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The House the Rockefellers Built

A Tale of Money, Taste, and Power in Twentieth-Century America

Robert F. Dalzell and Lee Baldwin

Henry Holt and Co.

What it was like to be as rich as Rockefeller: How a house gave shape and meaning to three generations of an iconic American family One hundred years ago America's richest man established a dynastic seat, the granite-clad Kykuit, high above the Hudson River. Though George Vanderbilt's 255-room Biltmore had recently put the American country house on the money map, John D. Rockefeller, who detested ostentation, had something simple in mind--at least until his son John Jr. and his charming wife, Abby, injected a spirit of noblesse oblige into the equation. Built to honor the senior Rockefeller, the house would also become the place above all others that anchored the family's memories. There could never be a better picture of the Rockefellers and their ambitions for the enormous fortune Senior had settled upon them.
The authors take us inside the house and the family to observe a century of building and rebuilding--the ebb and flow of events and family feelings, the architecture and furnishings, the art and the gardens. A complex saga, The House the Rockefellers Built is alive with surprising twists and turns that reveal the tastes of a large family often sharply at odds with one  another about the fortune the house symbolized.

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Introduction
 
Sic Transit . . . December 1991
 
It had always felt like the most private of places. Now after more than eighty years that was about to change, and though arguably the entire family was losing a part of its heritage, it was the youngest among them, the children of "the cousins," who seemed to feel most deeply the need to mark the break. So it was that on a December night in 1991 the fifth generation of the Rockefeller family--counting from John D. Rockefeller Sr. and his wife, Laura Celestia ("Cettie") Spelman Rockefeller, for whom the house had been built--gathered
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Praise for The House the Rockefellers Built

"This is a book about a great house, to be sure, but more about the conversations taking place inside it, which the Dalzell's have recovered with perfect pitch - conversations about what to do with the greatest fortune in American history."--Joseph J. Ellis, author of the upcoming American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic
 
"The creation of a house is not unlike the raising of a child. Lee and Robert Dalzell have brilliantly brought to life the complexities, constraints, and compromises that underlie the drama surrounding the building of Kykuit and have continued the story through the years that followed with equal finesse."--Pauline C Metcalf, author of Ogden Codman and the Decoration of Houses
"This is a book about a great house, to be sure, but more about the conversations taking place inside it, which the Dalzell's have recovered with perfect pitch - conversations about what to do with the greatest fortune in American history."--Joseph J. Ellis, author of the upcoming American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic
 
"The creation of a house is not unlike the raising of a child. Lee and Robert Dalzell have brilliantly brought to life the complexities, constraints, and compromises that underlie the drama surrounding the building of Kykuit and have continued the story through the years that followed with equal finesse."--Pauline C Metcalf, author of Ogden Codman and the Decoration of Houses

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Robert F. Dalzell and Lee Baldwin

  • Robert F. Dalzell is Ephraim Williams Professor of American History at Williams College, and is the author of Enterprising Elite: The Boston Associates and the World They Made and Daniel Webster and the Trial of American Nationalism. Lee Baldwin Dalzell was for many years the head of the Reference Department at the Williams College Library. The two collaborated on George Washington's Mount Vernon: At Home in Revolutionary America.
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The House the Rockefellers Built

A Tale of Money, Taste, and Power in Twentieth-Century America

Robert F. Dalzell and Lee Baldwin

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Henry Holt and Co.

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