Peter's Reflections A monthly column by ICAA President, Peter Lyden
Over the last four weeks, our Summer Studio Driehaus Scholars have learned from some of New York’s greatest treasures, including brilliant visionaries, historic buildings, and priceless museum collections. Last Saturday, all three of these forms of inspiration converged, as our students visited Edgewater with the estate’s private owner, Richard H. Jenrette.
Dick gave an unforgettable master class on classical architecture, the decorative arts, furniture, and landscape design. He shared his passion for reinstating Edgewater to its original prominence, while incorporating a touch of his dignified, individual taste. His approach to caretaking is an exhibition of true historic preservation, continually improving the estate while remaining true to its original character.
Dick emphasized to the group the importance of the collaboration between the architect, interior designer, and landscape gardener in creating a unified result. This idea was solidified by our history lesson on the important alliance between architect A.J. Davis, and A.J. Downing, the “Father of American Landscape Architecture,” as well as Edgewater’s owner at the time, Robert Donaldson. Their partnership produced Edgewater’s brilliant harmony between the interior, the exterior, and the landscape.
Dick shared fascinating stories about his treasured collections and his travels around the world to acquire original furniture pieces and paintings for Edgewater’s interiors. We also learned that he continually adds new pieces and updates his gardens to help Edgewater remain, tastefully, au courant.
The students’ enthusiasm for classical architecture and their genuine appreciation of Dick’s encyclopedic knowledge and tireless efforts to restore Edgewater were infectious. Not only was I deeply inspired by the experience, but Dick was energized like I have never seen him before. I imagine that seeing the interest, passion, and talent of the next generation of classicists was a thrilling experience. It was an unforgettable day for everyone involved, and I feel confident that the impact of Dick’s master class will continue to echo long into the future.