Sunday, February 5, 2012

'Titanic Tidbits' - By Vince Kish

'Titanic Tidbits' by Vince Kish, Director of Public Relations and Communication at Old Westbury Gardens, the John S. Phipps estate in Old Westbury.


Patricia said...

Long before the movie, I know many of us were fascinated by the Titanic. I think "A Night to Remember" was one of the first 'adult' books I ever read. I had no idea that Molly Brown was buried in Westbury -- I guess I just assumed she would be buried in Colorado.

Patricia said...

Wanted to pass along a grizzly tidbit I heard on television on Saturday when I landed on a show called "Open House NYC." The current owner was giving a tour of her "updated" Upper East Side townhouse. At one point she said, "These are 150 year old wooden doors which we covered in white leather" and the owners' initials were written in metal studs on them. She was just so pleased with the results.

But the worst, which literally made me wince, was this: "These are the original oak floors which we painted black to give them a contemporary look." Maybe she could arrange to add a cell phone to the Mona Lisa to give her a more contemporary look as well.

archibuff said...

It was indeed a small circle in the ruling social and financial world back then, but I found it interesting to know that "Molly Brown" the Denver socialite made famous by her take charge attitude is buried in Westbury, Long Island.

Since this article post comes soon after the recent disaster of the Costa cruise ship, I wanted to mention an interesting editorial piece done by the NY Post just days after the mishap. While the Post is a borderline tabloid they had a very telling commentary on life as we all know it. The article mentioned the infamous Benjamin Guggenheim scene when he decided to dress in his tux along with his valet and go down with the ship like gentlemen. I still recall the chuckles it received in the theatre when the James Cameron version was released. People laughed at the foolishness and folly of it all. Yet the Post contrasted that decison made by Guggenheim with the many brave crew members and heroic captain of the Costa ship (note a heaping dose of sarcasm) who managed to abandon ship before the majority of the passengers and watched the ship flounder and roll on its side from the safety of the shore. The Post editorial asked the reader who would you rather have your family standing next to during a tragedy like the Costa cruise ship? The elegantly dressed Guggenheim in all his finery and with all his Edwardian manners and social rules and moral restrictions or your fellow cruise passenger or cabin attendant in their t shirt and flip flops pushing you out of the way to board a lifeboat? I fully expect that while we would hope we all could act honorably and with good intentions in such a circumatance, I forever give up any possibility that the heroism and selflessness displayed in 1912 could ever happen in todays society. The article was a very sad assessment on all of us and on our future.

And as a New Yorker..........GO GIANTS!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Molly Brown and her husband are buried in "Holy Rood" off of Post and Old Country Road. I was shocked to find that their grave stone is very plain and melds in with those of my family who are also buried there.

St.Brigid's Church, located there, is also an amazing structre to behold.

Patricia said...

Here's a photo of the grave which I don't think you'd find even if you were looking for it. There's a great accompanying photo and bio which includes the info that she never went by Molly -- she always went by Margaret.

If the link doesnt work, go to and do a search of Molly Brown.

Here's the link:

Anonymous said...

Oleg Cassini is also buried in "Holy Rood".

I think I read here in a post by Ray Spinzia, that an heir who owned a massive estate in either East Meadow or Uniondale went down on the Titanic, and after his death, his estate was torn down and that happened even back then.

The Down East Dilettante said...

"It fell to the S.S. France to bring home the Bacons". hahaha.

Archibuff, if you take a break from all the highly paid men in helmets chasing and bumping into each other for a few minutes, be sure to read the Streetscapes column in this Sunday's Times.

archibuff said... will thanks, but I am watching and surfing the internet since the Giants are down 17-12, oh now 17-15, yes. You dont mean the Riverside Drive article that includes some nice CPH Gilbert townhouses do you? I knew deep down, way down, far down, you were a fan. The Kleeberg house is indeed the best of the lot, (Gilbert did this style best, as with the Fletcher and Woolworth homes) but the extant grouping is appealing as it curves where Riverside Drive ends and meets 72nd Street & should indeed be landmarked. The online article also has a small photo of the late great Schwab mansion just up the street from this group, which really sunk my spirits.

Now to the complainers of CPH....and you know who you are, if you check out the article, avert your eyes from the intrusive 6 story brown striped box with a hideous blue fire escape that is mascarading as a piece of architecture. Now I am sure CPH is somehow going to get credit for that too, but his townhouses and the entire little grouping suffers forever by having that eyesore wedged in the middle. Good article though. Thnx. Again, I admit that CPH guy really got around. You definitely positive there is no hidden uncredited gem of his up there in Maine?

The Down East Dilettante said...

Archibuff, read the article again, carefully---adjectives like 'ordinary' are tossed around...

archibuff said...

Geez now that the Giants won, I can reply, Boy youre an unyielding critic. I read "The grouping is a sweep of refinement and the Kleeberg house is a particularly lacey work with very fine carving"
okay, did I miss the "ordinary" criticism somewhere? The Sutphen house was called "a Beaux Arts essay, grand but predictable" Okay so its a typically grand townhome from the period of which there were once many thousands. Fine. What more should anyone ask for? Does the grouping have to contain 4 of the greatest most magnificent architectural masterpieces ever designed in NYC to be appreciated at all? The group is a lovely, refined and elegant reminder from a time when the neighborhood could boast many other such examples. Whats wrong there? The writer did not like the Prentiss house and I say so what? I disagree. It is definitely not an ordinary massing and has an appealing roof. After reading the article again and again I didnt get the writers subliminal message that the grouping was ordinary.

Now on the Beyond the Gilded Age site just the other day, the Grenville T Emmet residence by Mott Schmidt was featured along with its below street grade dark rat hole of an entrance highligting a plain 5 story box with windows punched out and severely flat details, yet I didnt read any criticism of that dog of a townhouse. Where is the level playing field? And further back there was the Lapham townhouse, an odd, ungainly, disatrously ugly ill proportioned home with another dark hole entry designed by Carrere and Hastings. Where was the balanced criticism there? I say CPH designed enough outstanding examples, Delamar, Fletcher, Woolworth, to name but a few in NYC to have earned a well deserved place in the architectural history of New York, which he has. He also has his share of just "nicely designed" homes that fit well into the adjacent streetscape and even produced a few dogs all of the greatest firms surely did. I do think you are very one sided in your criticiem but hopefully with age you will mellow. But ordinary? I disagree. Also good going Giants

HalfPuddingHalfSauce said...


The Down East Dilettante said...

LOL, OOps.

I've never disagreed that Gilbert deserves a place in the architectural history of New York, or that many of his buildings contribute to the Streetscape of Manhattan. Where I do disagree is purely on a level of objective critical discernment about the quality of his buildings. The very best of them still doesn't rise to the level of the best by some of his contemporaries. And that is why he isn't in the first string of American architects, and shouldn't be. The Fletcher and Sinclair houses are good, even very good, but they're not Great, which is another category altogether. And that's where my blood rises. 'Masterpiece' is a word that should be used sparingly, not flung about and pasted to every building that happens to display a lot of fancy stonework.

Of course all architects have bad days. Even as I type this, I'm looking at pictures of a Carrere and Hastings summer house here in Maine that has no distinction at all---a total disappointment that almost anyone else could have done better. But the same could be said of Winfield, a design of exceeding awkwardness and clumsiness. (Did you ever do the Whitemarsh/Winfield test?)

As for the Mott Schmidt remodel, neither good nor bad, it does no harm, (and since when are restraint and plainness and decent proportions bad things?---balance of parts in his proportions is one of Gilbert's weakest qualities as a designer), and nobody was elevating it beyond what it is---a modest pleasant house.

Sigh. We'll just continue to agree to disagree about Gilbert's place in the Pantheon. When Zach opens the OLI Bar, I'll buy you a round, and then we can arm wrestle on one of the tables.

archibuff said...

Oh DED your a tough one alright. OK we can agree to disagree and I cant wait for the Old LI bar to open with a nice sprinkling of CPH prints hanging on the wall. If you sign my copy of the "Gilded Age Maine Edition" I will let you win at arm wrestling.

However, no need for tests, I have always admired Whitemarsh Hall and lamented the destruction of that home and garden for bland townhouses. Winfield is not my favorite CPH facade for sure, but the interiors are very good and the stairhall quite spectacular.

But that Mott Schmidt townhome would have been better off had he just retained the original old brownstone facade and walked away, no ran away. It is severe, more nondescript than restrained and the awful below grade entry is just a disaster which luckily the current google street view shows that somebody with some common sense has recently eliminated by raising the entire basement level so you now can enter the building level with the sidewalk.

Thus ends this wayward discussion of the Titanic by way of CPH and Madonna. Now those are a strange trio indeed.

Kellsboro Jack said...

Germain to the mention of the Titanic ... when I was in my teens my best friend's family owned a Tavern in Upstate NY that was frequented by John Ryerson who summered in the area. He survived the Titanic as a young lad along with the rest of his family save for his father Arthur L. Ryerson. They knew him well but he never, ever spoke about that horrible ordeal.

While fascinating the saga of the Titanic was always an immensely sad event. Mr. Ryerson and his family was only on her because they had to return quickly because another another son was killed in a crash on the Main Line. It's said that only because of that disclosure John was allowed on a boat.

The family's summer estate, donated to the Episcopal Church and used as a camp for decades, just received another price cut (the owner bought it from the church and tried to flip it for 3x the purchase price) whereby the asking is the same as the purchase price.

Thankfully the speculator owner, while mentioning the connection, has not hyped the Titanic connection in spite of the 100th Anniversary. Alas almost all of the charm has been extracted from institutional adaptation. It was sad touring it a few years ago know all the sorrow that must have been there for years after the unsinkable went down.