Vanderbilt Mansion ‘Living History’: It’s 1937

Popular Program Returns – Labor Day 2016 Weekend Only

The Vanderbilt Museum once again will turn back the clock when it offers Living History tours on Labor Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, September 3 and 4. Tours will be given at regular intervals all afternoon on both days. Tickets: $5 per person.

Vanderbilt Mansion courtyard and bell tower Vanderbilt Museum photo
Vanderbilt Mansion courtyard and bell tower
Vanderbilt Museum photo

For more than a decade, Living History tours have delighted visitors to the sprawling 24-room, Spanish-Revival waterfront mansion, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

These special, time-machine events feature some of the Vanderbilts and their servants, who are portrayed by Museum tour guides.

The year is 1937, and the news makes its way into the tour narrative: “The movie Captains Courageous with Spencer Tracy is playing in the theatres, and Agatha Christie’s new novel Dumb Witness is in the bookstores,” said Stephanie Gress, director of curatorial affairs. “Amelia Earhart was lost at sea in July, and European leaders are faced with threats of German expansion.”

The Vanderbilt has been called a “museum of a museum” – the mansion, natural-history and marine collections galleries are exactly as they were when the Vanderbilts lived on the estate, from the Jazz Age through the Second World War.

The stories featured on the tours are based on the oral histories of people who worked on the Mansion staff as teenagers and young adults. Some stories also come from Mr. Vanderbilt’s privately-published books of his world travels and extensive sea journeys.

Featured this year will be an actual historical member of the Vanderbilt staff, cook Catherine Mullooly, portrayed by Barbara Nelson and Ellen Mason. Florence Lucker will be Consuelo, the Duchess of Marlborough. Peter Reganato will be Pietro, the Italian cook. Erika Ehlers will play Rosemary Warburton, William K. Vanderbilt’s mother-in-law. The valets will be played by Vincent Ilardi and Rick Outcault. Mrs. Lancaster, Mr. Vanderbilt’s other mother-in-law, will be portrayed by Beverly Pokorny. Jim Ryan and Jerry Crosson will portray Mr. Vanderbilt’s brother Harold.

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