"I dream't I dwelt in marble halls"
Devoted to the histories and current state of the great mansions of America's Gilded Age.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Greenhouse at Lyndhurst

Ruined greenhouse circa 1970


The greenhouse at the Jay Gould estate, Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, New York was at one time considered the largest and best equipped greenhouse in America. It's predecessor was even more fantastic with a towering spire. The first greenhouse burned to the ground and was  replaced by this one. Designed by Lord & Burnham, the greenhouse specialist of the "Gilded Age",  it housed one of the best orchid collections in the United States. Jay Gould who owned Lyndhurst from the 1880s was a notorious Robber Baron and was not welcome in, " Society".  But when he was not causing financial turmoil on Wall Street, he puttered in his rose garden and greenhouse. One woman at the time is to have said, "Surely a man cannot be altogether bad who is a friend of the roses" The greenhouse was maintained in its glory up until about the 1940s when Anna Gould, the Duchess de Talleyrand , returned from France and to Lyndhurst. In 1945 she sold off the famous orchid collection.  Anna Gould died in 1961 and willed Lyndhurst to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Trust opened the property to the public shortly after Anna's death and has been restoring the estate ever since. The greenhouse is stabilized and will hopefully be restored to its former glory someday.

I had visited the estate when it first opened in the late 1960s and found it to be a haunting overgrown place with many of the outbuildings fallen into decay and ruin.The grounds were covered with all kinds of statuary and the bowling alley was a wreck, as was the greenhouse. I have seen pictures of the house right after the National Trust got it and it was filled to the ceiling with French palace furniture. Anna Gould when she left France during the war, brought much of furniture with her and must have used Lyndhurst and its many outbuildings as storehouses. When at Lyndhurst she left it mostly as it had been since her fathers time and slept in her small childhood tower room.

Two views of Anna Gould's furniture at the top of the tower stairs.

Please click the following links for more on Lyndhurst.

Lyndhurst estate in Tarrytown

New York Social Diary 

New York Times

Anna Gould  

George Gould Townhouse

Jay Gould Townhouse

Lyndhurst as a movie setting for, " Dark Shadows" 

In the movie, House of Dark Shadows and its sequel, Night of Dark Shadows,  there are many scenes filmed at the ruined greenhouse, poolhouse and stables. Both great films to see unopen parts of the main house too.


The Down East Dilettante said...

Very interesting. The idea of all the FFF (Find French Furniture) piled up in the Greenhouses is very evocative. The furniture at the top of the stairs though, is not so fine, merely W.J. Sloane type Edwardian, the usual detritus of a family who owned much. One speculates, given the era, whether this might be some of her sister's stuff, banished to the attic when the Duchess took over and brought some of her own, better, furniture to the house? Or banished by the Trust in their early efforts to interpret the house?

Gary Lawrance said...

Yes, the furniture at the top of the stairs isn't that fine, but I do remember going so often as a child that the tour guides would often take me to parts of the house that were normally closed. In every nook and cranny there was piles of furniture. If you haven't seen it already follow the below link and look at the Drawing room with Anna's furniture crammed in. I have also seen other views of this room with the tables filed with urns and bric a brac.


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