It was all rather fun, and thanks to all of you for your great and witty answers to yesterday's quiz---we'll have to play again sometime.  Congratulations, commenter ChipSF, for perseverance and stellar detective work in tracking down the correct answers.  A special nod to Anonymous, who said the connecting thread was 'isms'---narcissism, imperialism, and socialism.  

But indeed, Mogens Tvede was the thread that tied the three pictures together.  Here's as much of the story I could piece together without a visit to the library:

 The gardens of the Chateau de Brantes in Avignon, a late design by Mogens Tvede, for his cousin.

Long before Lee Radziwill, there was another famous Princess Radziwill, Dolly )1886-1966).  She was a patron and friend of artists, writers, and designers from Cocteau to Berard to Dior, and a major figure in International Society in the first half of the 20th century.  The portrait below, by Alex-Ceslas Rzewuski gives a hint of her stylish charms.

Prince Radziwill died in 1920, and the Princess soon remarried, to the Danish architect and painter, Mogens Tvede (1897-1977).  They lived, by all accounts, in splendor in a large town house near Les Invalides in Paris, where their circle of friends included Nancy Mitford, whose portrait was painted by Tvede. 

Although I am unable to find a great deal of information, it appears that the Tvedes were friends of the Standard Oil magnate Walter Brewster Jennings.  1927 found them as the house guests of the Jennings's at their Villa Ospo on once fashionable Jekyll Island off the Georgia coast.  As a result of that visit, Tvede was commissioned the next year to design a house there for Frank Gould, the Villa Marianna (below).

By 1930, Tvede was associated with society architect Mott Schmidt, a designer of cool, restrained and very traditional Georgian houses.  Although Schmidt loyalists protest loudly at the idea, one presumes this was a marriage of convenience, it being unlikely that Tvede had a license to practice in New York.  That year they designed a house at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island for Oliver Jennings, son of Walter Jennings.  It is likely, given Tvede's friendship with the Jennings family, that Tvede was the lead designer on the project.  It is certainly unlike anything else Schmidt designed, a house in the modern Scandinavian neo-classical style, bold and radical, the very antithesis of Schmidt's usual work.

After traveling down a nearly mile long drive, one drove through a central arch in the garage building facing the main house across the gravel court

The entrance front of the house reminds one of the work of Emilio Terry

A two story entrance rotunda led to the drawing room

The double height drawing room was a masterpiece of modern neo-classicism.

The water front of Dark Hollow
A holy grail for this post was to find a picture of the elegant octagonal pavilion at water's edge on this estate, but it eluded me---I thought I had saved one from a real estate ad last year, but no can find.

And, just for discussion's sake, here is a photo of Dunwalke Farm, the Douglas Dillon house in New Jersey, designed by Mott Schmidt in 1936, and extremely typical of his work.  I rest my case.

Photographs of Dark Hollow, photographer uncredited, from a 1933 issue of House & Garden.  Photograph of Dunwalke Farm from Mott B. Schmidt, Architect.



No time to put it all together today, so let's see if any of you know the common thread between:

This portrait,

This amazing house,

and this portrait?

The only clues I'll give today are that neither of the women in the portraits ever lived in the house, nor were they related to each other.


JURY DUTY: Interior Decoration on Trial

I recently spent a long day in the Hancock County Courthouse in Ellsworth, Maine, as part of a jury pool.  I wasn't selected for a jury, but while there I spotted a crime that should be on trial, though I'm certain that I could not be an impartial juror, so egregious is this case to my delicate sensibilities.  But back to that crime in a moment, while we take a brief detour before exposition.

The Public Library, built as the home of early 19th century builder Seth Tisdale

Ellsworth is a pleasant town, not high style, the sort of place where people put on pancake breakfasts and bake sales and hold raffles to raise money for good causes.  Most of the population is neither desperately poor nor obscenely rich, giving the small city a particularly homogeneous tone.  Politics tend toward the conservative side, to the irritation of the more liberal but less populous coastal villages that satellite it and share a  legislative district.  As Route One passes through Ellsworth, beginning the last hundred or so miles of the long trip up from Key West before ending at the Canadian border, it is lined with strip malls and convenience stores, making it the retail hub of the area.
The old jailhouse between Library and Courthouse, now the home of the Ellsworth Historical Society
Courthouse, Congregational Church, and City Hall
The City Hall was designed by Philadelphia architect Edmund B. Gilchrist as part of a city renewal effort after a 1932 fire destroyed part of downtown.  The designn of the building, with its beautiful details, reflects a mid-Atlantic sensibility.  Originally, the cupola and roof were a beautiful verdigris copper, replaced in recent years by the deadly brown now seen, and the building was given a certain insouciance with white shutters, now long gone.  
Uphill on State Street, bordering the Union River and overlooking the mostly brick downtown, is a small cluster of handsome civic buildings, with a magnificent Greek Revival Church rising above them.   
The first Congregational Church of Ellsworth, one of Maine's finest Greek revival buildings, designed in 1846 by Benjamin Deane of Bangor, and built by Thomas Lord, a talented carpenter/carver/architect from Blue Hill.

This is the scene that greeted me on a cold gray day, as I parked the car  at the courthouse to report for Jury Duty.  Not having a particularly criminal streak (well, beyond traffic offenses), I hadn't been in the main courtroom since my last time on jury duty about 20 years ago.  Up the wide flight of granite steps I went, and inside noted how utilitarian the interior is---no Tweed courthouse splendor for Down East Maine--no marble columns, no terrazzo floors, no central rotunda.  I climbed the very ordinary flight of stairs to the second floor, signed in, and walked into the courtroom, prepared for a very ordinary day. Instead, I saw evidence of a crime that wasn't on trial, but should have been.

The County Courthouse, also rebuilt after the fire.
A fragment of the original buff and marbelized black linoleum at the top of the stairs, meeting the institutional tan linoleum that has replaced it in the corridors.  I've reached an age where I realize that very few things ever get better in older buildings.
  The courtroom is a handsome room---very Ogden Codman in its details, paired Corinthian pilasters flanking tall arched windows, and a handsome cornice.  The last time saw the room, it was an institutional beige (or was it gray?), with long straight dark green curtains of the fireproof variety (or were they maroon?) .  Dignified, dull.  Well kiddies,  that was last time.

This time, what greeted me was a perky color scheme of pink and white, with green carpeting, and most gobsmacking of all, floral curtains.  It wasn't quite what I was expecting.  God knows how, God knows why, but the Maine District courtroom had been cheerily redecorated in best bed and breakfast style--or at least what I think of as bed & breakfast style.  You actually couldn't pay the Dilettante to stay in a bed & breakfast. Well, maybe if it were in Venice.  But you'd have to buy the ticket too.  But I digress:  The pink was that Gawd awful pink, hovering between dusty rose and dried Pepto, that was popular in all the worst waiting rooms and mid-range hotels 20 years ago.

The trim and molding were a very creamy ivory white.  The cheap carpet was a shade of green that doesn't occur in nature.  Holding it all together were those curtains.  Oh yes, those curtains--unlined, in a chintz pattern of dogwood in blush pink and green on an ivory ground, they were the glue that held this remarkable scheme together. They were very perky, tied back with jaunty insouciance.  I hate perky, although I'll tolerate insouciance just because I like saying it.  I don't know who manufactured the fabric, but I can safely guess that it wasn't Brunschwig et Fils.  These looked as if they had been bought in bulk at a sheet sale at Macy's--20 years ago (um, not that I'd know, of course...).  Whoever had done this had even hung a pair of those curtains in the shallow arched recess behind the judge's chair. So much for the dignity of the court.
Two false windows in the courtroom are elegantly mirrored to maintain continuity in the design giving a rather  ballroom atmosphere.  The mystery, however, is why these false windows have roller shades, when the real windows don't?  The evidence is inconclusive. The other mystery is why, when three windows were blocked by expansion beyond, they were merely covered with plywood, rather than mirror paned also.  Things really don't improve when old buildings are altered.

This was definitely a 'What Were They Thinking?' moment, and curious, I asked around, but could not find out who the guilty party was.  Maybe a judge's wife---'Honey, I know just the thing to brighten up that dreary old courtroom of yours'----or the wife of a county commissioner, maybe?   But that's just hearsay and speculation.  Not enough for a jury to convict---it may have even been a professional job---but whoever is guilty, they forgot Elsie de Wolfe's first rule:  "Suitability, suitability, suitability".

The judge may not be given to flowery statements, but the curtains behind his bench are another matter
The evidence is overwhelming.  I pronounce the defendant guilty of Decorating Under the Influence.



So reads an inscription on a garden wall at the subject of today's post.  I warn the reader, that though the text runs under 700 words, there are over 20 pictures, so lush the material available to illustrate this story--and what point a blog if not to be able to well illustrate a point?

One who read the January 19th post about Faulkner Farm, the Sprague/Brandegee estate and garden at Brookline, Massachussets, may experience a sense of deja vu, for the outlines of the two stories are more than a little similar:  An heiress granddaughter of Boston shipping magnate William Fletcher Weld marries, buys a hilltop estate on ancestral land in Brookline from a cousin, hires Charles Adams Platt to design a garden that becomes one of the most famous of its time, and has architect Herbert Browne enlarge the already large house. It does all have a rather familiar ring, doesn't it?  Now for the ways in which the story is different...

Isabel and Larz Anderson, by Philip de Lazlo (collection of Society of the Cincinnati)

Isabel Weld Perkins was born in 1877, and was the first cousin of Mary Pratt Sprague of Faulkner Farm, born 6 years earlier.  In 1897 Miss Perkins married Paris-born diplomat Larz Anderson, a grandson of Nicholas Longworth of Cinncinnati (as was the husband of Alice Roosevelt).  In 1899, the Andersons purchased the 64 acre estate of her cousin, William Weld.  In 1901, casting an admiring, or perhaps envious (history doesn't record which) eye on the famous garden that Charles Adams Platt had designed for her cousin on the next hilltop, a mere half-mile away, she hired the now famous architect to design a garden for her estate, which she named 'Weld' after her grandfather.  This garden, more elaborate than the garden at Faulkner Farm, was no less a sensation, and joined it as one of the most published and influential landscapes of the early 20th century---the formal gardens by which all others would be judged.

A photograph of Charles Adams Platt's model of a preliminary design  for the new garden at Weld (Architectural Record)
The plan of the garden as executed.  The house was at bottom of this plan

The completed garden

His commissions for the Weld cousins were unusual in the Platt oeuvre, as both involved pre-existing houses.  In most of his work, Platt designed both house and garden, with perfect integration between outdoors and indoors.  The Anderson garden at Weld was further unusual in that it was not visible from the house, unlike the garden at Faulkner Farm, but rather accessed across the bowling green that fronted the house, and thence by paths that approached the garden from the side.  The main garden was built on a terrace pushed out from the hillside, and featured a center panel of grass, flanked by parterres, and surrounded by terraces that effected changes in levels and vistas.  As at Faulkner Farm, a king's ransom in antique Italian sarcophagi, urns and columns ornamented the garden.  Accompanying the main garden were the usual complement of cutting garden, a rock garden, greenhouses, nursery gardens, wild gardens, and an allee.   At the base of the hill lay a private polo field, and between it and the main gate on Newton Street, was  an ornamental lake, with bridges and a domed temple at its head.  In a generous civic gesture, the high stucco wall that sheiled the estate from the road was pierced with an elegant wrought iron screen to give passers by a vista of this Arcadian scene

 Two views of the lake as it appears today

The Andersons now turned their eye briefly toward Washington, where they intended to spend half the year for Mr. Anderson's diplomatic career.  They hired Herbert Browne, the architect of the main house at Faulkner Farm, to design a large townhouse based on early 18th century London precedents.  As with  many of Browne's works, it displayed the same bold juxtapositions of scale and liberty with details that characterized his style.

The entrance court of the Anderson's Washington town house (HABS)
Garden front of the Washington house (HABS)

The Washington house completed, the Andersons dispatched Browne back to Brookline, where a new brick wing in Baroque style was added, becoming the main facade on the garden side.  Supposedly, the new wing was modeled after Lulworth Castle.  This viewer does not see the resemblance. At any rate, not yet 30, Isabel Anderson was mistress of two of the grandest establishments in America.

 The main house at Weld as it appeared when purchased by the Andersons (Digital Commonwealth)

The same view after addition of the new wing fronting the bowling green (Smithsonian Library of American Gardens)

The new wing from the bowling green (Museum of Transportatioin)
 Two views of the library (Museum of Transportation collection)

The Brighton Pavilion and 18th century Dresden have an uneasy meeting in the ballroom.

A garden room overlooking the library had murals likely by George Porter Fernald, a frequent collaborator with the architect.

Larz Anderson was appointed Ambassador to Japan in 1912.  Their time there was to have a profound effect on the Andersons, and upon their return to America, Weld was to receive a layer of Japanese art and gardening to add to its Beaux Arts splendors.   A large bronze eagle that had been in their garden in Tokyo was installed in a new Japanese garden built adjacent to the cutting gardens.  A room in the house was sheathed in simple Japanese style (although retaining its baroque mantel), and a superb collection of Bonsai was housed in one of the conservatories (this collection is now at the Arnold Arboretum in neighboring Jamaica Plain).

The Japanese Garden, top, and Bonsai collection, bottom

Life continued along pleasantly, glamorously, for the Andersons.  Isabel published memoirs of their world travels, Larz retired in 1913 from Diplomatic service, and they devoted their time to philanthopic affairs.  The Depression seems to have been little felt by them.  Larz Anderson died in 1937, and Isabel in 1948.  They were childless, and with no children to carry on their estates (or even sell and subdivide them), Mrs. Anderson left the Washington house to the Society of the Cincinnati, which maintains it in superb condition as a house museum and headquarters.  With equally good intentions, she left Weld, and all its contents, from personal papers and furnishings to the 16 cars  in the garage, to the Town of Brookline, for the enjoyment of the public.
 The carriage house and garage at Weld, now the Museum of Transportation

It is likely that Isabel Anderson's concept of public enjoyment was a more genteel one than the one that emerged.  She doubtless pictured the house and its collections open to public view, and the lovely grounds available for public strolls and picnics.  The 1950's were a bad time for great houses and gardens, however, and the Powers That Be in Brookline had a few ideas of their own.  The polo field was replaced by a baseball diamond--no harm there, and doubtless more democratic.  The huge carriage barn and garage, with the Anderson's 45 year's worth of elegant cars became an auto museum.  The ornamental lake remained much the same.  The house did not fare so well.  Totally neglected by the early 50's, it's collections were dispersed, and the house demolished.  Next to go were the gardens, also neglected.  In a spectacularly ignominious act, they were partially demolished in favor of the most elegantly sited ice rink in America.  It is hard to begrudge the happy citizenry their hockey rink, clearly much loved and muh used, but equally it is undeniable that to build it there can only be construed as a wanton act of vandalism.  There were other flat spots on the property, and no doubt other flat spots in public ownership elsewhere in Brookline.  One can only imagine the planning meetings----'man, that sunken garden sure would make a great ice rink---we'll just get rid of some of that old statuary, bring in a bulldozer, and Bob's your uncle!.'

Plan of the estate.  House and main garden at center (Museum of Transportation)

And approximately the same view today, with skating rink in formal garden, and steel maintenance sheds in cutting and kitchen gardens.
And in case you missed it, the hockey rink

Sad, very sad. Following are pictures of the garden in its heyday.

Entrance to the Bowling green

Exedra bench on the Bowling green

 Views of the main garden, now ice rink.

 Cutting garden

For the companion post about Faulkner Farm, click HERE