Adventures in the Villa



2022-10-08 Bella Vista, Arkansas

We have a mostly free day today. Time to stay relaxed and to watch some college football!

We walked through the park… There was a craft show/flea market/car show…

There was also great beauty. Lynda gets all excited about “fall colors”. I just see dead leaves…

Mid day we drove the few miles into “downtown” Bella Vista. It is really just a few shopping centers…

But the real reason for the drive was to see the Mildred Cooper Memorial Chapel.

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel is a chapel in Bella Vista, Arkansas, designed by E. Fay Jones and Maurice Jennings and constructed in 1988.  The chapel was commissioned by John A. Cooper, Sr. to honor Mildred Borum Cooper, his late wife.  The chapel was designed to celebrate both God and his creations.

Located on a wooded site along Lake Norwood, the chapel has become a popular tourist destination in Northwest Arkansas. It is also popular as a venue for wedding ceremonies.

Architect Jones apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright, and designed a building with numerous windows open to the landscape.

Jones used 31 tons of steel and 4,460 square feet of glass to create a series of tall, vertical Gothic arches that run the length of the chapel. Though it looks like an open-air structure, the chapel is glass-enclosed and air conditioned.

We managed to sneak in for 5 minutes between weddings… It is a stunning place!

We returned to the Villa to watch some more college football…

This evening we visited “Simple Pleasures”. This is a rural event venue which features lots of old and classic cars and lots of nostalgia…

1958 Cadillac convertible. Perry Mason drives a black one like this in several episodes…

1959 MGA. Note the license plate…

SPEBSQSA is the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America. Their motto, “We sing that they shall speak” denotes their activities in charitably supporting people who cannot speak…

I am very familiar with SPEBSQSA. When I was in college I sang in a Barbershop Quartet. Due to the fact that there were no math majors in our group, we had 12 members…

But I digress…

Here is a 1958 Chevy Impala. My brother had two of these… A black one in high school, then a gold one later on…

We ventured “out back” to another car barn…

My father had a 1941 Buick. Of course, it was not a convertible…

He bought it just before WWII. After the war, with the car shortage, he sold it and used the money to buy a house…

Lynda’s family had a 1959 Chevy like this…

Frank Lloyd Wright loved to drive Lincoln Continentals like this. He always had them custom painted “Cherokee Red”, his favorite color. (If you look at the photos I post of Wright houses you will see this color often. It was often used for the color of the concrete floors…

This is a 1957 Continental, just like David Rockefeller used to drive from New York City to his weekend house in Sleepy Hollow and to his summer home in Maine…

This collector know his continentals…

It is not a Lincoln! Continental was a separate division of Ford and had no connection to the Lincoln division…

After viewing the cars we returned to the main building and had a lovely dinner, followed by some silly games, and ice cream sundaes…

After the event we returned to the villa. We watched more college football.

An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-17 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 22 – Travelling to Yellowstone National Park

So we bid farewell to the Grand Tetons! It was the prettiest park we have seen on this trip. On to Yellowstone!

We left about 8:00 am to avoid traffic in the park. We’ve been told traffic can be terrible in Yellowstone.

The drive was short – only 112 miles. We drove directly through Grand Teton National Park, through the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, and on into Yellowstone National Park…

Yellowstone National Park is located in the in the northwest corner of Wyoming, with some areas extending into Montana and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone was the first national park in the U.S. and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world.  The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful geyser.

We loved the Grand Tetons NP. In comparison, Grand Tetons covers 485 square miles, while Yellowstone covers 3,500 square miles. However, Grand Tetons is much more scenic, while Yellowstone features geothermal natural wonders and much more wildlife…

The views along the road are nice…

We soon stopped to see Old Faithful. First we hassled the very busy and crowded parking area. We only needed to jack-knife the Villa into 6 parking stalls, and we were set!

We entered the Old Faithful Lodge. Interiors were nice…

But the exterior was less than impressive…

We walked out to the viewing area where people were already waiting to see Old Faithful; they will wait another 45 minutes…

We wandered over to the Old Faithful Inn. It is much more impressive…!

The lobby is this giant 3-4 story high space, all done up in National Park architecture…

The dining room is also very grand… Unfortunately, it is closed…

We ignored the sign and walked up the stairs.

Very nice upper level lounge areas…

Near the top is what they call “the Crow’s Nest”. It is a room at the top of these stairs where orchestras would play in the evening. The top is 76′ tall! Unfortunately, in 1959 an earthquake damaged the structural integrity of the Crow’s Nest, so it is no longer habitable.

These writing desks are all over these upper floors… Beautiful!

Unfortunately, there are no dining or lounge areas that are open. Only fast food is available, and only for take-out… Gift shops have such a restricted capacity that there lines hundreds of people long just to get inside. Yellowstone is much more shut down for Covid than Grand Tetons was…

So we moved on to a modern Visitors Center. Again, capacity is restricted… But the views are grand…

We returned to the Old Faithful viewing are. The crowd has tripled…

Old Faithful is a cone geyser. It was named in 1870 during the Washburn–Langford–Doane Expedition and was the first geyser in the park to be named. It is a highly predictable geothermal feature and has erupted every 44 minutes to two hours since 2000.  The geyser and the nearby Old Faithful Inn are part of the Old Faithful Historic District.

So thousands of people are standing around looking at this for the past hour. The next scheduled eruption is due at 11:06 am.

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About ten minutes before the scheduled time the geyser spouts briefly…

Finally, at 11:07 am Old Faithful earns her name…

And it goes on and on…!

Finally the eruptions start to fade…

Eruptions can shoot 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of boiling water to a height of 106 to 185 feet, lasting from 112 to 5 minutes.

We continued to drive north. We found some Bison…

We found some Fumaroles at Roaring Mountain: (Fumaroles are similar to geysers, except that they do not have enough pressure to erupt; they just emit steam…)

We had some fine views

The traffic is bad and the roads are rough, slow, narrow, and curvy…

More green valleys…

We saw this female elk hanging out along the side of the road…

More Pronghorn Antelope… But they are far away…

We continued out of the park and into Gardiner, Montana…

The town of Gardiner is just outside the park; it was the original entrance to the park, and at the time all guests would arrive by train, so there was a large train station here…

Today Gardiner has mostly tour companies, gift shops, lodges, motels, and RV parks. We met with the club for dinner at this recently-constructed dining terrace… (Construction workers were still working when we arrived…)

Airstreamers started arriving (early, as usual)

We enjoyed a very good fried chicken dinner buffet…

After dinner, we returned to the RV park and walked around. We are right next to the Yellowstone River, but only tent sites are adjacent to the river.

The park is dry and dusty, but there is a small grill for dinner and other amenities…

There are extensive hot spring pools…

After checking out the hot spring pools we returned to the Villa. We have an early morning tomorrow.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-05-15 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Springtime in Kentucky; Shaker Village and Danville, KY – Day #21

Today was our last day of sightseeing on the caravan… It’s all over all too soon…!

We drove about one hour northwest to the town of Danville, KY.  It has been around for a while… On December 4, 1787, the Virginia Legislature established Danville as a town in Kentucky County, Virginia.  Danville became a part of the Commonwealth of Kentucky when the county of Kentucky was carved out of western Virginia to became a state in 1792.

The town boasts being the site of the signing of the Kentucky Constitution.  We saw many old buildings located in the central town square…

The original Post Office is the first west of the Alleghenies, opened in 1792.


I found the hewn logs to be unique – I have never seen joints like this before…


There was also a jail and the courthouse… plus a memorial to all the Kentucky Governors…

But the real reason to come here is to learn about the achievements of Dr. Ephraim McDowell…

Ephraim McDowell (November 11, 1771 – June 25, 1830) was an American physician and pioneer surgeon.

McDowell was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, the ninth child of Samuel and Mary McDowell.  His father, Samuel, was appointed land commissioner and moved his family to Danville, Kentucky.  There, he presided over ten conventions that resulted in the drafting of the Kentucky Constitution.

In 1802, Ephraim McDowell married Sarah Shelby, daughter of Isaac Shelby, war hero and twice governor of Kentucky.  They had nine children, but only one son and four daughters survived into adulthood.

On December 13, 1809, McDowell was called to see Jane Todd Crawford in Green County, Kentucky, 60 miles from Danville.  Her physicians thought that Mrs. Crawford was beyond term pregnant.  McDowell diagnosed an ovarian tumor.  Crawford begged him to keep her from a slow and painful death.  He then described her condition and that an operation for cure had never been performed.  He said that the best surgeons in the world thought it impossible.  Crawford said she understood and wanted to proceed.  McDowell told her he would remove the tumor if she would travel to his home in Danville.  She agreed and rode the sixty miles on horseback.

On Christmas morning, 1809, McDowell began his operation.  The surgery was performed without benefit of anesthetic or antisepsis, neither of which was then known to the medical profession.  The tumor McDowell removed weighed 22.5 pounds.  He determined that it would be difficult to remove completely, so he tied a ligature around the fallopian tube near the uterus and cut open the tumor.  He described the tumor as the ovarium and fimbrious part of the fallopian tube very much enlarged.  The whole procedure took 25 minutes.  Crawford made an uncomplicated recovery.  She returned to her home in Green County 25 days after the operation and lived another 32 years (outliving Dr. McDowell…).  This was the first successful removal of an ovarian tumor in the world.

All previous attempts at abdominal exploration before 1809 had resulted in peritonitus and death.  Descriptions of McDowell include phrases like “neat and clean” or “scrupulously clean.”  He was not only neat, but meticulous.  In his report on the operation, he described the removal of blood from the peritoneal cavity and bathing the intestines with warm water.

McDowell did not publish a description of his procedure until 1817, after he had performed two more such operations.  This was widely criticized in the English surgical literature.  There is evidence that he performed at least twelve operations for ovarian pathology.  (None of these patients is alive today…)

So we visited Dr. McDowell’s house and office and pharmacy…

The house is pretty typical for the late 18th and early 19th century, at least for wealthy, well-connected professionals living in a thriving city…


I particularly liked the custom shutter at the attic window…


The Living Room…


The Study and Men’s Lounge…


The Dining Room…


Climbing the stairs…


A unique doorway between bedrooms…


The Pharmacy…


Medical books…


A good supply of leeches is conveniently on hand…


It was an interesting look at the medical profession of 200 years ago…

One hundred years later, in 1910, Abraham Flexner wrote The Flexner Report; it is the most important event in the history of American and Canadian medical education.  It was a commentary on the condition of medical education in the early 1900s and gave rise to modern medical education.

Abraham Flexner was not a doctor but was a secondary school teacher and principal for 19 years in Louisville, Kentucky.  Flexner then took graduate work at Harvard and the University of Berlin and joined the research staff of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  For the Carnegie Foundation, Flexner researched, wrote and in 1910 published a report entitled “Medical Education in the United States and Canada.” It is known today as the Flexner Report.

The Flexner Report triggered much-needed reforms in the standards, organization, and curriculum of North American medical schools.  At the time of the Report, many medical schools were proprietary schools operated more for profit than for education.  Flexner criticized these schools as a loose and lax apprenticeship system that lacked defined standards or goals beyond the generation of financial gain.  In their stead Flexner proposed medical schools in the German tradition of strong biomedical sciences together with hands-on clinical training.  The Flexner Report caused many medical schools to close down and most of the remaining schools were reformed to conform to the Flexnerian model.

How did this reform take place?

Abraham Flexner’s brother, Simon, became the first director of Laboratories at The Rockefeller Institute (now Rockefeller University), in 1901.  The Institute was founded by John D. Rockefeller.  Greatly elevating the prestige of American science and medicine, it was America’s first biomedical institute, like France’s Pasteur Institute (1888) and Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (1891).

As the first director of laboratories, Simon Flexner supervised the development of research capacity at the Institute, whose staff made major discoveries in basic research and medicine.  While a student at Johns Hopkins University, Flexner had studied under the Institute’s first scientific director, William H. Welch, first dean of Hopkins’ medical school and known as the dean of American medicine.

These developments lead John D. Rockefeller and his son, “Junior”, to finance the reform and re-invention of medical schools in America.  Any medical school that agreed to follow the rigorous model set by Johns Hopkins would receive funding from the Rockefellers… We owe this philanthropy for the status of today’s medical schools…

Had enough medical talk?

After Danville we drove a few miles north to The Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill.  It is a beautifully preserved and restored village of over 200 buildings on 3,000 acres.


Of course, we started with lunch…


Our lunch was in the basement of this 200 year old building… Beautiful stonework…


After lunch we took a group photo and were given a tour of the buildings; we heard about the history of Shakers in general, and this property in particular…


Notice the entry doors on these buildings:



There are two entry doors – one for men and one for women.  Inside the entry hall you see two stairways – one for men and one for women.


Shakers were celibate.  Men and women were considered equals and they lived in the same buildings, but on separate sides.  By having wide hallways, and separate doors and stairways, it would eliminate the possibility of inadvertent touching…

Shakers were Christian post-millennialists; they believed that the second coming of Christ had already occurred in the form of their founder, Ann Lee.  Therefore, they were living in the thousand year reign of Christ, and their job was to create heaven here on earth.

At one time, the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill had 500 residents, all living communally, having given over all their worldly assets to the village… There were 15 or so Shaker Villages around the country…

The last Shaker here died in 1922.  I wonder if, in her last years, “Maybe we didn’t get this thing quite right…”

The land had been sold, in exchange for a life estate for the remaining few residents.  Forty years after that last resident died the community bought back the land, and today the village is run as a tourist attraction…

We returned to the Villa, and spent the remainder of the afternoon packing and otherwise preparing for our airline flight to California day after tomorrow…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2017-09-07 Westbound; Stranded, but escaped from, Thunder Bay, Day 7…

We relaxed a bit this morning… We ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant, the Break of Day.  We readied ourselves for a day of the ridiculous and the sublime: we will see House on the Rock and Taliesin.  The House on the Rock is an absurd tourist attraction; Taliesin is the home and studio and school of Frank Lloyd Wright.

The House on the Rock’s “Infinity Room”, as seen from the road:

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The House on the Rock was the first on our schedule.  It was started in 1945 as a house built atop a 70′ x 200′ rock that was 60′ tall, set in the Wisconsin countryside.  The house was the idea of one man, Alex Jordan, who clearly had a mind of his own.  The house contains many extremely awkward spaces, with bad lighting, too low ceilings, and uneven floors and steps.  It is not so much a house as it is a series of spaces left over after he built stone walls, windows, and doors.  Later, Jordan added a Gate House and a Mill House.  Then he added a giant cantilevered “Infinity Room” for no apparent reason.  The Infinity Room spans about 60′ to the adjacent rock, then cantilevers another 140′, all about 250 feet above the forest floor below…   After that things got weird.  Today there is a HUGE metal box of a warehouse that contains acres and acres of crap, plus a few interesting antiques and music machines.  It is an absurd collection of collections that serve no purpose whatsoever.  Spending three hours here was a giant waste of time.

The Infinity Room:

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The “Glass Coffee table” at the end of the Infinity Room:

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The Infinity Room creaks and groans when two – three people walk out there; I would not want to be there with 200 people…

There were a few things that were of moderate interest…

A beautiful pipe organ console:

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A music machine:

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There are several (many?) music machines, some large, like this one, and some smaller. These are mechanical devises that play musical instruments much like a player piano. This one is a complete orchestra.  It is amazing to watch and listen to, but I have to ask, “Why?”

There was even a Rockefeller moment:  In one of the maritime displays there is a note about this whaling ship, the Charles W. Morgan.  As you can see by reading the notes, the whaling industry was put out of business by John D. Rockefeller and the petroleum industry…

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By the time we left the House on the Rock my eyes hurt.  The green countryside of Wisconsin was very soothing.  We found the Wyoming Valley Cultural Center, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as a memorial to his mother:

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We eventually found “downtown” Spring Green and we found a lovely bookstore with its own cafe.  After lunch we walked through the town; note that I am standing in the middle of the street at about 1:00 pm:

2017-09-07 Spring Green

We walked around and found several buildings that had been designed by William Wesley Peters, a Taliesin associate and past student of FLW.  They were very interesting:

St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church:

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Originally a drive-through bank, this is now a private residence:

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2017-09-07 Bank-turned Residence 101

BMO Bank Building:

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Originally a medical office, this is now a private residence:

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Another Taliesin Associate, James Charles Montooth, designed the Spring Green Community Library:

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After this fun walk it was time for the main event; we drove to the Taliesin Visitors Center:

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This building was originally designed by FLW as a restaurant and conference center. Today it is the visitor’s center, but it still includes the restaurant, plus the offices of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which owns the building and Taliesin itself.

Taliesin has quite a storied past.  FLW’s maternal grandparents and many aunts and uncles farmed in this valley near Spring Green; FLW spent most of the summers of his youth here, working along side his cousins on the various farms.  So it was only natural that he kept returning to this area throughout his life.

FLW had a successful and thriving practice in Oak Park, IL, having built over 50 buildings there.  But in 1909 he abandoned his wife and six children and fled with his mistress to Germany.  When he returned two years later he found he was not welcomed back to Oak Park, so he retreated to the family property near Spring Green.  Here FLW designed and built Taliesin I.  The design of the original building was consistent with the design principles of the Prairie School, emulating the flatness of the plains and the natural limestone outcroppings of Wisconsin’s Driftless Area.  The structure included his home, an agricultural wing containing stables, chicken coops, and a pig shelter, plus his architectural studio.

In 1914, while FLW was away, a disgruntled employee set fire to the living quarters and murdered FLW’s mistress, her two children, and three others.  FLW rebuilt the residential wing  and remodeled the other areas.

Taliesin II was used only sparingly by FLW as he worked on projects abroad.  He returned to the house in 1922 following completion of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.  A fire caused by electrical problems destroyed the living quarters again in April, 1925. Taliesin III was constructed by Wright by late 1925.  During the late 1920s and the 1930s FLW turned the agricultural wing into studios, a large drafting room, and dormitories, as he began the Taliesin School of Architecture.

Taliesin III was FLW’s home for the rest of his life, although he began to winter at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona, upon its completion in 1937. Many of Wright’s acclaimed buildings were designed here, including Fallingwater“Jacobs I”  the Johnson Wax Headquarters, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.  Wright was also an avid collector of Asian art and used Taliesin as a storehouse and private museum.

So it is Taliesin III that we tour today.  A shuttle bus takes us from the visitor’s center. We follow roughly the path taken by horse-drawn carriages when the house was first built. We walk through the meadow, past the orchard and the vineyards and arrive at the courtyard surrounded by the residence, the studio, and the former agricultural wing.

As seen from the highway below:

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From the top of the hill, into which the house is nestled:

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The prominent hip-roofed wing seen above was originally the porte cochere in the days of horses and carriages… In Taliesin III the entry was moved to the opposite side of the house to accommodate automobiles, and the porte cochere was enclosed:

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The carports – formerly horse stalls:

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Courtyard and path to the agricultural wings, now used by the school:

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Part of the agricultural wing:

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Conference Room in the Studio:

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Architectural Studio:

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My favorite floor lamp:

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Automobile approach to the house today:

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Approach to the hidden front door:

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Dining Room, with the famous barrel chairs:

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Informal Living Room:

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X-back chair FLW designed for his son, David:

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The “Bird Walk”, added for FLW’s 3rd wife:

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Master Bedroom Suite:

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FLW’s study:

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FLW’s bed, in his study; like many creative geniuses, FLK only slept about 4 hours per night and often worked late and arose early and went back to work again:

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The waterfall at the approach to the house, below the hill; I was here in March about 10 years ago.  Of course, Taliesin was closed for the winter – everyone goes to Scottsdale to Taliesin West in the winter.  It was about 15 degrees, everything was covered with snow, and the lake and the waterfall were frozen solid.  But, back about 15′ from the edge of the waterfall, there was a guy sitting on a chair, on the ice, fishing…

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The property today appears to be in need of major repairs.  However, the design and detailing and thought that FLW put into these rooms and spaces is awe inspiring.  FLW never thought of Taliesin as a permanent structure, but a “sketch” for his ideas.  Keeping the house “pristine” is a monumental task, because it wasn’t built perfectly in the first place.  FLW would get an idea, say, to enclose a covered porch into a sun room, and he would call his students, tell them what he wanted, send a few sketches, and they would build it.  It was not built to museum standards, and will probably always suffer for it.

After the tour we drove to the nearby Lloyd-Jones family chapel and cemetery. The chapel was not designed by FLW, but by his early employer,  Joseph Lyman Silsbee.  FLW was assigned to “supervise” the construction as part of his duties for Silsbee.

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There is a gravestone for FLW and his six children from his first marriage, although none of them is buried here…

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Lloyd Wright, actually Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr. became an architect and was a fine architect in his own “Wright”… (A little architectural humor…)  I met him at his house in 1972 in West Hollywood.  His son, Eric Wright, is also an architect in SoCal; he tends to specialize in historic structures and environmental issues…

John Wright invented Lincoln Logs.  ‘Nuff said…

David was the recipient of FLW’s design of the X-back chair, seen above…

Catherine was the mother of the actress Anne Baxter…

So after a long day we headed back to the Red Barn Lodge for a short rest, then we went into Spring Green again for dinner at Freddy Valentines.

It’s a good thing we opted NOT to go to The Shed: They have live music in their courtyard on Thursdays… but tonight it rained…

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We love to try local foods and wines; we’ve had Maine wine, Nova Scotia wine, Prince Edward Island wine, Niagara Falls wine, and Ontario wine.  But tonight we spotted a California Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley on the menu.  We were in heaven!

And an enjoyable time was had by all.












2017-07-25 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Maine – Scoodic Peninsula and Seal Cove Auto Museum;

Our adventure at Acadia continued for another day. This time we headed out to the Scoodic Peninsula.

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This place is on the mainland, across the bay from Mt. Desert Island, to the east.  It is about a one hour drive, because you have to drive way north and east before you can begin the drive down the peninsula.  Much of the peninsula is also part of Acadia NP, but there are other towns – many are working lobster towns.  But it was another beautiful drive, very remote and quiet.  We found many great views and quiet towns and harbors.

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In Winter Harbor we stopped in at their Farmers’ Market and bought blueberry scones for a special breakfast treat (tomorrow):

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There is a sculpture in the bay at Winter Harbor of a stylized whale tail; we saw it at low tide, and later as the tide was coming in:2017-07-25 Scoodic - Winter Harbor Whale Tail Sculpture 01

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We saw Winter Harbor, Prospect Harbor, and Gouldsboro…  And plenty of rocky shoreline:

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When it was time for lunch, we stopped it at Smokey’s BBQ and Lobster. Texas BBQ here in Maine!  But, we are in Maine, so we had fish and chips instead…

2017-07-25 Smokeys BBQ and Lobster

Our afternoon destination was Seal Cove Automobile Museum, back on Mt. Desert Island.  The museum’s collection is the legacy of Richard Paine, a local resident whose passion for cars and their related history led to his buying and selling many collectible cars throughout his life. Upon his death the collection was culled by selling off duplicate cars to create an endowment to keep the cars that tell the story of the beginning of the automobile age.

The collection features some of the earliest automobiles and motorcycles, as well as clothing and accessories, from 1895 through the early 1920s. The cars represent the stories about invention and innovation, art, design, women’s rights, and social and economic changes that came about through the automobile.  Inventors were experimenting with steam, electricity, and gas-powered engines.  There were no standards – anything that might work was tried.

The current exhibit, Auto Wars: Then & Now, explores the debate a century ago over whether or not to allow cars on Mount Desert Island.  The exhibit is presented in a “choose your own adventure” style, allowing YOU to decide whether you would have been for or against cars on the island.  In a nutshell, the wealthy summer residents, who considered their lifestyle to be “rustic”, were opposed to cars on MDI. The locals, who needed the convenience of easy transportation, were in favor. For many years those opposing cars won out, but finally, in 1916, cars were allowed, and this decision forever changed the nature of MDI.

Two cars were of particular interest to me:  A 1934 Ford, with a body custom made in Germany, and custom fitted to a 1934 Ford chassis. It was the design of Edsel Ford, and it was his personal car at his summer cottage on the island.  It became a prototype for the Continental which was released shortly thereafter.

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Also, while not an old or rare car, I liked seeing the 1991 Mercedes SEL; it belonged to Laurance Rockefeller, and it was the car that he kept at his summer cottage year ‘round.

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2017-07-25 Seal Cove Auto Museum 12

If you recall from an earlier blog post, David Rockefeller also had his favorite summer cottage car, a 1956 Continental, which we saw at Kykuit in Pocantico Hill, New York:

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After enjoying the exhibits in the museum we headed back to the Villa. Tonight the caravanners enjoy a BBQ – hamburgers and all the usual sides; we began by finishing off the leftover cheese and wine from Monday’s party… And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2017-07-25 Trenton - BBQ



2017-07-24 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Maine – Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park, Seal Harbor, Northeast Harbor, and Lobster!

Mt. Desert Island is quite a beautiful place, with rocky shores and quiet harbors.

2017-07-24 Acadia NP 01

Like Newport, RI, Mt. Desert Island was a favorite place for the very wealthy to have summer cottages.  However, rather than being sophisticated and elegant, filled with grand, showy homes, like Newport, MDI was known for its quiet, rustic ways.  Homes, while huge, and filled with servants, were simple, wood houses, with fireplaces and always set back into the wilderness.  Some of the houses from the late 19th century survive, but many were torn down by the 1950s because they were obsolete and too rustic for modern living.  The descendants of the original families who had homes here (Fords, Rockefellers, Astors, Vanderbilts) still have homes here, and many come for the summer season; but the houses are not as visible – they are mostly hidden in the woods…

The heart of social life, for those who participated, was (and is) the town of Bar Harbor. Many elegant hotels line the waterfront. Many of the families, though, stayed away from the town – they preferred to be in the woods, and along the sea, living the simple life – swimming, sailing, and taking long carriage rides along the carriage roads (mostly built by John D. Rockefeller). In fact, most of the land making up Acadia National Park was donated by the Rockefeller family.

We had been warned about the terrible traffic both in Bar Harbor, and in Acadia; we also were warned about road construction in the area.  So, armed with good maps we set off at 7:00 am (along with Larry and Kathy Warrren) to get an early start on the day.  We easily found the “good” road, and we easily found parking in Bar Harbor.  We strolled down empty streets; the only people out this early are folks heading for the whale watching boats. We were soon at our destination – Sunrise Café.  We enjoyed a nice quiet breakfast in this tiny place, then we walked along the Shore Path. The path runs right along the water’s edge, and it extends from the edge of town for about 1 ½ miles. We then could walk back along quiet residential streets. It was a great way to start the day.

2017-07-24 Bar Harbor 11

2017-07-24 Bar Harbor 12

Once back to the car we headed up Cadillac Mountain, the tallest “mountain” along the Atlantic coast – about 1,500 feet elevation. (In California we call these “hills”…)  From here you can see all the islands surrounding the main island of Mt. Desert Island.  The views are stunning!


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2017-07-24 Acadia NP 04

2017-07-24 Acadia NP 03


As the park began getting busy we headed to the quieter side of the island, where many of the original wealthy families had their summer cottages.  We stopped in Seal Harbor, a beautiful place, and amazingly quiet.  The town of Seal Harbor consists of a church, an empty store building, a coffee house, and a bookstore.  And, of course, a real estate office.  There are three or four houses along the water’s edge, and many more in the hills.  All the houses are simple, neat, and unassuming.  There is a tiny Yacht Club perched on the side of the hill overlooking the harbor.

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2017-07-24 Seal Harbor 01

2017-07-24 Seal Harbor 02

Someone even built a very nice new vacation house right at the harbor’s edge:

2017-07-24 Seal Harbor 03

The next town is Northeast Harbor, a bustling place, filled with many art galleries. The harbor is much larger, and ferries run regularly between the harbor and two of the larger islands just off shore: Great Cranberry Island and Little Cranberry Island.  Many houses dot the streets of the town and the surrounding hills. People who live in Seal Harbor must come here to shop and eat.

2017-07-24 Bar Harbor 13


By now we were ready for lunch. We had been tipped off to another fabulous lobster pound, Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound. Only it was much more of a restaurant than a lobster shack. They served wine and offered napkins, eating utensils, and tools for eating the lobster.  Lobsters were great, but it was not as much fun as a real lobster pound…

We decided to call it a day and head back to the Villa. Tonight we had GAM #5, and we are hosting.  As we arrived at the RV Park it started to rain.  And it continued to rain.  Cold rain.  Maine rain.  We decided to have our GAM inside The Villa – all 10 of us.  It was cozy. But it was much nicer than sitting in the pavilion out in the cold.  We had great snacks and there was free flowing wine as we got to know another set of new friends. An enjoyable time was had by all…


2017-07-12 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Provincetown

Today is wasn’t raining – yet.  It is a free day, so we can do whatever we want to enjoy Cape Cod. We had seen the normal sights when we were here in 2004 – Martha’s Vineyard, Hyannis, light houses, beaches and sand dunes… We also didn’t want to fight the summertime traffic, so instead, we headed back to Plymouth and caught a fast boat to Provincetown.

2017-07-12 Cape Cod

You can see that it is a quick boat ride, about 1 1/2 hours. To drive, in no traffic (and there is ALWAYS traffic…) is 1 1/2 hours. It was an easy call…

The weather in Plymouth was a little foggy, but nothing to obstruct the views.  The little temple on the shore is the “canopy” over Plymouth Rock:

2017-07-12 Plymouth Rock Temple


In the outer harbor are houses and a lighthouse along a tiny sand spit:

2017-07-12 Plymouth Harbor


The entrance to Provincetown Harbor:

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2017-07-12 Provincetown 01


Looming over the town is this giant tower:

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It is the Pilgrim Monument:

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The Pilgrim Monument was built between 1907 and 1910 to commemorate the first landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims in Provincetown on November 21, 1620. It was dedicated by President Taft.

Yes! The Pilgrims in the Mayflower landed at Provincetown, not Plymouth! It is where the Mayflower Compact was written and signed.  We’ve been lied to all these years! After they landed at Provincetown, and saw that there was no fresh water, and that the sand was no good for farming, they set out in a small boat to explore Cape Cod Bay.  They found Plymouth, with a natural harbor, fresh water in a flowing creek, and land good for farming, at least once you clear away the rocks. Lots of rocks!

It claims to be the tallest all-granite structure in the United States.  The tower is 252 feet, 7.5 inches (77 meters) tall and rises 350 feet above sea level. So, of course, we had to climb the tower. It was raining at the top:

2017-07-12 Provincetown 05

2017-07-12 Provincetown 06

Provincetown prospered as a fishing village and as a whaling center.  Whale oil had always been the principal light source in the United States.  Kerosene was cheaper, but it was smelly and smokey.  John D. Rockefeller (see my earlier posts) hired research chemists from Yale to develop a cleaner burning kerosene. They succeeded.  In the late nineteenth century the whaling industry died as kerosene replaced whale oil as a lighting  source. Another New England industry bites the dust, and John D. Rockefeller gets rich.

(As electric lights became available, kerosene became another dead industry.  Luckily, by that time JDR was refining gasoline for the new-fangled automobiles…)

We spent the day wandering the delightfully crowded and narrow streets, peeking into shops, and enjoying the day. We had a late lunch and followed up with an ice cream cone… The boat ride back to Plymouth was uneventful. I may have dosed off a bit. An enjoyable time was had by all…





2017-07-02 New York, NY; Frank Lloyd Wright, Vincent Van Gogh, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, The High Line, and John Williams Campbell

Before I start today’s post I would remiss if I didn’t wish you all a belated Happy Canada Day with a photo of my favorite Canadamericans:

2017-07-01 McAnoy


Sunday dawned quite nicely, and we drove the 1.9 miles through the park to the local train station. We bought our tickets for a round trip to New York City; it is about a 55 minute ride.  I find it quite amazing that we are less than 1 hour from NYC, yet we are far out into the country. This is the same timing as the train from Irvine to downtown Los Angeles, yet Irvine is not even close to being “in the country”…

The train trip was uneventful. We did notice a lot of barbed wire fences when passing through the city of Ossining. A quick Google search found this:

“Sing Sing Correctional Facility is a maximum security prison operated by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision in the village of Ossining, in the U.S. state of New York. It is located about 30 miles (50 km) north of New York City on the east bank of the Hudson River…

The prison property is bisected by the Metro-North Railroad’s four-track Hudson Line.”

2017-07-02 NYC Train 01

After arriving at Grand Central Terminal, and exiting onto the street, we gawked at the beautiful buildings:


Then we walked to Un Deux Trois Cafe for breakfast. It is a big place, not exactly a mom-and-pop operation, but it is very French, the food was good, and it was a fun time.

2017-07-02 NYC 123 01


As we walked towards MOMA, our main reason for this trip, we passed through Rockefeller Center. I had learned from my reading that it was developed during the Great Depression by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. on land owned by and leased from Columbia University. It was a major effort of “Urban Renewal” in the 1930s; however, Jr. never made any money from the development due to onerous terms imposed by Columbia. Finally, after Jr.’s death in 1960, when the center was falling into disrepair due to lack of capital for improvements, Jr.’s sons were able to renegotiate the deal and gain financial backing for improvements. It is a marvelous complex, the grounds teaming with people on this sunny Sunday morning.  It is no longer owned by the Rockefellers…

Across the street we found St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Being Sunday morning, we stopped in for the 10:15 am services.  In celebration of Independence Day the great organ played “Stars and Stripes Forever”, and our final hymn was “America the Beautiful”…

2017-07-02 NYC St Patrick Cathedral 08

2017-07-02 NYC St Patrick Cathedral 062017-07-02 NYC St Patrick Cathedral 01

2017-07-02 NYC St Patrick Cathedral 04


Then  we were off to MOMA.  The Museum of Modern Art was a true grassroots effort, started by three ladies on their kitchen table, with nothing except a few hundred million dollars of Rockefeller money.  The main driver was Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, wife of Jr. (Jr. himself hated modern art…)  If fact, when MOMA needed land for a sculpture garden, Abby and Jr. donated their 9 story house next door, which was promptly demolished.

We were there for an exhibit of Frank Lloyd Wright drawings and models, in celebration of FLW’s 150th birthday:  Unpacking the Archive

It was a delightful exhibit. FLW used his drawings as working papers, to be scribbled on, torn in half, and reassembled; they were teaching tools, not precious objects d’art. There were models, too: The Price Tower in Bartlesville, OK. (See my blog post onJune 14, 2017), as well as the previously designed skyscraper that FLW designed for NYC, but which was never built.

After the FLW exhibit we took a quick detour upstairs to see Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Wonderful…

So, with the afternoon still free, we headed downtown on the subway to see the 911 Memorial. It was mobbed with tourists, and it was quite hot.

2017-07-02 NYC World Trade Center 02

2017-07-02 NYC 911 Memorial 02

We saw one of the beautiful fountains, then headed back north to experience the High Line.  The High line is a linear park located on an abandoned railroad viaduct, about 1 1/2 miles long, on NYC’s west side. It is a delightful walk, and it was crowded with locals and tourists, alike.  We had lunch in its shadow, which was also nice…

2017-07-02 NYC Lunch 03

2017-07-02 NYC High Line

2017-07-02 NYC Lunch 01

2017-07-02 NYC High Line 01


Then we walked back to Grand Central Terminal and had afternoon drinks in the Campbell Apartment.  For 30 years this space was the private office and apartment of John Campbell, one of the Directors of the Grand Central Railway. After Campbell’s death in 1957 the space was underused, and its glory faded. It was reopened as a bar recently and it was a lot of fun. Drinks and food were good, and it was fun being in this “secret” space.

We caught a return train back to Croton Point, had a short drive back to the Villa; this is what camping is all about for us: cities and country, highways, subways, and railways, beaches, waterfalls, houses, museums, and cathedrals; an enjoyable time was had by all.









2017-07-01 Hudson Valley, NY; the Rockefellers and Kykuit, the Union Church, Marc Chagall, and Henri Matisse;

Before our trip I had read a biography by Ron Chernow: “Titan – The Life of John D. Rockefeller.”  Shortly after, about two months ago, I read “Memoirs“, by David Rockefeller, JDR’s youngest grandson.  The first told the story of how JDR made his money (your opinion may vary…) and built his estate here in the Hudson Valley, and the second told of growing up in his grandfather’s house and eventually turning it into a museum and art gallery for all to enjoy.  Both also contained much information about the life of John D. Rockefeller, Jr (whom I refer to here as Jr.), David’s father. (David died in March, 2017 at the age of 101…)

We set out today to visit Kykuit, home to 4 generations of the Rockefeller family.  It is located a few miles from the Hudson River, east of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, about 25 miles north of New York City.

Kykuit sits amid the vast family estate, known as Pocantico or Pocantico Hills; it occupies an area of  over 3,400 acres. During much of the 20th century, the estate featured a resident workforce of security guards, gardeners and laborers, and had its own farming, cattle and food supplies. It has a nine-hole, reversible golf course, and at one time had seventy-five houses and seventy private roads, most designed by JDR and Jr. A longstanding witticism about the estate quips: ‘It’s what God would have built, if only He had the money’.

(In 1946, the family considered donating a portion of the estate as a home for the newly formed United Nations.  Instead, they bought the 17 acre site in New York City and donated it to the UN…)

When JDR originally bought the estate in the late 1890s, he moved the family into an existing farm house.  He had no need for an elaborate mansion, unlike his wealthy contemporaries like the Vanderbilts, the Astors, or J. P. Morgan.  What he did want, and soon built, was a carriage house and stables for his prized horses, and a golf course for his personal use.

After the original house burned down, JDR wanted to move into another existing modest dwelling on the estate.  Instead, Jr. convinced him that he needed a grand house more befitting his status as the wealthiest man in America.  JDR finally agreed.  A new house was promptly built; it was found to be inadequate and faulty in both design and construction, and a new house was rebuilt in its place.  It was completed in 1913. It has four stories and two basements; however…

Unlike the monumental size and the display of vast wealth seen in other museum-like Gilded Age mansions, Kykuit’s cozy rooms are a reflection of the conservative and family-oriented lifestyle of the Rockefeller family.  The devout John D. Rockefeller’s puritan values dictated that there be no ballroom, no card room, no billiard room, and no place for drinking or other activities deemed to be inappropriate.  The house had only 40 rooms – very modest by the gilded age standards of the day… There are 11 family and guest bedrooms.

In fact, JDR and Jr. spent more money on the grounds then they did on the house; the last resident, Nelson, used the estate as a giant art gallery, displaying his huge collection of modern art.  To preserve the view, JDR moved an entire village, including the train station and miles of tracks, a few thousand yards further away. To keep down the noise of constant service deliveries he built tunnels so that all deliveries and service access to the house were underground.  Jr. and his wife built a “Playhouse” to keep their 6 children occupied.  It is larger than the main house, and includes indoor and outdoor tennis courts, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a bowling alley, billiards, a soda fountain, a theater, and assorted other amenities.  About 86 acres were enclosed into the “Park”, which contained the main house, the Playhouse, a reversible 9 hole golf course, plus many other houses for various other family members over the years. All the rest of the land has always been left open for the public to use. It was all donated to the National Trust in the 1980s, and the house and some of the “Park” is now also open to the public.  (Some portions of the estate are still private, because family members still live in some of the houses…) The majority of the original 3,400 acres are now a New York State Park.

At the time of the donation, except for family events, the 11-bedroom house had been unoccupied since Nelson Rockefeller, a grandson of JDR, died in 1979. The National Trust acquired a quarter interest in the 600-acre Rockefeller property in Pocantico Hills in 1979 under his will. In 1983, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the National Trust determined the boundaries of the new 86-acre Pocantico Historic Area, which includes the property and Nelson Rockefeller’s art collections at Kykuit.

Throughout the house, priceless East Asian pottery that the family avidly collected and cherished anchors each room. The main floors and basement (the latter was turned into a vast art gallery) boast modern art by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol and Henry Moore collected by modern art enthusiast Abby A. Rockefeller Jr.’s wife) and Nelson Rockefeller

Again, interior photographs are not allowed on the tour. The house has only two rooms that visitors would ever see – the office and a small parlor. There is no grand staircase, no Ballroom, no Grand Hall. This house was not designed for ostentation and the display of wealth.  Most of the house was reserved for the family.  Life for the family revolved around a “family” room in the center of the house, which contained a massive pipe organ (removed by Nelson). There is a large dining room for family meals, and a quieter sitting room. The terrace to the west boasts a view over the treetops to the Hudson River. No other buildings are visible between the house and the river.

On the second floor are two complete 3 room master suites; one or the other was occupied by JDR and his wife Cetti, then Jr. and his wife Abby, and finally Nelson and his wife Happy. The other Master suite was used for honored guests.  More family bedrooms are on the third floor and servant bedrooms are on the fourth floor.

Our tour started in the town of Sleepy Hollow at the Visitor Center. We took a shuttle up to the Park, where we drove along the original carriage roads, then up to the entrance court of Kykuit.  The front of the house is relatively narrow, but the view to the East is fabulous.


Entrance – East Facade:

2017-07-01 Kykuit 06


Side facing the lawns and gardens:

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West views towards the Hudson:


The original family swimming pool:

2017-07-01 Kykuit 43


The Teahouse; Nelson had swimming pools built where the sunken lawns were (and are), and he converted the Teahouse into a soda fountain…

2017-07-01 Kykuit 29


While there are obviously many differences between Kykuit and other neo-classic great houses of this era, there is one striking thing that we noted:  These houses were all built about the same time as the Martin House, which we saw in Buffalo. (See my June 28 2017 blog post…)  As these piles of excess were being assembled, Frank Lloyd Wright was rethinking the whole idea of what a house is, and what 20th century architecture is.



2017-07-01 Kykuit 01.jpg


2017-06-28 Martin 05.jpg


As I said above, JDR loved horses and carriage racing. His first act upon buying the estate property was to build a Carriage House.  Today it contains historic carriages and cars owned by the family.  The basement and upper stories have been converted to a conference center for the use of the family’s business and charitable interests.

2017-07-01 Kykuit 67a

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2017-07-01 Kykuit 66

This is David Rockefeller’s Continental.  The joke here is that, as any Continental lover knows, this car is NOT a Lincoln; Continental was a separate division of Ford when this car was built…


After the tour we were shuttled back to Sleepy Hollow; we grabbed a quick lunch in a local pub, then drove to The Union Church of Pocantico Hills.  This tiny country church has a stained glass rose window by Henri Matisse, and 9 stained glass windows by Marc Chagall… After all, when some of your parishioners are the Rockefeller family, things get done.

The church was built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1921, as part of his plans to develop the town of Pocantico Hills, which was below his estate Kykuit.   It is a one story neo-Gothic style building with fieldstone foundation and walls and a slate covered, highly pitched gable roof. In 1930-1931, a parish hall was added to the east end of the church.

Upon the death of Jr.’s wife, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, in 1948, their son Nelson Rockefeller had Henri Matisse design the church’s rose window in honor of her memory shortly before the artist’s own death in 1954.  When Jr. died in 1960, his children, led by their son, David Rockefeller,  had artist Marc Chagall design a Good Samaritan window in his honor.   This commission later expanded to include all eight windows in the nave of the church. They memorialize, among others, Michael Clark Rockefeller, Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, Peggy Rockefeller (Mrs. David Rockefeller), and Mary Rockefeller (Mrs. Laurance Rockefeller). Chagall and members of the Rockefeller family carefully selected the subject matter for the windows from Biblical texts.

David Rockefeller, members of the Rockefeller family, and members of the church commissioned organ-builder Sebastian M. Glück to design and build the Laurance Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Pipe Organ in 2006.  It is used for public recitals as well as for church services.

2017-07-01 Union Church.jpg


We returned to the Villa and had a quiet evening in the Villa.  At least we were quiet. The weather was not.  We were treated to a huge thunderstorm that raged for what seemed like hours.  Thunder and lightning and heavy rain, things all so unfamiliar to us…  We were parked under a large tree, and, being unaccustomed to lightning, we were not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing… However, all ended well and we survived…


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