For Sale: Gilded Age Luxury0 comments
A tempting thought: Slipping into the Nickerson Mansion with a sleeping bag and claiming the east guest bedroom—a beauty, with Japanese folk carvings in the woodwork—and making oneself at home. Rather how Tony Curtis did with that wealthy man’s yacht in Some Like it Hot (except without the affections of Marilyn Monroe).
There’s no need to risk getting acquainted with the Museum’s security staff, however, because Gilded Age luxury is just a call to a realtor and a signed check away. And thanks to the housing market’s recent misfortunes, many of the list prices are a steal compared to more prosperous times. Do you dream of the same treatment Teddy Roosevelt had when he commissioned McKim, Mead and White to redesign his White House? No problem. For $8.9 million, Astor Courts—designed by Stanford White of that same great 19th-century architectural firm—is yours. Want a taste of elite Rhode Island summers from days long past? There are so-called cottages on the market in Newport, too.
Price tag: $21 million (as of Oct. 2010, according to Luxist)
Exterior: 55 wooded acres; a Long Island bluff to oneself; sturdy brick colonial façade; separate caretaker, summer guest, and chauffeur residences.
Interior: 18 rooms trimmed with painted white; glassed-in porch views of aforementioned wooded acres and Long Island Sound.
Gilded Age pedigree: Built in 1917 and designed by the firm McKim, Mead and White.
Price tag: $8.9 million (discounted from its first list price of $12 million)
Exterior: Lifelong direct access to the Hudson River thanks to written permission from New York State; 50 acres with views of the Catskills; low-slung, crisp, and classical Beaux Arts exterior.
Interior: Indoor swimming pool with vaulted ceilings with Corinthian columns; expansive, courtyard-style balcony with black and white diamond-shaped tiles; massive, ornamented fireplaces; airy 15-foot ceilings.
Gilded Age pedigree: The building was commissioned by John Jacob Astor IV, famous for his family wealth but perhaps even more famous as the Astor who perished on the Titanic’s maiden voyage in 1912. The architect was, again, McKim, Mead and White. Astor Courts was completed in 1904 as a sporting pavilion on Astor’s 2,800-acre property (think indoor tennis court, indoor pool, basement bowling alley, and squash courts). It was converted to a residence in 1941.
Price tag: $49 million (Central Park views are priceless, after all)
Exterior: Private property gives way about three steps out the front door to yellow taxis and Manhattan traffic; Central Park’s manicured lawns located directly across the street; gray limestone façade adorned with ivy and Italian Renaissance motifs (for more on Gilded Age fascination with Renaissance themes, read this post).
Interior: Approximately 15,000 square feet on seven levels; opulent interior displays complete with Oriental rugs; Italian marble fireplaces.
Gilded Age pedigree: It’s one of the last buildings Stanford White designed before his death in 1906, and as the house was completed in 1907 neither he nor its intended resident, the Gilded Age railroad magnate and financier Henry H. Cook (who died in 1905), saw its completion.
Price tag: $5.1 million (nearly half off the 2006 asking price of $9.65 million)
Exterior: Sprawling Shingle-style residence with views of the Atlantic and Frenchman Bay; tiny tea house perched on the rocky shoreline.
Interior: 19 rooms, 10 of which are bedrooms; heavy use of cherry, ash, birch, whitewood, and oak woods throughout, not only for the wainscoting but including a wooden dining room chandelier.
Gilded Age pedigree: Built in 1892 for John G. Moore who developed the Grindstone Neck area for high-society New Yorkers in need of a getaway.
Price tag: $15.8 million
Exterior: Palladian exterior; classical columned back porch looking out to a sleek in-ground pool, then across an expansive emerald lawn, and finally down to the waterfront; stately gated entrance; two-story carriage house with brick façade.
Interior: Curved marble staircase with gilt accent spindles; 21 rooms.
Gilded Age pedigree: The notable architect Horace Trumbauer, who created other legendary Newport summer estates such as The Elms, designed this stately 12,000-square foot residence and an accompanying two-story carriage house. It was completed in 1904 and originally named Claradon for owner and railroad executive Edward R. Knight’s wife, Clara.
—Lindsey Howald Patton
August 15, 2014
Remaining Relevant: A look at Washington’s Fascinating House Museums
Washington's most fascinating house museums allow visitors to relive history. Most historical house museums today have successfully evolved with the times and have made great strides in historical preservation. These museums are thriving, boosted in part by advances in the field, as well as growing appreciation for preservation among the general public.
July 11, 2014
New York's Historic Carnegie Mansion: Renovated and Re-imagined
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Announces Dec. 12, 2014 Opening of Renovated Carnegie Mansion and Opening Exhibitions. Read more
Mansions and Millionaires: The McCormickville Walking Tour
First and third Saturdays, May 3 through November 15
Step back in time to enjoy a special walking tour of Chicago's River North district, led by historian Sally Sexton Kalmbach. Read more
Book Club: I Am Madame X
Saturday, September 6
Discuss Gilded Age fiction, biography, and history with the authors and historians. In this remarkable novel, author Gioia Diliberto tells the story of American beauty Virginie Gautreau, the subject of John Singer Sargent’s famous 1884 painting Portrait of Madame X. Read more
Nickerson Lecture: Achievements of the Low Art Tile Company
Thursday, September 18
The Low Art tile Company produced some of the finest ceramic tiles ever produced in the United States. Between 1878 and 1904 Low tiles were displayed in more than eighteen distributors showrooms around the United States, Canada and Britain. The talk will provide a window into the artistic world of late 19th century America. Read more
Book Club: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Saturday, October 11
Discuss Gilded Age fiction, biography, and history with the authors and historians. Join us for a lively discussion of Oscar Wilde’s only published novel. Read more
Gypsy Jazz: Swing Gitan
Friday, October 17
Back by popular demand! Chicago's premiere gypsy-jazz band, Swing Gitan, led by Alfonso Ponticello returns to the Museum for an evening of foot-tappin' swing played on acoustic instruments in the 1930's-style music of guitarist Django Reinhardt. Read more
Nickerson Lecture: Gardens for a Beautiful America
Thursday, October 30
Gilded Age industrialism brought a new prosperity, but at the price of once pristine forests, rivers, and blue skies, devastated by continental railroad building and factory pollution. This lecture will explore the work of wealthy women and landscape architects to green America. Read more