Mansion in May Showhouse

Over the weekend I visited the Mansion In May designer showhouse. Attracting over 25,000 visitors annually (I swear there were that many there on Sunday alone) and charging $50/pp, this very well-organized event raises tens of thousands of dollars for the Morristown Medical Center and—according to the Co-Chair—is the highest grossing showhouse in the country.

This year’s mansion—the Blairsden Estate—is located in Peapack-Gladstone, New Jersey. Blairsden is an historic 62,000 square foot, 38-room (with 25 fireplaces and 19 bathrooms) Beaux-arts estate that was completed in 1903 as a country home for Clinton Ledyard Blair—an American investment banker, sportsman and commodore of the New York Yacht Club in his early 30’s—by prominent architectural firm Carrère and Hastings.

After the death of CLB in 1949 (at the age of 82,) Blairsden—with 50 acres of the original 550 acres—was sold for an estimated $65,000 to the Sisters of St. John the Baptist and renamed St. Joseph’s Villa.

According to Art & Architecture of New Jersey, the history of the Sisters’ stay had been considered mysterious with speculation about a series of murders [of orphans] at the mansion and questions about how the nuns ran the estate. [Much to my dismay,] these rumors have been put to rest through correspondence with a former member of the Sisters of St. John the Baptist. [She confirms that] St. Joseph’s Villa was run as a retreat house open to anyone who cared to visit. It was never operated as a hotel or orphanage. Supposedly the only shooting with even a distant connection to the Sisters of St. John the Baptist occurred at the James Pierpont Morgan mansion in Glen Cove, Long Island. J.P. Morgan himself was shot in the leg at this estate, but the wound was not fatal. Sisters who made their novitiate there remember speaking of the “JP Morgan murder” which was a myth, since the famous millionaire was not murdered.

In 2002, the Sisters sold the property to the Foundation for Classical Architecture which has since been carefully restoring the house and grounds. They, in turn, sold the estate in 2012 for $4.5 million to a private owner identified by local officials as T. Eric Galloway (a NY developer and President of the Lantern Organization.) 50+ interior designers and landscape designers have spent the past few months bringing their assigned spaces in Blairsden to their original glory and beyond. Here’s a taste of my favorite highlights of the showhouse. You can still see the home until May 31, 2014.

Skylight in James Yarosh’s sun-filled central, upstairs gallery

Sitting area in BHE Studio’s salon/tea room.

Great wallpaper in BHE Studio’s Tea Bar

sitting area in Houndstooth Interior Design’s kid’s room. It was fun and colorful, yet refined and elegant.

CW&I’s “deco in bloom” guest bedroom. I wanted to dive into this deluxe bed

My favorite piece by a popular Russian artist who’s name has escaped me. The subject in the painting is the Daughter of Peter the great. This was in Elizabeth Guest’s lovely room

 

For these and more photos scroll through my slideshow:

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We are Saying Good Buy…

After 5+ years of meticulous renovations and heartfelt updates, my husband and I are selling our beloved Colonial Tudor, nestled in NYC’s ‘burbs (walking distance to commuter lines). We have put so much thought into every detail of this home so it’s been bittersweet to put the final touches on our last few projects.

Alas, we are looking for a great couple, loving family, or fab singleton to move into this home. Someone who will enjoy curling up with a crossword on the banquette in the den. Someone who will use the 2nd bedroom as a glamorous office or pack it with color and a set of white built-in bunk beds. Someone who will stock the wine cellar full of delicious vintages and have tons of dinner parties. Someone who will live on the back porch from early spring through late fall. OH how I will miss you sweet, SWEET back porch. Someone who will play bocce on the leveled back yard and cook on the grill every night it’s not raining. Someone who will enjoy this place as much as we have.

Please join me in thanking this home for its hospitality and willingness to transform over the past 5+ years: please leave your comments (below the photos) about the house; be it a personal experience here or just a comment about the photos.

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