These Homes House History

From author Jean Kerr’s home on the Long Island Sound to Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s sprawling art studio, as covered in Architectural Digest, these homes house a lot of history.

Wheatley Road

Old WestburyNY 11568

The socialite with a taste for exquisite art may have been a talented sculptor, but her real legacy is one that bears her name: the Whitney Museum of American Art. The museum, which takes up residence in New York’s Meatpacking District, boasts an undeniably modern architectural aesthetic—quite the opposite of the Long Island manor in which she sculpted her masterpieces.

The home is the last remaining structure on the famous Whitney family estate in the charming village of Old Westbury. Gertrude, the great-granddaughter of railroad titan Cornelius Vanderbilt, commissioned large-scale art installations that were built directly into the neoclassical mansion she used as her studio. Perhaps the most famous is the colorful, sensual replica of a daring Howard Gardiner Cushing mural that wraps around the walls of a winding staircase.

It was here, on Long Island, that the doyenne of contemporary American art invited undiscovered painters and sculptors to create pieces that would decorate the walls of her private workspaces. Of course, she too completed a number of her works within these circa 1912 walls.

1 Beach Avenue

Larchmont, NY 10538

The quirky and historic home on the Long Island Sound that once belonged to author Jean Kerr and her equally notable husband, New York Times resident theater critic Walter Kerr, has only housed three families in the century since it was built—the Kerrs being one of them. Walter once described the architectural gem as “neo-gingerbread,” but the 9,000-square-foot abode that’s designed like a contemporary castle is undeniably stunning.

Shaped like a quadrangle, the structure formerly made up the stables and carriage-house complex for the nearby Crocker Estate (now the Larchmont Shore Club). Not only did the Kerrs raise their six children here, but Jean wrote her homage to suburban life, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, about this specific house. The book was published in 1957, when urbanites were retreating to charming towns just outside bustling cities. It was later adapted for the screen in a film starring Doris Day.

The previous (and first) owner, manufacturer and driver of the first automobile in Detroit, Charles B. King, installed quite a few treasures in the Larchmont home. When King was renovating the waterfront estate, the William K. Vanderbilt mansion in midtown Manhattan was being demolished. King managed to scoop up more than 30 truckloads’ worth of prime Vanderbilt decor, including fireplaces and staircases.

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