If you don’t know about the mansions in Newport, you are missing some gorgeous homes that once belonged to American ‘royalty’. Names like Vanderbilt, Whitney, and more, built mid to late 1800s and into early 1900s. These were summer homes, used for 4-6 weeks per year and where the wealthy met other wealthies, hopefully to marry off their daughters and keep the money in the family. The homes are spectacular, some based on Versailles, with vast lawns and views of the bay. Craftsmen must have been very busy in this time frame.
Tonight I heard a talk by John LeBoutillier about the Old Westbury, NY studio of his great grandmother, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. It was held at Rosecliff and attended by 200 or more people. Mr. LeBoutillier lives in Gertrude’s studio but spend time while growing up in Newport, so being here today was like a homecoming. He seemed to know many in the room and was taking pictures, shaking hands and hugging. You can tell old money people – lots of older gents with bow ties, a couple men with salmon slacks and white blazers. The women tend to be in Lilly Pulitzer pinks, several gaunt and looking like they’ve had work done. Overhearing conversations, they were trying to figure out how they were related.
LeBoutillier presented a slide show with pictures of the studio as Gertrude had it built, one large room with expansive gardens and a pool. This was not her home but the space where she created her work. Originally she had kilns in the basement and yards. It was quite a dramatic building, with columns and iron gates, designed by whoever designed the columns at the Whitehouse.
In the early 80s, LeBoutillier and his family moved into the studio but added wings for bedrooms and a kitchen. He talked about how Mick Jagger used to hang out with one of his cousins when the Stones had rented a stadium for a tour practice. Mick and family would often come to the house. He dropped Mick’s name pretty casually.