September 30, 2013

Talk Prep

I am giving a lecture on October 1 entitled “Baltimore, It’s Not Just The Wire”, imageand I’ve been walking around the house rehearsing what I am going to say, and studying the sequence of my slides, so no post this evening, I’m afraid.

I will leave you with some images from the slide show, however!

Otterbein alley housesimage

5 E. Lexington Streetimage

John Gutierrez sculpture, Druid Hillimage

Tiffany dome, The Engineers Clubimage

Inner Harbour, Baltimoreimage

Bolton HillimageHope you’ve enjoyed your brief tour of Baltimore.

September 29, 2013


This was the weekend of Baltimore’s annual Book Festival, and after having the worst weather for the past several years, the event was finally graced with what can only be called perfect weather. Sunny, crystal clear and 70’s. mt vernon2

I had started the day in the auction rooms, where I bid on a number of items, but only won three lots.

I love Wedgwood Jasperware and was lucky enough to win a massive lot of it, auctionwhich will end up on my Etsy shop. There are some really amazing pieces in here, including a set of presidential profiles including ones of Nixon, Kennedy and Regan! These make great little presents and hostess gifts. They’re going to be priced at about $10 each, so you can buy a number of them to give as holiday gifts.

Of course, I couldn’t steer away from the blue & white china, and picked up a couple of platters and plates.

Here are a few of them stacked on a huge silverplate platter that I spray-painted black after it had lost its plate. It will be a perfect piece for serving Halloween cupcakes!

After I unpacked all of my treasures, I headed downtown to the Book Festival to meet my friend, author Mary Kay Andrews who was in town to give a book talk. She’s got a new book coming out in a few weeks which revisits her hilarious characters, Bebe and Weezie. The book is called Christmas Bliss and it’s coming out on October 15th. imageOf course, I will be reviewing it after I get back from the Furniture Market at High Point in mid-October. I am going to be listening to it on the six-hour drive to North Carolina. I did this with her last book and it just made the trip fly by!

Mary Kay and I went to see local author, Laura Lippman interview John Searles on his newest book, Help for the Haunted. The conversation was fascinating and I can’t wait to read his book. It’s gotten great reviews.

After that, we headed over to check out the George Peabody Library at the Peabody Conservatory. It’s really one of the most stunning buildings in Baltimore. peabody

It was fun to watch Mary Kay’s jaw drop when we entered the room. And I love that it smells like old books, too!peabody2

In addition to the library, which can be rented out for events, the Peabody has a full schedule of performances throughout the year.

All in all, it was a great weekend! mt. vernon

How was yours?

September 26, 2013

Renewed Ladew Room Debuts

Ha! Try and say that fast three times! I was invited to Ladew Gardens, one of the most special places in our area, for the unveiling of a newly redecorated room in the manor house. For years, the house was decorated mainly in the fashion of the owner, Harvey Ladew, but there were always the tastes of the various house committees overlaid on the d├ęcor.

What started as a job to replace some pelmets and restore a cracking ceiling became a 10-month long project, spanning the globe and using the expertise of numerous craftspeople. Ladew 103In the image above, you can see a little bit of the room as it’s been decorated for the past 20+ years. What you can’t see is the huge and growing crack across the ceiling and the deep concern on the faces of the staff and board. In addition, there was a feeling that something wasn’t quite right about this drawing room, as it didn’t fit well with the rest of the house.

Everything was removed from the room and the plasterers were called in, only to find severe structural damage to the plasterwork and the ceiling. Once the pelmet was removed, the damage to it was clearly apparent. Moths, age and lots of cigarette smoke had taken their toll and the fabric was damaged and the stitchwork was tattered. The curtain tie-backs were not in much better condition. Trips to the Design Center in NYC were made, fabrics were sourced from Scalamandre and Chelsea Textiles, and an order was sent off to be hand-stitched in India. pelmetPaint colours were investigated, and it was discovered that the room was the palest celadon green rather than the yellow which it had been painted.

Original inventories of the house from the 1930’s and 1950’s were consulted and pieces were relocated from other parts of the house.

Copies of paintings that had once been in the room were sourced and reproduced.

Speeches were made, donors were thanked, last minute details were checked

the candles were lit,

and the room was unveiled!

Even the tie-backs are gorgeous!

The drawing room turned out beautifully, thanks to the hard work of the staff and board members, especially Sarah Schweitzer, LB Boyce, Stiles T. Colwill, Fran Scully and Executive Director, Emily Emrick! I know that this was a lot of hard work, and everyone should be very proud of the work they did!

The house is open for tours, click here for details on hours and days.

PS. I just wanted to show everyone how well the espaliered apple trees are growing!

September 25, 2013

Ally-Pally Restoration

Ally-Pally is the nickname for the Alexandra Palace, the people’s palace, which sits on one of the highest points of land in London. Parts of it were used by the BBC in the early years to broadcast their signal out to the country. It was originally opened in 1873, but destroyed by fire just two weeks later.

imageIt’s a massive building as you can see! The BBC’s transmitter tower is in the right of the picture.

imageThe redesigned building re-opened in 1875 and included a Victorian Theatre, which, between wars, the depression and another fire, was only used sporadically over the years. imageThe theatre was designed to seat more then 2,000 people, but it was closed up 65 years ago. imageNow there’s a plan to renovate the theatre to a stabilized “as found” state, retaining its current character and historical feel, using money from the national lottery that’s once again been freed up after funding the 2012 Olympics. imageWhile the renovations to the theatre take place, other parts of Ally Pally will be open to the public as they’ve been since the beginning.

imageIn fact, I’ve attended some antiques shows there and know that there are huge swaths of this space that I’ve never seen and that have probably been left unexplored for years. image

In addition to restoring the theatre, the old BBC studios and the massive basement will also be renovated. The Friends of the Ally Pally Theatre has a website with some great pictures, here.

September 24, 2013

Bunny Mellon’s $49 Million NYC Townhouse For Sale

From the Sotheby’s Real Estate site:

Paul Mellon, heir to one of America’s great banking fortunes, and his wife, Bunny Mellon, built this extraordinarily beautiful 40’ wide townhouse on a fabled Upper East Side block in 1965. imageThis iconic townhouse, designed in the neo-French classic style and evoking the charm of the French countryside in the middle of Manhattan, reflected the passions of its owners. imagePaul Mellon curated his art collection in the library overlooking the exquisite garden with reflecting pool and gazebo, imagewhere Bunny Mellon, designer of the White House Rose Garden and friend to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, indulged her love of gardening. The high-ceilinged drawing room imageimageand dining roomimage lead to a spectacular terrace, the center of celebratory parties. image

The townhouse has 5-8 bedrooms, imagewith flexibility for guests, imageand staff, 8 baths, chef’s kitchen, imagewine room and elevator. Most rare, however, the house has 3 exposures, affording brilliant sunlight into some of the most beautiful rooms on the Upper East Side.image

This is what is known as a des-res. A desirable residence! And Paul Mellon’s the only non-museum person who can curate a collection – the word curate is bandied about a bit too much these days!

My one question is who decorated the house? Maison Jansen?