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Northport journal. (Northport, N.Y.) 1885-current, May 20, 1994, Image 3

Image and text provided by Suffolk Cooperative Library System

Persistent link: http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn84031180/1994-05-20/ed-1/seq-3/


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e a 7) .. ' At Vanderbilt, Little Things Cou~t By George Wallace a recollection .of the Southern Spanish and Moroc.. , . . . . Cha~ces are you are aware of the g.eneral impres- SIOn grven by .. The Vanderbilt,\ that great mansion .. acros~;th:e harbo~ trom Northport Village. In a · sens~.~r~t seem7 as if i:t has. always occupied that · spot, m rts prectse configuration and condition. lt~as, perhaps, to· dispel such notions as these that ~nnette H.all of the Vanderbilt Museum gave her presentation at the annual meeting of the . Northport Historical Society this past weekend. ·· Ms. HaH, a warm and engaging speaker who · quite clearly is conversant in the nuances of Van- derbilt history, made it disconcertingly evident · · t~at not. only was Eagles Nest not always a man- Sion-·· 1t was a pretty modest-looking cottage be- •· fore the embellishments and elaborations which were to become the Spanish Rococo ·edifice en- · countered today. Her remarks on this subject came .in the context of What amounted to a sparkling \footnote to histo- ry\ type presentation, providing rapt listeners with a host of anecdotal insights into the lives and times of the Vanderbilts. The Vanderbilt Mansion and Museum, every stuc- co-studded wall and balcony of it, started out as a seven room cottage, it seems. Surrounded, that is, by dozens of acres, a four story garage, and a boathouse. Then came the Superintendent's house, today known ~s Normandy Manor and located across the street. When William K. Vanderbilt II started his marine collecting, things got a bit more complicated. First he added a one-story specimen building. But before long, his world travels resulted in so many items that he had to build a second sto- ry to that structure. lt was not until more than a decade of using the property as a kind of sportsman's retreat that Willie II began to turn the cottage into the mansion we know today. Employing the same people who de- signed Grand Central Station, Vanderbilt called for can .buildings he had seen in his travels. He came home with hundreds of photos of those travels., it seems, from tile roofs to stucco walls; from baro.que doorways. to lacy ironwork, Next carne the Nursery Wing., and the Library and Moroccan Court. ln short or.der,. Willie H had created a .two-story Spanish style ho.use, enclosed on three sides to create a lovely courtyard .. As for the detail work, Vanderbilt went eclectic, utilizing pebble mosaic rnotifs from the Mediterranean, Ti:.. betan courtyard $tatuaty, Portuguese tHe work, and furnishings from sources as diverse as 17th centu- ry European monestaries and 20th century yacht furniture. · · Finally, Vanderbilt added a memorial wing to the fourth side of the central courtyard, to memorialize the death of his son. As with the lives of the Vanderbilts, throughout the mansion across the waters are to be found dozens of nooks and crannies with unusual stories revealed in. the telling of them. Take the guest room, up in the bell tower. \It's so loud in there that it would knock you out of bed,\ said Ms. Hall. \You have to wonder whatkind of guests they put up there.\ Or take the dining room, with its adjacent closet which serves as a \warming pantry;\ food would be brought up to that pantry by a dumbwaiter from be- low, said Ms. Hall. Or how about the weapons which are to be found in the museum. \Suffolk County Police examined each of those weapons, and deactivated them be- fore opening the museum, 'j said Ms. Hall. Anyone vvho has visited the Vanderbilt Museum will be well aware that the wealth of anecdotal mate- rial in the building is enough to occupy months of study. Which is one of the reasons why it is so refreshing to have somedne as well-versed in the in- tricacies of the Vanderbilt story come to the local historical society - to remind us that such a. trea- sure trove is within a few minutes of our homes. Annette Hall of the VanCierbiJt takes a moment after her . presentation tQ talk with a member Qf tile Northport His-- torical ·society. Ms. Hall gave a refreshing presentation ()n some of the nuances and anec::dotes which make the Vanderbilt Museum a treasure on our shores. Photo by George Wallace William K Vanderbilt II Incorporated architectural detaih; from around the world In his mansion, like these eagles. . . Civil War Draft Riots: The Novel By George Wallace Book Revue in Huntington hosted his- torical novelist Peter Quinn last week- end, treating visitors to an-evening of wit as well as charming historical insight into a period in our history we don't hear too much about. Mention draft riots in America and you will probably get peo- ple thinking Vietnam. Mention ethnic strife and you will most likely getting people thinking Black-White relations. Try the Irish versus the English and Dutch. Try the American Civil War. Such was the subject of the color- ful, ambitious and extremely original novel of Peter Quinn, entitled \Ban~ · ished Children of Eve\ (Viking, 1994). Set· in Manhattan in 1863 on the eve of the Civil War Draft Riots, the author explores tensions which culminated during this time in some of the bloodi- est events in New York City history. .The book is as much a social histo- ry as Jt is a story of the Civil War draft riots. A social history told through the lives of individuals, of the Irish migra- tion-to the United· States in the mid- .1.9tti century. Those elements, Which . correspond to the author's Manhattan :Irish-American heritage, are at once :compelling and resound with an au- . thenticity borne of empathy. So too, : tbe .. former speech writer's command :.c;,f.·the facts and specific episodes of · trfe' :at>.c.ial history surrounding Man- : haitah~~~Civil War era is evident in the : un:iqtJ:~ :\reportage\ quality. As he not- . e·cfin.'f'Hs presentation at Book Revue, his research into newspapers, corre- spondences and state documents of the time are all put to good use. Mr. Quinn meticulously researched his story, which pits the newly arrive Irish against \True Americans,\ as well as against free Blacks and white dock workers. As the drafting of soldiers be- gins, the city demonstrates that instead of being a melting pot, it is a place for brutally conflicting clashes of culture. Sometimes it takes a person with a keen political sense to find what it is in a story most worth telling. This Mr. Quinn has done, to admirable effect. Moreover, Mr. Quinn is a man who comprehends many of the universal issues of human history: intolerance, ambition, and the ·conflict between an individual and the multi-layered insti- tutional elements of the society in which that individual is placed. Criti- cal stuff for historical novels, and at least in this case, he's got it. Critically-acclaimed authors have praised Quinn's new novel - his first, by the way. Says Thomas Flanagan: \It seems to me one of ttle very, very best of modern historical novels.\ Adds William Kennedy: \an ebullient mingling of fiction and history. Quinn's characters ... move imaginatively through this sweeping narrative.\ Peter Quinn, formerly a speech writ- er for New York governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo, is a chief speech writer for Time-Warner, Inc. His paternal grandfather came to New York in 1873, owned a bar on 11th Street, and was a labor organizer for the AFL. Mr. Quinn's father spent his life in politics as a Ne~ York State Assemblyman,. US Congressman and ' judge. Born and educated in the Bronx, Peter Quinn holds a Masters and an ABO doctorate in Irish History from Fordham. Mom and Daughter-In-Law Marla Pappas' singular blend of traditional decorative, elements combine with a keen Instinct for Ironic commentary on the decorative proc\$' as In this painting which creates dynamic ~tension between subject and the technical aspects of fram- Ing. Her work Is featured, along with that of her mother-l ... law Betsy Pappas, at LaMantia Gallery In Northport this month. · · . . Photo by George Wallace The Northport Journal • May 20, 1994 3 .

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