This follow up photo-heavy post to Marbled Love focuses on interiors by New York design firm Pottier & Stymus who designed and executed the interiors of Whitehall. They decorated the interiors of the house with period rooms in styles such as Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI, the Italian Renaissance, and Francis I. Since this is part of my inspirational file, I have included detailed images.
Auguste Pottier (1823-1896) was born in Coulommiers, north central France. He apprenticed with a wood sculptor in Paris before immigrating to the United States in 1847. His first stint was with E. W. Hutchings and Son. In 1851, he formed a short-lived partnership with Gustave Herter (1830-1898) as Herter, Pottier and Company. In 1856 he became general foreman at Rochefort and Skarren, cabinetmakers in New York City, where he probably met William P. Stymus, who was the upholstery foreman. After Rochefort's death in 1859, Pottier & Stymus formed a partnership and took over the firm. Their new venture began on May 1st of that year with a workshop at 115 Wooster Street and their salesroom at 623 Broadway. They became one of the premier American cabinetmaking firms of the late 19th century. In 1875, it made more than $1.1 million and had 750 employees. The firm produced interiors for private and commercial clients both here and abroad, but since only a few objects are clearly marked, identifying its furniture is difficult.
In February 1888, Pottier & Stymus Manufacturing Company liquidated and was succeeded by Pottier and Stymus Company, a cooperative. The president was Adrian Pottier, Auguste's nephew; Auguste Pottier was vice president; and the treasurer was Frank Pentz. William P. Stymus Sr. and Jr. and seven other men employed by the previous firm were also named as members of the firm. Unfortunately, a fire razed the factory on Lexington Ave. to the ground on March 1st. The Daily Graphic provided a detailed drawing of the disaster and announced that "a pile of rains now covers the ground where the great buildings stood." Although the factory was rebuilt on the same location, most of the firm's meticulous records are believed to have been destroyed in the fire.
Designed to entertain guests, the 4,400 SF reception hall
was the grandest of any room in its time.
The green Russian marble table where a 19th c. copy of
Caesar Augustus sits, was made especially by P&S.
*The ceiling depicts the Oracle of Delphi
imparting Apollo's message
of divine inspiration through arts and literature.
Decorated in the Italian Renaissance style,
artisans molded and painted the cast plaster and fabric ceiling
to look like wood beams with leather insets
exhibiting Old World craftsmanship melding
with turn of the century technology.
Music Room doorway (with a view of the Library)
*Where Mrs. Flagler hosted bridge parties,
took afternoon tea,
held meetings of the Fortnightly Club,
a group of women who gathered
for lectures and musicales.
The domed ceiling painting is a copy of Guido Reni's
"Aurora", a renowned masterpiece of the Italian Baroque.
Recessed lighting, an example of Gilded Age technology,
illuminates the work.
It also served as an art gallery.
All chandeliers and sconces original to Whitehall
and many other Gilded Age homes
were made by Edward F. Caldwell & Co.
incorporating Baccarat crystals.
A resident organist was hired each season to play the
1,249-pipe JH & CS Odell Co. organ.
Following dinner, gentlemen retired here for conversation.
A Caen Stone mantel with Swiss-style decoration
is the predominant feature of the room.
In a letter to Stymus dated 1901, he wrote, “I have enlarged the billiard room considerably from the original plans.” In another letter to Stymus, Flagler ordered two spitoons, or cuspidors, for the Billiard Room, one for each of the Offices and one for the Library, commenting, “Mrs. Flagler says she doesn’t want any elsewhere in the house.” Spitoons were a common feature of homes of this period.---archives
The plaster ceiling incorporates panels painted
to look like zebra oak, popular at that time.
Advanced for the period, indirect lighting
is used to light the coffered barrel ceiling.
Above fifteen doors and windows in the Louis XV-style room
are lunette paintings, alternating between
Watteau-style pastoral scenes and
Boucher-style scenes with cupids.
One of its significant events was the Bal Poudré in 1903,
a lavish party given in honor of George Washington's birthday,
where guests danced the Minuet and Virginia Reel.
Twelve original gilt bronze and crystal sconces surround
the room and contain typical fruit shaped crystal drops.
This area was added on when Whitehall
was operated as a hotel in 1925-1959.
The ornate cast plaster ceiling and fireplace mantel
are its prominent features.
Paintings by Martin Johnson Heade,
a famous American landscape and floral painter.
Designed in French Renaissance style, reminiscent of a royal hunting lodge. Rug was specifically woven for the room and recessed into the parquet floor. Ceiling is cast plaster painted to look like wood. Inset into the “wooden” beams are rosettes incorporating romanticized dolphin creatures. The fireplace mantel, incorporates carved culinary references such as shells, crabs, and fruit.
The wall coverings are green silk,
reproduced from original fabric.
Used as a gathering place for after dinner
music and conversation by the female guests,
it is adorned with silk fabric and wood paneling
decorated in the Louis XVI style.
Aluminum leaf highlights the plaster ornaments.
Aluminum was as expensive and precious as gold at this time.
The leaf was coated with shellac to give
it a warmer feel and its gold tint.
Mrs. Flagler used this room as a private sitting room
to entertain bridge parties, practice music,
and maintain private correspondence.
The window afforded Mrs. Flagler a view of Lake Worth.
Perhaps my favorite among all the rooms because its intimate.
I am admiring the valances too.
Yellow Roses Room
Matching wallpaper and fabric was
a turn of the century innovation.
The Marechal Niel rose patterned wallpaper
and fabric were reproduced from a square of
the original paper found behind the mirror.
Mr. and Mrs. Flagler shared the Louis XV style room,
uncommon at the turn-of-the-century.
The plaster surround ornaments above all doors and
windows and frieze work exhibit stunning handiwork.
furnished with the original furniture
*A modern bathroom equipped with some of the most
advanced conveniences of the day:
indoor plumbing, telephone, tub, and shower.
I adore the simplicity of this marble double sink console
and the substance of its metal hardware and fixtures.
Being a shoe fiend, I had to take a photo of Mrs. Flagler's shoes.
Pottier & Stymus named each room based on its primary color or decorating scheme. Each room was restored to its original appearance, with patterned wallpaper and coordinating textiles reproduced using historical documents and photographs. This particular room contains original furniture while others are furnished with period pieces.
*Louis XV Room
Named for the lilac colored flower
featured in the room’s wallpaper
The largest of all guest bedrooms with furniture from
Flagler's home in Satanstoe, Mamaroneck, New York.
Born in 1910, Jean Louise Flagler was the youngest of the three daughters of Henry Harkness Flagler and Annie Lamont Flagler. Henry Harkness Flagler was the only son of Henry Morrison Flagler, founding partner of Standard Oil and Florida developer. She was well known for her love of Scottish terriers and gardens and for founding the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum. She incorporated the Museum in 1959 after learning that Whitehall, the grand Palm Beach mansion built in 1902 by her grandfather, was threatened with demolition. The Museum opened in 1960. She died in 1979 at the age of 68, but her legacy continues through her three sons, 12 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren – and, through the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum she founded. ---
all photos with * are from the Flagler Museum Archives