When I opened my Town & Country this month and started flipping pages I landed on this image and had a déjà vu moment. I remember this room… Some say they never forget a face - I’m like that with rooms. The minute I saw it I remembered an article in the Times about Tuxedo Park, so I flipped back a few pages and found the article was on just that. It’s fascinating…
Tuxedo Park was one of many exclusive private playgrounds for the prominent of the time (Astors, Whitneys, Vanderbilts…) - like Newport but a stone’s throw from NYC. It was and still is a gated community.
This room, turned home, was created inside a grand ballroom that was originally part of Villa Blanca, an Italianate mansion built for the heir to a banking and rail fortune in the early 1900’s. Sadly, the mansion was lost to fire, but not all of it… As luck would have it, the 75 x 45 foot ballroom with amazingly high ceilings was built separate from the house so it survived. Originally an entertaining space for parties in the 1920’s, it overlooked the house and was surrounded by gardens. Historians feel it may have been designed by McKim, Mead, & White (love them) – a nod to the Petit Trianon of Versailles.
Today, much like in the past, it’s a second home. When the current owners bought it, some of the original character was gone, and what was left needed restoration, so they had their work cut out for them preserving and replicating lost history. Talk about finding a diamond in the rough... The greater floor plan was left open and untouched, while a small part was divided vertically - kitchen/dining downstairs and a bedroom on top. Having the bedroom at the arched fan window level makes for a great architectural experience, I’ll bet.
My renovations come to life when I incorporate elements that came from lost places like these, but how fun would it be to find them intact and bring them back to life? I would be in absolute heaven… What a find this was for them. They describe it as love at first sight – I can relate. It’s fairy tale like.
Imagine living in an old ballroom. Wow, if walls could talk…
To read more on Tuxedo Park, pick-up Town & Country this month or click here for more on the ballroom: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/garden/27tuxedo.html?pagewanted=all