Aesthetic Archeology – A Big Success

20 Maple Avenue - The Fordyce Cottage

On November 6, 45 members and guests of the Larchmont Historical society gathered at 20 Maple Avenue in Larchmont’s Manor neighborhood to attend the LHS talk entitled, “Aesthetic Archeology: Uncovering Your Home’s History.” Known as the Fordyce Cottage, this magnificent circa 1890 residence commands the corner of Maple and Beach Avenues and is now the home of Jamie and Bill Curbow. It was the perfect venue for this panel discussion led by four local experts who covered the range from home building to decorating and landscaping. The audience was treated to advice on how to restore and renovate their homes by staying true to a home’s history and character by thoughtful use of period appropriate design, colors and landscaping.

The evening began on the Curbow’s newly-built open porch, which looks as if it has been with the house since the late 1800s. Delicious hors d’oeuvres and cocktails were followed by a welcome by LHS President Colette Rodbell, who invited all into the home’s paneled dining room for the talk. A sumptuous flower arrangement and glowing candles complemented the Victorian feel to the room. Hostess Jamie Curbow pointed out the hidden pantries, stocked with china and crystal, as well as the hidden safe, located behind the richly-stained floor-to-ceiling wood paneling. She also noted the original gas fireplace and ornate radiators.

The first speaker was Susan Emery, a Larchmont-based historic home renovation consultant and a long standing LHS board member. Most know Susan for her dedication as Chair of the LHS House Tour for eight years. Susan studied in the areas of Decorative Arts, design and culture and she shared this knowledge with the audience while presenting blueprints of her own Tudor home which she and her husband Dana recently restored. The changes made included replacing window glass with a leaded design and adding scrolling to the fascia. Only a couple of the many ways that Susan is able to Uncover the History of your Home!

If the devil is in the details, than surely the area of color is a hot zone. For anyone who has ever had to choose a paint color for their home, inside or out, you know what that means. Debra Kling, the second guest speaker, demystified the process somewhat. Debra is a Certified Color Specialist credentialed by the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. On her website, Debra claims that “a house without color has no point of view.” Indeed, color is highly personal, yet dictated by regional and cultural differences (are you one of the 82% of Americans who list their favorite color as blue?). She urged the audience to look to period-appropriate photos and antique items in the home that give away its history and offer hints at what the colors might have been. Debra also suggested sanding a small portion (in circular motion) of a home’s shingles or clapboards to uncover its original color. Chances are that the color will not be white! Turn-of-the-century homes often had dark paint on the body and light colors on the trim. A good reason: a reliable white paint for use on exteriors was only introduced in 1916, by the Titanium Pigment Company in Niagara Falls. It was in widespread use by the late 1920s and the use of white as an exterior color, most notably on house trim, is a trend that remains to this day. But which white to choose? Good luck with that. Benjamin Moore lists no less than 151 “off-whites” in its catalog.

The next speaker, Gina Samarotto of The Samarotto Design group, led a lively discussion on the role of landscaping. Gina has hosted her own garden design show on WGNY radio and she truly entertained the audience with her humor and candor relating to her field. She urged the audience to create focal points in the landscape that draw attention to the finest architectural details of a home. Make landscaping a part of the whole building/renovation picture, not an afterthought. Plant material should not only be appropriate to the period of a home but also to the color palette and style of the home. Gina stressed that bigger is better and above all, pay attention to the scale of trees and shrubs. A sampling of historically appropriate plant material includes Ilex Opaca (American Holly), Kalmia Latifolia (Mountain Laurel) and Fothergilla gardenia ( Fothergilla). You will not see the Aloe plant listed for the Larchmont area! The Samarotto Group is a full service landscape design firm and is now designing for the holidays. They will contribute 10% of all holiday and seasonal projects contracted LHS members back to the society.

Pam Washington, owner of Washington Restoration Ltd, a local construction firm, closed the event with an informative talk on the renovating process. Pam is a graduate of BrownUniversity with concentrations in Psychology and Architectural History-a valuable pairing!

The historical society sincerely thanks hosts Jamie and Bill Curbow for opening their lovely home for the event. Thanks again to the four panel speakers as well as to Nancy White and the Flower Bar for the event flowers.

Decorations from the Flower bar

A Day in the Life of Larchmont.

“…Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head…”
“A Day in the Life”, The Beatles

The Larchmont Historical Society
invites you to be a part of:

“A Day in the Life of Larchmont”
Photo Project


On October 20th, 2011, for a 24 hour period, from midnight to midnight, photograph Larchmont, Your Larchmont. Both public and private, in home, at school, in town, at work, on the way to work, on the way home – images of Your 10538, all captured in a single day. The essence of life, in our town, in all its extraordinary ordinariness. A Day in the Life of Larchmont.

Click here for photo submission guidelines:

Email inquiries to:
Please use “Photo Project” in your email subject line.

Get your cameras ready!

Celebrating Larchmont Park: The First Village Neighborhood

It was an enchanting evening on Saturday, May 14th for the more than 75 people who attended the Larchmont Historical Society’s kick-off cocktail party for this year’s 30th Anniversary Spring House Tour, “Celebrating Larchmont Park: The First Village Neighborhood.”

The LHS Board of Trustees

As the front door opened to 11 Serpentine Trail, the extraordinary home of Lisa and Reiner Boehning, guests were able to experience history, art, music, stone and flower gardens, sculpture, fine wine and great food, plus a fascinating discussion, all in one magical setting.

C. Paul Jennewein

For more than 50 years (1926-1978), 11 Serpentine was the home of world-renowned sculptor, C. Paul Jennewein.  The home still retains his work: the Shepherd and 12 Sheep that grace the front of the home and the bas-relief Law and Order on the back patio.  During the party, guests heard a wonderful and informative discussion on Jennewein, presented by Jill Sarkozi.  She explained how Larchmonters, mostly unaware, are surrounded by Jenneweins work – he designed the four Neptune metal signs that mark the entrances to Larchmont, and are featured on all the new Flint Park signs.

The Larchmont Village Entrance Sign Sculpture Desiged by C. Paul Jennewein

With great care and an artistic eye, our own Village Public Works employees, Rich Berlingo and Pat Zeh   restored the large Neptune sign to its original color and detail, and guests could view it up close.

Throughout the night, guests listened to beautiful music provided by a jazz trio from the Larchmont Music Academy, ate and drank wonderful food and wine provided by Vintage 1891 and David Calkins of Wine Gems, sipped “Jennewein Juleps” as they walked the secret old stone paths and received custom LHS tote bags filled with goodies and the latest issue of Westchester Cottages and Gardens – our first ever House Tour media sponsor.  For both the cocktail party and the tour, all seven homes were filled with magnificent flower arrangements, courtesy of Nancy White, LHS board member, and owner of the Flower Bar.

In her welcome to the guests, LHS President, Colette Rodbell thanked all the homeowners for their graciousness, and remarked how Larchmont Village so beautifully captures the “dream of homeownership that became accessible to the middle-class at the turn of the century,” and how 11 Serpentine Trail brings to life the vision the early planners of Larchmont Village had: one where the roads and homes were incorporated into the natural topography of cliffs, glacial boulders and sloping, curving hillsides.  The Bungalow, Craftsman Cottage and American Foursquare architecture all represented in the six lovely homes on Sunday’s house tour display the visually appealing diversity of our historic Village.  Despite hazy skies and the occasional rain, the feeling of sunny warmth amidst such beauty and great company was what prevailed.

Hitting the Jackpot at Antiques Appraisal Day

Prospect Point, Niagara Falls in Winter, 1856-1860, by Jasper F. Cropsey

(Larchmont NY, May 23, 2011) The Larchmont Historical Society’s Antiques Appraisal Day has helped to unearth two valuable paintings by Jasper F. Cropsey, a 19th Century landscape painter of the Hudson River School. At an auction at Larchmont’s  Clarke Auction Gallery the “Winter Hunting Scene at Niagara Falls” fetched $552,000, and “An Autumn View of Mount Washington in New Hampshire” sold for $288,000.

The owner, who has asked not to be identified, was settling the estate of his mother who had died last year. Anticipating that the paintings were of modest value, he brought them to the LHS Antiques Appraisal Day for appraisal. One of the expert appraisers at the event, David Bahssin of Larchmont’s Post Road Gallery was initially skeptical because of the dates of the paintings, but teamwork with Ron Clarke of the Clarke Auction Gallery the puzzle of the auhenticity of the paintings was soon resolved. However, the market value of the paintings was not determined until the subsequent auction.

Larchmont Historical Society events are of consistent local interest, but rarely make a splash on the national and international scene. This time, however, the news of the unusual discovery and the news of the subsequent auction prices was widely reported:

So how did Larchmont’s Historical Society’s local Antiques Appraisal Day beat out all but one of the appraisals in fifteen seasons of the PBS Series Antiques Road Show, which lists on it’s website one appraisal in excess of $600,000: 18th-Century Qianlong Jade Collection from Qing Dynasty? According to Larchmont Historical Society President Colette Rodbell, “It’s all about planning, teamwork, Board members with exceptional skills, and partnerships with local antiques experts like the Clarke Auction Gallery and the Post Road Gallery.

Last year, the Larchmont Historical Society launched our first “Antiques Appraisal Day”.   The event proved to be a wonderful success, with more than 80 enthusiastic participants  attending,  eager to learn the value of their treasured art, jewelry, furniture and decorative objects from a panel of expert appraisers. One member brought an antique globe which turned our to be worth more than $20,000!

Autumn In America 1860, but Jasper F. Cropsey

This year,  LHS partnered with the Clarke Auction Gallery, and once again we offered guests the chance to assess the history and value of their antiques. We expanded the program into a two-day event. To generate interest, we held a lecture titled “What’s Hot? What’s Not” at the Larchmont Yacht Club.   It featured  an open forum panel discussion with seasoned experts, exploring the state of the antiques market today,  and answering questions about their given expertise, as well as inquiries about antiques in general.   The panel was moderated by Tom Curran of Clarke Auction Gallery.

The next day was appraisal day at Clarke  Auction Gallery, from 12-4PM.  Certified dealers and appraisers were on hand in the fields of Asian Art and Antiquities, European and International Fine Art, Jewelry, Silver, Traditional American Antiques, Paintings and Sculpture, and the Decorative Arts.   A fee of $20 was charged for the first appraised item, $10.00 for each additional item, with a maximum of three objects being appraised per person.


Kate Culkin, Biographer of Sculptor Harriet Hosmer.

Mermaid's Cradle Sculpture in Fountain Square

During march 2011, Kate Culkin, Assistant Professor of History at Bronx Community College, was the headline speaker for the Larchmont Historical Society’s Women in History Month program. Professor Culkin recently authored Harriet Hosmer: A Cultural Biography (University of Massachusetts Press), which is a fascinating look at 19th Century America’s most notable female sculptor.

    Locally, Hosmer is known for her arresting bronze sculpture, The Mermaid’s Cradle, which holds center court in Larchmont’s Fountain Square, just blocks from the Long Island Sound. For whom was the sculpture originally created?  Whose face is featured?  What is the symbolism of the baby in the tail of the mermaid?  What local patron brought this piece to town decades ago?  All this and much more will be revealed by Professor Culkin.

    The Mermaid's Cradle sculpture today.

    Harriet Hosmer (1830–1908) was regarded as the nation’s most prominent woman sculptor and was seen as instrumental in promoting women in the field of sculpture.  After moving from Boston to Rome in 1852, she was, according to Culkin, the only American woman sculptor working in the city and quickly befriended some of the most notable expatriates of the time, including Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and fellow sculptors John Gibson and Emma Stebbins. Many female sculptors followed her lead and moved to Rome. She indeed inspired artists of varied disciplines, and Hosmer can be found represented in the works of Nathanial Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott, among others.

    In her book, Culkin addresses Hosmer’s ability to convey through her sculpture her critique of women’s position in nineteenth-century American culture, women’s rights advocates’ utilizing the arts to promote their cause, the affect Hosmer’s personal relationships with women played in her life and success, and, the complex position a female artist occupied in 19th Century America.

    The LHS is pleased to have hosted Professor Culkin for a fascinating and lively discussion on this important woman in both our local and national history. 

    A Sizzling Fundraiser

    On October 30th the Larchmont Yacht Club was the scene of a five-alarm fundraising effort by the Larchmont Historical Society (LHS) as the group hosted its first Firemen’s Ball in many decades.  The “Roaring 20’s Firemen’s Ball” attracted nearly 200 guests who arrived in period costumes from the heady era of Prohibition.  According to LHS President Colette Rodbell, the evening was held to raise funds for Larchmont’s Engine One, a 1922 American LaFrance fire truck, an important piece of this nation’s fire history which is undergoing extensive restoration.  “It is our goal,” said Rodbell, “to restore this magnificent machine and bring it back to Larchmont to use for education and recreational purposes, as well as for generating income.”

    Larchmont’s own James McCaffrey, a  lead actor in the FOX television show “Rescue Me,” a series about the New York Fire Department, ignited the crowd into purchasing raffle and silent auction donations which in the end netted nearly $8,000 for the engine restoration fund. According to the LHS’s Fire History Committee, the fundraising effort began in 2008 with a sizeable donation from the Orans Family in memory of Jacob Orans, a Larchmont volunteer firefighter.  Many of the area’s current and retired firefighters were in attendance with their families.  Glenn Corbett, Technical Editor of Fire Fighting Magazine, brought some of his fascinating collection of vintage fire fighting apparatus for all to enjoy.

    In addition to flapper attire, feathers and fedoras, many of the guests ‘costumes paid homage to past fire fighting attire.  Members of the LHS Fire History Committee wore parade-worthy firefighting costumes dating from the 1860s, complete with antique helmets illuminated with real flame throwing torches!

    Guests were invited to learn to dance the Charleston, with music supplied by Michael Cumella of “Crank Up Phonograph DJ Experience.”  Cumella, an expert on period music, has been host of WFMU Radio’s Antique Phonographic Music Program since 1995.  Larchmont resident and LHS member David Calkins supplied the wine, compliments of his company Wine Gems @Perrillos, and Heineken donated the beer.

    A Talk with Kiran Chetry, CNN Morning News Co-Anchor

    Kiran Chetry, CNN Morning News Co-Anchor and Larchmont resident

    Kiran Chetry, CNN Morning News Co-Anchor and Larchmont resident

    A  talk by CNN Morning News Co-Anchor Kiran Chetry.

    Kiran, a Larchmont resident (and wife of new board member Chris Knowles!) spoke on the history of women in news and of course touch upon her own experiences. This event was in conjunction with the area schools’ Women in History Month programs.  The talk took place in the Chapter Room of St. Johns Episcopal Church, 4 Fountain Square, Larchmont.

    Kiran Chetry anchors American Morning with John Roberts. Since joining CNN’s flagship morning program in April 2007, Chetry has covered several breaking news stories both in the field and at the helm of the anchor desk including the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech, the assassination of former Pakistani President Benazhair Bhutto, the Michael Jackson Memorial, the San Diego Wildfires and the attempted nightclub bombings in London. In addition, Chetry was one of the few journalists to interview Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and the rest of the “Miracle on the Hudson” flight crew shortly after their heroic landing on the Hudson River.

    Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, Chetry reported live from various political events including the New Hampshire Primaries and from Washington, DC the morning of the inauguration of President Barack Obama. During the campaign, Chetry interviewed several of the candidates including now President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator John McCain, Governors Mitt Romney and Bill Richardson and Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Her anchoring into the early morning hours, along with John Roberts, following election night won the program a National Headliner Award. She has also reported for the series Children of War, which examined how American children cope with their parents’ deployments in Iraq and has also reported for a week-long special series “The War At Home” exploring the struggles of American soldiers after they return home from the wars in Iraq and Afganistan. Chetry’s reporting during the foiled London bomb attack in 2007 earned American Morning a Daytime Emmy nomination.

    Chetry joined CNN in February 2007 and immediately began anchoring various CNN programs including American Morning, Anderson Cooper 360º, Paula Zahn Now and CNN Newsroom. Previously, Chetry was the anchor of Fox & Friends First and Fox & Friends Weekend for the Fox News Channel. She has covered major breaking news stories including reports from the field during the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster, the invasion of Baghdad and Hurricane Katrina.

    Chetry began her journalism career at News 21 in Rockville, Md., in 1995 before moving to WICU-TV in Erie, Penn., to become an anchor and health reporter. At WICU-TV, she earned the Best Enterprise Reporting award from the Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Association in 1997 for “Young and Hooked,” a series about teen smoking. She then served as a morning anchor and reporter for KXTV in Sacramento, Calif., before joining Fox News in 2001.

    Chetry received her bachelor of arts in broadcast journalism from the University of Maryland.

    A Pulitzer Prize Winning Look at “Our Town”

    PMcG Color

    On Thursday, October 22, 2009 the Larchmont Historical Society (LHS) together with the University Club will host a fascinating evening featured a talk entitled Phyllis McGinley: the Poet Laureate of the Suburbs, presented by Dr. Joanna Gill, Lecturer in Twentieth-Century Literature at the University of Exeter, UK.  The event was held at the Larchmont Yacht Club.

    In this talk Dr. Gill discussed the life and work of Larchmont poet and essayist Phyllis McGinley, who in her mid-century heyday was one of the most celebrated figures in American letters. McGinley won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 for her selected poems Times Three (60,000 copies in hardback sold). Her book Sixpence in her Shoe, published in 1964, was devoted to ‘the glory of housewifery’ and it enjoyed six months on the New York Times bestseller list.

    The talk took guests from McGinley’s upbringing in rural Oregon and Utah to her life in Larchmont as wife and mother (McGinley and her family lived at 12 Hazel Lane, a home featured on the 2007 LHS House Tour.)  Dr. Gill  examined the emergence of McGinley’s poetic voice in the context of changing mid-century attitudes towards the suburbs and in relation to new trends in American poetry. Jo Gill observed “This talk considers the significance to McGinley’s development of a distinctive poetic style of her everyday experience as a suburban wife and mother.” By examining particular poems in detail Dr. Gill traced the influence of Larchmont life on her writing. “ By drawing on unpublished material from the McGinley archive at Syracuse University, Dr. Gill reveal the importance of the people, places and rituals of Larchmont to McGinley’s success—an importance which, sadly, became all-to-apparent to her when she briefly left the village for a new home in Connecticut.”

    Gossip, success, husbands, fathers, privacy, children, vanity, cocktail clatter, seasons, sexual equality—it all ended up on the backyard barbeque in McGinley’s  upbeat, witty, yet sometimes unnerving, rendering of the suburban landscape.  This was an evening not to be missed.

    About Dr. Joanna Gill: Dr. Jo Gill is Lecturer in 20th Century Literature at the University of Exeter, UK. She has three children. She is the author of Anne Sexton’s Confessional Poetics (University Press of Florida 2007), of Women’s Poetry (Columbia University Press 2007), and of The Cambridge Introduction to Sylvia Plath (Cambridge University Press 2008). She is currently writing a book—from which this talk is drawn—entitled The Poetics of the American Suburbs.

    Built To Last: Stories in Stone

    8 Bayard

    by Susan Emery

    “Built to Last: Stories in Stone” is the apt title for this year’s spring house tour. Given the architectural richness of our community, our annual tours generally include a diverse range of styles. This year is no different. As in the past, there is a stylistic assortment of exteriors and interiors that will be
    highlighted on the tour.

    In certain years, however, a theme or common thread among the houses has been difficult to discern. This year the theme was readily apparent. All five of the houses on the 2009 house tour are distinguished for their varied examples of stonework, from a Colonial Revival house partly clad in uncut stone, to a second Colonial Revival style house that incorporates field stone in its original construction and matching stone recovered from the property for its 2001 addition, to an Arts & Crafts home and a Tudor that include
    partial random ashlar facing, and a second Arts & Crafts house that features not only a stone foundation but actually appears to have been constructed atop a hill of stone.

    This group of houses  also shares interesting histories, as each is connected to the early development of the neighborhood in which it was built and some
    of the personalities involved were rather intriguing. Yet in addition to distinctive stonework and great history, there are numerous other features and decorative elements that grace these homes. But why wait until next month when the individual homeowners open their doors to the LHS membership to discover what is in store?

    While the five addresses will not be revealed here, read on for a taste of what to expect, as well as an  introduction to some of the descriptive vocabulary associated with the houses (see the accompanying glossary for an explanation of terms highlighted in bold). From the clues, perhaps some
    clever readers might even be able to identify a few of the houses!

    The five houses on this year’s tour are scattered across Larchmont. Just one house is in the Manor and one is in the Village, while three are located in the unincorporated section of town. Additionally, four of the houses have never appeared on the LHS house tour before. And one house was recently awarded an LHS Century Homes Club plaque! As mentioned, the architectural styles range from early Colonial Revival to Colonial Revival Style to Arts & Crafts to Tudor. One of the two Colonial Revival houses incorporates an old stone gatehouse that was originally part of a late 19th century Weaver Street estate; the other Colonial Revival house was among the first houses in the development originally known as Larchmont Park. One of the Arts & Crafts houses was an early structure in the Larchmont Gardens development; the other is one of several authentic Gustav Stickley houses in Larchmont Woods. The Tudor house was designed by the architect of the Larchmont Shores development and built for the man who developed Larchmont Shores.
    Water is a theme at all five of the houses. One house is actually located on the water, connected to its neighborhood by a causeway, while another has a natural waterfall on its property, a third is built near a waterfall, a fourth has a miniature pond with waterfall added by the current owners, and the fifth house once had a small pond used for swimming and skating! In addition to
    water, several of the properties are large and feature lovely gardens.

    One property in particular had the good fortune to have been re-designed by the famous landscaping pair Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd of North Hill Garden in Readsboro, Vermont. North Hill is considered one of the most famous private gardens in America, and Mr. Eck and Mr. Winterrowd came to
    Larchmont and worked their magic on delightful grounds that our tour-goers will be able visit next month. These gardens boast a boxwood parterre and a potager.  Interested in learning more? Then attend the slide lecture that Mr. Eck and Mr. Winterrowd will be giving at St. John’s Church on April 25th,
    the afternoon before the house tour. They will be selling and signing copies of their most recent book, “Our Life in Gardens,” as well.

    Aside from their common themes of stonework and water, the five houses boast numerous other individual architectural features that enliven their facades. Look for a gambrel roof on one of the Colonial Revival houses, a pergola on the other Colonial Revival example, a standard gable on one of the Arts & Crafts homes, and a cross gable on the second Arts & Crafts house, while the Tudor features timber framing. There is a great variety of windows, including several types of sashes and casements, a Palladian window, and an oriel window. Two of the houses possess an assortment of stained glass windows, including a large stairwell skylight in one home and five unusual
    roundels in the other.

    Interior architectural details to be found include transoms, a coffered ceiling, an original hammered copper fireplace hood, original light fixtures and hardware, decorative plasterwork, French doors, carved woodwork, and more. Decorative motifs abound. In one house, you will see fleur de lys tiles on a powder room floor. In another house, the fleur de lys motif is incorporated into the border of a stained glass window. Decorative styles abound as well. One house has delightful dose of chinoiserie, another features contemporary artwork, while yet another is more traditional, and the others are perhaps eclectic.

    If your curiosity has been piqued, or if you think that you have guessed some of the houses described, then please join us on Sunday April 26th for the house tour. A reception and art show will be held afterwards at Mamaroneck Artists’ Guild.

    An Afternoon At North Hill Garden


    A talk with garden designers Wayne Winterrowd and Joe Eck…

    North Hill is the designer of a spectacular garden featured on the Larchmont House Tour. Mr. Winterrowd and Mr. Eck, founders of North Hill, gave an informative talk based on their travels throughout the U.S. and Canada as landscape design consultants and as lecturers on horticultural subjects.

    They recently published Our Life in Gardens, pictured above.