Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuxedo Park, N.Y.

In 1885-86 Pierre Lorillard IV, the dapper gentleman shown below, along with land planner Ernest Bowditch, architect Bruce Price, and about 1,800 immigrant laborers created a resort for the thick cream of American society.

Located just 40 miles outside of New York City, Tuxedo Park, became a playground for great social, financial, and political leaders of the day ; Dorothy Draper, J.P. Morgan, Alferd Loomis, and William Waldorf Astor to name a few.

Word spread quickly encouraging New York's 400, give or take a few, to establish themselves in this newly fashionable enclave.

Soon, massive mansions began to spring up within the "naturally" planned landscape inside of the gilded walls. The new residents commissioned the best architects of the day, among them; McKim, Mead & White, James Renwick, John Russell Pope, and William Lescaze.
(Lorillard Residence)
(Henry Whitney Munroe Residence)

Shortly after the Great Depression many of the Tuxedo Park socialites began to move, leaving behind an architecturally significant piece of American history. Today, Tuxedo Park is considered a National Landmark, and the homes that were built by social giants remain filled with the most prominent members of modern society.

Fun Facts about Tuxedo Park:

Emily Post's father, Bruce Price, was the original architect to work on the development of the resort. It was at Tuxedo Park during Emily Post's impressionable years that she collected the information for her famous book "Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage".

Pierre Lorillard is rumored to have designed the tailless evening jacket, or Tuxedo as he called it, for a grand ball held at Tuxedo Park in October of 1886.


  1. Interesting place with an interesting city. Reminds me of the first time (as a native New Yorker) that I visited Irvington and thought wow, there's a whole other world just outside the city.
    Question: Do you know if the tuxedo was named after Tuxedo park, or the other way around?

  2. Abodewell -The tuxedo was named after Tuxedo Park. There is a story that one of the residents of Tuxedo Park got the idea for the tailless jacket while on a trip in London. He brought the idea back to the states and debuted the modern look at a ball in Tuxedo Park. There are quite a few stories floating around about its inception.

  3. Life used to take me to Tuxedo Park with some regularity...It was so wonderful...a little down at the heels (this was before the new influx of McMansion money in the 90's, still with traces of the old guard around. Such a wonderful combination of artifice and nature.

  4. er, Scott, I think you'll find that the bottom house is actually Eolia, the Harkness summer home in New London Ct.? Or does it have a twin in Tuxedo?

    Forgot to mention, the top house, the very stylish McKim Mead & White Chastellux, is one of my favorites in Tuxedo. Glorious rooms designed by McMillan in their most stylish heyday, French doors opening to the huge terrace glamorously enough for Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant to come dashing through

  5. scott,
    i loved this....
    i could have kept reading.

    if you get a chance ...do more.

  6. D.E.D. -I'm completely jealous! I would love to see the Park in person.

    Renee -Thanks. It's an incredibly interesting place. There are a few novels out about it. I haven't read any yet, but have them on my list!

  7. First, I have to tell you I am a HUGE Fitzgerald fan and I try to own every possible piece of writing on or by him. So, this post was right up my alley as well. Thanks for introducing something new to me. You are the male version of me. As I looked through all your past archives, I noticed we have the same interests. (how interesting) I think If I had a blog, I would post the same stuff. Anyway, good job. Love your blog, love you!

  8. Have also been to TP numerous times, also like DED largely in the down at the heels period. Incredible place. Had a memorable afternoon one day at a drinks party at one of the grandest (and shabbiest) house held on its crumbling terrace overlooking the lake. They had the money to fix up the place but were too tight fisted to spend it. Great post Scott, thanks for reviving the memories -- Reggie

  9. D.E.D. -Oops... I was "researching" this post mainly on wiki and google, not two of the most reliable sources. And, I was working from a coffee shop having toooooo many cups of the stuff. Thanks for pointing that out. Chastellux certainly looks amazing in the photos that I've seen online. I can't imagine having seen it in person. I love your Kate Hepburn / Cary Grant reference! I'm a huge, huge, HUGE fan of Hepburn and Grant! Maybe this home in particular could play the role of the Lord estate in The Philadelphia Story.

  10. Janet -I love that photo too! I picked up a few photos for you at Mrs. Pixies the other day. Hopefully we can get together soon!

  11. I -You're such a mystery! Thank you for the incredibly kind compliment. I checked out the House of M.... I'm excited to see some posts from you in the future!

  12. Scott, what an educational post. I learn so much by reading it.I've never read "Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage". I suppose it is something equalvalent to the British Debrett's Peerage books on social etiquette.

  13. Mr. D. -Thanks for sharing that story. What a life, what a life... it seems like you're living in a Fitzgerald novel. I'm completely envious. Perhaps the crumbling terrace was at Chastellux?

  14. S.D. -I'm glad that you enjoyed it. "Etiquette" was published in 1922, and by the time of Emily Posts death, in 1960, had ben reprinted 89 times. It continues to expand and change today under the supervision of the Emily Post Institute. I found a copy from 1965, eleventh revised edition, and scan through it often. As for the Debrett's books.. well, I'd say that Emily Post's is comparable, but in a much more American circa 1920's way. If that makes any sense.

  15. Thought you might like our Emily Post post!

    or our Elsie de Wolfe

    Keep those fun facts flowing.

  16. There is nothing I love more than architecture and history combined. I have never heard of Tuxedo Park and now am fascinated. I must look into reading more. How fabulous that Miss Post's father was one of the great architects.Her book should be a mandatory read in schools..ha!Thank you Scott for the great fun,you peaked my interest & that is what every good blogger hopes to accomplish. Have a great Sunday ~ Deb

  17. sadly, so many people don't know about this wonderful place (it's gated and hard to get in) - I was there 2 years ago and it was just the MOST charming place. A book was released last year by the tuxedo park architectural association (or some such group) that you have to check out -i have a copy of it myself - called 'tuxedo park, the historic houses' -it's a magnificent look TODAY into many of the homes. You would love it!

  18. How great to see some of Tuxedo Park's great homes remembered.
    I attended school at the now-defunct Academy of Mount Saint Vincent, during the shabby tears of the Park. The main instruction/administration building was Lindley Hall (The Whitney munroe house). We used the sunroom for chorus practice, and the bedrooms for classrooms. They must have removed the wing which held our science labs and cafeteria. Up a small hill there was a gym and theater.
    Chastellux (the Lorillard house) was where most of the nuns lived, a beautiful chapel is part of the original houseand the freshman boarders lived there, too. The Sophomores and juniors lived at Marian Hall, and the lucky seniors lived at Renamor where they had a pool which was used in hot weather for gym classes.
    It was a beautiful and peaceful place and I often think of how lucky we were to have spent our school days in such special surroundings.

  19. Scott--

    Thanks for stopping by the blog: I'm honored, truly! Glad you like the cracker jack bit :)

    And mmf...your comment makes me want to read a book about this. Perhaps you could whip one up (just kidding, sort of)? There's a "The Trouble with Angels" feel to it (only cozier, 'tho "Trouble..." will always be one of my favorite, favorite movies).

    P. S. Love the lighters post, Scott; took me right back to my grandparents house on Silvermine Road.

  20. Sorry to the incredibly delayed response to the last few comments.

    Lucinda -Thanks for sharing those post! They, like all of your other posts, were marvelously witty and informative! You're a truly gifted bogger. Not only do you share the most interesting subjects, but you do it in beautifully written prose.

    Dumbwit Tellher (Deb) -Thanks for stopping by my little blog, and for leaving such a great comment. I, too, and intensely interested in architecture and history. I'm glad to have introduced you to T.P. I encourage you to research it on your own, there is a great amount of amazing information out there regarding the topic.

    ArchitectDesign (Stefan) -I'm so jealous that you've visited T.P.! (Of course YOU have!) I'll have to check out the book. I'll add it to my increasingly LONG list of books that I absolutely MUST have! : )

    MMF -Thank you for stopping by, and for leaving such an amazing account of life at T.P.! I'd love to hear more about it! It must have been life-changing to have grown up in an environment like that.

    Victoria Thorne -You don't need to thank me, I ADORE your blog! I'm happy to get home to sift through older posts to hear all that you have to say! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I second your comment about mmf writing a book! Are you listening, MMF?! We are all ears!! : )

  21. I had the privilege of spending a large part of my youth in Tuxedo Park (1958 to 1967). It was indeed a very special place to grow up.

    George Lienemann

  22. Tuxedo is a best choice for looking smart in parties, ceremony and any other occasion.