Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Spectacular Mansions from La Belle Époque

As I've been scouring the net searching for inspirational Christmas decorations and displays - I have a penchant for extravagant, romantic, nostalgic and luxurious Christmas treasures - I've come across many homes that are just magnificent - modern showplaces that are dripping with style and panache.

But, then, I remember the spectacular mansions created by the richest American in La Belle Epoche (basically from around 1870 until the beginning of World War I). These homes and their inhabitants truly personified that glorious gilded Beautiful Era.

This is Cornelius Vanderbilt II's house, 1883, designed by George B. Post, expanded in 1894 (they could hardly be expect to live in such cramped quarters!) and here is photographed circa 1908, at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street.

Here is Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1883, dressed and photographed for a fancy dress ball. Mr. Vanderbilt is dressed at Louis XVI and Mrs. Vanderbilt wore the Electric Light Dress by Worth.

This is the Cornelius Vanderbilt II mansion Grand Salon, 1894, designed by Jules Allard et Fils. This was just after the expansion was built.

This was known as Vanderbilt Row, which includes William H. Vanderbilt's homes (two similar side-by-side houses, and the William K. Vanderbilt Mansion (right uptown house).
 

Drawing room, William H. Vanderbilt house, at 51st and Fifth Avenue.

Dining room, William H. Vanderbilt house, at 51st and Fifth Avenue.

A. T. Stewart house, designed by John Kellum, 1869, at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, photographed by H. N. Tiemann & Co. circa 1880.
 
Mrs. William Backhouse Astor Jr. and John Jacob Astor IV house, 1895, designed by Richard Morris Hunt, at Fifth Avenue and 65th Street. Ultimately, to consolidate their hold on high society, the Astors commissioned a new house farther uptown.

Ballroom in Mrs. William Backhouse Astor Jr. and John Jacob Astor IV house, 1895, at Fifth Avenue and 65th Street.

Ballroom and art gallery in William Backhouse Jr. and Caroline Astor’s house at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, photographed by Pach Brothers circa 1887. In 1875, in order to support her social ambitions, Caroline Astor had this ballroom added to her 1856 house.
 
 William K. Vanderbilt house, 1882, designed by Richard Morris Hunt, at 52nd and Fifth Avenue; photographed by Robert Bracklow circa 1900.

Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt (Alva) at home in 1883. It would seem she was quite at home with birds. Thank heavens they were wealthy and had lots of help to clean up.

William K. Vanderbilt in 1910. There is no history of how he felt about his wife's affection for birds flying around the manse.


Drawing room, William K. Vanderbilt house, 1882, designed by Richard Morris Hunt, at 52nd and Fifth Avenue.

These are only a small sampling of the astounding palaces built during The Gilded Age in America. So, next time you hear that American doesn't have royalty, remember we may not have people who are Kings and Queens and rule the nation - but we have certainly had those who live like them!

...now, go make something beautiful!
♥´¨)
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´♥ Tristan

The Vanderbilt Nasheville, NC Estate, completed in 1895.
Motto: "One Palace Is Never Enough" 

Have a grand Thanksgiving holiday!

4 comments:

Peggy Oliver said...

AWESOME! Thanks for sharing!

Mary Wallace said...

I love this stuff!! Do any of the new York places still exist??? I've been to the one in NC. And it's glorious!!

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

Mary Wallace - all of the Vanderbilt homes in this article were demolished in early twentieth century. The smallest of the Vanderbilt mansions - owned by Frederick William Vanderbilt - remains standing and is now the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site.

Marilyn Stevens said...

I love to read about the "Robber Barons" & their way of life but alas it makes me weary... I could never work that hard to stay on top of society ! ! LOL!!
Happy Thanksgiving ! !