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WMSHorse William with horse in front of main dwelling
Although William Sloane had relatively little leisure time, Merestead was a country estate designed for a gracious, and elegant lifestyle. Built at a time when automobiles were replacing the horse, the estate reflects the elegance associated with a love of horses. The doorbells were designed at a height for ringing when one would be sitting on a horse and there were horse trails that ran throughout the estate that have been restored.
 

BitsnTackle Bits and tack marked "WS"
Family history tells us that William Sloane enjoyed horses. His favorite Merestead horse was Benares. 

In the morning, William would be driven to the train station in an automobile by the chauffer. If William had the time and the weather permitted, after work, he preferred to return from the Mount Kisco train station driving a horse and wagon. William never learned how to drive an automobile.

 
GardenView Garden view, circa 1909
Mrs. Sloane loved gardening. The landscape firm of Saltus and Sanger designed the perennial garden and rose garden. A regulation croquet court was set in the middle of the perennial garden.

 

 

As an up and coming corporate executive, William Sloane was expected to have a certain lifestyle that included a country estate. 

On December 6, 1905, William Sloane purchased the deeds to two pieces of property, the Joseph Sarles estate and the E.V. Weeks estate on Byram Lake Road in Mount Kisco to be his legal residence. Family oral history states that it was Mrs. Sloane who found the property when she and her mother would ride around the Mount Kisco and Bedford area in a horse and carriage looking for property.

The photos below of the building of Merestead, circa 1907, are courtesy of the Andy Diem photo collection.

Building1907The 26-room main dwelling
Family oral history states that William Sloane rolled a gold piece down a table and said,“Build it big, boys,” when discussing the building of a main dwelling at Merestead.  However, Mrs. Sloane wanted something small and intimate.  The resulting 26-room main dwelling was the compromise.
 
ViewView from Byram Lake Road, ca. 1909
Situated between farms to the east and west, the main dwelling rises up with understated elegance on a terrace. The brick and marble main dwelling was designed by the architectural firm Delano and Aldrich 1906-1907. It is a significant early hybrid work that anticipates an American country estate style that Delano and Aldrich would become famous for designing. At Merestead, classical French and English architectural sources have been re-interpreted to create a style that we interpret as Georgian Revival.
 
FontViewFront view, ca. 1909
The architectural elements of the L-shaped main dwelling include a symmetrical design, a marble keystone over each window and a marble string course which all create an exterior of understated elegance.

 

Frances and William were married on November 22, 1904. The wedding was the social event of the season. It took place in the early afternoon at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City followed by a reception at the bride's parents' home on 5 West 49th Street.

During the afternoon, a wedding spread was set up in the New York W & J Sloane store for employees who didn’t attend the wedding. 

In the evening, the department heads and salesmen were treated to a complimentary dinner at a hotel, as a “thank you” from William Sloane for a wedding present. 

In Brooklyn, at the Naval YMCA, a company of sailors and marines cheered the bridegroom who was the Chairman of the Army and Navy Department of the International Committee of the YMCA.  

TrainLThe wedding train
The elegant dress, as a detail of the train shows, was described as “a creation of embroidered white silk and point-lace.” The bride also had a point-lace veil and wore a pearl necklace that the groom gave her.
 
Media frenzy
In the social strata of the Sloane’s, weddings created the same frenzy as that of a celebrity wedding today. Media hype came in the form of numerous societal articles in the local press leading up to the wedding. Even the wedding gifts were written about in newspaper articles noting what was received and from whom plus the total monetary value of all the gifts.
 
BridalListLPage from the "Bride Elect"
For the Sloane’s, the wedding presents they received were recorded in a book called the "Bride Elect." Unlike their peers, no mention was made in the press about the total value of the gifts. The "Bride Elect" contains 412 entries with gifts coming mostly from the New York area, but also from Japan, Scotland, and India. The gifts reflect the social milieu of the Sloane family. Gifts were received from old family friends such as Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Carnegie and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller and from relatives such as the Hyde Park Vanderbilts.
 
WeddingPresentLA wedding present, Black Lion Wharf by James McNeill Whistler, 1859
A book entitled Recollections and Impressions of James A. McNeill Whistler with a bookplate marked, “Frances Church Crocker Xmas 1903” suggests that she liked the works of Whistler. It may also explain why she received four Whistler etchings as wedding gifts from Mr. and Mrs. John Hammond which includes Black Lion Wharf, one of James A. McNeill Whistler’s most famous etchings and his favorite. It even appears in his famous painting of his mother.
 
BridalLinenLinen towels with fringe, 1904
In addition to wedding presents, another important aspect of the wedding was the trousseau. The groom was expected to furnish the home, but the bride purchased the linens for the trousseau. The linen towels with a long linen fringe are the penultimate expression of elegance. They are very understated with minimal decorations, yet made from a high quality luxury fabric. If the bride selected them, one wonders why they were found unused on the very top shelf of a linen room wrapped up in a linen sheet?
 

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