Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mr. And Mrs. Hawthorne Visit The Whalehead Club For A Lecture, Culturefication, And Edumacation.

The other day, I was reading an article in one of our local newspapers, The Coastland Times, or as I like to call it, The Coastland Crimes. A gentleman named Gary Baker, a Tiffany glass expert, was scheduled to lecture at the Whalehead Club in Corolla, NC. Mr. Baker (His website is here.) is internationally known for his expertise in the area of glass. He holds a Bachelor's degree with a double major in fine arts and history from William & Mary and a Master's degree from the University of Delaware. At age 22, he began his museum career as the curator of a historic house museum where he had collections of fine and decorative arts and historic materials in his keeping. To quote from the Coastland Times: From 1982 through his retirement in 2007, he held curatorial positions at the Chrysler Museum of Art, in Norfolk, Va., beginning as assistant curator of glass and becoming curator of glass in 1990. Baker installed the Chrysler's glass galleries, planned and implemented the Norfolk History Museum (opened September 2005), and oversaw the Chrysler's restoration of the interior of the circa 1797 Moses Myers House in Norfolk. Now in the private sector, Baker specializes in appraisals of fine art collections. The newspaper article mentioned that following the presentation and lunch, Mr. Baker would be available to help identify pieces of personal glass and silver collections and for attendants to bring along some of their favorite glass and silver treasures for review and discussion. I thought this would be enlightening and fun, so Mr. Hawthorne and I scurried to find some items for presentation.
We were treated to a very informative and interesting slide show and lecture on Louis Comfort Tiffany, the innovative techniques he employed in his artistic glass-making, Tiffany's contribution to the Art Nouveau Movement, and examples of Tiffany's stained glass and blown glass creations. Oh, and that picture up there is actually of Mr. Baker after the slide show. I know it looks like a slide.
After the lecture, we had lunch at the Whalehead Club on the back porch. Nice view looking out over the sound.
Catered by some some forgettable place, we had half a turkey sandwich, with cheese, bacon, and apple slices, (And I noticed some sandwiches had a lot more cheese and bacon than mine did.) a pickle, and a bag of potato chip air. On big fancy china. After we finished lunch, I took a little stroll through the rooms in the Whalehead Club.
Over the fireplace is a painting of the southern exposure of the Whalehead Club.
Across from the fireplace was surveying apparatus. Because of the ropes, I couldn't see what was inside the cabinets.
The dining room.
Complete with duck press.
This is the library. And the piano which Ticky's father played when he sneaked in one night. Ticky has blogged about this on Reinventing A Boomer, but since she DOESN'T DO LABELS AND TAGS for her posts, it may be hard to find. Just go back and find it.
This is the view looking out to the sound from the library.
The library. Piano is to the right. Windows and sound to the left. At this point, one of the volunteers came over and told me that no photos were allowed because of security reasons. So I put my camera away ...
... until I got up to one of the upstairs bedrooms and no one was around.
After lunch, Mr. Baker met with us all upstairs to discuss our personal glass and silver treasures.
Mr. Baker started at the end table. I guess he's saving the best for last, since Mr. Hawthorne's lamp is on the front table along with my glass thingie which actually stumped Mr. Baker.
Here's Mr. Hawthorne's lamp.
Mr. Hawthorne's father bought the lamp in the 1950's for $25.
Here's my little treasure. It has it's own velvet-lined case with the initials "A P" on the outside.
On the inside of the case, It has Maquet 40 Rue de la Paix. And this is the only information I can find on Maquet, but that only involved a cursory Google search.
Now, here it is. Side A. The next pictures are closeups from left to right so you can see the intricate engraving.
Here's Side B. Please check out the videos: Here's my glass "treasure" and the video I shot, and if anyone out there has any idea what this is, please let me know because even the expert didn't know what it was but he seemed to like it. Here's the video about Mr. Hawthorne's lamp. Mr. Hawthorne is still licking his wounds about the fact that his cathedral lamp with Art Nouveau base was considered "middle class" whereas my unexplainable glass piece was considered to be "an object of luxury definitely intended for the upper class client." Whoot!
Here are views from outside the Whalehead Club.
I must say, it was pouring down raining, and I'm walking along, shooting pictures, hiding my camera inside my sweatshirt, and Mr. Hawthorne is following along in his truck. He's such a wussy.
Now, a bit of history about the Whalehead Club: This elegant 21,000 square foot home on the Currituck Sound was built for industrialist Edward Collings Knight and his wife, Marie Louise LeBel, an accomplished hunter, both of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, between 1922-1925 at a cost of $383,000. Knight was an executive with the Pennsylvania Railroad and American Sugar Refinery. His wife, Marie, convinced him to purchase the Lighthouse Club property and construct the most opulent hunt club ever built on the Currituck Sound. Materials used in construction were shipped from Norfolk, Virginia, by barge. They named it Corolla Island. Because most hunt clubs forbade women members, Knight built the house, on the Atlantic flyway, for his wife who enjoyed horseback riding, hunting, and other outdoor activities. Of all the shooting clubs, this "mansion by the sea"/"cottage" is the most unique and exotic. Built in the art nouveau style which was popular at that time, design elements would draw upon nature. This can be seen in details such as flowering wainscoting and sconces (Check out the picture of the dining room walls.) and door handles molded in the shape of ducks' heads, corduroy walls, cork flooring, and rooms carved with water lilies and morning glories with hardware to match the floral motif. Numbered and signed Tiffany lighting fixtures hung in the dining room and greet room. The custom made dining room table and chairs were carved with a waterlily design and the hinges and handles on the doors and windows were molded in the shape of waterlily buds. "Corolla Island" was the first home on the Outer Banks to have a basement, a swimming pool, and an elevator. Mr. Hawthorne tells the story from the Corolla locals: The locals were prepping the house for the Knights and their guests to come down and visit for the season. They received many provisions, one of which was a huge round of blue cheese. The local caretakers explained to the Knights that they threw out the blue cheese since it was bad. It had mold all over it. Throughout the years, the building changed hands numerous times. In 1940, Ray T. Adams, a wealthy meat packer, purchased the property for $25,000. He renamed it Whalehead Club and used it in the winter as a hunting club and during the summer as a retreat, especially for Congressmen and Washington, DC society. During World War II, the property was leased by Mr. Adams to the United States Coast Guard which used it as a recreational and training site. In 1958, it was purchased by George T. McLean & William Witt. In 1959-1962, the club was leased to a private educational foundation and served as a boy's school, The Corolla Academy. It was leased by Atlantic Research Corporation in 1962 to be used as a solid rocket fuel-testing base, to test Poseidon rockets. ARC bought the property in 1964. In 1970, it was sold to J. Kenyon Wilson, Carl White, and Stuart Hume for property development. In 1971, the property was purchased by Whalehead Partners. In the late 1980's it was sold to 111 West Company. By 1992, the property had fallen into a such a neglected state that community leaders and preservationists knew the structure needed to be protected. In 1992, Currituck County purchased the property and adjoining 28 acres of land, and the Whalehead Trust was formed to ensure that this architectural treasure would be restored. The massive restoration project began in the spring of 1999. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Now here's the Currituck Lighthouse.
The Currituck Lighthouse as seen from the Whalehead Club.


Unknown said...

I kept waiting for the guy to pretend to fumble and almost drop it.
Did he give any values for the items people brought in?

Rosie Hawthorne said...

No, xmaskatie, no appraisal values.

One point I thought interesting, was whenever he picked up a new item, he would ask who brought it in, then basically talk to them. When he picked up mine, he didn't ask at all, and proceed to talk to the ladies in the middle, actually going over to them so they could get a closer look. It wasn't until I spoke up about the initials, AP, that he turned his attention towards me.
Bottom line - he didn't have a clue. And no kidding about it being a luxury item. I figured that much out when I couldn't figure out why I would NEED one of these things in the first place.

Rosie: "Gee, Mr. Hawthorne, have you seen my exquisitely engraved glass thingie? I need it now."

Mr. Hawthorne: "Well, no. You'll just have to wait. I'M using it."

Marilyn said...

I googled, but came up empty handed. I love mysteries. The engraver the man mentioned is Baccarat, so that could be a starting point for you.

Kathy said...

I'm sorry it was raining when you went. The day Daddy & I went, it was beautiful, and we were told right off the bat that I couldn't take pictures for my LABEL-LESS & TAG-LESS blog.

Hairball T. Hairball said...

Darn, I was hoping by now one of your readers had posted and told us all about your mysterious glass thingie.