Wrought Iron Art
Wrought With Care: Vanderbilt’s Gates Restored
Restored and recently reinstalled, magnificent wrought-iron gates mark the northern entry to The Breakers, in Newport, Rhode Island.
By Jill Connors
On a recent Friday evening, as the sun was casting an orange glow over the ocean waters a few feet away, two tradesmen, working from a cherry picker and their Lodi Welding pickup truck, hoisted a large, intricately crafted piece of wrought iron into place. The piece dangled in mid-air, then settled into place. The men sighed, and then one said with a grin, “We’ve been working on these for two years.” And, at last, the splendid gates are back.
Renaissance-meets-Gilded-Age-industrialist grandeur. Wrought-iron scrolls meet beneath a wrought-iron arch whose swirls of urns and acanthus vines reach their zenith in a crested oval containing the initials CV, rendered with calligraphic aplomb.
The northern gates are one of several sets that guard The Breakers, and all had suffered from years of exposure in the marine environment when, in 2009, The Preservation Society of Newport County — owner of The Breakers — enlisted master metal workers from Lodi Welding of Hackettstown, NJ, to repair and restore the gates. Grants from the Alletta Morris McBean Charitable Trust and the Loebs Family Foundation have supported the project.
All gates bear a similar design. The front entry gates along Ochre Point Avenue were restored first, removed in April 2009 and reinstalled in late 2009. Next, the north entry gates along Shepard Avenue were removed in mid-2010, and have just now been reinstalled. Two final sets marking the property’s northeast and southeast corners along the Oceanside path known as Cliff Walk are currently being restored.
Bringing the gates back to their glory was a demanding task. They had to be dismantled and the wrought-iron pieces sandblasted to remove paint and rust, then every piece was repaired, galvanized in liquid zinc, and re-painted.
$14 million! INSIDE Brooklyn’s most expensive home
Sheepshead Bay just got the borough’s top listing for a single-family home, complete with heated sidewalks and an elevator
BY GINA PACE
Hand-carved chandeliers cost as much as $300,000. Three live in the dining room. Decked out with marble, granite, and limestone finishes, the 10,000 square-foot opulent home is in the middle of an affluent and tight-knit Sephardic community. According to brokers, glimpses inside these homes are rare.
As extravagant as any home on Park or Fifth Avenues., the listing at the border of the Gravesend and Sheepshead Bay neighborhoods, has a private elevator and heated sidewalks to help melt the snow.
“It’s like you’re walking into a private palace,” said Ryan Serhant, the property’s listing agent and “Million Dollar Listing New York” star. “There’s nothing like this on the market for sale.”
The entry is a stunner. A huge dome skylight illuminates a multi-level art-nouveau staircase with artisan wrought iron panels. A tile-inlay marble floor finishes the room. Beyond, the kitchen has double appliances and a picture window at the sink. There are five bedrooms — but the master takes the cake, with skylights equipped with motorized shades and French doors leading to a balcony.
Serhant and his team spent three weeks trying to find a price for the home because there is little to compare it to.
“This area trades mostly within its own community which brought the prices to where they are,” Serhant said of the area. One of the top young agents in the city, Serhant gained notoriety from the popularity of his Bravo show, and received the lead on the listing through Facebook.
If the home sells at the listing price, it will set a record for a single-family home in Brooklyn. A Brooklyn Heights mansion once owned by Truman Capote sold last winter for $12.5 million.
A pair of heavy wrought iron gates in the Art Nouveau style, standing 9½ feet tall, were reported stolen in early April in the Clipper Mill area of Baltimore. A $1,000 reward is being offered by their owner.
Sooke’s legendary blacksmith
By Elida Peers
Climbing the steps to Sooke Community Hall’s foyer, you see the remarkable black wrought iron hinges that connect the heavy planked doors to the wall. They are the work of blacksmith Lyall Sheilds. This 1937 view shows the broad shouldered blacksmith with his youngest daughter Elaine at the entrance to his rustic blacksmith shop.
His shop stood at the roadway (now called Belvista) between the harbour and the slough that borders the museum. Until 1940 this was the main Sooke Road route leading west from the river. Later the swamp was dissected by a built up berm roadway that allows a good view of the brilliant yellow skunk cabbages that currently dot the many shades of green wetland vegetation.
The extensive property was held by the Charters family, and their nearby sawmill on the waterfront meant work for the blacksmith. Watching the blacksmith hammering white hot steel to shape it, marveling at the ringing of the hammer on the anvil, eyes alert for flying sparks, were experiences treasured by children walking home from school. Some days it would be a horse standing on three legs while being shod.
One of the inventions fabricated by Lyall was a hand-pedaled tricycle, used to patrol for leaks, which ran atop the 27-mile long flowline that carried water from Sooke Lake to Humpback Reservoir at Goldstream. He also built the salmon barbecuing racks for the first All Sooke Day in 1934.
Early maps show James Sheilds taking up Crown land way up Sooke River in the 1880s. Son William Sheilds who sailed on sealing schooners to the Bering Sea, was also a farmer, raising cattle and sheep in an attractive valley west of Sooke River (later farmed by Rex Kendrew). Hikers venturing up Phillips Road in early days brought back tales of being chased by the Sheilds’ roaming bull.
Another son Ed, also a sealer, married a neighbour girl, Louise Charters, and it was their youngest son Lyall who grew up to become the blacksmith. While good-natured Lyall, his wife Lizzie, son Will and daughters Helen and Elaine joined in the happy celebrations when the hall was opened in 1937, he had little time to enjoy it all. A level crossing accident in 1941 between a truck on Woodlands Road and a coal-fired steam locomotive on the CNR line cut his life short.
Organizers of the 75th anniversary event next Saturday, April 28th at Sooke Community Hall are hoping that Sheilds and Charters family connections will be among the crowds coming together to visit.
By Rebecca Lo
‘You’ll have to speak French in Quebec!” I was warned time and again about the lack of English in the provincial capital of Quebec. But despite my virtually non-existent high school French, I was unflappable. Quebec City has long been regarded as a slice of Europe in North America. While cruising along Boulevard Champlain as follows the sweeping St. Lawrence River, it is easy to see why.
Rugged Canadian Shield cliffs and brightly colored clapboard houses fly past us as we attempt to find our bed and breakfast, Hayden’s Wexford House along Rue Champlain.
A tousled gray-haired man in his 50s, dressed casually in worn jeans and a T-shirt, greets us with a hearty handshake as he opens the door.
“Salut,” says Jacques Brouard, proprietor of the 1832 gray stone house with a pretty garden to the side.
We are shown upstairs to our St. Lawrence River-facing room, one of four in the home. Though small, its sloping ceilings and vintage wallpaper made us immediately feel like we were settled in a quaint cottage.
Any Canadian primary school student can easily rattle off why Quebec City is so important to the country’s history.
The cradle of French Lower Canada, it is the only city north of Mexico that has retained its original fortified walls.
The citadel that encompasses the historic center of old Quebec was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985.
And it was on the Plains of Abraham, today a rolling park enjoyed by picnicking day trippers, where British soldiers defeated the French in 1759, allowing them to eventually take the rest of Canada.
However, Quebec City has famously kept much of the windy paths, stone buildings and old-world charm that makes its historic center the most European-looking town in North America.
To stretch our legs, we walk to nearby Quartier Petit Champlain. North America’s oldest continuously operating commercial area, the fur trading posts dating back to 1608 have yielded to artisan boutiques, bistros with alfresco terraces and street artists who strut their creative stuff during warmer months.
Its red brick buildings, cobblestone streets and wrought-iron balconies are so European that if it weren’t for the ubiquitous Tim Horton’s coffee shop, we would have been fooled.
After a brief wait, we are escorted outside to a glass topped wrought iron table beside a patch of orange tulips and daisies at Le Lapin Saute. We dive into fresh pasta and sandwiches, regretfully declining the restaurant’s namesake dish of rabbit.
Refreshed and ready for adventure, we head to nearby L’ile d’Orleans, about a dozen kilometers east of the city’s limits.
A teardrop-shaped island that serves as a bedroom community for Quebec City, it is a haven for craftsmen and one-of-a-kind businesses that prefer a slower pace of life in a beautiful setting.
We stop at Vignoble Saint-Petronille on L’ile d’Orleans, a family-run boutique winery where grapes for whites, reds, ice and champagne-style wine are harvested from vineyards next to the winery.
Its grounds offer a splendid view of Chute Montmorency, a mighty waterfall nestled in green pines.
At the cellar door offering complimentary tastings, we were introduced to mistrelle, a blend of brandy, sugar and grape juice that tastes like ice wine with a kick. There are also picnic tables for wine fans that must try out their new purchases immediately.
After all that driving around in pastoral splendor, a feast was in order.
We decide upon Restaurant Les Ancetres in Saint-Pierre and were delighted to be treated to a view of the falls by twilight from our table.