Part XI: Transitions, Departures, & Getaways, 1948

Featured image
The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs. April, 1948. Memories of The White as a wartime army hospital quickly faded after decorator Dorothy Draper's makeover introduced a palette of bold colors. At The Greenbrier's exclusive reopening, "Society's 300" danced to the Meyer Davis Orchestra playing "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" accompanied by the Duke of Windsor on drums. The landmark West Virginia resort was reborn, as witnessed in this entertaining Weekend at the Greenbrier -1948 newsreel.

Part XI: Transitions, Departures, & Getaways, 1948
Palm Beach – Gulf Stream – Jamaica – Medway Plantation – Chestnut Hill – The Greenbrier

From the almost 1,000 photographs Ellen Glendinning Frazer took in 1948, I selected less than 100 images from her archive and placed them into a chronological montage.  With the nation preoccupied with A-bomb tests and lookalike subdivisions, the smart set retreated to the incomparable splendors of Palm Beach, the comforts of Newport and the remoteness of Northeast Harbor.  But good fortune didn’t always insure a safeguard from life’s maelstroms.  Would it be the magnificence of Medway Plantation’s otherworldly setting could have alleviated Gertrude Legendre’simmeasurable sense of loss when her husband Sidney died.  Could she ever find another who shared her love of exploration and passion for adventure?  If only the magnitude of wealth could have somehow soothed Felix du Pontafter his son’s tragic accident? Or, lessened his wife’s sorrow when he unexpectedly passed away.  The couple’s unspoken devotion expressed in many of their final photographs.

And so, a look back at Ellen Frazer’s moments and milestones from 1948.

January 1948

Plaza Hotel, New York. Adele Astaire, the former Lady Cavendish then Mrs. Kingman Douglass, picks up the pace and her hem during the New Year’s Eve festivities at The Plaza, dancing with Harry Evans. The following year Adele Astaire was among the top ten best-dressed women of the world.

January-February 1948
Palm Beach

Ellen Glendinning Frazer and her friend Jane Marvel Scott were house guests at Felix and Ann du Pont’s house in Palm Beach. Jane Scott and Ann du Pont were cousins, members of Delaware’s distinguished Marvel family. The family’s patriarch Josiah Marvel was a prominent attorney, a president of the American Bar Association, whose law firm represented many of the du Pont family’s interests.
Alexis Felix du Pont Sr. and Ann Marvel du Pont at Villa Tranquilla.
Villa Tranquilla, El Brillo Way at South Ocean Boulevard, Palm Beach. 1948. Better known today as the “Vera Wang-house,” and currently undergoing a major remodel, Villa Tranquilla was considered among Mizner’s great houses when it was built in 1923.
Alice du Pont Mills (1912-2002). The daughter of Felix du Pont and his first wife Mary Chichester, Alice Mills and her husband James Paul Mills established Hickory Tree Farm in Middleburg as the center for their notable thoroughbred breeding and racing concerns.

Allaire Crozer du Pont and Arthur Shettle. An aviation enthusiast, sportswoman, and philanthropist, Allaire du Pont was the widow of Felix du Pont’s son Richard C. du Pont who died in a glider crash in 1943. She was a champion glider pilot and an Olympic trap shooter. Her Woodstock Farm produced winning thoroughbreds, including Kelso, five-time Horse of the Year. Mr. Shettle was a close Delaware friend and business associate of the du Ponts, accompanying Felix du Pont to the Bahamas on his underwater photography expedition that served as the subject for his 1940 book Under Sea with Helmet and Camera.
Marion Gedney. Miss Gedney was the daughter of lawyer Stanley L. Gedney, in partnership with Jerome Gedney, whose New Jersey firm was once associated with Clarence Geist
Felix du Pont.
Villa Tranquilla’s private pool deck was where Felix and Ann du Pont’s family and friends sunned themselves with army generals, political leaders, and trusted retainers.
Huberta Earle.
Felix and Ann du Pont.

February 1948
Gulf Stream Golf Club

Jane Marvel Scott and Wallace Lanahan on the terrace at the Gulf Stream Golf Club. Jane Scott’s cousin Ann du Pont and her husband Felix rented the Howard Whitney – Talbot Speer house in Gulf Stream before they purchased Villa Tranquilla in Palm Beach.
Clarence “Claire” Clark Prentice. While the Prentices’ Lake Forest house was designed by architect David Adler, their Gulf Stream oceanfront house was the work of Wyeth, King and Johnson.

Pat Prentice.
Amory Sibley “Amo” Carhart. A descendant of a prominent Tuxedo Park-New York family, the landmark Amory Carhart House at 13 East 95th Street is considered among the city’s finest French classical adaptations. During the 1920s “Amo” and Dolly Carhart acquired Ashland Farm in Middleburg. While the Carharts made improvements to the historic picturesque horse farm for several decades, unfortunately since 1997 Ashland Farm has become known as the place where heiress Susan Cummings shot polo player Roberto Villegas.

18 February 1948 – 25 February 1948

“A week at Polly Howe’s house in Jamaica …”

In February Ellen and Jane Scott went to Polly’s house in Montego Bay for a week.
“Polly’s house in Montego Bay …”
Another view of Polly Howe’s house.
The guest house at Polly Howe’s.
The guest house did not overlook the ocean, it appears to be in the ocean.
Polly Brooks Howe. Montego Bay, 1948.
Lunch at Sunset Lodge.
Foresta Hodgson Wood (1904-1951). A noted explorer-mountain climber-photographer and wife of Col. Walter A. Wood, who headed the American Geographical Society for many years, Foresta Wood and her daughter Valerie vanished 27 July 1951. Their plane left the Seward Glacier Arctic Research Station on the Alaska-Yukon border and was never found. The research center was established by the Arctic Institute of North America in August 1948 to study “global warming.” In the forefront of exploration photography, Foresta Wood’s photographs and films left a lasting record of some of the world’s most thrilling mountain climbs and exotic expeditions. Born in Switzerland, her daughter Valerie, 18, graduated from The Brearley School shortly before the fatal accident.
Priscilla Howe Michalis. Polly Howe’s daughter.
2:55 pm at the Sunset Lodge, Jamaica. Clarence Michalis Jr. was Polly Howe’s son-in-law. In 1946 he married her daughter Priscilla Howe. His father Clarence Michalis Sr. was president of the Seamen’s Bank.
Lunch with Lytle Hull, seated left with back turned, and Helen Dinsmore Huntington Hull, seated right. Sunset Lodge, Montego Bay.
Lytle Hull. Along with Gurnee Munn, Dennie Boardman, and Reginald Boardman, Mr. Hull was a principal of Munn, Hull and Boardman, Palm Beach’s A-list real estate brokers with offices in New York and Boston. A former associate and houseguest of Vincent Astor’s, Hull married Helen Astor in 1941 at Gravel Hill, the Huntington family plantation in South Carolina. Two years later, Elsa Maxwell’s “Party Line” column reported that Mrs. Hull had impeccable taste and her gardens were flawless while Mr. Hull maintained a charming piggery on the couple’s Hudson River estate.
Helen Dinsmore Huntington Astor Hull. From the prominent Huntington and Dinsmore family, who had adjoining Hudson River estates, Helen Huntington married Vincent Astor in 1914 at an intimate ceremony where among the orchestra’s selections was a rendition of “O Perfect Love.” When the Astors’ 25-year marriage ended, Helen became a formidable social presence in New York. In 2004 Andre Balazs acquired her family estate The Locusts, once the setting for many of her soirees.
Jamaican musicians and singers add a Caribbean beat to a Montego Bay beach party.
Polly Howe, center, and guests, partake of Jamaican cuisine.
The one and only John Pringle photographed by Ellen Frazer at Sunset Lodge, one of the many Pringle family-owned properties. The grandson of Sir John Pringle, who by 1925 was the largest landowner in Jamaica, Mr. Pringle, seen above at age 23, had returned to Jamaica having worked for Elizabeth Arden in New York and the Duke of Windsor in Nassau. Within the next several years, John Pringle would surpass his grandfather’s legacy, buying much of Montego Bay’s waterfront, developing the Ochos Rios shipping center, and building the tallest building in Jamaica. In 1953 he created Round Hill Hotel & Villas that quickly became an exclusive jet-set destination as well as a prototype worldwide for other luxury cottage colony resorts. During his lifetime, he was accorded the status as Jamaica’s Ambassador-at-Large, becoming the country’s first Director of Tourism in 1962.
John Kenneth McKenzie Pringle (1925-2007). Ellen Frazer’s poolside photograph conveys Mr. Pringle’s energy and spirit that developed into an extraordinary life. In 1965 Queen Elizabeth conferred Mr. Pringle CBE stature (Commander of the British Empire). With his cousin, Island Records producer Chris Blackwell, during the 1990s Pringle headed up the restoration of Blackwell’s hotels in Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District.

8 March 1948
Medway Plantation, South Carolina

Ellen’s good friend Sidney Legendre died; she went to Medway and spent the week with Gertrude amidst the moss-filled oaks.
Medway Plantation was the subject of a recent lengthy New York Times story Gertie’s Ghost focusing on the various complications Bokara Legendre, Gertrude and Sidney Legendre’s daughter, has faced in selling the family’s landmark estate.
Gertrude Legendre, Kitty Moffit, Landine Legendre, and Jane Sanford Pansa. “We had lunch in the cypress garden and remembered Sidney.”
Jane Sanford Pansa, Landine Legendre, and Gertrude Legendre. “We did the things that Sidney loved most …”
Gertrude and Landine on the lake amidst the cypress garden.
Landine, Kitty Moffit, and Ellen (with her camera) go horseback riding at Medway.
L to R.: Gertrude Legendre. “At night we showed the kids how we used to dance …”; Ellen Glendinning Frazer demonstrating how the dance is done.

May 1948

Mrs. Clarence Michalis.

19 April 1948

Several of Ellen Frazer’s friends attended the gala opening at The Greenbrier.

19 June 1948
Scott-Price Wedding, Chestnut Hill

In June, Jane Scott’s son Sidney Scott Jr. married Evelyn Price at a Chestnut Hill wedding. Before the wedding the Scotts and the Prices hosted a luncheon.

Sidney Scott Sr., president of the Wilmington Trust Company, and Sidney Scott Jr.
“Pootsie” Scott, center, with her admirers at the afternoon luncheon before the wedding.
L to R.: The groom buttons up before the wedding.;Sidney Scott Jr., ready for church.
Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Scott Jr.
The bridesmaids all in a row.
The Scott-Price receiving line.
Ann Marvel and Mary Runnels.
William “Billy” Marvel.
Libby Marston Marvel (Mrs. Robert Marvel) and Coxie Toogood.
Paulina “Polly” du Pont Dean and Simpson Dean. Mr. Dean was a treasurer of the du Pont Company. Polly Dean was the daughter of William K. and Ethel Hallock du Pont.
Ann Marvel and Carey Marvel.
Mathilde Johnson, Mary Runnels, and Clement A. Griscom.
Olga Griscom and Frannie Griscom.

21 June 1948 – 25 June 1948
Republican National Convention, Municipal Auditorium, Philadelphia

Ellen’s press card indicates she is affiliated with the “Boston Herald.”
The convention nominated NY Governor Thomas Dewey on the third ballot after conservative opposition by Sen. Robert Taft. The RNC’s 1948 platform called for a reduction of the national debt, extension of Social Security benefits, and recognition of the state of Israel.

June 1948

Alexis Felix du Pont Sr., 14 April 1879 – 29 June 1948

Alexis Felix du Pont, Sr. (1879-1948) and Ann Marvel du Pont. Villa Tranquilla, Palm Beach. Ellen Frazer took this photograph of her good friends just a few months before Mr. du Pont died. Following her husband’s death on June 29, Ann du Pont continued her husband’s tradition of “Club du Pont” at the couple’s Palm Beach house and in Northeast Harbor. Mrs. du Pont donated their summer house at Rehoboth Beach where Mr. du Pont passed away to the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware that still utilizes Memorial House as a retreat center.
Mr. du Pont’s newspaper tributes highlighted his history with the du Pont family company, philanthropic contributions, and his aviation interests.
” Home is the sailor, home from the sea. And the hunter home from the hill.”

12 September 1948 – 24 September 1948
UPenn Hospital, Philadelphia

In September, Ellen spent 12 days at UPenn Hospital. As archivist, I appreciate this hospital bill that gives some perspective on current health care costs.

6 October 1948 – 19 October 1948
The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs

“After my operation, Ann du Pont came with me to The Greenbrier to recuperate.”

The Greenbrier. In 1957, the hotel added the never-used secretive Congressional bunkers.
The Greenbrier’s famous sulphur water flowed beneath the green dome of the iconic white-columned springhouse.
The Greenbrier. Watercolor by Dorothy Draper. 1948.

Next Part XII: Resorts & Retreats: Palm Beach, Medway Plantation, Cedar Lodge in Wisconsin, Northeast Harbor, Narragansett. January-December 1949.

Recent Posts