May 07, 2016
BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Not one of the five senses had been forgotten by co-chairs Laurie Bay and Kay Golitz in organizing the Antiquarian Society’s recent Spring Luncheon. The fragrance of fuchsia roses and sweet peas filled the rooms, and the tables – with their crisp linens, topiaries, and Sevres dinner plates in a variety of pastel shades, festooned with floral prints, and a menu from a British cookbook – were simply dazzling.
With the wow of a lecture by Roger James, director of Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler – guest agreed that they almost felt they had walked into the speaker’s iconic London townhouse offices. “The English Country House Style: An American Invention” attracted almost 200 guests, obviously riveted by the estates and stories of Consuelo Vanderbilt, Nancy Lancaster, Emerald Cunard (who changed her name from Maude), and Chicagoan Mary Curzon. James related:
“In 1917, there were 15 wealthy American heiresses married to members of the English peerage, and 454 married to European aristocrats and royalty. What their homes conveyed was ease and effortlessness, not just the modern conveniences like electricity and indoor plumbing,”
Antiquarian Society President Meredith Moriarty referenced the Queen’s recent birthday and noted in her introduction: “Americans love all things British.” Meredith was sure to give a special thank you to the Antiquarian Society’s Administrator Dawn Yingst, aptly describing her as the woman “who makes all of our events seamless.”
It was a day that was not only seamless, but spectacular. Marcia Hines, Peggy Swift, Betsy Norton, Suzanne Hammond, Mouse Lang, Robin Mumford, Diane Karzas, Kathryn Johnson, Louise Smith, Brian White, Jim Kinney, Susan Higinbotham, Dede Reilly, Karen Howell, Stephanie McKean, Suzanne McCullagh, Jean Perkins, and Emily Dietrick were among the guests awed by a last beautiful surprise. Laurie Bay and Kay Golitz, working with Marc Waters of Bunches, paid tribute to Consuelo Vanderbilt’s Butterfly House in the pleasure gardens of Blenheim Palace. More than 40 butterflies fluttered around a fragrant gardenia bush, sipping sugar water and entrancing guests. It was truly a springtime wonderland.