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ICAA at McEvoy Ranch

ICAA at McEvoy Ranch

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The Northern California chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art recently had the pleasure of spending a glorious summer day at the McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma, CA. We savored a private tour of the sprawling 550 acre ranch owned by the estate of the late Nan Tucker McEvoy. Zoned strictly for agriculture, Nan’s vision in her retirement was inspired by her love of Tuscan olive oil and despite the reported challenges of producing olive oil in Marin County, she planted over 1000 olive seedlings (imported from Tuscany) which have since become a small portion of a now prolific olive oil orchard.

Our first stop was at the Frantoio for an olive oil tasting along with a tour of the agricultural center of the ranch where the harvests are produced by Italian machinery. We then strolled through the olive and grape orchards to the Main House where Nan lived. The house was tastefully filled with everything from chinoiserie treasures and antiques found in a old barn on the property to her fabulous art collection to a chandelier in the main stair made from one of her favorite trees that had been blown down in a storm.

Following beautiful paths and gardens, we then found our way to The Victorian which was an old building on the ranch relocated and rebuilt so Nan could have ‘A fanciful room where the kids can bring their sleeping bags, hang out and watch a movie.’ Also used for entertaining, you’ll see a special edition Elton John red lacquer piano and a cabinet painted by the artist Wayne Thiebaud.

Finally we arrived at the fantasy Chinese Pavilion for a specially prepared lunch accompanied by of course, a refreshing McEvoy ‘Rosebud’ Rosé. Nan, who loved to serve rosé for lunch, wanted a ‘pavilion where we could have a lunch or a party – an olive oil lunch’. Again seeing the influence of chinoiserie, the use of wood planks, rustic metal, and a mosaic stone floor are all indicative of a ranch where a country carpenter would have had such materials easily accessible.

Our day ended on a delicious note at a wine tasting of the wonderful McEvoy (award winning) ‘The Evening Standard’ Pinot Noir and the ‘Red Piano’ proprietary blend. And at the gift shop, splurging on the products of the ranch was simply irresistible.

Lastly, you will see the adorning influence of the ‘Red Throated Blue Tailed Skink’ – also known as a lizard. Once indigenous to the property, Nan’s grandchildren used to have such fun catching and playing with them. Now rare to find in nature, they are preserved throughout as shall we say, the family ‘mascot’.

This eclectic cumulation of buildings and details on the ranch were designed and built over a span of two decades by a collective of architects, decorators, craftspeople and artisans all of whom were led by Nan’s whimsical and adventurous spirit.  Everywhere we turned we were reminded of the serendipity of Nan – truly the ‘best of yesterday and the best of today’. Enjoy the tour!

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Barbara Israel

Barbara Israel

The Four Seasons by Villeroy & Boch, circa 1900

One perfect June summer night, my fellow Bunny Williams colleague Jonathan Preece and I attended garden antiques collector Barbara Israel’s 30th Anniversary Celebration on the grounds of her almost six acre rambling country property.   The evening garden party was as beautiful as can be – the sun beginning to set in the distance over the Hudson River casting sumptuous light upon the gardens and trees, tables with hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and bouquets of country flowers scattered amidst the gardens, with enchanting garden sculptures, benches, urns and antiques everywhere you turned. Barbara even thoughtfully stashed a miniature figurine display of the fairy tale story depicting the festival of the summer solstice at Midsummer’s Eve under a tree, only to be discovered by the wondering guests.

Barbara Israel Garden Antiques is located in Katonah, New York on her home’s property where the by-appointment only ‘showroom’ is literally a strolling tour of the woodland gardens.   Her business started in 1985 as she adventurously purchased an entire lot of 40 garden statuary pieces from the private estate sale of Adele Lovett in Locust Valley, Long Island. Lovett’s husband, the late Robert A. Lovett, was Harry Truman’s Secretary of Defense. With that single purchase, a career was launched! She has since passionately collected 15th through 20th century garden antiques from the United States, Europe and Asia for decades and is truly the leading expert in this unique decorative field.

Also adorning the property is Barbara’s house which is a nineteenth century Hudson Valley clapboard farmhouse wrapped with an inviting porch anchored by floor-to-ceiling double hung windows. The oval drive approaching the house is aptly named the Sugar Maple Circle, lined with magnificent old trees.   Aside from the Formal Garden dating back to the early 20th century, and rumored to have been designed by the famed Olmstad Brothers firm, there is an Allée, a Woodland Retreat, a Rose Garden, a Display Garden and an Orchard. The property has several follies including two playhouses. All in all, it is truly a magical experience to visit Barbara’s much loved home and garden.

Click here for more info

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Rouge

Rouge

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Rouge (Red)

In this month of Valentine’s Day, red is the color we see so much of. ‘Red,’ as the legendary Vogue fashion editor Diana Vreeland once proclaimed, ‘is the great clarifier - bright, cleansing, revealing. It makes all colors beautiful. I can't imagine being bored with it. It would be like becoming tired of the person you love.’ Bill Blass once advised, ‘when in doubt, wear red.’ It has also been said that every room needs a bit of red. This could be a glossy red doors, a pillow or a chair, lampshades, or simply flowers – at the very least, a touch. We love the utterly timeless library for Brooke Astor in which Albert Hadley mastered red lacquer bookcases with brass detailing. Whatever your interpretation of red is, it is surely confident and empowering!

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