Plainfield Garden Club

2013-05-15 Old Westbury Gardens

Sally Booth sent this email:

Scroll down on this email to find the article about Old Westbury garden. Our club visited there a long time ago and we met Peggy. I think it was she . . . she was a friend of Elisabeth Loiseaux who arranged the trip. We had tea in her real house that was really lovely. She greeted us in riding clothes having just come from a ride.
Is there anyone who remembers that trip?

Well, does anyone remember THIS TRIP??? If so, please write in to

Response Email from Elisabeth May 16, 2013

Correction: yes, I did organize the trip to Old Westbury Garden, but my connection was to Mary Stone Phipps (Mrs. Howard Phipps Jr.) who was a college classmate of my sister-law, Sonia Loizeaux .

By the way, Mary Phipps is being honored at a garden party this weekend at, where else, Old Westbury Garden.


Second Email:

Mary Stone Phipps is retiring as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Old Westbury Gardens . The party is in her honor.


Gardeners' Fair 2013

The Pleasure of your Company is requested at
The 2013 Gardeners' Fair

An Evening Garden Party
Chaired by Lynda Anderson & Julie Rinaldini

To Benefit Old Westbury Gardens
And to Honor

Mary Stone Phipps

Saturday, May 18, 2013
71 Old Westbury Road
Old Westbury, Long Island

6:30 pm Garden Stroll
7:00 pm Cocktails
8:30 pm Dinner and Dancing


From Old Long Island

**Click links to see the Erchless Gardens**

Built for Howard Phipps, the youngest of three sons of Henry Phipps. Designed by Adams & Prentice in 1935 in Old Westbury, this house sits across the road from his big brother Jay's Westbury House (O.W. Gardens). Click HERE to see the gardens of 'Erchless'. Click HERE to see 'Erchless' on google earth.

Mrs. Howard Phipps Jr.

Howard Phipps Jr. (born 1934 ) maried Mary N. Stone in 1959; the following is about this Mrs. Phipps... "Everyone loved Mrs. Howard Phipps, for with all her pedigree of American-grand as you can get, she was a warm and friendly hostess, cheerful, enthusiastic as well as brimming with grace – the best flower in any garden. They came away brimming with nothing but kind words and wonder about not only the garden and the house, but especially the hostess." (The Social Diary, 10/2/03)

From the Gardenista Blog

A Great Gatsby Garden: A Lavish Long Island Estate That Inspired the Movie's Sets

From Michelle Slatalla
There was a girl who grew up in the Phipps mansion on Long Island's Gold Coast and she was named Margaret but she went by Peggie, and she married young and divorced. Her second marriage lasted longer and after her parents died, in the 1950s, she moved with her husband–a French diplomat, of course–into a smaller house on the estate, a comparatively modest white clapboard house called Orchard Hill. Much of the rest of the grounds, including 70 acres of gardens, she decided to open to the public.

Peggie Phipps Boegner created a non-profit conservancy to oversee Old Westbury Gardens and then lived the rest of her life on the grounds, dying at home at age 99. Hers was a life F. Scott Fitzgerald would have recognized. In fact, he may have known her, as he and Zelda lived in nearby Great Neck in the 1920s when Peggie–whose grandfathers had founded, respectively, the United States Steel Corporation and Grace Shipping Line–was growing up.

But back to the gardens. I visited once, many years ago, when Peggie was living in the white clapboard house and had invited local journalists over for a tour. I remember miles and miles of roses, a vast green lawn, 18th-century antiques–and that Peggie served tea white sitting beneath an enormous portrait of her mother.

By the time filmmaker Baz Lurhmann decided to appropriate the grounds and exterior of Westbury House to inspire the exterior sets for Daisy Buchanan's house in his 3-D remake of The Great Gatsby, which opened a few days ago in theaters, Peggie Phipps Boegner had been dead a few years. But the estate's elaborate Italianate walled garden, its trees espaliered into the shapes of candelabras, and its grand allées of linden trees are beautifully preserved. Polo, anyone? Let's take a stroll around the place:

Photographs via Old Westbury Gardens except where noted.

Photograph by Laura via Flickr.

Designed by George A. Crawley, the redbrick mansion has 23 rooms; the Phippses moved in with their children in 1906, the year Peggie was born.

The West Gate and Center Fountain at Old Westbury Gardens.

Photograph by Cmyk Girl via Flickr.

The Thatched Cottage at the Phipps Estate was a gift to Peggie for her sixth birthday in 1912.

The exterior of the Thatched Cottage, which looks more like a place where Nick Carroway might live.

Foxgloves in bloom at Old Westbury Gardens.

Photograph by S.M. Nikfarjam via Flickr.

One of several statuary niches along the South Terrace of Westbury House.

Weeping cherry trees at daybreak.

The Temple of Love, a stone folly at the edge of a langorous pond.

Photograph by Cmyk Girl via Flickr.

Photograph via

Orchard Hill, the 19th-century farmhouse on the estate where Peggie Phipps Boegner lived in later years. After her death, the county purchased the house in 2007 and gave it to Old Westbury Gardens.

Yellow Climbing Roses

Photograph by S.M. Nikfarjam via Flickr.

The view from the mansion's terrace, shrouded in mist.

The view from the mansion's terrace. For another Gatsby-esque Long Island garden, see

Our ties to the Long Island Elite

Many of the famous estates on Long Island were designed by the renown architecture firm McKim, Mead and White.

Mr. Mead's wife was our very own Mrs. Frederick Goodhue (Marie Louise Myers) Mead '15 who gardened on her beautiful Plainfield estate, Sunnyside, on the banks of the Green Brook.

Dune House, East Hampton

Mrs. Frank de Lacey (Carolyn Knowland) Hyde '19

Mill Neck, Long Island

Mrs. James Wilde (Carrie T. Milliken) deGraff '15

Old Westbury, New York "R. P. R. Neilson Estate"

Mrs. Charles Livingston (Elizabeth Kepler) Hyde '17

Nighbrink, 7 Gin Lane, Southampton

Mrs. Charles Livingston (Elizabeth Kepler) Hyde '17

Edith Hyde Colby

Edith HYDE was born on 21 JUN 1876 in Plainfield, Union County, New Jersey. She appeared in the census on 20 APR 1910 in West Orange, Essex County, New Jersey. She appeared in the census on 5 JAN 1920 in West Orange, Essex County, New Jersey. She appeared in the census on 29 APR 1930 in West Orange, Essex County, New Jersey.
Spouse: Everett COLBY. Everett COLBY and Edith HYDE were married about 1903. Children were: Edith Hyde COLBY, Anne Gordon COLBY, Everett COLBY Jr., Charles L. COLBY

Ann Gordon Colby (Mrs. William H. Vanderbilt III)

1908 - 1974
Artist: Ellen Emmet Rand
Date Created: 1939
Owner/Location: Vanderbilt University
Frame Dimensions:
Image Dimensions: 42" x 33"
Materials/Media: oil on canvas
Condition: Excellent

Description: Mrs. Vanderbilt is seated in chair with white coat draped over the back. She is wearing a white evening gown with a gardenia pinned at the bosom.

History of Work: Portrait came to the University in 1982 through the bequest of William Henry Vanderbilt III.
Notes: Ann Gordon Colby was married to William H. Vanderbilt III from 1929 - 1969.

Westhampton Beach, NY: Briarcliff Manor, Briarcliff Lodge, Sunswyck, Delafield Island Association

Mrs. Edward Lucius (Annie Ridley Crane) Finch '21

Maxwell Perkins, F. Scott Fitzgerald's Editor

and relation to PGC Members:

Mrs. Seymour (Esther Moody Barlow) Perkins, Jr. '49
Mrs. George T. Moody '22
Mrs. Carlton M. (June Simms) Barlow '71
Mrs. DeWitt Dukes (Mary Lee Brewer), Jr. Barlow '65
Mrs. Archibald (Frances Perkins) Cox '25 (Maxwell was Frances' brother)
Mrs. Thomas Mills (Anne Perkins Smith) Day '16

Maxwell Perkins

William Maxwell Evarts ("Max") Perkins (September 20, 1884 – June 17, 1947), was the editor for Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. He has been described as the most famous literary editor

Perkins was born on September 20, 1884, in New York City, grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey, attended St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire and then graduated from Harvard College in 1907. Although an economics major in college, Perkins also studied under Charles Townsend Copeland, a famous teacher of literature who helped prepare Perkins for his career.

After working as a reporter for The New York Times, Perkins joined the venerable publishing house of Charles Scribner's Sons in 1910. That same year he married Louise Saunders, also of Plainfield, who would bear him five daughters. At the time he joined it, Scribner's was known for publishing eminently respectable authors such as John Galsworthy, Henry James, and Edith Wharton. However, much as he admired these older giants, Perkins wished to publish younger writers. Unlike most editors, he actively sought out promising new artists and made his first big find in 1919 when he signed F. Scott Fitzgerald. This was no easy task, for no one at Scribner's except Perkins had liked The Romantic Egotist, the working title of Fitzgerald's first novel, and it was rejected. Even so, Perkins worked with Fitzgerald to drastically revise the manuscript and then lobbied it through the house until he wore down his colleagues' resistance.

Its publication as This Side of Paradise (1920) marked the arrival of a new literary generation that would always be associated with Perkins. Fitzgerald's profligacy and alcoholism put great strain on his relationship with Perkins. Nonetheless, Perkins remained his friend as well as his editor to the end of Fitzgerald's short life, advancing him money, making personal loans, and encouraging the unstable writer in every way. Perkins rendered yeoman service as an editor too, particularly in helping Fitzgerald with The Great Gatsby (1925), his masterpiece, which benefited substantially from Perkins' criticism.

It was through Fitzgerald that Perkins met Ernest Hemingway, publishing his first major novel, The Sun Also Rises, in 1926. A daring book for the times, Perkins fought for it over objections to Hemingway's profanity raised by traditionalists in the firm. The commercial success of Hemingway's next novel, A Farewell to Arms (1929), which rose to number one on the best-seller list, put an end to questions about Perkins' editorial judgment.

he greatest professional challenge Perkins ever faced was posed by Thomas Wolfe, whose talent was matched only by his lack of artistic self-discipline. Unlike most writers, who are often blocked, words poured out of Wolfe. A blessing in some ways, this was a curse too, as Wolfe was greatly attached to each sentence he wrote. After a tremendous struggle, Perkins induced Wolfe to cut 90,000 words from his first novel, Look Homeward, Angel (1929). His next, Of Time and the River (1935), was the result of a two-year battle during which Wolfe kept writing more and more pages in the face of an ultimately victorious effort by Perkins to hold the line on size.[1] Grateful to Perkins at first for discovering him and helping him realize his potential, Wolfe later came to resent the popular perception that he owed his success to his editor. Wolfe left Scribner's after numerous fights with Perkins. Despite this, Perkins served as Wolfe's literary executor after his early death in 1938 and was considered by Wolfe to be his closest friend.

Although his reputation as an editor is most closely linked to these three, Perkins worked with many other writers. He was the first to publish J. P. Marquand and Erskine Caldwell. His advice was responsible for the enormous success of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, whose The Yearling (1938) grew out of suggestions made by Perkins. It became a runaway best-seller and won the Pulitzer Prize. Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country (1946) was another highly successful Perkins find. His last discovery was James Jones, who approached Perkins in 1945. Perkins persuaded Jones to abandon the novel he was working on at that time and launched him on what would become From Here to Eternity (1951). By this time, Perkins' health was failing and he did not live to see its success, nor that of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea (1952), which was dedicated to his memory.[2] Perkins died on June 17, 1947 in Stamford, Connecticut.

Perkins was noted for his courtesy and thoughtfulness. He also recognized skilled writing wherever he found it and nursed along writers as few editors did. That Ring Lardner has a reputation today, for example, is because Perkins saw him as more than a syndicated humorist. Perkins believed in Lardner more than the writer did in himself, and despite the failure of several earlier collections he coaxed Lardner into letting him assemble another under the title How To Write Short Stories (1924). The book sold well and, thanks to excellent reviews, established Lardner as a literary figure.

Apart from his roles as coach, friend, and promoter, Perkins was unusual among editors for the close and detailed attention he gave to books, and for what the novelist Vance Bourjaily, another of his discoveries, called his "infallible sense of structure." Although he never pretended to be an artist himself, Perkins could often see where an author ought to go more clearly than the writer did.

Maxwell Perkins was the grandson of U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Attorney General & U.S. Senator William M. Evarts, the great-great-grandson of Declaration of Independence signer Roger Sherman, and the uncle of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. He was also descended from the Puritans John Davenport and Theophilus Eaton.

Perkins' home in Windsor, Vermont, located on 26 Main Street, was purchased from John Skinner in the 1820s for $5,000 by William M. Evarts and passed down to Evarts' daughter, Elizabeth Hoar Evarts Perkins, who in turn left the home to family members, including her son Maxwell. The home stayed in the family until 2005, and was recently restored and reopened as Snapdragon Inn. Snapdragon Inn is open to the public and features the Maxwell Perkins Library, which displays and collects items related to Maxwell Perkins and his extended family. His house in New Canaan, Connecticut, the Maxwell E. Perkins House, is on the National Register of Historic Places. His granddaughter, Ruth King Porter, is a Vermont writer.

Learn more of the literary connections between Perkins, Doubleday and de Graff

Mrs. James Wilde (Carrie T. Milliken) de Graff '15

Frank Nelson Doubleday 1916

Peggie Phipps Boegner

Margaret Phipps Boegner, 99, Who Founded Old Westbury Gardens, Is Dead


Published: September 19, 2006

Margaret Phipps Boegner, who opened her family's vast Long Island estate, Old Westbury Gardens, to the public, died on Saturday at her home in Old Westbury, N.Y. She was 99.

Her death was announced by the gardens, of which she was founder and former chairwoman.

Mrs. Boegner was the granddaughter of Henry Phipps, who in 1861 joined his friend Andrew Carnegie in the steel venture that became a core part of the United States Steel Corporation at its founding in 1901. Mrs. Boegner was the daughter of John S. Phipps and of Margarita Grace Phipps, whose family started the Grace Shipping Line.

In 1905, John and Margarita Phipps built an English Restoration-style manor house on 160 acres along Old Westbury Road in central Nassau County. The area, which had been the site of Quaker farms, was by then dotted by imposing country estates. Seventy acres of the Phipps estate were set aside for precisely sculptured and varied gardens.

Mrs. Boegner's mother died in 1957, and her father died in 1958. A year later, Mrs. Boegner – who by then lived in a somewhat more modest white clapboard home adjacent to the estate – established and became chairwoman of the nonprofit Old Westbury Gardens. Since then, the public has been allowed to roam the gardens and take tours of the manor house, which is furnished with 18th-century antiques.

Circular rose gardens, a rainbow of blossoms surrounding a thatched cottage and an Italianate walled garden with trees trained to grow in the shape of candelabras are found near the main house. There are grand vistas down rows of linden and beech trees. And the far reaches of the estate, with lakes and ponds, evoke 18th-century English landscapes.

Margaret Helen Phipps Boegner, who preferred to be called Peggie, was born on Nov. 17, 1906. A year later, the family moved to Old Westbury. Mrs. Boegner lived in the main house until 1930, when she married J. Gordon Douglas Jr. The marriage ended in divorce in 1947. In 1951, she married Etienne Boegner, a French diplomat. Mr. Boegner died in 1985.

Mrs. Boegner is survived by a daughter, Dita Douglas Naylor-Leyland of Manhattan; a son, J. Gordon Douglas III of Pawling, N.Y.; three grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Leo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan

The Great Gatsby is a 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in the fictional town of West Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922. The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his quixotic passion for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan. Generally considered author Fitzgerald's magnum opus and best-known work, The Great Gatsby explores themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, social upheaval, and excess, creating a portrait of the Jazz Age that has been described as a cautionary tale regarding the American Dream.

Fitzgerald, inspired by the parties he had attended while visiting Long Island's north shore, began planning the novel in 1923 desiring to produce, in his words, "something new – something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned." Progress was slow, however, and Fitzgerald completed his first draft following a move to the French Riviera in 1924. His editor, Maxwell Perkins, felt the book was too vague and convinced the author to revise over the next winter. Fitzgerald was ambivalent about the book's title, at various times wishing to re-title the novel Trimalchio in West Egg.

First published by Scribner's in April 1925, The Great Gatsby received mixed reviews and sold poorly; in its first year, the book only sold 20,000 copies. Fitzgerald died in 1940, believing himself to be a failure and his work forgotten. His work, spearheaded by The Great Gatsby, experienced a revival during World War II, and the novel became a part of high school curriculum in the following decades. The book has remained popular since, leading to numerous stage and film adaptations. The Great Gatsby is widely considered to be a literary classic and a contender for the title "Great American Novel". The book is consistently ranked among the greatest works of American literature and of all-time.

Your Editor just saw Baz Luhrmann's Gatsby

and has a lot to say about it. First off, she was stunned to see the opening scene at "Perkin's Sanitarium" – a direct reference to Maxwell Perkins which is not in the book. A Google search turned up this article and here is the quote:

Inside the Perkins Sanitarium

The biggest character transformation, however, is the one visited on Tobey Maguire's Nick Carraway. In the novel, it's never precisely clear how or why Carraway is telling us all this. And while that's perfectly fine for a book, a film demands greater specificity. If words are going to be said, or displayed on a screen, someone has to be saying them, and that person has to be in some concrete location for some concrete reason.

"We're not going to be able to use much of Fitzgerald's language unless we're actually able to see him writing the book," Luhrmann said he remembered thinking. "Who could he be writing the book with?"

Luhrmann and Pearce toyed with the idea of showing Fitzgerald and his editor, Max Perkins, working together on a manuscript. But they concluded that Perkins would become "too big a character," giving notes and generally interfering, as editors do.

Then they came around to the notion, supported by academic thinking, that Nick is a stand-in for Fitzgerald himself. Both were Ivy League-educated Midwesterners, even if Nick, who turns 30 at the end of the summer of 1922, was a few years older than Fitzgerald.

The notion of Nick as author got a boost when the filmmakers spotted a phrase from Chapter 3 of the novel, where Nick begins a sentence with the words "Reading over what I have written so far … "

"I'd forgotten that," admits Charles Scribner III, the art historian and grandson of Fitzgerald's publisher. "So Nick clearly is writing it out. He's not just a narrator. He's the author."

It was Luhrmann's script assistant, Sam Bromell, who discovered the key to Nick's back story in a draft of Fitzgerald's unfinished novel, "The Last Tycoon." In that early version, the narrator, Cecilia Brady, told her story from inside a sanitarium.

The setting wouldn't have been unfamiliar to Fitzgerald, given Zelda's agonizing struggles with mental illness. "Fitzgerald and Zelda were not strangers to sanitariums," Luhrmann said. "Fitzgerald was not a stranger to being destroyed and decimated by alcoholism."

But the fanatical research team wasn't going to institutionalize Nick Carraway without establishing a historical precedent. Luhrmann located a sanitarium that opened in Topeka, Kansas, in 1925 and met with its former director, Dr. Walter Menninger. Menninger's grandfather and uncle had founded the institution, and Luhrmann asked how patients in those days were treated.

"He said, 'Well, we used to get them to express themselves,'" Luhrmann recalls. "And I'm thinking, Anything else, Walter? I'm thinking, Please say writing. Please say writing!"

As it turned out, "automatic writing" was indeed a favorite technique for encouraging patients to express themselves. And so it was resolved: Baz Luhrmann's Nick Carraway would write the manuscript of "The Great Gatsby" under the supervision of a kindly doctor, based on Walter Menninger, at the Perkins Sanitarium, named for Fitzgerald's famous editor. Luhrmann even shot video of Menninger psychoanalyzing Tobey Maguire, in character as Nick. "That whole thing in the beginning is basically a reproduction of that moment, using an actor instead of Walter," Lurhmann said.

Not everyone in Fitzgerald Land loves the framing device. "That was maybe my least favorite thing," said Bobbie Lanahan, the granddaughter of Fitzgerald and Zelda. "I would have left it open-ended, probably, the way Fitzgerald did."

But Charles Scribner III, who spent part of the 70s correcting the Scribner edition of the novel, considers it "a sheer stroke of brilliance." Luhrmann, he said, "solved the question mark as to 'Why are we hearing this voice?'"

NOTE: The Scribner family is from where else? PLAINFIELD! Undoubtedly the Perkins-deGraff-Scribner families were all connected in town before they moved the business all to New York.

1990-1991 Annual Report

Discovered in Barbara Tracy Sandford's memorabilia was the following report from PGC Visiting Gardens Chair Martie Samek. She reported on the May 1991 trip to Long Island and the club's tea with Mrs. Howard Phipps.