Tags Posts tagged with "Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum"

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum

A vintage watercolor poster by Jean de Paleologue

William K. Vanderbilt II (1878-1944), heir to a railroad fortune, was a pioneer American auto-racing champion. On Oct. 8, 1904, after competing for years in Europe, he inaugurated the first international road race in the United States – the Vanderbilt Cup.

This year, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, located on the Vanderbilt summer estate, Eagle’s Nest, notes the 115th anniversary of those famous races and of Vanderbilt’s world speed record.

On Jan. 27, 1904, he drove his Mercedes race car on a course in Daytona-Ormond Beach, Florida, and achieved a top speed of 92.3 miles per hour.

William K. Vanderbilt II, left, set a world land-speed record in 1904 in this 90-horsepower Mercedes race car.

American History magazine reported in 2013: “Flush from his triumph, the 26-year-old Vanderbilt returned to New York and announced his intention to organize a major race on Long Island, where he owned an estate. It would be the first true international automobile road race in the United States. Vanderbilt had raced extensively in Europe, in French and German cars, but now he became focused on promoting the U.S. car industry.

“His motivation, he later explained, was that ‘foreign cars seemed to be always five years ahead of the American cars. If something could be done to induce foreign manufacturers to race in this country, our manufacturers would benefit.’

“Vanderbilt provided the inducement. His plan was for a grueling 300-mile race, and he commissioned Tiffany & Co. to make a 30-pound sterling-silver trophy adorned with a frieze of himself driving the Ormond Flier to a world’s record. The race, like the trophy, was called the Vanderbilt Cup.”

Vanderbilt donated the cup to the Smithsonian Institution in 1934.

The inaugural Vanderbilt Cup Race on Oct. 8, 1904, drew more than 25,000 spectators to watch 18 drivers from the U.S., France, Germany and Italy. The racecourse comprised 30 miles of public roads in central Long Island. The six Vanderbilt Cup races held on Long Island from 1904 to 1910 were some of the largest sporting events of the early 20th century. Some races drew crowds of more than 250,000.

The Vanderbilt Cup races prompted American carmakers to improve their technology, generated the idea of using race victories to market cars and pioneered road building. In 1908, Vanderbilt built the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway for his races. The parkway was the first road constructed specifically for automobiles – and a prototype for future highways.

The roadway still exists in Suffolk County as County Road 67.

To learn more about the Vanderbilt Cup, visit the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s Turntable Gallery in the mansion’s Memorial Wing, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. through Sept. 2. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

A scene from 'Julius Caesar'

By Leah Chiappino

An osprey lands on its nest on top of a bell tower located above the gate in the Vanderbilt Museum Courtyard as the sun sets over William K. Vanderbilt’s Eagle’s Nest mansion. The orange hues hitting the four walls make the Spanish Revival estate, one of the last remaining Gold Coast properties on the North Shore, glow.

It is the perfect setting for the Vanderbilt’s annual Shakespeare Festival, Shakespearean play readings by The Carriage House Players that are performed on an outdoor stage in the mansion’s courtyard. The tradition, which is celebrating its 31st anniversary, often puts a modern twist on the Bard’s classic masterpieces. 

A scene from ‘Julius Caesar’

The current production of “Julius Caesar” chronicles the internal struggle of Brutus (Mary Caulfield) in joining Cassius (Nicole Intravia) to assassinate the Roman dictator Julius Caesar (Jae Hughes). Believed to have been written in 1599, it is one of several plays written by Shakespeare based on true events from Roman history.

Though it helps to be a fan of Shakespeare to truly appreciate this production, audience members can’t help but be drawn in by the raw talent of the performers. 

Hughes as Caesar is particularly gripping and riveting. With each line carried out with such emotion and conviction, Hughes’ delivery leads the audience to forget the script comes from a Shakespearean play and forces them to believe they are being spoken genuinely in real time.

Christine Boehm directs a cast of 14 who all give excellent performances. This is especially evident during the assassination scene, which looks realistic to the point one may second guess whether or not the blood comes from the actors. 

The costumes take the modern version up another notch in terms of quality, with Brutus sporting a leather jumpsuit throughout the entire production. Katie Ferretti as Portia, his wife, stuns in a classic Shakespearean gown, and her natural chemistry with Caulfield make for a perfect pair between the two, as does Elizabeth Sackett in respect to Hughes, in her role as Caesar’s wife Calpurnia.

A scene from ‘Julius Caesar’

Some modern lines and euphemisms are thrown in as well, such as the show opening with the dropping of a tarp sign reading “Hail Caesar” in street graffiti, and passersby flipping off Brutus as a sign of rebellion in one of the opening acts.

The cast also includes Airen Craig, Jess Ader-Ferretti, Erika Hinson, Zoe Katsaros, Brielle Levenberg, Teresa Motherway, Dana Tortora, Colleen Tyler and Gianna Zuffante.

With all of this, the true gem of the night is the experience the play offers. Arrive early to access the beautiful grounds of the estate before the show starts and bring a picnic dinner to enjoy on the lawn overlooking Northport Harbor, with views of Asharoken to Connecticut.  

The atmosphere allows visitors to reflect on all Long Island has to offer, surrounded by some of the most stunning architecture in the nation, coupled with natural beauty. Ultimately, the performance, a fitting example of the rich arts and culture of the island caps off the ambiance perfectly, is a must-do summer activity.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport and The Carriage House Players will present “Julius Caesar” through Sept. 1. Performances are held Wednesdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for children. To order, visit www.carriagehouseplayers.org.

Dr. Richard Elinson
Researchers, tour guides, gardeners, curatorial interns

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, like most museums, would find it difficult to operate without volunteers.

According to the American Alliance of Museums, the majority of people who work in museums are volunteers. Overall, U.S. museums have six volunteers for every paid staff member. And even in the largest museums, volunteers generally outnumber paid full-time staff two to one.

 At the Vanderbilt, volunteers enthusiastically assist the staff by conducting tours, greeting visitors, beautifying the grounds and undertaking curatorial and conservation projects. They also work as interns or staff aides in various departments, examine marketing and branding, decorate the Mansion for the holidays, and perform music on the 1,476-pipe Aeolian organ. Approximately 100 volunteers generously donate countless hours each year.

“Volunteers love this estate, work hard, and make invaluable contributions,” said Lance Reinheimer, executive director. “Their work saves the museum a lot of money each year and helps us to support Mr. Vanderbilt’s original educational mission. We’re very grateful to them.”

Mary Schlotter

Mary Schlotter

Mary Schlotter and her daughter, Krishtia McCord, have volunteered their talents for years to create holiday magic in the Mansion, as have members of local garden clubs. The mother-daughter design team owns and operates Harbor Homestead & Co., based in Centerport.

“My love of design, history and flowers is what drives me to volunteer,” Schlotter said. “I find myself brainstorming in June for the holiday designs. Volunteering is so important if we are to keep Long Island treasures like the Vanderbilt looking their best. I often refer to it as a jewel in my backyard!”

“One cold November night, I had just finished my design and I looked back at the Mansion. The lights were on and the Christmas lights were glistening. I wondered if William and Rosamond would like what we had done,” she added.

Matthew Titchiner

Matthew Titchiner

Before moving to New York, Matthew Titchiner managed Harewood House, one of England’s premier historic estates. His responsibilities included staff, operations, visitor experience, marketing and branding. 

“My wife is a pediatric resident at Stony Brook University Hospital, and I wanted to familiarize myself with the American museum world before starting full-time work,” he said. “So, I reached out to the Vanderbilt.”

Titchiner first researched and cataloged the Vanderbilt collection of ancient weapons, then undertook an in-depth project that examines the museum’s branding. This 66-page report analyzed signage, the website, communications and the application of audience data and feedback.

“Matthew brought his deep museum experience and discerning eye to his analysis of how the Vanderbilt presents itself to the world,” Reinheimer said. “His keen insights will be valuable as we continue to improve how the museum reaches out to and communicates with its diverse and growing audience.”

“The Vanderbilt’s interesting mix of historic mansion, park and planetarium is a unique selling point,” said Titchiner. “It’s a museum of a museum, a snapshot in time.”

Bill Caputi

Bill Caputi

Bill Caputi plays beautiful classical music on the Mansion’s grand Aeolian pipe organ. The retired electrical engineer has played for more than 20 years for guided tours and during the museum’s annual holiday and Valentine’s Day banquets.

 “I studied piano as a boy,” he said. “I took lessons from a music teacher on the school’s huge pipe organ and played occasionally in a nearby church. And I was the pianist for my college glee club. When we moved to Centerport, I learned that the Vanderbilt pipe organ had just been renovated so I volunteered to play.” 

Founded in 1887 by William Tremaine, the Aeolian Company grew to be the largest musical instrument manufacturer in America by 1920. Pipe organs were installed in most elite mansions in the early 1900s. The Vanderbilt organ was installed in 1926. 

“I’m glad visitors and staff enjoy the music,” Caputi said. “I often play Grieg, Rachmaninoff and Broadway tunes. At Halloween, I like to play scary music.”

Dr. Richard Elinson

Dr. Richard Elinson

Wearing protective curator’s gloves, Dr. Richard Elinson has inspected nearly 1,400 vintage books in the Vanderbilt Mansion Library. “The books had been cataloged, but needed to be examined closely,” said Elinson. “I’ve been doing condition reports. I make note of damaged bindings, water damage or just interesting things I notice.” 

A retired professor of biology at the University of Toronto and Duquesne University, Elinson has worked with the Curatorial Department for the three years. The collection includes volumes that reflect Vanderbilt’s interests — the chronicles of 18th- and 19th-century naturalists and explorers and the women’s suffrage movement championed by his mother, Alva.

“It’s an enjoyable three hours once a week,” he said. “It’s a real thrill to sit in that old library. You feel like you’re in a different world.”

Gloria Hall

Gloria Hall

A retired Northport elementary school teacher, Gloria Hall leads the volunteer gardeners program she created in 2002 with her late husband, Bill. Both graduated from the Cornell University Master Gardeners Program. Today, an average of 20 gardeners work from May to October.

“I was brought up ‘playing in the dirt,’ exploring seed catalogs, trading plants with friends, and just enjoying a calmness that being in the garden brings,” Hall said. “To share my knowledge and enhance the Vanderbilt grounds gives me great pleasure.”

 

 

 

Ellen Mason

Ellen Mason

Ellen Mason began volunteering in 2006, after retiring as a high school English teacher. She was invited by a colleague and friend, Gretchen Oldrin Mones, first vice president of the Vanderbilt board of trustees. Mason began as a greeter in the Hall of Fishes.

“I was asked to do a walk-on part during Living History Tours,” she said. “I played Olympic skating champion Sonja Henie, a close friend of the Vanderbilts. I spoke just two lines.” She has played many historic roles since.

 “I am very fortunate to be part of the museum and have a strong appreciation for its physical beauty,” Mason said. “For 13 years, I have repeated the same mantra when I arrive here: ‘Thank you, Willie, for giving us this.’ I constantly learn and laugh with the staff. We are all so protective of this magical place.”

Photos courtesy of Vanderbilt Museum

 

An allium blooms in the mansion terrace garden.
Transformed gardens on view through September

Fourteen local nurseries and garden designers are taking part in the Vanderbilt Museum’s second annual Gardeners Showcase this year. Redesigning and transforming garden areas, planting new perennials, annuals, shrubs and trees and enhancing the beauty and ambiance of William K. Vanderbilt II’s historic Eagle’s Nest mansion and estate, home of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum were all part of this year’s design plan.

The beautiful results were unveiled on June 1. The showcase runs through Sunday, Sept. 29. 

“I am grateful for the enthusiastic response from the landscaping and gardening community to volunteer their talents to beautify this historic estate,” said Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Vanderbilt.

A view of this year’s sensory garden by the planetarium

“These floral artisans, as well as our own veteran corps of accomplished volunteer gardeners, have invested their time, labor and resources. Their enhancements will be enjoyed by more than 30,000 visitors this summer. We hope to continue this collaboration for many years,” he added.

 Participating designers, identified by signage at showcase sites, are Carlstrom Landscapes Inc.; Centerport Garden Club; de Groot Designs Inc.; Dina Yando Landscape & Garden Design; Gro-Girl Horticultural Therapy; Haven on Earth Garden Design; Landscapes by Bob Dohne Inc.; Marguerite Kohler Designs; Mossy Pine Garden & Landscape Design; Pal-O-Mine Equestrian J-STEP Program; The Compleat Garden; Trimarchi Landscaping & Design; and Vanderbilt Volunteer Gardeners.

Visitors to the showcase pay only general admission to the museum which is $8 adults, $7 students and seniors, and $5 children 12 and under.  There is no additional fee to see the gardens.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is located at 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport. Hours are Saturdays, Sundays and Tuesdays from noon to 4 p.m. until June 23, and open daily from June 24 to Sept. 2 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Photos courtesy of Vanderbilt Museum

Members of the Living History cast, from left, Florence Lucker, Peter Reganato, Beverly Pokorny and Ellen Mason. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s popular Living History tours will return on Memorial Day weekend, on Saturday, May 25. Tours will be given every Saturday and Sunday at regular intervals between noon and 3:30 p.m. through Sunday, Sept. 1.

 This summer it’s 1939 in the Mansion. Guides in costume as family members and household staff tell stories of the Vanderbilt family and its famous guests.

 Among the characters portrayed by the Mansion guides will be Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia; Millicent Hearst (wife of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst); Whitney Warren of Warren & Wetmore Architects, who designed the Vanderbilt Mansion and Grand Central Terminal; the Duchess of Windsor; and William Vanderbilt’s siblings, Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan and Harold Vanderbilt, an expert on contract bridge and winner of the America’s Cup.

 “The guides will highlight some of the major events of 1939, including the New York World’s Fair. NBC did its first television broadcast, of a Princeton-Columbia football game. Joe Louis won the first heavyweight boxing title, the first Superman comic book was published, and the movies that opened included “Gone with the Wind,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” said Stephanie Gress, director of curatorial affairs.

“Among the surprising economic facts of that year – a gallon of gas cost 10 cents; a loaf of bread was 8 cents; the average new house cost $3,800; and the average annual wage was $1,730,” she added.

Tickets for the tours, which can be purchased only at the door, are $18 adults, $17 seniors and students, $15 children ages 12 and under and include general admission to the museum grounds. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org

Above, Lance Reinheimer with a portrait of William K. Vanderbilt II Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt Museum

The Public Relations Professionals of Long Island (PRPLI) will honor Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, at its 29th annual awards dinner on May 8, at Westbury Manor in Westbury. Reinheimer will receive the Long Island Achievement Award for communications.

Reinheimer, who has held his current post for more than eight years, has maintained an active, lifelong commitment to community service.

Continuing that commitment at the Vanderbilt, he instituted special, free museum events for families of first responders, active military personnel and veterans, children with special needs and for students in high-needs school districts. His background in budgeting, accounting and finance helped pave the way for the museum’s now-strong balance sheet.

“This award recognizes the success that the staff and trustees have had in communicating the cultural and historical significance of this singular American family, estate and museum – to our region and the wider world,” Reinheimer said. “Our greatly expanded social-media efforts have generated wider awareness of our public programming, children’s workshops, and special events. Other gratifying benefits are increased attendance and rising levels of membership and support.”

Other PRPLI honors to be given that evening include the Jack Rettaliata Lifetime Achievement Award to Julie Gross Gelfand, director of public relations and communications for Marcum LLP Accountants and Advisors; the Howard M. Blankman Outstanding Mentor Award to Kali Chan, director of medicine media relations for Stony Brook Medicine, Stony Brook University; the Outstanding Media Award to Elizabeth Hashagen, morning co-anchor for News 12 Long Island; and the Rising Star Award to Kevin Wilkinson of Zimmerman/Edelson Inc., advertising and public relations. 

The Easter Bunny and his friend Li’l Chick invite children of all ages to join them in the Vanderbilt Rose Garden at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport for an egg hunt, petting zoo, bubble machine and light fare (coffee, juice, goodies) on Saturday, April 20.

Three times are available: 9 a.m., which includes a special planetarium show, “One World, One Sky,” starring Big and Elmo (great for toddlers); and 10 or 11 a.m., which includes the planetarium show, “Earth, Moon, and Sun.” Children are encouraged to bring their Easter baskets and bonnets.

Tickets are $25 adults, $20 children. Adults $25; members $20; children nonmembers $20. Seating is limited. Preregistration is required at www.vanderbiltmuseum.org. For more information, please call 854-5579.

Canta Libre Chamber Ensemble. Tracey Elizabeth Photography

The critically acclaimed Canta Libre Chamber Ensemble will perform a spring equinox concert in the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium on Saturday, March 23, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The spring equinox repertoire includes music for septet: “Angels in Flight” by Marjan Mozetich; “Distant Light” by Joseph Russo; “Cherry Blossoms” by Gary Schocker; the world premiere of Abstract No. 1 by Joel Lambdin; and Maurice Ravel’s pivotal work, Introduction and Allegro. The performance will be accompanied by beautiful imagery on the planetarium dome. Tickets are $20 adults online at www.vanderbiltmuseum.org, $25 at the door; and $15 for children 15 and younger. The museum is located at 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport. Call 631-854-5799.

CENTERPORT: The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum will host its second annual Gardeners Showcase, The Gardens of Eagle’s Nest, during spring and summer 2019. The museum invites local nurseries and garden designers to show off their skills and creativity in one of the gardens that grace the 43-acre waterfront estate, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Spots are still open for several showcases and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. In return for their effort and contribution, participants will receive signage that identifies their business at each garden showcase site; recognition on the Vanderbilt website and publicity on its social-media platforms; publicity through news releases sent to regional media; and a one-year Associate Membership to the Vanderbilt Museum.

To secure a spot in this year’s Gardeners Showcase, or to obtain more information, please contact Jim Munson, the Vanderbilt Museum’s operations supervisor, at 631-379-2237 or at jim@vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Photos from Vanderbilt Museum

Valentine’s Day at the Vanderbilt mansion. Photo by Maryann Zakshevsky/Vanderbilt

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to make plans for that special day. Why not treat your Valentine to a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner at Eagle’s Nest, the elegant Vanderbilt mansion where Hollywood stars and European royalty dined with one of America’s most famous and powerful families?

On Saturday, Feb. 9, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will hold its annual Valentine’s Day dinner (a major fundraiser for education programs) with limited seatings of 50 at 6 and at 8 p.m.

The grand, 24-room Spanish Revival mansion on Northport Bay — listed on the National Register of Historic Places — is one of the most glamorous and romantic settings on Long Island.

Many rooms in the mansion will be decorated with Valentine themes, including the romances of Rosamond and William Vanderbilt, Romeo and Juliet and Napoleon and Josephine. Others feature the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (frequent mansion guests) and their beloved pugs, the legend of St. Valentine and Valentine cards and candy.

The evening is a rare opportunity to enjoy an intimate dining experience with a spouse, partner or special friend and to celebrate in Gold Coast style.

“Many people have used the storybook atmosphere of the Vanderbilt mansion as a romantic backdrop for first dates. Several people tell us they proposed marriage here. And each year many couples come to the Vanderbilt for their wedding ceremonies. This is a perfect place for a romantic dinner,” said Lance Reinheimer, the museum’s executive director.

As a guest, your evening will begin with passed hors d’oeuvres, prosecco, wine and beer in the Memorial Wing of the mansion, amid Vanderbilt’s exotic collections of ethnographic artifacts from Africa, Asia and South America.

After a brief tour through his private living quarters, you will dine in the Northport Dining Room Porch, where the Vanderbilts enjoyed leisurely dinners with their family and friends.

Dinner will be a choice of prime rib, balsamic glazed chicken stuffed with goat cheese, heart-shaped ravioli a la vodka or salmon stuffed with crabmeat. Viennese desserts follow in the Lancaster Room, with a side trip to the Vanderbilt Library and the Moroccan Court.

Tickets are $150 per person, $135 for members, by reservation only. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Social

9,378FansLike
0FollowersFollow
1,154FollowersFollow
33SubscribersSubscribe