If you’re the National Park Service observing an important anniversary, it’s all well and good to spruce up some trails and a nature center for the hikers that come along. But when your “property" includes a Vanderbilt mansion, the celebration needs to be a bit more glamorous, don’t you think?
Bravo , then, to the National Park Service
, for allowing the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt Historical Association
(RVHA), which supports the property, to plan a fundraising party in a style Frederick and Louise might have appreciated. On Friday, Dec. 11, the Vanderbilt Mansion
(full title calls it “National Historic Site") in Hyde Park, New York, opens its doors for its 75th Diamond Anniversary Champagne Reception. Guests will be handed their first sip of Champagne as they mingle in Mrs. Vanderbilt’s guest house (now the Visitors Center), then will move into the estate’s main hall, which will be all a-sparkle with “diamond" Christmas trees and other extravagant decorations. There will be more Champagne and hors d’oeuvres, and a pianist and harpist adding echoing melodies throughout the two-story room.
This is a party, not a mansion tour, but guests will get to peek into parts of the house off limits to daily visitors: the Vanderbilts’ closets.
“We’re opening some areas that have never been opened before," says Allan Dailey, Supervisory park manager. “Guests can go into closets (rooms, really) where Mrs. Vanderbilt’s ballgowns and Mr. Vanderibilt’s formal wear were organized. It’s interesting to see how much it took to get people dressed in those days."
Though the gowns are no longer there, some of the couple’s grooming accessories and other items will be on display — the lady’s original hair set with mirrors, combs and brushes, a traveling tea set, the mister’s cigar pincers and scissors. And his guitar pick — gold, of course. Tiffany and Cartier figure highly in these effects.
Just how did this diamond-themed soiree get past the Park Service brass?
“We’ve never done this kind of thing before," Dailey admits. “But we were talking with the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt Historical Association’s executive director of the board (Kathi Behnke) and president (Teresa Gasparini) about doing something special. We began to channel the Vanderbilts and their parties, and a Champagne reception felt like something they might do."
It’s not a black tie event, but guests are encouraged to dress in the spirit of a faux-diamond studded evening. One of the oldest properties in the entire National Park system, the mansion is part of Historic Hyde Park
and toasting it will help the nonprofit RVHA support the National Park Service’s preservation and programming. At the end of the evening, you’ll walk away with a pretty swanky gift bag, too.
Diamond Anniversary Champagne Reception at the Vanderbilt Mansion
Friday, Dec. 11, 6-9 p.m.
$75 (must be 21 to attend)
119 Vanderbilt Park Road
Hyde Park, NY
Reserve your tickets here.