Monday, June 6, 2011

Notable Homes: Cragwood

This view of Cragwood, painted by noted artist Felix Kelly, 1917-1994, was not included in the auction.
Many readers of The Devoted Classicist are familiar with this country's finest works of residential architecture, some that have become museums that have been beautifully showcased in countless books.  There are a number of others that are notable homes, perhaps not based strictly on the architecture alone, however, but rather a whole combination of factors that also considers the owners, the contents and how they are presented, and that most elusive of qualities:  how the house is run.  Cragwood, a 1920s Georgian Revival mansion on 172 acres in Far Hills, New Jersey, near the Bernardsville border, is one of these notable homes.
Mrs Charles (Jane)  Engelhard in a 1949 photo by Horst.
For many years, Cragwood's chatelaine was Mrs. Charles (Jane) Engelhard, Jr.  Born Marie Annette Reiss in Qingdao, China, in 1917, she was the daughter of Hugo Reiss, a German-born diplomat who served as Brazil's consul in Shanghai, and Ignatia Mary Murphy, a native of San Francisco, California.  After her mother's second marriage, Jane and her two sisters lived in Paris, and was graduated from the Convent des Oiseaux, a fashionable school in Neuilly.  In 1939, Jane married forty nine year old Fritz Mannheimer, the director of Mendelssohn & Company in Amsterdam, a branch of the fabled private bank headquarterd in Berlin.  Eight weeks after the wedding, Mannheimer died, reportedly of a heart attack.  The Amsterdam branch was declared insolvent the next day and Mannheimer's noted art collection was confiscated with the entire firm liquidated by the Nazi German government soon after.  The couple's only child, Anne France Mannheimer, now known as Annette de la Renta, was born after Mannheimer's death.  (See the January 20, 2011, post for a view of Annette and Oscar de la Renta's master suite in Kent, Connecticut).
Mr & Mrs Charles Engelhard in the Library of their home, Cragwood.
Charles W. Engelhard, Jr., 1917-1971, served in the United States Army Air Forces in World War II and married Jane in 1947, adopting her daughter.  Together, they had four more daughters.  After his father's death in 1950, he inherited the metals processing business his father had founded and expanded it into an international mining and metals conglomerate, developing it into one of the world's leading refiners of precious metals with substantial expansion of operations in Europe, South America, and Africa.  A friend of Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond books, Mr. Engelhard was reportedly delighted to be the inspiration for the title character in the novel Goldfinger and the 1964 film of the same name.  In the days when it was not possible to import gold bullion to the U.S., Auric Goldfinger had it cast into the form of a vintage Rolls Royce and shipped into this country so it could be melted back into gold bars.  According to society legend, Englehard had his gold roughly cast into inexpensive looking costume jewelry and shipped it to the U.S., and melted it back into gold bars, therefore avoiding the import restrictions.
The Hochst model of a horse, circa 1755,  8 3/4" wide and 6 1/8" high, brought $132,000 at auction.  More furnishings from Cragwood will be featured in a future post as Cragwood,  Part II.
The Englehards were a major force in Thoroughbred horse racing with stables in England, South Aftrica, and Aiken, South Carolina.  There were many successful horses, but the most famous was Nijinsky.  The horse was an English Triple Crown winner that was voted Britain's Horse of the Millennium in a 2000 Sun newspaper poll and immortalized in the 1970 film A Horse Named Nijinsky.
While there was no identification for this photo, it may have been taken on the occasion of the second Inaugeration of Lyndon B. Johnson on January 20, 1965.
The Englehards were major contributors to the United States Democratic Party, especially for the Kennedy and Johnson campaigns in the 1960s.  Charles Englehard's own political aspirations were cut short in 1955, when he was defeated in a race to represent Somerset County in the New Jersey State Senate by the Republican incumbant, Malcolm S. Forbes, the magazine publisher.  The outcome was close -- only 370 votes, 19,981 to 19,611. 

The Englehards supported numerous humanitarian and benevolent causes, not only in the United States, but in the United Kingdom and South Africa as well.  Jane was notably a supporter of the White House restoration and a Board Member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art which benefited from the gift of the Engelhard Court at the entrance to the American Wing.  The Charles Englehard Foundation, headed by Jane after his death and then by their daughters, still provides funding to a wide range of causes, from education and medical research to cultural institutions and wildlife conservation organizations.

When Mrs. Engelhard moved to Nantucket, Massachusetts in 1990, Cragwood was sold to Lyndall and John E. Bailye, the chief executive of Endrite International, a pharmaceutical sales analysis and marketing company.  Parish-Hadley alumni Bunny Williams designed the interiors and Madison Cox further developed the gardens for the new owners.
Jane Reiss Engelhard died of pneumonia at her Nantucket home in 2004.  Property from her estate was sold at auction at Christie's New York, March 18, 2005, with images from the catalog shown here.  Four additional auctions, "Magnificent Jewels", "Old Master Drawings", "Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art", and "Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts" during March, April, and June, 2005, passed her belongings on to other appreciative collectors.  Photos of the interior and selections from the furnishings will be presented in a post by The Devoted Classicist in the near future.


  1. Absolutely magnificent! What a colorful story about the rolls royce..thats a riot! Beautiful and interesting post.

  2. Yes that is a magical combination. all the things we are drawn to in that small world. The Horst image is priceless. thank you for bringing this home to light, pgt

  3. The Sheik of ChicJune 6, 2011 at 10:16 PM

    This is all very interesting and a great post on both a couple and a house that I knew nothing about. I have really been enjoying your blog for several months and appreciate the educational aspect of it.

  4. Thanks - how nice to read about a relatively little known but wonderful house. And the pool is spectacular!

  5. My sincere apologies go to TOWN AND COUNTRY MOM at whose comment "I look forward to seeing the interior photos and selections from the furniture collection" was accidently deleted.

  6. Nice post, thank you for it.

  7. Thanks M.L.H.B. And my apologies to all who have been trying to leave a comment, but were not allowed. It is some glitch with Blogger, essentially of a repeat of the same thing a few weeks ago.

  8. Thanks, Louis. I will be interested in your opinion on the decorating of Cragwood. There is a level of connoiseurship that is often lacking in today's interiors, but it electic, an approach often attempted today.

  9. All fascinating. Loved these posts. Lynn

  10. I believe I am in possession of a perfume bottle that (may have) belonged to Jane Engelhard. It is etched crystal with a silver cap that is engraved JME. Quite large and ornate. I bought it in a second hand store in Bernardsville, NJ some years ago. According to the shop owner, it had been found hidden inside the walls of a house. I thought it might be Engelhard..but for some reason today began to research. Very interesting to learn more about the family from your site.


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