Monday, February 25, 2008

Graylyn Estate and Reynolda House

to enlarge any photograph click on it

Originally posted 02/24

Any way, below are some pictures I took of these interesting places. As you can see, we did a bit of exploring on our way home after the Home and Garden show... To learn more about Graylyn (and to see more impressive photographs) go to:

There's a pool-house for you!
Tennis, anyone?

Reynolda House - The restored 1917 mansion of the RJ Reynolds family, it is now a museum of American Art. To learn more go to: We'll come back another day later in the Spring when the gardens are more alive. We've visited the gardens many times since moving here, but I think they are at their best in the spring, summer and fall - and winter too, but only when there is snow on the ground - Of course the man I love thinks gardens are lovely any time of year (not me, I need lots of blooms and leaves on my trees!)...
The Lake House - How I'd love to pick this up and place it on our property. It's the Perfect Folly!
To find out why Lake Katharine disappeared click to enlarge the picture...
The barn. Now part of the Reynolda Shopping Village - The shops here are exquisite!
That's what I call a greenhouse! Now it's an interesting garden and gift shop
Is there anything more fantastically Creepy than an empty indoor swimming pool?
Giant aviaries flank both sides of the back of the pool house - I can only imagine what beautiful birds might have fluttered about in them - The tile work in the pool and around the pool deck is gorgeous and the patina on the deck tiles is priceless!

Looking over this pool house this afternoon I could not help but wonder what splendid shenanigans might have gone on here... But nothing went through my mind like what I found in this snip-it of details contained in Libby Hollman's bio:

Libby Hollman was exceedingly complex; bisexual, she preferred the company of homosexuals - two of the three most significant intimate relationships of her life were with avowed lesbians, the equally fascinating unconventional DuPont heiress Louisa d'Andelot Carpenter Jenny (from 1929) and later, with writer Jane Bowles (from the mid-1940s) - but she periodically sought out men (often sexually conflicted, as in the case her third most important relationship, with actor Montgomery Clift) - invariably far younger than herself - only to summarily cast them aside on the basis of some seemingly insignificant slight. She was a fascinating confluence of allure, talent, and vanity, masked with a droll sarcastic wit capable of rivaling that of society columnist Lucius Beebe, Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker or Noel Coward, all of whom were within her social circle. Although she wasn't conventionally beautiful, audiences were drawn to her by her voice and stunning figure (Libby reputedly invented the strapless evening gown, it becoming one of her trademarks). She could have easily succeeded in Hollywood after the advent of talkies, but was decidedly east coast, sharing her clique's snobbish disdain for film (although many of them would eventually relent and go on to gain immortality in Hollywood) and harboring some inner insecurity over her looks. To a large degree however, Libby thrived on the immediate rewards of a live audience and this was a woman who could wrap them around her little finger with any one of her sexually charged smoky torch songs. One smitten fan was tobacco heir Zachary "Smith" Reynolds, who caught her act on a lark and spent a fortune following her around the world. As the youngest son of tobacco magnate R.J. Reynolds, the 20-year old playboy was the real-life roaring 20s manifestation of a character drawn straight from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. He had a complete disinterest in the family business, an inexhaustible allowance and a volatile temper. Smith, whose one real accomplishment was he learned how to fly, also owned a plane, and he literally stalked Libby with it. He wore the 27-year old singer down, and encouraged by Louisa (herself briefly married) who saw him as a convenient veil of wealth and propriety, she married him in 1931. Their marriage was a clash of wills; Smith wanted her to leave Broadway and they agreed on a 1-year sabbatical at the family's vast North Carolina estate, Reynolda. While Libby, who was born into poverty had always aspired to be wealthy, she quickly grew tired of the kind of idle life expected of her. She invited a stream of her flamboyant theatrical friends to the estate and they clashed headlong with the conservative Reynolds family. There were accusations of lesbianism and hedonism that her in-laws could barely stomach. In 1932, over the family's annual alcohol-fueled July 4th holiday party held at the estate, she told her husband she was pregnant and there was reportedly a tense confrontation - stories differ, but there was a gunshot and Libby and Ab Walker (whispered to be her lover), a close friend of Smith's, were indicted for murder. Fearing scandal over their son's activities, the intensely private Reynolds family pressed the local authorities to drop the charges; the death was ruled a suicide. The scandal stuck to Libby and her career suffered. Her son Christopher (or 'Topper' as she called him) received a large inheritance and Libby received a sizable maintenance agreement that left her independently wealthy the rest of her life. After the Reynolds debacle was legally settled, Libby and her son went to live with Louisa (who herself had adopted a daughter) and the couple lived openly throughout the remainder of the 1930's in what was then called a "Boston Marriage" in local gossip. Their relationship eventually changed, but Louisa would remain a lifelong friend and confidant. Libby also continued to pursue a Broadway career, with ever-diminishing returns. Despite her undeniable talent, she was keenly aware that producers hired her in hopes that her scandalized personal life would increase the box office. One of her most ardent supporters during this period was the unabashedly gay Herald Times columnist Lucius who never missed an opportunity to document her moves within New York's cafe society, always portraying her in the best possible light. His support of her came as a welcome relief during this first dark period of her career, although she certainly didn't need the money.

Libby's second husband, Ralph Holmes, committed suicide in 1945, and her third husband, Louis Schanker, an artist, died of a stroke in 1981, 10 years after Ms. Holman's death, which was ruled a suicide. The most devastating tragedy to befall her was the death of her 17-year-old son Christopher (Topper) Reynolds in August 1950 in a mountain climbing accident on Mt. Whitney in California.

Oh, my!

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