Written by Jack Williams Friday, 31 December 2010 00:00
Twenty years in the making and just published by Alfred A. Knopf, the book tells a fascinating tale of the legendary architectural firm that flourished at the turn of the last century. The scrupulously indexed 581-page history goes well beyond the firm’s celebrated turn of the century achievement on Long Island and in New York. It delves deeply into the storied lives of the architects and their circle of wealthy clients.
Triumvirate, a portrait of America’s Gilded Age, is not just about architecture, but also scandal and class. The firm’s clients were the movers and shakers of the day: bankers, railroad and steel barons, merchants and heiresses. They lived the life of luxury amid the industrialization of America as it became a world power and the societal changes that went with it.
Professor Broderick, by combing through diaries, letters and even receipt books, brings to life the odd pairing of McKim and White; on the one hand, Charles McKim, reflective and often deeply depressed, and on the other Stanford White, flamboyant and given to wild overspending and bizarre sexual behavior that led to his murder in one of the most lurid sex scandals of his day.
In telling the epic tale that underlies their celebrated architectural achievements, Professor Broderick includes 165 pictures of some of the most unique buildings in American architectural history that include Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.
McKim was deeply involved on Long Island. A number of his works are still standing. They include the Alden Derby house on Fort Hill, Lloyds Neck, its original shingle construction now sheathed in brick. The stable still exists at the Tuckerman house in Cove Neck. Further east, the shingled clubhouse for the famed Shinnecock Hills Golf Course remains intact and in use.
Professor Broderick (Mosette Glaser), was born and raised on Centre Island, where she and her husband Herb, also a professor, maintain the family home. She attended East woods School ’60.
She is director of the Urban Design and Architectural Studies Program at NYU, where she teaches urban and architectural history. She recently received the Distinguished Teaching Award for the College and Grad School of Arts & Science honoring her achievements at NYU.
She has lectured widely about the subject of her book including at the Metropolitan Museum, the N.Y. Historical Society, The Cooper-Hewitt and the National Academy of Design. An earlier book catalogued the history of the Village Houses in New York.
The Roslyn Landmark Society will feature Centre Island author Mosette Broderick at their Wednesday, Jan. 26 meeting. Ms. Broderick will be speaking about her new book Triumvirate which portrays the architecture of McKim, Mead, and White and gives special insight into the contribution of Charles McKim to the firm. For information about the lecture, please call 625-4363 or visit our website at www.roslynlandmarks.org.
Ms. Broderick is well known locally. Caroline DuBois of Oyster Bay Cove told the news of the launch of the book. She said on Saturday Oct. 30, The New York Times has an article about a book by Mosette Glaser Broderick on the Architecture of Charles McKim, William Mead and Sanford White, who did the Morgan Library that has just been renovated. Her story is in City-Scapes written by Christopher Grey in the Oct. 31 issue.
“She is a wonderful person. I went to East Woods with her. She lives on Centre Island.”
Joan Williams said, “It’s a very academic work but makes the buildings come alive as she talks about the people who lived in them and designed them and the buildings are around here still to see.
While it is about New York, the houses are here. Sadly, some of them have been covered over and knocked down but some are still there in the Hamptons.
“It’s a delightful read,” she said.
Ms. Broderick is getting a great deal of deserved media attention. She was interviewed on the Leonard Lopate Show on NPR Radio on Dec. 14. It is available on a podcast on the Internet.
Review Note: This report on the book was written by Jack Williams, a Centre Island neighbor of Professor Broderick. It is based on interviews with Professor Broderick, other reviews and a perusal of the fact-filled book that takes us behind the scenes into the principals’ turbulent lives.
Triumvirate, published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, lists for $40, but is discounted through Amazon for $27.