The Classicist: Stanford White, Architect
Last summer when we wrote about Land Rover's 60th anniversary we visited the incredible Astor Courts in Rhinebeck, N.Y, designed by Stanford White as part of a country retreat for John Jacob Astor IV in 1902. The Astor Courts features prominently in a beautiful new book from Rizzoli, Stanford White, Architect. White, the visionary head of famed firm McKim, Mead & White, was arguably the most celebrated American architect of his day and a "defining figure of the so-called Gilded Age." In addition to the Astor Courts (originally the Ferncliff Casino), the book features many of White's buildings, including Beacon Rock in Newport, Rhode Island (above).
The book, by White's great-grandson Samuel G. White and Elizabeth White with photography by Jonathan Wallen, comprehensively explores White's "sumptuously rich oeuvre," from his own residences on Long Island and in Gramercy Park, to the "extraordinary and opulent" houses such as the incredible Rosecliff in Newport (see the gallery) and Villard Houses and Payne Whitney mansion in New York City. It also includes the lavish private clubs he designed such as the Century Association, the old Madison Sqaure Garden and Tiffany & Co., churches, monuments and more.
Gallery: Stanford White, Architect
Rosecliff, commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899, is without a doubt the most extravagant house in the book. Designed to evoke Louis XIV's Grand Trianon at Versailles, it cost $2.5 million by the time it was completed in 1902 - about $60 million in today's dollars. The mansion, which is now a museum, was used to film scenes from 1974's The Great Gastby starring Robert Redford. Oelrichs hosted many fabulous parties at Rosecliff, including a fairy tale dinner and party featuring famed magician Harry Houdini as the evening's entertainment. In 1904 she staged the famous "Bal Blanc" to celebrate the Astor Cup Races, in which everything in the house was white and silver.
The classical Astor Courts is pictured on the book's cover. A less opulent but equally beautiful echo of the Grand Trianon, the five-bedroom structure features an indoor tennis court and swimming pool, and cost $1 million to build, or about $22 million in today's dollars. The building was a complete wreck in 2002 when a former TV producer purchased it for $3.2 million and set about an intense restoration. Five years and more than a million dollars later, it has been restored to White's original grandeur.