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.
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”.
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.