Blairsden: Grandeur and melancholy side-by-side

My friend Betsy and I decided it was time for another adventure so we trekked off to Peapack-Gladstone, NJ, to see the Mansion in May, a charity designer show house at a grand old mansion called Blairsden.


Built at the turn of the century, Blairsden was the magnificent country home (62,000 square feet!) of C. Ledyard Blair, a New York financier (whose grandfather really made all the family money).  It was set on 500 acres of gorgeously landscaped grounds with stables, a riding oval, a lake, a 300-foot-long reflecting pool lined by the busts of the first twelve Caesars and various other mind-boggling perks of immense wealth.  Oh yes, guests came by private railroad.

What’s sad is that no one can afford to keep up this kind of privileged existence anymore (except maybe the Sultan of Brunei), so the house and grounds have fallen into disrepair.


This is a view of the back of the house with bricked-in windows, plywood patches and sagging gutters.  The gardens are even sadder: none of the fountains work, the cement balustrades and paths are crumbling, and the 500 acres have been eaten away by smaller houses and lots.

However, for the month of May, Blairsden recovers much of its former glory as high-end designers decorate the rooms for the charitable Women’s Association of Morristown Medical Center.

Evidently, this is the first time in decades that the mansion has been open to the public.

Here’s the grand tour, starting with the entrance hall.


Just one of the many stunning bathrooms;  I love the floor SO much.  (The indoor plumbing does not work, but they had the most elegant port-a-potties I’ve ever seen in a trailer outside.)


How about this embossed leather wallcovering (actually original to the house) in the billiards room?  Now that’s rich!


The mantelpiece in this room is also original but all the other flourishes are from the decorator.  I think I could live here.



Loved the whimsical faux painting over the door!


Of course, I was drawn to the horse!


And this is where I want to settle down with a good book.  How gorgeous is that coral accent color?!


Stunning window treatments!


Oh, do let us have some tea, dahling!


The window on the grand staircase.



A nursery fit for a princess! IMG_20140502_122553219


Even the dog has a designer bedroom.  Can you see my Rocky sleeping there?



I want to upholster my couch is the gorgeously textured fabric.



There was elegance outdoors too.  The loggia.


A room with a view!



Betsy, who’s a horticultural expert, says this is called a carpet garden.  I call it “very pretty”.



The panorama.


We heard that Blairsden has a new owner who is already beginning restoration work on the mansion.  What wonderful news!  It would be a terrible shame to see this magnificent building languish into ruin.

The Mansion in May is open for the rest of this month.  If you have a chance and are within traveling distance, it’s well worth a visit.






7 responses to “Blairsden: Grandeur and melancholy side-by-side

  1. Oh, Nancy! What a house? Wow! You go on such exciting trips!
    Thanks for the great tour and pictures ! But, you already knew I would love the pics!

  2. Nancy, I went to the mansion in May years ago and it was a lot of fun strolling through all the rooms. It was a Victorian house. This one looks like it could be the setting for an Agatha Christie mystery! Perhaps one of your Horatio Club billionaires could buy a house like this? 😉

  3. Ellen, you are always so appreciative of my “adventure” blogs. I always think of you as I choose the photos and write the blog.

  4. Roni, I like your idea for one of my billionaires buying and restoring Blairsden! That’s the fun of fiction; I can save it in my imagination, if not in reality.

  5. Thank you for the lovely tour of Blairsden. I was actually there yesterday! I am still going through my 650 pictures and narrowing it down (to maybe 10?) for a blog post. Stunning home. I am glad I visited.

    • It’s hard to choose the best pix, isn’t it? I didn’t take QUITE as many as you did, thank goodness! LOL! Let me know when your blog goes up so I can take a look at your photos.

  6. This house begs for a story to bring out its grandeur and restore its worth. I would love to spend a night there.

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