Friday, March 8, 2013

Trumbauer's swan song

 I recently treated myself to a book I have coveted for a long time, American Splendor; The Residential Architecture of Horace Trumbauer by Michael Kathrens. It does not disappoint.  A catalog of Trumbauer's best work, each chapter is devoted to a different project and even floorplans for each are included!.
If you're not familiar with Trumbauer you may be familiar with some of his work. A self-educated man, he rose to become one of the most sought after residential architects of the early 20th century.  His last completed project, Rose Terrace, is the subject of this brief post.
Started in 1930 the house wasn't finished until 1934 for Anna Dodge Dillman in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. While noted as a difficult woman she had amazing taste and hired (or married) the best tastemakers of her day; Trumbauer, Lord Duveen, and Alavoine & Cie, amongst others. Anna lived at Rose Terrace until her death in 1970, spending summers at her Mizner designed estate in Palm Beach, Playa Riente (not a bad life, no?).
The house was immense as you can see from the floorplans above. While Trumbauer was known mainly for large houses, this was his last and certainly his finest. Many refer to the house as the best example of French neoclassical style ever built in this country: a slight on Miramar, the Trumbauer house on which Rose Terrace was based.
Anna lived at Rose Terrace in isolated splendor especially as she descended into her twilight years; money provides an excellent buffer and she lived in a Belle Epoque splendor as the fortunes of Detroit crumbled.
Sadly the house didn't fair as well as Anna. After her death the house was unable to be sold, mainly due to the 70s recession. After a few years of neglect the contents were dispersed (mostly auctioned off although the music room resides in the Detroit Art Museum) and the house torn down. The gates now enclose a bland subdivision.
Was Rose Terrace one of the last great estates to be seen in this country?  If so its ending is rather poetic as it lasted as long as Anna.
See and read more about Rose Terrace at Old Long Island and a series of fascinating videos HERE.
All images are from the aforementioned book and not the editor's own.

Monday, March 4, 2013

New at NGA

This past weekend I visited the National Gallery of Art, one of my favorite DC haunts, to see the highly recommended exhibit on the Pre-Raphaelites but also took the opportunity to wander around one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
One of my favorite things to see in the museum isn't even technically a work of art but rather the main rotunda which generally has an amazing garden display. The Ames-Haskell Azalea Collection was on display and reminded me that spring is on the way!
Also not to miss is a fascinating exhibit on Manipulated Photography before Photoshop. Tell them I sent you!