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Fall 2016 Lecture Schedule

The Victorian Society New York sponsors a series of lectures at The English Speaking Union, 144 E. 39th St., between Lexington and Third Avenues in Manhattan. No reservations are required for the free lectures. Attendees are invited to meet the speakers at post-lecture receptions.

Victorian Society New York Free Lecture Series
Lectures are made possible by a generous donation from Lewis I. Haber and dues from Chapter members. Join today!

Thursday, September 8 at 6:30 p.m.

American Queen Anne architecture had nothing to do with the 18th-century British monarch and everything to do with technology, particularly the ability to mass produce elements of buildings and to ship them around the country by railroad. Since the 2006 publication of her book, The Queen Anne House: America’s Victorian Vernacular, Janet W. Foster has continued to research the style. Although maligned by the architectural press, the Queen Anne style achieved immense popularity the United States and was adopted by important builders and designers at a time when architecture was emerging as a profession in this country.

Thursday, October 13 at 6:30 p.m.

Spanning the years after the Civil War through the beginning of the beginning of the 20th century, the Gilded Age was an era of incredible wealth, deep poverty, political corruption, invention, ingenuity and rapid social change. Esther Crain, author of The Gilded Age in New York, 1870-1910 (Black Dog & Leventhal/Hachette Book Group, 2016), will explore what day-to-day life was like for New Yorkers during this period. In doing so, she will draw on material gathered for her website Ephemeral New York. Focusing on some of what remains of the era in the city today—from an uptown mansion to a Lower East Side newsboys lodging house to an electric dress worn to a famous 1883 ball—she will shed light on the Gilded Age in all its glory, vice and excess.

Thursday, November 10 at 6:30 p.m.

The Dakota was the first truly luxury apartment house in New York when it was completed in 1884 at the 72nd Street entrance to Central Park. It went far beyond all prior multi-family buildings in providing grand accommodations and lavish amenities. Andrew Alpern, author of The Dakota: A History of the World's Best-Known Apartment Building (Princeton Architectural Press, 2015) will explain how the building provided a practical way for wealthy New Yorkers to live well without having to shoulder the burdens of maintaining rowhouses.

Thursday, December 15 at 6:30 p.m.

In 1832 Giuseppe Guidicini, a scenic designer with an opera company, immigrated to New York from Italy. Over the next decades he became famous for his decoration of opera houses and theaters throughout the city, but he also created frescoes and trompe l'oeil paintings in private homes. Arlene Palmer Schwind, curator of Victoria Mansion in Portland, ME, will share her discoveries of his theatrical work. She began her research on Guidicini because he was the artist responsible for wall and ceiling paintings in Victoria Mansion, a private home completed in 1860.



September-December 2016 Tours
Explore Victorian architecture in New York and New Jersey

Only current VSNY member receive priority notification by mail for tours. To learn more about becoming a VSNY member or to renew, please click here.

Saturday, September 24, 1 p.m.

A walking tour will introduce us to a Staten Island neighborhood that was settled during the Victorian era. Because of its proximity to the ferry, it became a wealthy suburb of Manhattan and summer colony with "cottages" of 12 to 14 rooms. Architectural styles employed for the single-family detached houses included gothic revival, second empire and Queen Anne. One part of the neighborhood, Hamilton Park, begun in 1853 by Charles Kennedy Hamilton, was developed as a planned community following the romantic precepts of Andrew Jackson Downing. Nearby William S. Pendleton built seven houses, three of which survive. Our tour will take us into one he built for himself in about 1855.

This tour is limited to 20 participants.

Fees: $20 for Victorian Society New York members, $30 for others
Paid reservations must be received by Wednesday, September 21

Saturday, October 22, 9 a.m.

Named for a lookout during the Revolutionary War, Montclair is one of New Jersey's most historic communities. We will visit the Israel Crane house, built by the town's founding father and now home to the city's historical society. Here we will hear a lecture on arts and crafts architect, Dudley Van Antwerp. We will drive by many of the private homes he designed on our way to the Charles Schultz house. Also known as Evergreens, this is an opulent 21-room Gilded Age mansion with original furnishings and architectural detail. After lunch at a restaurant housed in a converted train station, we will conclude our tour at the Montclair Art Museum, seeing a current retrospective of Hudson River School painter George Inness as well as the museum's renowned collection of Native American artifacts.

This bus tour is limited to 47 participants.

Fees: $155 for Victorian Society New York members, $185 for nonmembers
Paid reservations must be received by Wednesday, October 12

Tuesday, November 1, 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Leaders of the American Aesthetic Movement designed magnificent interiors for the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue (built 1877-81).The New York City Landmarks Commission has described them as "the single most important collection of 19th-century interiors to survive intact in one building." After a restoration that cost more than $8-million, one of those interiors, the Veteran's Room, recently reopened to the public. Originally completed in 1881 by Louis C. Tiffany, Associated Artists, it is a fantasia of design from Islamic to Chinese to Persian that was hidden for decades under brown paint and bad repairs. Now its sparkling Tiffany windows, blue glass mosaic tiles, and California redwood ceiling can be appreciated again. Kirsten Moffett Reoch, director of design & construction, will lead us on a private tour of the Veteran's Room as well as the restored Board of Officers Room by Herter Brothers and two Company rooms by Pottier & Stymus.

This tour is limited to 30 participants.
Fees: $25 for Victorian Society New York members, $40 for nonmembers
Paid reservations must be received by Thursday, October 27

McKim, Mead & White for the Holidays
Saturday, December 10, 9:00 a.m.

'Tis the Season to visit the Gilded Age mansions of Ogden and Ruth Livingston Mills (remodeled 1895-1896) and Frederick William and Louise Holmes Anthony Vanderbilt (built 1896–1899). These two Neoclassical Beaux-Arts style country houses in Dutchess County, NY were designed by the preeminent New York firm of the day: McKim, Mead & White. Both the 65-room Mills Mansion in Staatsburg and the 54-room Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park retain their fine interiors and imported furnishings. Period holiday decorations will be in place during out visits. The tour includes a buffet lunch at a nearby restaurant and a farewell eggnog holiday toast on the grounds of the Locust Grove Estate, where we will be able to see an exhibition of toys.

This bus tour is limited to 47 participants.
Fees: $120 for Victorian Society New York members, $150 for nonmembers
Paid reservations must be received by Monday, December 5

Participants in our educational tours must be in excellent health and able to participate safely in the activities involved. If you have any doubt about your ability to participate fully due to health conditions or disabilities, contact Victorian Society New York at or (212) 886-3742. Victorian Society New York reserves the right to decline to accept or refuse to retain any person as a member of our tours at any time

Special Events

Stay tuned for announcements of upcoming Special Events.

Margot Gayle Fund Grant Deadline

Applications for the 2017 The Margot Gayle Fund for the Preservation of Victorian Heritage grants are due Tuesday, February 14, 2017.  Download 2016 Margot Gayle Fund Application PDF




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