FLORHAM: AN AMERICAN TREASURE

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"What impressed me most when I went to Florham was a pair of marble lions on either side of the front door, and the front door itself. It must have been at least eleven feet high and six inches thick, made of mahogany with a shine you could see your face in. As you drove up the door would slowly open, like the lowering of a drawbridge to a medieval castle.'" [Shirley Burden, the Twombly's grandson]
Florham: An American Treasure

Photo of Florham's entrance courtesy of Fairleigh Dickinson University Digital Archives.

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I became fascinated with Florham while researching and writing my book Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt.

 

The 800-acre Gilded Age estate was the New Jersey country home of Hamilton Twombly and his wife Florence Vanderbilt Twombly, daughter of William Henry Vanderbilt and granddaughter of the Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt.

 

The Florham mansion, designed by the famous architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White, was one of the largest private homes ever built in America with 110 rooms. The landscaping was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, co-designer of New York City's Central Park.

 

In 1958, Fairleigh Dickinson University purchased the mansion with 178 acres of gardens, and the property is now known as the Florham Campus.

 

Since its formation in 1990, Friends of Florham has served its mission assisting in the preservation of the historic elements of the Florham campus with a variety of restoration and preservation projects. 

 

This pictorial history of Florham, written by Carol Bere, Samuel Convissor, Walter Cummins, Mark Hillringhouse, and myself and published by Friends of Florham, is illustrated with vintage photos as well as beautiful new photos taken especially for the book.

 

It includes historical details about the Vanderbilt and Twombly families, a typical weekend as a guest of Florence Vanderbilt Twombly, other Morris County mansions and estates, and the unique survival of Florham when most of its neighbors have disappeared.

CONTENTS

 

Discovering Florham

Florham Chronology

The Vanderbilt Mansions

Florham’s Morris County Location

The Creation of Florham

The Creators of Florham

The Landscape of Florham

The Vanderbilts and the Twomblys

Mansion Great Hall

Mansion Fireplaces

Memories of Florham by the Burden Grandsons

Entertaining and Dining at Florham

Chef Joseph Donon and His Staff

The Florham Farm

The Orangerie and Greenhouses

Ruth Twombly’s Playhouse

Florham at Nightfall

The Florham Auction, June 1955

Florham in the White House

Florham as a University Campus

Lost Morris County Mansions

The Friends of Florham

Florham Transformed

For more information about the estate, please visit the Friends of Florham website.

A Slant of Wind
Best-Kept Boy in the World
Changing Law
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Fortune's Children
Gardening in Eden
Golden Days
The Making of a Bestseller
Olmsted's Genius
The Richest and Most Famous Private Chef
The Soul of a House
Treasure Wreck
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