Sunday, July 18, 2010

Astor Courts – a magnificent estate (and possible location of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding)

Rumors are swirling about Chelsea Clinton’s impending nuptials; a recent article in the New York Times intimated that the likely location of the celebration will be at Astor Courts, a 40,000 square foot estate in Rhinebeck, NY. Astor Courts was built for John Jacob Astor IV and completed in 1904 (designed in 1902); the estate is described as Beaux-Arts style, and was designed by American architect Stanford White (1853-1906), who was partner in the firm McKim, Mead, and White.


Although I am not particularly interested in Chelsea Clinton’s wedding (doesn’t every bride deserve a little privacy if she wants it?), I am happy to be introduced to Astor Courts and Stanford White. Astor Courts is a beautiful house, with stunning architectural details. It is also on the market for $12 million (although the NYT article indicates that it was suddenly taken off the market in early July). According to the New York Times, the house was designed to evoke the Grand Trianon at Versailles. (Image source)


On the top: Astor Courts. On the bottom: Grand Trianon.


Astor Courts, after decades of neglect, was thoroughly restored in recent years.


The restored living room, with its herringbone floors and ionic columns, measures 35’ x 60’. The domed skylight is my favorite feature, although I also appreciate that the scale of so many elements in the room match the size of the room: the fireplace is 9’x10’, and the crown molding is 30”. Note the lampshade on the hanging light; it is a copy of the shade that was original to the home. Image source.


The herringbone floors continue in the hall. Image source.


During the recent renovations, the house was brought back more in line with the original plan, but with modern updates such as a new kitchen. This is a pretty solution to the sink on a wall dilemma I discussed in a post earlier this year.


There are some exquisite architectural details in this house, restored after many decades of neglect. Image source.


The home also features an indoor pool with a groin vault ceiling, painted in a serene shade of turquoise, and views out a series of arched windows.


A detail shot of the ceiling and columns in the pool room. Image source.


The house also boasts as an indoor clay tennis court with an industrial style ceiling. I love the fretwork on the railing; this room has a Gothic feel to it.


A New York Times feature from 2008 indicated that when the bathrooms were redone, the fixtures were copied from the original plans. (Image source)


For a time in the 1960s, Astor Courts was used as a nursing home after Brooke Astor donated the house to the Catholic Church.


Stanford White was considered to be the best-known American architect of the late 19th century, although his career and his life were cut short when he was murdered over a love triangle gone wrong.


A Stanford White designed Palazzo in Manhattan.


Washington Square Arch (New York City) is attributed to Stanford White; it was built in 1889 to celebrate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration.


Stanford White designed my favorite house in Newport, Rosecliff. When I first saw an image of Astor Courts, it reminded me of Rosecliff. No surprise, given that Rosecliff was also modeled after Grand Trianon. Rosecliff was completed in 1902, several years before Astor Courts. Image source.


The inspiration: Grand Trianon (source) was constructed in the late 1600s, and designed by architect Jules Hardouin Mansart. Yet another case of Americans being enamored with the French architectural tradition!

I came across several good articles while researching this post:

A Fixer Upper to End Them All, NYT , 11/6/08

Astor Courts, Estate of the Day, Luxist.com 9/27/09

It will be interesting to see whether Chelsea does indeed celebrate her big day here – reported to be the weekend of July 31st. What do you think of the house?

To visit my store, Quatrefoil Design, click here.

To subscribe to my blog by email, click here.

To follow my blog on Facebook, click here.

Beautiful framed intaglios, available here:

Unique architectural renderings, available here:

Whimsical original crab and lobster paintings, as seen in House Beautiful, available here:



  1. Thanks to you TTI for passing on your discovery to us. Single level living at the highest style. It's breathtaking but I don't feel intimidated. It seems so light and airy - must be more than good photography.

  2. It is great fun learning about this fabulous house. New York Social Diary I beleive had a very instructive article on the house and peopel around it you might enjoy. That indoor swimming pool is fabulous the restoration team got the ceiling colour absolutely spot on!

  3. There is always so much inspiration to be found in these old grand estates. I finally have gotten around to posting the second part of my impressions on my recent visits to the Filoli estate here in California--it is the grandest home we have around here and is a constant source of inspiration for me. Thank you for sharing another one of these beautiful old homes!

  4. amazing...I love that turquoise ceiling in the pool paired with the white marble inside of the arches!!

  5. Your right, there are so many examples of American architecture being influenced by French design. I love this home, the moldings, the herringbone floors, the indoor pool, the amazing details!! It's all so stunning, thank you for sharing it with us. I would not be surprised if Chelsea chose this location for her wedding, the grounds look like they would work so well.

  6. Fantastic, thanks for sharing:)
    Especially love the pic of the pool and arched windows. Just new to your blog and loving it.

  7. The house is so grand yet the kitchen seems so down to earth - love it! The herringbone floors are beautiful and would love to play tennis on that court. Thanks for the tour!

  8. Great post, I am a huge fan of Stanford White's work, there are many examples in the New York area. All classical and all well proportioned. My husband had told me about the love triangle story a while back, its a pretty sordid, wild one, for a man who had such classical restraint in his work.

  9. What do I think of the house? AMAZING!

  10. Fabulous venue for a wedding, very classic and wonderfully detailed..

    Art by Karena

  11. Amazing place for a wedding, I can hear the music as I look at these pictures. I especially love that stunning fireplace! Can you imagine all the conversations that have gone on in front of it?

    Ruthie's Renewed Treasures

  12. What a beautiful work of art!
    Thank you for sharing it.


  13. Great post!! Love the history lesson. Mary

  14. Thank you for reminding me how fabulous Standford White was. Always inspirational. Seems like a deal for 12 Mio compared to what this home would cost in San Francisco.

  15. I love the house! It would be an incredible setting for a wedding.


  16. Stunning setting. Beautifully guided tour - thanks! How do I get an invite for the big event? Would I be more interested in the setting or the people there? Hmmmmm...

  17. What a treat! And what a wonderful learning experience! Thank you a million times!
    I think these people took on a daunting task.......and did an exquisite job!

    totally exquisite!

    What a concept a "casino"! Entertaining pavilions.
    It seems like a reasonable price for such an exquisite gem on so many acres.

    My favorite was that they found the iron skylight (which was designed for dancing on the roof) in the woods!

    It was an "archeological expedition" as well as a restoration..

    simply wonderful!

  18. What an incredible history/architectural lesson! Of course, you can't turn on the tv without news of Chelsea's impending nupitals....but I had not yet seen moe than the outside of the Astor house. Thank you for all the research on this one! Well done!!! xo Elizabeth

  19. I had read about this place and heard the possibility of the Clinton wedding being held here. It is an outstanding place and you described so well.
    Just beautiful.

  20. What an amazing house. It is in a favorite area of ours. Wonderful post with all of the history of Standford White.

  21. A fabulous post! I agree with your comments about the domed skylight in the Living Room, it's quite something. When the kids pick my Nursing Home, I'll give them this post to read & insist they use Astor Courts as the baseline!
    Millie ^_^

  22. This post was so interesting and informative. So many things to love about that house...herringbone hardwoods, black & white veranda ( I actually like the likeness best ), then there's that amazing fireplace, and ceiling...stunning.

    Thank you so much for your sweet comments on my blog, I love that my images brought back good memories for you. Thanks also for adding me to your blogroll, I've done the same...so glad I found your blog. Take care, Carrie

  23. Jessica from Port St Lucie, FLApril 6, 2012 at 4:04 AM

    I have found so many interesting a lovely things on your site. I really appreciate the work you have put into making this beautiful, as the pictures are fabulous. I pinned you on my Pinterest page and it will bring you more traffic, I am sure. Keep up the great job!


Thank you for your comments! I strive to make my blog positive in tone, and appreciate the same courtesy when comments are made. Thank you!


Related Posts with Thumbnails