Sunday, February 22, 2015

Valerian Rybar: Chic Chaises

The Dining Room, Candib residence,
Miami Beach, as decorated by Valerian Rybar.
Image: Architectural Digest.
As another chapter in the sporadic series on high-personality chairs associated with a person of equal stature, this post of The Devoted Classicist presents chairs from a project by interior designer Valerian Rybar.

A pair of chairs similar to those in the Candib photo
except that the fabric is different.  Pair "A" for reference.
From ebay at a date not recorded.
The Miami Beach residence of Claudette and Murray Candib decorated by Rybar was featured in the April issue of Architectural Digest and appeared on the cover.  Murray Candib has been credited with creating the first self-service department store and introducing the concept of shopping carts to his chain of stores, King's, that grew to over 200 by the time of his death in 2013 at age 97.  The Candibs led an active social and philanthropic lifestyle with their home on the shore of Biscayne Bay given the aura of a villa on the Rivera by Rybar.  The magazine article describes the Dining Room as having a ceiling painted as a skyscape and walls painted with green trompe-l'oeil treillage to give the effect of dining alfresco.  The floor is marble tile and the dining table is a single slab of green marble on ornate gilt wrought iron supports.  No reference is given for the chairs other than a mention that the fabric is from Stroheim & Romann.
A detail of the back support of Pair "A"

A detail of the painting of Pair "A"
Nine side chairs appear in the magazine photo, but it would be realistic to believe there was a set of at least twelve.  They are in the Italian neo-classical style of the last quarter of the eighteenth-century, but likely to be made in the twentieth-century.  Although not impossible, it is difficult to assemble a large number of antique chairs of this sort that would be suitable for use in dining. 

Pair "B" of chairs currently on ebay.
Seller: sourcemyeyefordesign
Adding to the desirablity, it appears that the inside face of each back is painted with a differnt scene of frolicking putti.  Regardless of the date, there is no denying that the chairs are chic. 
Detailing from the "B" pair.
Seller: sourcemyeyefordesign

Detailing from the "B" pair.
Seller: sourcemyeyefordesign.

The backs of the "B" pair show evidence
of previous upholstery.
Chairs, similar if not actually the same, have appeared in venues such as ebay, but not much information has been recorded.  Knowing there are no bounds to the facts at the fingertips of you Devoted Readers, I ask that all who might have more information please do sign in with a comment below (on the regular on-line blog site).

More chairs.  We will reference to these
as the "C" pair.
Image via William Merrill.
ADDENDUM:  Thanks to Devoted Reader Will Merrill for sending this image of a pair of similar chairs, perhaps from the same set, from a recent real estate offering of a David Alder house near Chicago.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Barry Dixon

All Devoted Readers are invited to meet interior designer Barry Dixon this Saturday, February 21, 2015.   He will speak at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art at 10:30 am as guest of Decorative Arts Trust.

Born in Memphis, Barry Dixon's work is influenced by a childhood spent in Pakistan, India, Korea, New Caledonia and South Africa.  Now based on a 300-plus acre 1907 estate in Fauquier County, Virginia, near Washington, DC, he has created a line of furniture for Tomlinson/Erwin-Lambeth, accessories and furniture for Arteriors, fabrics and trim collections for Vervain, furniture and pendants for Avrett, and a paint line for C2 Paint in addition to serving as principal for his interior design firm.

A book-signing will follow the talk with BARRY DIXON INSPIRATIONS offered for sale with the proceeds benefitting Decorative Arts Trust.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Valerian Rybar and Jean-Francois Daigre on Sutton Place

Advertisement from August, 1982
Architectural Digest.
Coming across this 1982 advertisement for blinds photographed in the Manhattan apartment of interior designer Valerian Rybar brought to mind that the designer, internationally known among the Jet Set Rich and Famous during the 1970s and 80s, might not be a familiar name today.  And what better way to present a decorator than with photos of his own home?  With his partner Jean-Francois Diagre, who was perhaps more famous in Europe but usually regulated to a side remark in U.S. publications, Valerian Rybar (sometimes referred to as Stux-Rybar or Styx-Rybar) lived in a six-room Sutton Place apartment that they completely remodeled in the early 1970s to showcase their talent, leaving no original material or feature visible.

Rybar & Daigre in costume for Le Bal Oriental,
as used for the cover of the 2003 Christie's catalog.
Officially known as Valerian Rybar & Daigre Design Corporation, they promoted being identified as the world's most expensive decorators and undoubtedly worked to make that a reality.  Rybar, who was born in Yugoslavia, worked as a trainee at Lord & Taylor department store before designing packaging, displays, and shop interiors for Elizabeth Arden.  Rybar joined Daigre in 1968 to stage a spectacular ball for Mr. & Mrs. Antenor Patiño (see widow Beatriz's Paris apartment in a previous post of The Devoted Classicist here) introducing 1300 guests to their new country house, Quinto Patiño, set in a 200 acre park in Portugal.

Rybar & Daigre at Le Bal Oriental, 1969,
as documented in watercolor by Alexandre Serebriakoff.
Image via Scala Regia Inspirational Archives.
The following year, an even more spectacular fete designed by Rybar and Daigre, Le Bal Oriental, was hosted by Alexis von Rosenberg, Baron de Redé, at his home in Paris, Hôtel Lambert.  Read an excerpt from ALEXIS: THE MEMOIRS OF THE BARON DE REDE about the famous ball provided by the blog Scala Regia here.

The Rybar-Daigre Living Room, Sutton Place.
Photo by Ezra Stoller via New York Magazine.
The coral (more like the orange-ish color of cnidarians than the pink-ish polo shirts) velvet walls of the Living Room had radius corners and mirror-finish stainless steel bands as the base and cornice.  Etched steel plates covered the floor accented with a mink rug by Oscar de la Renta.  Most of the furniture was designed by Rybar and custom made by Karl Mann, but there were accents of antiques such as a Boulle tortoiseshell and brass filigree desk, and a carved crystal bust of Ferdinando de' Medici.

The Rybar-Daigre Dining Room, Sutton Place.
Photo by Ezra Stoller via New York Magazine.
The Dining Room had the same steel flooring with walls lined with concealed closet doors that were designed to appear as shelves filled with books; the titles stamped into the leather of the otherwise identical false books spines were written to reflect chapters in the designers' past.  An article by Jeff McKay in "New York Magazine" states that the title INTERNATIONAL BOREDOM referred to Rybar's marriage (1956 to 1965) to Irish brewing heiress Aileen Guiness, the Jet-Set chatelaine of Luttrellstown Castle near Dublin.  Again, custom made furniture filled the room, with Rybar-designed tables covered with batik fabric in this 1972 photo.

The bedside console in the Rybar-Daigre Master Bedroom.
Photo by Ezra Stoller via New York Magazine.
The Master Bedroom's bedside leather console topped with mirror-finish stainless steel was fitted to hold a slim-line telephone handset which also served as an intercom, and controls for the alarm clock, television, stereo, and dimmable lighting as well as the electric blanket.

The Rybar-Daigre Dressing Room, Sutton Place.
Photo by Ezra Stoller via New York Magazine.
The Dressing Room with the same low-cut pile caramel carpet as the bathroom was larger than the bedroom.  Based on a concept of display, double-hanging rods held suits and sloped shelves held shoes.  Translucent plastic drawers held folded shirts and glass shelves held rainbow stacks of sweaters.  A 3-way tailor's mirror figured prominently in the space, but the most memorable feature was a bench upholstered in hand-painted pony skin whose height could be electronically adjusted to serve as a luggage rack, ironing board or massage table.

The Rybar-Daigre Master Bathroom, Sutton Place.
Photo by Ezra Stoller via New York Magazine.
The Master Bath featured a custom-made stainless steel bathtub and a lavatory set in a pedestal of marble.  Tall mirrored cabinet doors provided storage for toiletries and reflected tortoise-shell faux finished walls and ceiling also punctuated with a section of mirrors.  Carefully stitched leather-covered masks by Nancy Grossman provided ominous decoration.

Marie-Hélène de Rothschild  (wife of Baron Guy de Rothschild
who owned Hôtel Lambert) with Valerian Rybar at Le Bal Oriental.
1969 photo via Artnet.
According to Rybar's 1990 obituary written by Carol Vogel for The New York Times, he was 71 years old and died in his Manhattan home of prostate cancer.  Daigre's 1992 New York Times obituary reported that he died of an AIDS-related illness in a Paris hospital at age 56.  This notice reported that Daigre had been hired at age 19 to work at designing décor, textiles and packaging for Christian Dior before joining Rybar to plan the Patiño ball.  It also said Diagre had managed the business side of the firm while continuing to be involved in the planning of gala events.

Valerian Rybar, Paris, 1967.
Leonard Nones photo via Corbis.
The couple's Paris residence, usually assigned to Daigre in print, was even more opulent and will be featured in a future post of The Devoted Classicist.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Whitehall, Part II


Whitehall, the Flagler Museum,
 Palm Beach, Florida, in a 1960 view.
Image:  Florida History Archives
As a continuation of the previous post of The Devoted Classicist, the docent-guided tour of Whitehall ends with the return to the Grand Hall.  The tour of the Second Floor is aided by a personal audio tape and begins after climbing the main staircase.  After ascending to a low landing which also opens to the courtyard, there is a split to a matching pair of triple-runs to the Second Floor.
The marble staircase, Whitehall.
Image: Flagler Museum
The Second Floor held the Master Suite of Henry and Mary Lily Flagler, fourteen guest rooms, twenty-two servants rooms, and nineteen bathrooms.  Each guest room included a private bath and a large closet plus a distinctive décor.

The Second Floor Plan as redrawn from the original
1/8 inch scale plans by Carrère & Hastings.
Image: Historic American Building Survey
The central courtyard provided the opportunity for cross ventilation aided by the louvered loggias at the north and south ends.  Guest bathrooms without windows and adjacent passages have skylights.

Second Floor Loggia, Whitehall.
Photo by John J. Tackett for The Devoted Classicist
Typical skylights in a guest room passage, left,
and in a guest bathroom, right.  Whitehall.
Photos by John J. Tackett for The Devoted Classicist.
Today, some of the guest rooms have been converted to exhibit space to display artifacts from the Flaglers.  Other guest rooms have been restored to the original Pottier and Stymus decorating schemes based on period photographs and historic documents.  The rooms were named according to their décor.

The Colonial Chamber, Whitehall.
Image: Flagler Museum.
The Colonial Chamber, the largest guest room, is located at the northeast corner.  While most of the bedroom furnishings were ordered to be specially made for Whitehall, this furniture came Flagler's home, Satanstoe, Mamaroneck, New York.

The Blue, Gold, Green, and Pink
Guest Bedrooms, Whitehall.
Images: Flagler Museum
In the Master Suite, Henry and Mary Lily Flagler were said to have shared the bedroom, a practice not common in Gilded Age mansions.  (He was 72 and she was 35 at the time of the house's completion).  The bedroom is decorated in the Louis XV Revival style.  Samples of the original bed fabric and wallcovering provided the documentation that allowed reproduction.

The Master Bedroom, Whitehall.
Image: Flagler Museum.
There are His and Hers Dressing Rooms with fitted cabinetry.  For museum interpretation, some clothing from the period is on display.

The Master Bathroom, Whitehall.
Image: Flagler Museum
The Master Bath is about the size of a typical guest room with slabs of marble forming a tall wainscot and squares of matching marble covering the floor on the diagonal.  In addition to a double bowl onyx lavatory and a wood tank flush toilet, there is a bathtub and needle-spray shower stall plus the most modern convenience, a telephone.

The Silver Maple Room, Whitehall.
Image: Flagler Museum
The Silver Maple Room features furniture in the style of the English Arts & Crafts Movement.  The bed painted with the Muses of Music on the headboard and the Four Seasons on the footboard is original to the room, as is the chest.

The Yellow Roses Room, Whitehall.
Image:  Flagler Museum.
The last guest bedroom on the tour is referred to as the Yellow Roses Room which features matching fabric and wallpaper in the "Marechal Rose" pattern reproduced from a fragment behind the mirror over the washbasin.  This room was used by Henry Flagler's (male) secretary J.C. Salter, who also usually served as secretary on of the Board of Directors for Flagler's corporations.

The Morning Room, Whitehall.
Image: Flagler Museum
At the southwest corner of the Second Floor overlooking Lake Worth is the Morning Room which served as Mrs. Flagler's boudoir.  She used it as her personal space for writing letters. practicing the piano, and playing bridge.  The Louis XV Revival style folding screen and console piano are original to the room.

A typical servant's room, Whitehall.
Image: Flagler Museum.
Twelve bedrooms for servants once filled the west wing of the Second Floor.  Part of this space is now used for exhibitions.  In addition, there were ten rooms on the Third Floor for use by the staff of the Flaglers' guests.

Whitehall's Laundry Building can be seen in the
distance of this 1903 photo of a luncheon on the grounds.
Image: Flagler Museum
There was a separate building off the northwest corner of the house that contained the Laundry on the ground floor with rooms for black servants above.  It was demolished in 1925.

One of the many original heat grilles in Whitehall.
The Flaglers typically occupied the house only in
January and February, but a minimal staff stayed
there year around.  In the humid summer months,
the house was kept closed with the heat on to
stabilize the humidity indoors.  The grilles are now
used for air-conditioning to maintain the interior climate.
In March 1913, Henry Flagler fell down the stairs at Whitehall and broke his hip.  At age 83, he never recovered from the injury and died two months later.  Mary Lily inherited the bulk of his fortune estimated to be worth between $60 and $100 million.  It is complicated to translate that into 2015 dollars, but it could easily be as much as $24 billion today.  In any case. she was reportedly the richest woman in the U.S.  The house remained closed for the next two seasons, but was opened in 1916 and 1917.  She married Robert Worth Bingham in November 1916, and died under suspicious circumstances eight months later.  (More may be read about that in THE BINGHAMS OF LOUISVILLE: THE DARK HISTORY BEHIND ONE OF AMERICA'S GREAT FORTUNES).  Whitehall was bequeathed to her niece Louise Clisby Wise who sold it to a group of investors who converted it into a hotel with the addition of a 300 room, ten story tower to the rear.  The mansion was used as public rooms and special event rooms for the hotel.

The Whitehall Hotel, 1925 to 1959.
Image Florida History Network.
Jean Flagler Mathews, Henry Flagler's granddaughter, heard that the hotel was in financial difficulties in 1959 and bought the property.  She formed the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum as a nonprofit corporation that opened Whitehall to the public in 1960.

The hotel's dining room remains as a events space.
Image: Flagler Museum
The hotel addition, with the exception of the ground floor, was removed, leaving the hotel dining room as a durable space for events.  Adjacent spaces are used for museum-related activities, including the museum store.

OUR TOWN: AN IN-DEPTH PICTORIAL HISTORY OF PALM BEACH
is one of the many selections available in the gift shop at Whitehall.
A separate building in the Beaux Arts Revival style, the Flagler Kenan Pavilion, was completed in 2005.  Inspired by Gilded Age railroad stations, the Smith Architectural Group designed the pavilion to accommodate the museum café and serve as another events venue as well as an elaborate exhibition gallery for Railcar No. 91.  Henry Morrison Flagler's private railcar, built in 1886 and one of two that he owned, was restored and visitors may walk through to get an idea of luxury travel in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Henry Flagler's private railcar on display
in the Flagler Kenan Pavilion, Whitehall.
Photo by John J. Tackett for The Devoted Classicist.
Visitors should not fail to admire the spectacular fence when entering and leaving the property.  Designed by architects Carrère and Hastings to an important aspect of the whole architectural effect, it is iron with bronze details spanning almost 1,000 feet across the front of the site.

The entrance gates to Whitehall, Palm Beach.
Photo by John J. Tackett for The Devoted Classicist.
The Flagler Museum is to be congratulated on its efforts in conservation and interpretation.  A visit to Whitehall offers an educational and insightful look back to America's Gilded Age.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Whitehall, Palm Beach

Whitehall, Flagler Museum, December 2014.
Photo by John J. Tackett for The Devoted Classicist.
One of the great American mansions of the Gilded Age is Whitehall, built as a wedding gift from Standard Oil tycoon, Henry Flagler, to his third wife.  Inspired by the neoclassical architecture of The White City, as the World's Columbian Exposition, 1893, Chicago, was called, Whitehall was built as an example of Western Culture brought to its full glory in America.

Whitehall, now the Flagler Museum, Palm Beach.
Image: Historic American Building Survey

Flagler, a self-made man with an eighth grade education, had both failures and successes as a businessman before borrowing money from a relative to join Samuel Andrews in becoming one of three founding partners in John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company in 1870.  Flagler was Secretary and Treasurer, helping to establish the company as a multi-state corporation, establishing a foundation for a new business template that developed into the format used today.  This was a time of great economical growth, with industrialization increasing productivity and general wealth increasing the standards of living across the population.  But it also created a new, super-wealthy class with the top 10% owning roughly three-fourths of the nation's wealth.  Standard Oil became the most prosperous and monopolizing oil empire of the time and Flagler, in these years before federal income tax, became one of the richest men in the world.
Flagler's Hotel Ponce de Leon, St. Augustine, Florida.
Image:  Flagler Museum
By 1876, Flagler's wife, the former Mary Harkness, was essentially an invalid, and the couple went to Florida for recuperation.  But Florida was undeveloped at the time, except for a few coastal towns, but with substandard lodgings and little entertainment.  The warm weather helped temporarily and the Flaglers returned to New York with Mrs. Flagler dying in 1881.  In 1883, Flagler married Ida Alice Shourds, a young woman who had attended the first Mrs. during her illness.  St. Augustine, Florida, was their honeymoon destination.  Flagler was so captivated by the city and its potential as a resort that he decided to take its development as a new challenge and adventure.  Flagler hired architects John Carrère and Thomas Hastings, who had just established their own firm after working together at McKim, Mead, and White, to design the Hotel Ponce de Leon which opened to great success in 1888.  Followed by two others around the same plaza, the three hotels made St. Augustine a destination for the day's rich and famous.

Courtyard Entrance to the Hotel Ponce de Leon.
Image via Archimaps.
Flagler was determined to make the east coast of Florida into the American Riviera.  Convenient transportation, of course, was essential;  Flagler bought and improved railroads so that it was possible to travel the whole distance by Pullman (sleeping) car from New York City without changing trains.  Flagler expanded to Daytona, and then on to West Palm Beach where he built a bridge to the barrier island of Palm Beach where he built the 1,150-room Hotel Royal Poinciana, the world's largest wooden structure at the time.  (It opened in 1894 and was enlarged twice, doubling in size each time). 

Flagler's Hotel Royal Poinciana, Palm Beach.
Image: Wikipedia
The Poinciana was on the shore of Lake Worth, and The Palm Beach Inn (later renamed The Breakers) was built just across the narrow island on the Atlantic coast in 1896.  These two hotels with the railroad access helped make Palm Beach a winter destination for the wealthiest of society during America's Gilded Age.
A 1926 map of the Florida East Coast Railroad
showing resort locations.
Image: Flagler Museum.
As a side note, there is a lot more to the story of Flagler's contributions to the development of south Florida than most may realize.  Flagler consolidated his various railroads into the Florida East Coast Railway in 1895.  When a freeze hit Palm Beach that year, but not the area 60 miles to the sough, Flagler extended the railroad to the settlement at the mouth of the Miami River where Julia Tuttle, an acquaintance of John D. Rockefeller owned 640 acres.  With the extension, Tuttle had promised to share half her land;  she divided it into small lots and gave Flagler every other lot, forcing him to purchase her plots. Flagler built the Royal Palm hotel in Miami plus a waterworks and sewage system, founded an electric power company, and donated land for the first public school in Miami.  Additionally, he helped start the first hospital and gave contributions to churches.  Flagler also extended his railroad to Key West, the closest deep-water American port for ships carrying supplies for the building of the Panama Canal.  But that is another story.
An advertisement for the Florida East Coast Railway and Hotels.
Image:  Flagler Museum
In addition to bringing in tourists, Flagler's railroads also brought in supplies for farmers and helped them ship their produce out of Florida.  By creating these new supporting facilities for both tourism and agriculture, the state really began to develop at a faster pace.  Flagler's contributions never wen unnoticed with the state's politicians, however;  as wife Ida Alice had to be institutionalized for mental illness in 1895, and New York did not allow divorce on the grounds of insanity, a change in Florida legislature allowed Flagler to be married a third time, to Mary Lily Kenan in 1901.
Mary Lily and Henry Flagler, 1910.
Image: Flagler Museum
Carrère and Hastings, who were the architects for the Standard Oil building in addition to having designed a library extension to Flagler's house in Mamaroneck, Long Island, and the previously mentioned Hotel Ponce de Leon, are best known for public buildings such as the New York Public Library, 1911. 

The monumental urns at the entrance to the New York Public Library
also designed by Carrère and Hastings.
But the firm was also noteworthy for their contributions to the country house & garden movement of the early 1900s, including Blairsden, 1898, in Peapack, New Jersey, and Nemours, 1910, in Wilmington, Delaware.  For city houses, few could compare to the Fifth Avenue home of Henry Clay Fick, 1912-14, now the Frick Collection and currently the subject of a controversial proposed museum expansion.

The World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago.
Image: Flagler Museum
Both John Carrère and Thomas Hastings had worked in the office of McKim, Mead & White, architects that epitomized The Gilded Age.  The World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893, with several buildings by McKim, Mead & White, was dominated by monumental, white, neoclassical buildings washed with electric light.  Since the fair was sponsored by the captains of industry, it is not a surprise that it inspired design of their new mansions.  The house as a symbol of the owner's appreciation of the arts was the goal of these homeowners wanting to express their social standing in Gilded Age Society.  Flager's desire to represent western culture as the ultimate expression could hardly have been better realized than it was with his building of Whitehall.

Whitehall under construction.
Image: Flagler Museum
The site, bought in 1893, was surveyed in July 1900 for the house completed for the arrival of Flagler and his third wife on February 6, 1902.  It was a time when European markets were filled with antiques, making it possible to create a vogue for Period Rooms.  That many of the purchases were new instead of old is beside the point in this case;  the intent was to express the belief in America as the culmination of western culture, and that did not require an authentic duplication.  Whitehall illustrates that combination of the classical tradition with the benefits of late nineteenth-century technology that was indicative of the times.  The Flaglers used Whitehall as a winter retreat during the months of January and February, traveling to Palm Beach by private railroad car.

The First Floor Plan of Whitehall
redrawn from the original 1/8 inch scale documents
to approximate 'as built' drawings.
Historic American Building Survey.
The Grand Hall essentially occupies the entire main block of the house, the whole length of the main floor behind the portico.  It is an impressive space, entered through ornate bronze and glass doors originally attended by a uniformed doorman 24 hours a day.  Amounting to 5,000 square feet of floor space according to the docent, the floor and walls are covered with seven varieties of marble. 
The Grand Hall, Whitehall.
Image:  Flagler Museum
There is no mistaking that it is a twentieth-century and not an eighteenth-century interior, however, because of the proportions.  The tour guides claim that Flagler asked that the ornate plaster ornamented and painted ceiling be dropped eight feet from the originally intended height to better relate to human scale.  That favoring of the horizontal was a characteristic of the period.  Not unusual during this time, the architects created the entrance hall, but the decoration of the other rooms was left to Pottier and Stymus, a New York City furniture and design firm prominent in the last half of the nineteenth century.

The Library, Whitehall.
Image:  Flagler Museum
At the south end of the Grand Hall, the Library in the Italian Renaissance style was decorated as a masculine space for Flagler to greet guests and business associates.  The lower half of the walls is covered with wood paneling or bookcases with glass doors and the upper half is covered with red damask.  The coffered ceiling is plaster, painted to match the wood.

The Music Room, Whitehall.
Image: Flagler Museum
The Music Room doubles as an art gallery, and also used for less formal functions such as bridge parties in addition to regular musical performances.  There was a resident organist each season to play the 1,249 pipe organ by J.H. & C.S. Odell Company, suppliers for many prominent churches.  The use of indirect electric lighting illuminating the copy of Guido Remi's "Aurora" in the central dome is an early use of that technology. 

The South Hall, Whitehall.
Image: Flagler Museum
Indirect lighting in the South Hall is also used to wash the ornate barrel vault ceiling.  Such subtle electric lighting was not common during this period.

The Courtyard, Whitehall, in 1972.
Photo: Historic American Building Survey.
The Courtyard, Whitehall,
as it appeared December, 2014.
Photo by John J. Tackett for The Devoted Classicist.
The central Courtyard was a critical feature for air circulation.  Here, the European tradition in the Caribbean, notably in Cuba, is observed.  The Flaglers sometimes used the space for open-air dinner parties.  The marble fountain portrays Venus, after the sculpture by Giovanni da Bologna for the Boboli Gardens in Florence.

The Grand Ballroom, Whitehall.
Image: Flagler Museum
A temporary fitted carpet covered the parquet floor of the Grand Ballroom at the time of my visit before New Year's Eve.  (There are now other rooms better suited for dancing, so this space is currently used on occassion for formal dinners).  Edward F. Caldwell & Co. made most of the light fixtures for Whitehall, including these chandeliers with Baccarat crystals and twelve sconces with fruit shaped crystals.

The Bal Poudre, March 5, 1903, Whitehall.
Image: Flagler Museum
The most famous party in the room occurred in 1903, the Bal Poudre given in honor of George Washington's birthday.  The New York Herald wrote that it was "one of the most sumptuous social affairs ever attempted south of Washington."

The Billiard Room, Whitehall.
Image: Flagler Museum
The Billiard Room was a popular gathering spot for gentlemen after dinner.  The interest in sport was a characteristic of the Gilded Age, making a masculine game room popular in mansion during this time.  Here the influence of the Arts & Crafts movement is evident in the decoration of the quarter-sawn oak wainscot and plaster beams painted to match.  The chimneypiece and window surrounds are Caen stone.  There is a record of the 1901 letter from Flagler to Stymus stating, "I have enlarged the billiard room considerably from the original plans."  In another letter, he asked for two spittoons for the Billiard Room, one for each of the Offices, and one for the Library.  But "Mrs. Flagler says she doesn't want any elsewhere in the house."

Mr. Flagler's Office, Whilehall.
Originally occupying the southwest corner of the house
adjacent to an office for his assistant, that space
was altered and is now used for the museum library.
The original Kitchen and Butler's Pantry were altered and that area is now used as business offices for the museum.

The Breakfast Room, Whitehall.
Image: Flagler Museum
The Breakfast Room, inspired by the State Dining Room at Warwick Castle, was used for everyday dining.

The Dining Room, Whitehall.
Image: Flagler Museum
The French Renaissance Revival style for the Dining Room was more appropriate than one might first imagine; a masculine décor was chosen because the room was often used by Flagler to entertain men prominent in financial and literary circles.  The parquet border was designed to the frame the carpet set in a recess.  The existing silk wallcovering is a reproduction of the original.
The Drawing Room, Whitehall
Image: Flagler Museum
The Drawing Room, at the north end of the Grand Hall and adjacent to the Dining Room, was designed in the Louis XVI Revival style just as one would expect in a neoclassical mansion of the early twentieth-century.  Mary Lily Flagler would entertain her friends here with music and conversation.  The Steinway piano was made especially for the room.  Panels of silk fabric that match the curtains are set within the painted paneling accented with aluminum leaf, a costly and rare material at the time.  (A coating of shellac has yellowed, giving it the appearance of Dutch leaf, however).
 
Returning to the Grand Hall, the excellent docent-led tour ends here.  The Second Floor of Whitehall along with the alterations and additions after the Flaglers' deaths will be presented in Part II, the next post of The Devoted Classicist.