Sunday, June 28, 2009
Yaddo Mansion in Saratoga Springs NY
Just returned from a week in Saratoga Springs NY and a fabulous visit and cocktail party at the mansion called Yaddo. The mansion itself and the gorgeous gardens surrounding it are a fixture in Saratoga Springs and has been the site of many fundraising parties and the refuge for artists to create in a supportive environment.
Yadoo was built in 1800's - it was originally a grist mill and was bought by Spencer Trask for his wife Katrina after their first child died and they wanted a respit from the city of New York.
The mansion is very ornate and most of the same furnishings that were in the mansion during the Trask years are still there today.
Here is the Trask family on the porch- the guests at the cocktail party - including us- spent the first hour of the evening out on this porch drinking wine. It was a humid evening and it was much cooler on the porch. This photo was taken when the Trask children were still alive. All 4 of the Trask children died before their parents. The first one died at 5 years old in Brooklyn, NY. The next two tragically died after their parents ,listening to bad advice from the doctor, visited their mother who was suffering from diptheria. The two children contracted the disease and later died. Katrina Trask recovered. The 4th Trask child died at 3 days old.
This is the grand staircase in the mansion. Author and script writer Matt Witten heading up the stairs at the end of the evening. Witten did a great job of introducing the audience to his new "5 minute mysteries" that will be available on the internet. Witten, formerly a Saratoga Springs resident and mystery novel author was the guest speaker for the fundraiser that evening.
This 1940's postcard showed the mansion during that era. The Trasks created the foundation to enable creative people - authors, artists, composers to come to Yaddo and stay for a period of time in order to work on projects. It is said that Edgar Allen Poe wrote a section of "The Raven" here at Yaddo.
Here you see, beneath grand portraits of Katrina and Spencer Trask, some very lovely guests at the cocktail party. Anne O'Toole and Mary Flaherty were enjoying the ambiance and delicious food from local restaurants.
At the entrance to the mansion - there are 2 sleighs which are adorned with painted scenes. The marble font behind the sleigh is also a Trask piece.
As you walk into the mansion from the covered porte-cochere this marble reflecting pool is immediately inside the entrance.
The fireplace mosaic in the main drawing room is directly related to the fact that the mansion itself was burned to the ground in a fire in 1891. The Trasks spent less than 2 years reconstructing the entire mansion and the Tiffany mosaic says "unconquered by flame, Yaddo is reborn for peace"
On the grand staircase wall a large portrait of Spencer Trask hangs.
Another earlier postcard shows the lavish gardens that still remain today.
Here Spencer Trask is shown - a great philanthropist he always included artists and creative people as his guests at Yaddo. On New Year's eve 1909 Spencer was called back to New York for work and as he road in his private rail car another train ran a red light and careened into the speeding train. Trask was the only fatality.
Katrina ended up marrying George Foster Peabody - a mutual friend of both the Trasks. Together they continued their support of the artists who visited Yaddo. A philanthropic foundation was formed to create a sanctuary where artists could stay and create. Truman Capote, John Cheever, Aaron Copeland, Edgar Allen Poe, Sylvia Plath and Langston Hughes are just a few of the famous people who have spent time at Yaddo.
It is said that Katrina and Spencer Trask's daughter created the name 'Yaddo" she thought it was the opposite of shadow- or she couldn't say shadow- With all the terrible trials of the Trask family, it is understandable that they would try to rid their home of shadows- Yaddo needed to be a positive place. And now it is that place.