Article and photos by Caroll Bancel
(Reprinted from the Fall 2008 Newsletter)
In the Spotlight:
Caramoor Article and photos by Caroll Bancel (reprinted from the Fall
2008 Newsletter). In each issue of our BRLA newsletter, we try to
“spotlight” an area on our trail system, such as one of the beautiful
horse farms or nature sanctuaries. But did you know the BRLA trails also
cross the grounds of a Mediterranean-style palazzo on 80 acres, complete
with a Spanish Courtyard and formal gardens?
Spanish Courtyard at Caramoor
is Caramoor, the home of our area’s largest and most renowned summer
music festival, The Caramoor International Music Festival.
the BRLA trail at Caramoor will give you only a small glimpse at the
splendor that lies within the gates. Our intrepid group of three
rider/reporters entered the trail on one side of this large estate via
Girdle Ridge Drive.
This is a back driveway on the outskirts of
the main portion of the grounds, where you will see some outbuildings and
storage areas. We crossed a grassy area, because we could see the yellow
and black BRLA trail sign beckoning to us, and then rode into a woodland
trail fringing the property. Soon it was densely forested and sunlight
filtered through the trees, dappling the ferns and wildflowers on either
side of the trail. Stand very still for a moment and you may hear a
distant strain of classical music wafting through the warm summer air;
possibly a violinist, cellist or oboist who readies for his performance
that evening? If you continue through the Caramoor trail you will cross
the main drive and then enter another wooded trail which leads to Barry
Court and the Hook Road area. Nicki Esdorn and Camille Branca enjoy the
beautiful Caramoor trail with Icelandic horses Haukur and Topas.
Nicki Eisdorn & Camille Branca enjoy the beautiful
Caramoor Trail with Icelandic Horses, Haukur & Topas
small taste of Caramoor will no doubt pique your curiosity to view what
lies within the gates of this fairy-tale palazzo. You won’t be
disappointed! Caramoor was the summer home of Lucy Bigelow and Walter
Tower Rosen, patrons of the arts and philanthropists, and this property
is a living monument to their vision and dream. Following their extensive
European travels, they decided to re-create a slice of the culture they
had seen and fallen in love with abroad by bringing art, music,
architecture and magnificent formal gardens to this property in Katonah.
Designed by Walter Rosen himself, with help from architect Christian
Rosborg, the villa was constructed between 1929 and 1939, but appears
much older. Entire rooms were transported piece by piece from palaces and
country homes in Europe. It is now a House Museum, with twenty rooms open
to the public, showcasing the Rosen’s amazing collections. Every year,
the museum introduces a new exhibition; this year it is “A Journey in
Maiolica: Italian Renaissance to American Contemporary”. “I would like
our blood and our lives to be the seed of a beautiful thing that many
people would be happier for.” Lucie Bigelow Rosen
gardens are intended to provide a “jewel-like setting for the musical
events” held there, and they certainly do. You can stroll and picnic
among them, taking in the Renaissance sensibility and amazing diversity.
The original gardens have been restored and expanded. The Butterfly
Garden, based on a design by Brunelleschi, encourages the stages of
butterfly development, and butterflies abound there. A Lion’s Head
fountain splashes merrily, reminding one of the music that flows through
the air at night. The delicate colors of the flowers chosen there
complement the antique tile floor of the Italian Pavilion, the splashing
water and numerous butterflies adding a “sense of motion” to the garden.
There is also a cutting garden that supplies flowers for Caramoors’s
events, an iris and peony garden, and Renaissance Gardens which welcome
visitors with espaliered pear trees, geometrical plantings, a grape
arbor, fountain and benches which provide the perfect vantage point to
drink this all in.
Caramoor CEO, Michael Barrett, graciously
welcomed the BRLA landowners to Caramoor last September for our annual
Landowners’ Party, which was held in the Italian Pavilion. Barrett’s
innovative presence at Caramoor has increased audiences by 15% in the
last five years. Thirty-eight concerts will be held this summer,
including classical music, opera, jazz, Latin and pop. There is something
for everyone, including a children’s program called “Tango for Tots”,
Afternoon Tea, and special events such as “Walter and Lucie Rosen: Their
Life Was An Opera”. Imagine how pleased this romantic couple, who started
all this magic, would be to see how their dream and music play on at
their beloved home today.
BRLA is proud and honored to include
Caramoor as a neighbor and landowner, and encourages all of our members
to visit and re-visit often to appreciate this local treasure and to
support them, knowing that they support us too.