Thursday, September 22, 2011

Guigne Court and Anthony Hail

The interior of the Pavilion at Guigne Court, the residence of Eleanor and Christian de Guigne, 3rd,
as decorated by Anthony Hail.  The Devoted Classicist agrees with the designer's reluctance to call it the Poolhouse.
Photo from ID&D '66 edited by Jacqueline Inchbald, 1965.
One of the most celebrated estates in the San Francisco area is Guigne Court, a secluded mansion on 47 acres in Hillsborough near the border of the city of San Mateo.  The house was built in 1918 (or some sources say 1913) as a wedding present for Christian de Guigne, 2nd, and his bride from the groom's father.  The first Christian de Guigne, who founded what became the Leslie Salt Company (the world's largest solar evaporation plant for the production of salt) and the Stauffer Chemical Company (which manufactured herbicides for corn and rice), had married the eldest daughter of millionaire Gold Rush banker John Parrott in 1879, starting the dynasty.
The Pavilion at the residence of Eleanor and Christian de Guigne, 3rd,
as decorated by Anthony Hail.
Photo from ID&D '66 edited by Jacqueline Inchbald.
These photos from the early 1960s date from the occupancy by Christian de Guigne, 3rd, and his wife Eleanor, who married in 1935.  Often referred to as Madame de Guigne, she was a regular customer in the top couture houses in Paris and was elected to the Fashion Hall of Fame in 1981.  On her death in 1983, Madame's archival wardrobe was bequeathed to The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
The Entrance Hall of the residence of Eleanor and Christian de Guigne, 3rd,
 as decorated by Anthony Hail.
Photo from ID&D '66 edited by Jacqueline Inchbald.
The estate's current occupant, Christian de Guigne, 4th, married Vaughn in 1984, when the groom was 47 and the bride 30.  They lived an opulent lifestyle on the estate he inherited with a staff that included two housekeepers, three gardeners, a laundress, a chef, a child-care provider, and a part-time chauffer until their separation in 1996.  The 2002 divorce papers stated that neither partner worked during the marriage and that the expenses to run the house were $450,000 annually despite an income from trusts of $240,000.  In a landmark case to settle the divorce, the court called for the subdivision of the 47 acre estate to raise cash for a spousal settlement.  Neighboring property owners objected, however, and the estate is still not subdivided, according to the Burlingame Historical Society.
A portion of the Living Room of the residence of Eleanor and Christian de Guigne, 3rd,
as decorated by Anthony Hail.
Photo from ID&D '66 edited by Jacqueline Inchbald.
The interesting fact of these approximately 50 year old images is the staying power of the classic interior design by Anthony Hail.  After an early childhood in Tennessee, his mother remarried and he grew up in Denmark.  Anthony Hail studied design and decoration in England while he worked as a Conde Nast correspondent for Maison et Jardin, British Vogue, and British House & Garden magazines.  After attending the Harvard Graduate School of Design during the leadership of modernist Walter Gropius, he was assistant to Edward Wormley, chief designer for the Dunbar Furniture Company.  He also listed the restoration of the White House on his professional c.v.  Anthony Hail started his own practice in San Francisco in 1957 and quickly became in demand by the Society leaders such as the Gettys and the Thierots in addition to the de Guignes.  He also served as design consultant for several San Francisco museums.  His talent was also appreciated in Southern California where he decorated the home of film and television actor James Garner.  Working from his California Street residence, which had been renovated by William Randolph Hearst's architect Julia Morgan, he also had projects in New York City and elsewhere.  Anthony Hail died in 2006 at age 81.
Anthony Hail, right, with Andy Warhol, 1981.
Photo by Steve Ringman for the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Devoted Classicist was happy to have met him while he was decorating the apartment directly below the project at One Sutton Place South.  Seeing his work in publications like Architectural Digest during the 70s and 80s, I was a big fan.  I had lived in Nashville for a couple of years in the late 70s and often passed his family's abandoned farm on the road to Franklin.  Unfortunately, it had been bisected by Interstate 65 and the house had been demolished, but the extraordinary mid-19th century barn remained in near ruin but clearly visible from the highway.  And later, I saw another apartment at One Sutton Place South and the house on a horse farm near Nashville that had been decorated by Anthony Hail for the parents of another of my clients.  (He also decorated their Southampton house).  His own quote in Interior Design magazine profile said it best, describing his style as "an intuitive fusion of quality, workmanship, architectural details of the highest quality, furniture, paintings and accessories in which soft colors highlight the furniture."

More about Anthony Hail can be found at The Peak of Chic and The Blue Remembered Hills blogs and in two books by another fellow blogger Diane Dorrans Saeks, SAN FRANCISCO INTERIORS and SAN FRANCISCO - A CERTAIN STYLE.  These four photos of Guigne Court are from ID&D '66, INTERIOR DESIGN AND DECORATION edited by Jacqueline Inchbald, 1965.  All three books are available here.

To see more photos of Guigne Court and details of the estate for sale, see the February, 2013,  post of The Devoted Classicist here.

24 comments:

  1. Thank you for this thorough and fascinating post. I agree, the design work is timeless.

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  2. A friend worked at Tiffany in S.F.- Madame was one of his clients- the ongoing project was finding a way to keep her enormous diamond ring from spinning around on her tiny finger- Wasn't this house in AD in the '70's?

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  3. I cannot believe the photograph of the pavilion is from 1965... it feels completely modern and timeless. The wall-covering is flawless and the pair of chairs are phenomenal. I love it!

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  4. Helen, there are a few variations in the first two photos, so the spaces were "styled" for the shoot. Those are the only aspects perhaps I would feel compelled to change, even if that.

    Thomas, I do not know about "Architectural Digest", but perhaps another reader will know. There are reports that the manger of Tiffany's was remembered in Madame's will, however.

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  5. JWC, actually there is a whole set of those painted Italian chairs upholstered in green leather. Very chic, no?

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  6. MAny thanks for a fabulous post full of history and drop dead style!

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  7. Thank you for your compliment and comment, David.

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  8. The wallpaper is what first caught my eye then the whole room came into focus - utterly beautiful! As JWC wrote, timeless.

    Thank you for the link to my post about Mr Hail - a totally different kind of interior but equally well-mannered. The consummate gentleman, indeed.

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  9. Madame also had miniature horses as pets- I believe they pretty much had the run of the place including making themselves comfy on the sofas.

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  10. Blue, it was my pleasure to provide a link to your blog. I hope all readers of The Devoted Classicist will look through your blog archives and learn more about the very talented decorators of the 20th century who are often no longer mentioned in print, but were great contributors to interior design.

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  11. Thomas, I grew up having horses, though of regular size. I can only imagine how rough, even miniature ones, were on the upholstery!

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  12. Just call me 'another reader'. I don't remember a spread about Guigne Court in AD, but there was one, with photos of Madame and family at home, in Town & Country sometime in the seventies. Unfortunately, my clipping was lost when the old cat of an old boyfriend peed in the basket in which such clippings were filed. The clipping is long gone, as are boyfriend and cat.

    It was marvelous to see these photos. The Pavilion room really is about as good as it gets---as was almost everything Hail did. A clipping that did survive the incontinent cat is one of his middle SF living room, still one of my ideals of a perfect space.

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  13. Devoted - Love your blog. Especially liked seeing the de Guigne house. Have been lucky enough to visit many of the greatest houses in the Bay Area but never this one. I think it was Town & Country where it was published a while back. Only pictures of the pavilion and family - no other interiors. Do you have any pictures of the exterior? Other interior shots? From some grainy old pictures I have seen and what is visible through the dense trees it looks very chateauesque. The Sutton Place apartment was beautiful too - more pics of that too please. Chip

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  14. D.E. Dilettante, it must have been quite the house in the 70s! I really don't think I have ever seen any photos other than these -- but would like to. Many thanks for your comments.

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  15. Chip, sorry that your comment was stuck in the blogosphere limbo for a while, but that in no way effects my appreciation. Thank you very much. I have no other photos of this house and have only seen the satellite view from MapQuest. (Some prefer Bing, but it does not work for me on the iPhone, where I find the time for such explorations). Look for Crystal Springs Road & Parrott Drive, Hillsborough. You can see the swimming pool and the Pavilion addition which made the house a modified "U" shape. Needless to say, The Devoted Classicist does not encourage or condone trespassing or disturbing the property owners.

    There are more photos of the One Sutton Place South apartment, so you can look forward to a Part 2 post at some point. Thanks, Chip.

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  16. Wonderful blog post! Anthony Hail is high on my list of designers that I wish that I had been able to meet.

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  17. Grant, he was a Gentleman Decorator; unfortunately there are not so many today.

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  18. i was the lucky boy who worked with Hail when he lived on Greenwich stairs; Coit Hill; I've got story; history; good memory!

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  19. Craig, thanks for commenting. I hope there will someday be a book on Anthony Hail.

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  20. Nothing compares to classics. It characterized your inner self and emotional attachment with things around.

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  21. I remember being up at de Guigne Court as a young child and I remember Lucy and elegant cigarette filters in the Pavilion, what I don't remember is how the doors opened and closed. Do you know.

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    1. Elizabeth, I do not know the answer to your question. But I am guessing that there is a blind that is concealed in the thickness of the wall that can be rolled down from the head within the three arches that open to the pool terrace.

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    2. That's it! I asked my mom as well and that was her recollection.

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