"I dream't I dwelt in marble halls"
Devoted to the histories and current state of the great mansions of America's Gilded Age.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Long Island Mansions of the Gilded Age: The James Clews mansion, La Lanterne at Brookville, New York.

The James Clews Residence at Brookville. Designed by architect Horace Trumbauer in 1929, the mansion was called, La Lanterne. The house is partially existing as two separate residences now, when the center section was demolished about 40 years ago. See the site HERE.

The James Clews mansion at Brookville, New York. Photo: Mansions of the Gilded Age

More about La Lanterne 
The Downeast Dilettante

Thursday, March 26, 2015

15,000 Members on Mansions of the Gilded Age

Mansions of the Gilded Age on Facebook
Mansions of the Gilded Age has a group on Facebook that has just reached 15,000 members. The group was founded in 2011 and grew to 1,000 members in a year, by mid 2013 the group reached 2,400. By August 2014 the group reached 10,000. 7 months later the group grew again by another 5,000!  I want to thank the many members for joining and all their contributions and congratulate them for making the group what it is and let's keep it going! Nothing was too BIG for the Gilded Age, so there are no limits!  I founded the group to share my lifelong interest in the Gilded Age and the homes of the period. When the group had 1,000 members I was amazed at how much interest there was out there. I do research all the time on mansions and always love to share what I find. Old books, mansions to visit, movies, and most importantly to me, while sad, is to show the many, many mansions that are now gone. I only hope that through the groups huge reach, we can make more people aware of the great loss to our architectural history and maybe just be able to save something for the future generations! I also want to thank the many members who openly share their favorite mansions and collections. Every day I see new mansions and old photos of houses I know so well from different angles and eras. So THANK YOU again everybody and keep on posting, sharing and telling friends about Mansions of the Gilded Age!  If you are not a member, please ask to join and enjoy the group! Mansions of the Gilded Age on Facebook

Gary Lawrance

Thursday, March 19, 2015

East Hampton Mansion Burns, 57 West End Road totally destroyed by huge fire Once owned by Hard Rock Cafe Co-Founder Peter Morton

Vintage 1920s photo of Heather Dune at at 57 West End Road, East Hampton. Destroyed by fire on March 18,2015            Photo: Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930 by Gary Lawrance & Anne Surchin
Yesterday afternoon one of the historic seaside mansions from the Hampton's Gilded Age was totally destroyed by a massive fire. The fire raged with gusting winds so badly that within a few hours, the once commanding oceanfront house was leveled. View video of the fire HERE.

The history of the once elegant mansion started in1926. The house was built for Ellery Sedgwick James by noted architect, Roger Bullard.  Roger Bullard was known for many of  his elegantly simple homes that appealed to a patrician clientele. One of his most famous nearby buildings is the venerable Maidstone Club, East Hampton's most exclusive golf and beach club. Ellery James was such a client, his mother Laura Brevoort was from one of the oldest New York families, with a lineage that goes back to the Puritans.  

The House when completed was named Heather Dune and was located at 57 West End Road at East Hampton, New York. A narrow strip of land that is surrounded by the ocean and Georgica Pond. The house took advantage of both views and this bit of windswept land with its wild grasses and heathers  inspired the name of the residence.

Vintage 1920s photo of Heather Dune at at 57 West End Road, East Hampton. Destroyed by fire on March 18,2015            Photo: Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930 by Gary Lawrance & Anne Surchin

According to Authors Gary Lawrance & Anne Surchin in their bestselling book, Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930, " Bullard presented a building conceived not as a hodgepodge from different era, but as " Pleasing, appropriate, in good taste and dignified-- rather than 'Georgian' or ' French or whatnot,' " reflecting his belief that the "best results in the design of  a country house are obtained when an effort is directed toward rationalizing style, or avoiding over stylized building." Elements associated with one style could be used with elements of another, so long as the variants didn't clash."
The floor plan of the house was an interesting layout with main rooms facing the two water-views and was planned for living and not formal display or impression. This can be seen in the plan presented here and interiors.

Vintage 1920s Floor Plan of Heather Dune at at 57 West End Road, East Hampton. Destroyed by fire on March 18,2015            Photo: Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930 by Gary Lawrance & Anne Surchin
Vintage 1920s photo of Heather Dune at at 57 West End Road, East Hampton. Destroyed by fire on March 18,2015            Photo: Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930 by Gary Lawrance & Anne Surchin

Vintage 1920s photo of Heather Dune at at 57 West End Road, East Hampton. Destroyed by fire on March 18,2015            Photo: Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930 by Gary Lawrance & Anne Surchin

Mr. James unfortunately did not enjoy his new home for long. He died in 1932 at the young age of 37 after a long illness. Heather Dune stayed in the family for years, then was sold and occupied by various owners. The home at one time was owned by Peter Morton, co-founder of the "Hard Rock Cafe".

Heather Dune is now one the lost houses of the Hamptons Gilded Age, and one could only hope it will be rebuilt as it was, but most likely a new home will rise to take it's Landmark status.

Heather Dune is a featured chapter, with floor plans and vintage interiors in the book, "Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930" by Gary Lawrance & Anne Surchin, Acanthus Press 2007. For those who wish to purchase the book, make sure to buy the 2007 edition. The 2007 is now very rare" Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930" was revised for a third printing in 2013 and the James house was replaced by the infamous house, "Grey Gardens", located just up the road from Heather Dune. For a review of the book, Click HERE to read about it on David Patrick Columbia's, New York Social Diary.

If you like Gilded Age Mansions, please ask to join Gary Lawrance's Facebook group, Mansions of the Gilded Age, now with almost 15,000 members.

Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930 by Gary Lawrance & Anne Surchin Now rare first editon.

Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930 by Gary Lawrance & Anne Surchin, Revised editon 2013

Mansions of the Gilded Age is also on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Please also visit my other blog, Houses of the Hamptons.

Houses of the Hamptons

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Lost Mansions of the Gilded Age: Lindenhurst, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania

Lindenhurst, The John Wanamaker residence at Jenkintown, Pennsylvania

John Wanamaker was the founder of the largest department store in Philadelphia. His impressive mansion, Lindenhurst, burned to the ground in 1907. He replaced it with a French classical style mansion which survived till 1944.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fire at Winfield Hall, The Long Island Mansion of F.W. Woolworth at Glen Cove.

Winfield Hall, the Glen Cove, New York Gilded Age mansion of F.W. Wooworth, suffered a large fire today.
Winfield Hall, the marble mansion of 5 & 10 cent store founder, F.W. Woolworth, suffered a large fire today, destroying the wood paneled Billiard room and damaged a big portion of the south wing. Hopefully the damage caused by the fire can be restored and the house will continue to be one of the few remaining jewels of Long Island's Gold Coast. Here is a vintage view of the house from the garden side.  Photo: the DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.

 Please visit the facebook group, Mansions of the Gilded Age, for more images, video coverage comments and latest photos of the fire.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/195023140518735/

Here are some vintage photos of the mansion when it was owned by F.W. Woolworth.

The Music Room at Winfield, The mansion of F.W. Woolworth, Glen Cove, New York. Photo: Mansions & Millionaires

 The Staircase at Winfield, the F.W. Woolworth mansion.

The Dining Room at Winfield, The F.W. Woolworth mansion.

For more on Winfield, Exteriors, Interiors and Floor plans visit,
Half Pudding Half Sauce

Two Recommended Books

Winfield: Living in the Shadow of the Woolworths
 A wonderful novel that takes place in Winfield.
Buy it at Amazon

Buy it at Amazon

Watch a three part TV series on Winfield HERE

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Lost Mansions of the Gilded Age: Fair Oaks, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lost Mansions of the Gilded Age: Fairoaks, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
"Fair Oaks" at Minneapolis, Minnesota. Built in 1884 for prominent lawyer William Washburn, the home was the centerpiece of Minneapolis's Mansion district. In the 1920s the estate and mansion was donated to the city, to be used as park. In 1924, with no use for the house, it was demolished. The grounds remain today used as a park named after William Washburn.

Click HERE for more about Fair Oaks and other mansions in the Minneapolis Mansion District.

  Recommended Book/s
Buy it at Amazon

Buy it at Amazon

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lost Mansions of the Gilded Age: Chetwode, Newport, Rhode Island

Lost Mansions of the Gilded Age: Chetwode, Newport, Rhode Island

Today I am going to start a series that will appear as a ongoing look at the hundreds of great,"Gilded Age"mansions that no longer exist. Many of these magnificent homes and estates, built from 1880-1930, in a period commonly referred to as,"America's Gilded Age", were modeled after the palaces of Europe and were intended to last just as long. But in less than 100 years since their creation, many have vanished without anyone ever knowing of their secret splendors.

My first one Chetwode, was built in Newport, Rhode Island in 1903 for the Wells Family. Designed by famed architect, Horace Trumbauer and later owned by the Astor family, the house was destroyed by fire in 1973.

Click Here to read more about Chetwode it in this wonderful book, "Lost Newport: Vanished Cottages of the Resort Era" by Paul Miller.

Lost Newport by Paul Miller at Amazon

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Palatial Homes in the City of New York

The Astor residence on Fifth Avenue.
This wonderful old book, Palatial Homes in the City of New York, gives the addresses and some photos of the many mansions that once lined Fifth Avenue and other prominent locations in New York City, circa 1910. Click HERE for the link.

Another book is Collins' Both Sides of Fifth Avenue. This is mostly a photo book of all the mansions and buildings along Fifth Avenue circa 1910. Click HERE for the link.

Fifth Avenue from Start to Finish is another photography book that gives the viewer a tour of the street and it's many buildings, mansions, former mansions now shown as stores, offices and galleries  circa 1911. Click HERE for link.

The New York Herald in 1898 also published a list of Fifth Avenue occupants and their residences.
Click HERE for the link.

Friday, November 7, 2014

I've Been Rich and I've been Poor

Join Mansions of the Gilded Age on Facebook

Mansions of the Gilded Age has been on Facebook for over 3 years and now is approaching 12,000 members. Please join our group for the internet's most active and lively group about the great mansions of the Gilded Age. 1000's of photos, links and a wonderful place to ask a question about any obscure mansion you may have or to find the history and photos of them.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Haunted Mansion of the Gilded Age #31 Lyndhurst

Lyndhurst at Tarrytown, New York
Lyndhurst is an amazing mansion that we are so fortunate to still have standing and open to the public. While there doesn't seem to be any well documented  wild stories of hauntings, ghosts or evil deeds at Lyndhurst, it is a house that seems built for them. It was this architectural image that made it a natural backdrop for the movies, House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows. Both movies were based upon the hit 1960s Gothic Soap opera, Dark Shadows. I have visited Lyndhurst for many years since I was child and photographed it numerous times. On one occasion in the 1980s while visiting other houses in the Hudson Valley area I stopped by to see it after a  recent snowstorm. In the 1980s I was experimenting with black & white film and shot a series of photographs at houses before and after my visit to Lyndhurst. In those days 36 images to a roll were all you got. After I got the film back I noticed on the photos that I took of Lyndhurst that there were some sort of imperfections? Almost like ice crystals and I was disappointed  because they were some nice views of the house and I felt they were ruined. I took them back to the film shop and asked what went wrong. The shop keeper said he had never seen anything like this and of kindly offered me a new roll of film. What puzzled me the most is why only at Lyndhurst? After my visit to Lyndhurst I went to the Vanderlip mansion called Beechwood, which has a rumored past of murders and odd happenings. Nothing strange appeared on those photos? Same day, same cold temperature, same lighting, etc. I have been to many old mansions over my lifetime  and visited some houses that many claim are haunted. I have never experienced anything odd at any of them or photographed any unexplained unusual. So these images below may be just a quirk of the camera, film or some other natural occurrence, but maybe not? 

Here are the images with the first one almost clear of any oddities.

Lyndhurst at Tarrytown: Photo Gary Lawrance

Lyndhurst at Tarrytown: Photo Gary Lawrance

Lyndhurst at Tarrytown: Photo Gary Lawrance

Lyndhurst at Tarrytown: Photo Gary Lawrance

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