Friday, October 16, 2015

Parish-Hadley Book Launch

60 East 93rd Street, New York City.
John Russell Pope, architect, completed 1931.
Photo: Collection of the Museum of the City of New York.
October 13, 2015, marked the launch reception for the new book PARISH-HADLEY TREE OF LIFE: AN INTIMATE HISTORY OF THE LEGENDARY DESIGN FIRM by Brian J. McCarthy and Bunny Williams.  The Devoted Classicist, John Tackett, a contributor, was an honored guest along with the thirty others who have a chapter in the book.  The reception was held in the glorious Manhattan townhouse that is home to the noted antiquarian Carlton Hobbs at 60 East 93rd Street.

No sign of commerce marks the entrance to Carlton Hobbs, LLC.
Photo by John J. Tackett for The Devoted Classicist blog.
That block between Madison and Park Avenue is one of my absolute favorites, the site of several of the city's most distinctive townhouses.  Number 60 was designed by architect John Russell Pope and completed in 1931 for Virginia Fair Vanderbilt.  Heir to the fortune her father made from the Comstock Lode and Big Bonanza mine, she was married to William Kissam Vanderbilt, president of the New York Central Railroad, until 1927.  Despite the financial reverses of many during the Great Depression, there were no economic hardships for "Birdie," as her friends called her, who divided her time between this house, another on Long Island, and a third in California. 

The main block of 60 East 93rd Street has three principal floors
with the set-back entrance not seen here.
Photo by John J. Tackett for The Devoted Classicist blog.
The house replaced three rowhouses and was built of limestone.  There are three principal floors but the service areas are on seven stories of shorter ceiling heights within that space.  Originally, there were four 18th century paneled rooms (one was removed by a subsequent owner) with antique parquet floors (replaced after occupation by a school).  Decorative hardware in the antique style was made by Bricard in Paris.

The Dining Room as set up as display space for
antiques offered for sale.
Photo by John J. Tackett for The Devoted Classicist blog.
After Virginia Fair Vanderbilt's death at age 60, the house was bought Bryan and Thelma Foy, she being the very stylish and rich daughter of auto manufacturer Walter Chrysler.  Then the house was occupied by the Romanian Mission to the United Nations before being bought by the Lycee Francais.  Carlton Hobbs bought the 50 room mansion for about $10.5 million in 2002 and spent two years in restoration.  Read more about the house in a past post of Daytonian in Manhattan.

Designers Brian J. McCarthy and Bunny Williams, authors of
PARISH-HADLEY TREE OF LIFE: AN INTIMATE HISTORY OF THE LEGENDARY DESIGN FIRM
address the guests from the staircase at the book launch reception.
Photo by John J. Tackett for The Devoted Classicist blog.
In addition to seeing the interior of the house, it was a great treat to see some of my old friends and colleagues and meet new ones.  In addition to Brian and Bunny, who were there with their respective spouses Danny Sager and John Rosselli, there was Thomas Jayne, Michael Whaley (and wife K.T.), David Kleinberg, Nicholas Miles PentecostLibby Cameron, Kim Cruise, Nancy Porter, Carol Cavaluzzo, John MurrayDavid McMahon, and Paul Engel.  And it was so good to see Mark Ferguson with business partner Oscar Shamamian with their wives Natalie Jacobs and Llewellyn Sinkler.  Parish-Hadley "alumni" after my tenure included Douglas C. WrightTodd Klein, James Andrew, and Thom Filicia.

A view from the staircase of some of those gathered for the book launch reception.
Photo by John J. Tackett for The Devoted Classicist blog.
It was a great pleasure to see Peter van Hattum the spouse of the late Harold Simmons, my former "boss" who was such a great teacher.  And also attending was former employee from the early days of Parish-Hadley, Suzanne Earls Carr.  Sue introduced me to her guest, Bruce Budd, the esteemed designer who had worked for the late tastemaker Bunny Mellon; what a treat to meet such a talented gentleman!  Also in attendance was former Parish-Hadley client and great friend of Albert Hadley Rene Meyers who is practically part of the alumni group. One of my favorite decorative painters, Chuck Fischer, was there; he also has authored some fantastic pop-up books with his illustrations literally springing to life throughout the book.  And I spoke briefly to author of several books on famous decorators Stephen Salny.  Of course, there were many, many others and I am sure I am leaving someone out.  But it was fun and a good time was had by all.  Thanks to our host Carlton Hobbs and literary marketing & branding agent Jill Cohen with associate Lizzy Hyland.

12 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank-you, DJS. It was a fun evening in a lovely setting.

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  2. John,
    What a great gathering that must have been! I had recently met Stephen Salny, and he so graciously gave me a copy of his most recent book, on William Hodgins- rounding out my collection of all four of his books, David Adler, Frances Elkins, and Michael Taylor.
    Thanks for sharing your recent NY trip with us!

    Dean Farris
    (former assistant to PH decorator Tice Alexander)

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    Replies
    1. D.F., it was great fun seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

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  3. What a great gathering. Hey John, since you are in the neighbourhood, come on up to Hudson! :-)

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    Replies
    1. C.L., hopefully Hudson before too very long.

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  4. Thank you for the story behind the house - all being added to my file providing interest for our trip to NYC next year. Having already received this book, I can only say that the reading of it will be enhanced by reading this post. Thank you!

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    1. J.R.I., if you go to the Cooper-Hewitt, this block of E. 93rd between Madison and Park Ave is not far; it has several other interesting houses that will eventually be posts of their own. I hope you enjoy the book. Thank-you for commenting.

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  5. Congratulations. It must be very gratifying to be involved in such august company.

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    Replies
    1. C., yes, I value my colleagues. I appreciate your comment.

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  6. What a fabulous party that must have been! I have been in that house; it is wonderful! I can't wait to read the book! Going to on the way to the San Francisco Antiques show tomorrow!!!

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    1. P.B., it was indeed a fun party. I just realize I left out a shot! Although the remembrances are specifically about P-H, there are enough things with a universal appeal that a large part of the decor-centric public should find it interesting.

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