American Palaces: The Age of Opulence

Frances Morrone
Frances Morrone
NYU

Francis Morrone is an architectural historian and the author of thirteen books, including The New York Public Library: The Architecture and Decoration of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (with Henry Hope Reed). The former art and architecture critic for the New York Sun, Morrone was named one of the thirteen best tour guides in the world by Travel and Leisure magazine. He is the recipient of the Arthur Ross Award of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art, the Landmarks Lion Award of the Historic Districts Council, and New York University’s Excellence in Teaching Award.

Overview

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The Age of American Palaces ran from the 1890s through the 1920s: a time when the nation’s oligarchs built improbably splendid mansions and gardens in a golden age of building craftsmanship and landscape gardening. In this lavishly illustrated lecture, we will look at four of the most stupendous examples: The Breakers, in Newport, Rhode Island; Biltmore, in North Carolina; Vizcaya, in Miami; and Hearst Castle, in San Simeon, California. We will also look at the people who built them: the clients (Cornelius Vanderbilt II, George Washington Vanderbilt, James Deering, and William Randolph Hearst), as well as the architects and landscape architects (Richard Morris Hunt, Frederick Law Olmsted, Paul Chalfin, Diego Suarez, and Julia Morgan). What do these palaces—all of them now open to the public—have to say to us today?

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