December 2018 - Designers and Garden Clubs Deck The Vanderbilt Mansion Halls
Designers Mary Schlotter and Krishtia McCord put finishing touches on their botanical dress
Vanderbilt Museum photo
The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s holiday centerpiece is the mansion of William and Rosamond Vanderbilt, decorated each year by local designers and garden clubs. Their creative touch brings additional charm and magic to the spectacular, 24-room, Spanish-Revival house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Visitors can see the captivating results from now through December 30. The decorators create magic in the rooms with lighted trees, ornaments, wreaths, ribbons, poinsettias, garlands, toys, and elegantly wrapped faux gifts.
Guides take guests on tours of the Mansion on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday (and Wednesday-Sunday, December 26 – 30 during school vacation) at regular intervals between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.
Special Twilight Tours will be given on Thursday and Friday, December 27 and 28, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Purchase tickets on-line here. Admission: $10 for adults, $9 for students and seniors (student ID, or age 62 plus) and $5 for children 12 and under.
This event is a treat for visitors, and the only time of the year the Vanderbilt family’s private living quarters can be seen at night. Hot chocolate and cookies are included.
This year’s Mansion decorators:
Dix Hills Garden Club – Dining Room
Honey Hills Garden Club – Sonja Henie Guest Room
Nathan Hale Garden Club – Organ Room and Yellow Guest Room
Asharoken Garden Club – Portuguese Sitting Room
Three Village Garden Club – William Vanderbilt’s Bedroom
Harbor Homestead & Co. – Rosamond Vanderbilt’s Bedroom and Dressing Room –
Centerport Garden Club – Library
Hydrangea Home of Northport – Holiday floral centerpiece
Volunteers from the Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners Program of Suffolk County
Museum guide Ellen Mason contributed her family’s vintage electric train set and accompanying buildings for display around the base of the tree in the Library.
Stephanie Gress, the Vanderbilt’s director of curatorial affairs, and her staff decorated the Windsor Guest Room, Lancaster Room, Breakfast Nook, and Northport Porch.
“Most of these garden clubs and designers have been decorating the mansion for more than 20 seasons,” Gress, said. “We look forward to seeing them each year, and to how they use their creative skills to bring elegant holiday charm to the house.”
Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Vanderbilt Museum, said “We’re grateful to these generous volunteers who give their time and talent to create an atmosphere of enchanting holiday grandeur and sophisticated living.”
Centerport designers Mary Schlotter and her daughter Krishtia McCord – who operate Harbor Homestead & Co. – created a spectacular botanical dress that is displayed in Rosamond Vanderbilt’s bedroom.
“The challenge was to use natural materials for the skirt,” McCord said. “We used dried birch-branch tips and wove in strings of tiny clear lights.”
“We wanted to give the dress some sparkle,” Schlotter added. “So, we asked friends and family to share their grandmothers’ and mothers’ clip-on earrings and brooches and added them to the skirt. We made a botanical necklace using lamb’s ear leaves and hydrangea petals and accented it with pearls.”
They fashioned a long flowing sash with wide, white birch bark-print ribbon. They combined the same ribbon design with greenery and small lights to decorate the nearby mantelpiece.
The designers made their first botanical dress for the Vanderbilt two years ago: “We like to use materials that will decompose and not harm the earth. We never use floral foam because it takes many years to break down. Instead, like many floral designers, we use chicken wire and thin tape.”
Lorri Toth, who made the velvet top of Schlotter and McCord’s first botanical dress, created the dove-gray velvet top for the new dress. Toth, who worked in New York City fashion houses, now has her own design business, Couture Creations, in Huntington Village, and makes lots of wedding dresses, Schlotter said.
The two designers used antique chandelier crystals and other glass objects to decorate the fireplace mantel in Rosamond Vanderbilt’s stunning mirrored dressing room, where their original botanical dress is displayed.
Newsday - December 12, 2016
Creating Holiday Magic in the Vanderbilt Mansion
(CreaCreating Holiday Enchantment in Vanderbilt Mansion
(from the times beacon record december 1, 2016)
Mary Schlotter and her daughter, Krishtia McCord – who operate the Centerport Floral design firm Harbor Homestead & Co. – decorated Rosamund Vanderbilt’s mirrored dressing room and the family’s breakfast hallway.
Using a dress-form mannequin, they added green boughs as a skirt. “Our friend, dress designer Lorri Kessler-Toth of Couture Creations, created a fitted turquoise-blue velvet cover for the dress-form torso. We added a necklace of chandelier crystals and a pendant, and embellished the skirt with teal ornaments, champagne ribbon, and filigreed poinsettia leaves. This is a dressing room, so we created a Christmas dress.”
They added chandelier crystals and champagne poinsettia leaves to the bough that decorates on the mantelpiece on the marble fireplace. The crystals on the mantel complement those that hang from the sconces in the mirrored, hexagonal dressing room.
The Centerport club decorated the dining room and Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom, and the Honey Hills club decorated Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bedroom.
Guided Tours of Decorated Mansion
Guided tours of the decorated Vanderbilt Mansion will begin on November 25, the day after Thanksgiving, and be given each Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday at 12:30, 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. – and each day during the week between Christmas and the New Year, December 26-30.
Visitors pay the general admission fee plus $5 per person for a tour. General admission: $7 for adults, $6 for students with IDs and seniors 62 and older, and $3 for children 12 and under.
Special Twilight Tours of Decorated Mansion
These intriguing evening tours will be given for two days only: Monday-Tuesday, December 26-27, from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for students and seniors (62 and older) and $5 for children 12 and under.
Museum Holiday Season Hours
Open 12:00-4:00 on December 26-30. Closed: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Creating Holiday Magic in the Mansion
Creating Holiday Magic in the Mansion
Creating Holiday Enchantment In The Vanderbilt Mansion
(This article was published December 10, 2015, in the Times Beacon Record newspapers on the North Shore of Long Island, New York.)
Interior designers and garden clubs deck the halls of the Vanderbilt Mansion in Centerport each year, and hundreds of visitors see the delightful results beginning the day after Thanksgiving.
The 24-room Spanish Revival house — listed on the National Register of Historic Places — is enhanced with garland, holly, 10 elegantly ornamented trees, poinsettias, brightly wrapped packages, greens and pine cones from the Vanderbilt estate and an enchanting atmosphere of early- and mid-twentieth century holiday cheer.
Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the museum, said, “We’re grateful to these imaginative decorators, who generously donate their time and talent to create an atmosphere of charming holiday grandeur and sophisticated living. They bring magic to this historic house.”
Participating this year were the Dix Hills, Centerport, Honey Hills, Nathan Hale and Three Village garden clubs; Harbor Homestead & Co. Design; and the master gardeners of the Cornell University Cooperative Extension. All have participated in the project for many years.
Artists and garden specialists from the Three Village Garden Club (representing Old Field, Setauket and Stony Brook) decorated the spacious, paneled Vanderbilt library and its tree. Beneath the tree are faux gifts wrapped with bright papers, foils and ribbons. Ornate, two-foot, stylized silver trees adorn the fireplace.
“We trimmed the tree with gold and copper ornament balls and with strands of clear, multi-faceted stones to reflect the light from the small white bulbs,” said Joann Canino of the Three Village Garden Club. “The white poinsettias used as ornaments suggest doves, a symbol of peace. We also placed white poinsettias with silver bows on the mantel of the library’s large fireplace.
“The Vanderbilt Mansion is an architectural celebration. It’s one of those grand houses that has a warm, family feeling. Our club is pleased to be part of dressing it up for the holidays. It’s great fun.”
Mary Schlotter and daughter Krishtia McCord, both of Centerport, decorated the bedroom of William K. Vanderbilt II, and the Moroccan Court next to the Vanderbilt library. They operate the Harbor Homestead & Co. design firm.
For the past several years, Schlotter also has been among the designers invited to decorate The White House for the holidays, the Fourth of July and Halloween.
“Mr. Vanderbilt loved peacocks and had them on the estate,” Schlotter said. “The bedroom color scheme is inspired by the colors in peacock feathers — deep teal, cobalt blue, apple green, plum and gold. We wanted it to look like a sophisticated man’s room,” Schlotter said.
Schlotter and McCord added wreaths of teal-blue feathers to the top of the French doors that open onto the bedroom porch with a view of Northport Bay. “Acorns are a feature of the Vanderbilt family crest, and we used acorn ornaments with the greenery that decorates the fireplace mantel. Ivy vines sprayed with gold paint and woven through the garland trim the doorways.”
In the Moroccan Court, with its rare Spanish and Portuguese tiles, they decorated the built-in tiled bench with throw pillows. The colors of the pillows match those in the antique tiles, each of which is a miniature folk painting.
Decorations include a café setting with a small round table and two chairs; a basket of fruits and nuts; silver candles in ornate, antique bronze candlesticks; up-lighted palm trees; a candle-lit silver lantern next to the small fountain set into the floor; and gauzy, transparent fabric hung in front of the tall, arched windows.
Christine Lagana and her friends from the Dix Hills Garden Club decorated the Portuguese Sitting Room. “The tone was set by the deep blue in the rug and the sculpture of a knight on horseback, which has the same colors as the rug,” Lagana said, “and by the medieval theme of the 1494 fireplace surround, which features carved faces of crusaders.
“We added gold ribbon and pine cones to the garland, and small turquoise and cobalt ornament balls on the tree. One group of large ornaments displays a replica of the Vanderbilt family crest inside clear-glass globes.” Acorn-shaped ornaments echo the acorns in the family crest, which is painted on the fireplace hood in the dining room.”
Guided tours of the decorated mansion will be held through Dec. 30. During the day, tours are given Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday (including Dec. 28 and 30) at 12:30, 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. Visitors pay the general admission fee plus $5 per person for a tour.
The popular Twilight Tours of the mansion will be given Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 26 and 27, from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for students and seniors (62 and older) and $5 for children 12 and under. Hot chocolate and cookies are included. This event is a treat for visitors, and the only time of the year the Vanderbilt family’s private living quarters can be seen at night.
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Twilight Tours at the Vanderbilt Museum
For immediate release
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Special Twilight Tours of Mansion Planned for December 26-28
CENTERPORT, NY (November 27, 2012) – Guest rooms with lighted trees, vintage ornaments, wreaths, and garlands intertwined with gold and silver ribbons. A high-ceilinged, paneled library with a large tree and elegantly wrapped gifts. A grand marble fireplace lighted by glowing sconces.
Just before Thanksgiving each year, volunteer interior designers and garden clubs decorate William K. Vanderbilt II’s Spanish-Revival mansion for the holidays. They use their design and decorating skills – plus greens, lights, ribbons, ornaments, trees and plants – to work some holiday magic in the grand, historic, 24-room house.
Taking part this year were the Dix Hills, Centerport, Honey Hills, Nathan Hale and Three Village garden clubs; Cornell Cooperative Master Gardeners; Michele Boyer; Harbor Homestead & Co. Design; Claudia Dowling Interiors; Joseph Del Percio Interior Design and Willow Garden Design.
Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the museum, said, “We’re grateful for their generosity and talent, which creates for visitors the charming holiday atmosphere of a bygone era of grandeur and sophisticated living.
“These dedicated volunteers study the mansion then create themes and historical color palettes. Their designs and the subtle placement of clothing, jewelry, gifts and other personal objects sometimes suggest that members of the family are in the house, but have momentarily left the room. This is in keeping with the preservation of the mansion as a living museum of the Vanderbilts’ life.”
The spectacular results charm hundreds of visitors between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. The Vanderbilt offers its very popular twilight mansion tours, scheduled this year on the evenings of Wednesday-Friday, December 26-28, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Admission: $10 for adults, $9 for students and seniors (62 and older), and $5 for children 12 and under. Hot chocolate and cookies are included.
Holiday season hours: Open 12:00-4:00 on December 22-23 and 26-30. Closed: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Mary Schlotter and her daughter, Krishtia Lindgren, who operate the design firm Harbor Homestead & Co. in Centerport, have recreated a piece of the famous Manhattan nightclub El Morocco in the Northport Porch. The Vanderbilts socialized with their famous friends at El Morocco in the 1930s and 1940s.
Schlotter –one of the designers invited to decorate The White House in 2009 and 2010 – made Art Deco white-paper palm trees and decorated them with silver ornament balls. Using the nightclub’s navy, white and silver colors, she created an El Morocco banquette and reproduced the club’s sign and distinctive lettering. Seated at the banquette are William K. Vanderbilt II and his wife, Rosamund – in a life-size enlargement of a vintage newspaper photo of them, taken in El Morocco.
Schlotter smiled and said, “When people attend the museum’s annual holiday dinner, they can dine with the Vanderbilts.” To complete the atmosphere, Schlotter’s selection of Christmas songs from the 1930s and ‘40s plays during tours.
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