Monday, January 26, 2009

They don't make 'em like this anymore

Let's say that you're a girl from Brooklyn, a pretty blonde with a flair for cracking jokes, a nice figure and, like your two older sisters, an ambition to make it on Broadway.

You change your ethnic-sounding name to something a little more refined-sounding, more mainstream. You get a job as a chorus girl and do a little modeling, get your picture in the media. Pretty soon, you start attracting attention, and admirers send flowers, candy, and little gifts to your dressing room, a little notes with invitations for after-theatre dining and nightclubbing.
Pretty heady for a girl from Brooklyn, especially when one of those admirers happens to own a film studio, and can help you with your career.

Oh, sure, he's married - they always are. But he loves you, only his witch of a wife won't give him a divorce. There's nothing else he can do but set you up with a little place of your own, where the two of you could be together. A little cottage, a getaway by the beach. A place where the two of you can entertain your friends, and have a little fun .... wouldn't it be nice?

Recently, I was lucky to get a private tour of a neglected house, now in the process of restoration, built by a noted architect for a rich man's mistress. The magnificent main house is gone, destroyed years ago, but a smaller structure remains, giving a hint. What I saw was only a trace of how the rich lived - before the rise of technological innovations that changed the entertainment industry forever, before a stock market crash that plunged the nation into an economic crisis.

There were glittering crystal chandeliers, in beautifully designed spaces. This was the house where the overindulged guests of the tycoon and his sweetie slept it off, after the parties.

Carved woodwork. The craftsmanship was amazing, and the themes varied from room to room. The restoration was incredible - whatever they did to clean, strip, and refinish the woodwork preserved the sharpness and crispness of the detail.

Hallways lead to the service areas, with well-equipped kitchens and pantries, and where the servants lived in tiny rooms, climbing narrow back stairways to carry out their duties to their wealthy employers.

The main rooms were elegantly appointed, with views of the beach. Wide, with high ceilings, paneled walls, and french doors opening onto a columned porch.

But the best part? The bathrooms. Vintage bathrooms.

With custom painted tilework. Oh My God. Gorgeous.

I can't say too much more about this place right now, because it's still under construction. But if this was the guest-house, what do you suppose the bathrooms in the long-gone main house were like?


Queenly Things said...

Heck, I'd string up a hammock on the porch and feel lucky. WOW!!!

Briget said...

Is that Marion Davies??

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this and sharing all of those beautiful photos. I LOVE old architecture and stories of how people lived and behaved in the structures.

After visiting one of the Wrigley mansions several years ago, I tried to convince my husband that we needed separate bedrooms with a "secret" hall for conjugal visits.

Beautiful house - great post!

CaShThoMa said...

Only in my dreams....
Gorgeous shades of blue.

Leenie said...

What beautiful craftsmanship and detail. Love the bath! Looks like the restoration is certainly done with loving care. Thanks for the tour!

Unknown said...

Oh my gosh. I can't even imagine. What a beautiful place. I love the woodwork and the details. WOW!

I am a Tornado ~ proven fact! said...

She is STUNNING. What a postively gorgeous creature ... and they don't make them like that anymore.

I love old homes. Love the attention to detail. I love antiques, not much for the modern, crisp lines.

Woman in a Window said...

An interesting time, a different time for sure. Better for some, but worse for many. Gorgeous though, for those few elite.

Anonymous said...

The architecture reminds me of the Henry Ford Museum -- the same style of carved woodwork and austere yet elegant colors. I love that style.

Becky Brown said...

OMG ... that tilework is to die for! I am so jealous of your architectural exploration.

Donna @ Party Wishes said...

OMG! Where is this at? Malibu? Santa Monica? How absolutely stunning! Thanks so much for sharing!