Mr. Brady's death, the house was willed to Genevieve, who in turn gave it to the St. Ignatius, who used the residence as a retreat house. In 1936, the home served as the base for Pope Pius XII during his U.S. tour. 75 years later, the home was listed up for sale by the institution, who decided to sell the place after previously auctioning off several furniture pieces dating back to the Brady ownership. It was sold for $36 million in August of this year, and was rumored to be demolished. After a last-ditch attempt by preservationists, demolition crews finally showed up this morning, ready to begin. Already, the solarium and many exterior walls lay in a pile of rubble. Here are some links regarding the estate and the demolition. 

'Great Gatsby'-Era Retreat House Dismantling Begins

North Hills OK's Inisfada Demolition Permit

Inisfada Furnishings Net $51K At Auction

Inisfada Sold To Developers For $36.5M

Preservationists Try and Bar Demolition of 87-Room Mansion

Gold Coast Goodbye 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Kennedy Family - Book Recommendations!

"After Camelot: A Personal History of the Kennedy Family"
by J. Randy Taraborrelli 
The Kennedy family is perhaps one of the most iconic and well-known families in America today. Their lives have been the subject of hundreds of articles, films, TV shows and books. Originally descended from farmer John Kennedy, the family first gained notoriety for Joseph "Joe" Kennedy, who was appointed U.S. Ambassador to England. Patriarch Joe and his wife Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (who would go on to outlive the majority of her family, dying at the age of 104 in 1995) gave birth to the most legendary of the Kennedy clan: JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Ted Kennedy. Then there were the glamourous Kennedy wives: most notably Jackie (d. 1994) and Ethel (-). Though JFK, his brothers and Jackie are dead, they continue to impact America and the world today (Most recently, the fiftieth anniversary of JFK's assassination.) The following is a list of great books I recommend about the Kennedy's and their influential lives. 

"Grace and Power: The Private World of The Kennedy White House"
by Sally Bedell Smith 

"These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie"
by Christopher Andersen 

"Capturing Camelot: Iconic Images of the Kennedys"
by Kitty Kelly 

"Portrait of Camelot: A Thousand Days In The Kennedy White House"
by Richard Reeves 

"Janet & Jackie: The Story of a Mother and Her Daughter, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis"
by Jan Pottker

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