Dreams, Stories and Things from the Vanderbilt Museum

a spring day on the former gold coast of Long Island

The Dreams

For 32 years of work dreams about work visited occasionally, then when retirement approached and overtook me these became an almost nightly visitation.

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Northport Harbor from the Vanderbilt Museum

Last week, a few months into retirement, the haunting stopped, replaced by adventures by and on the ocean.  

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It brings to mind, a few years ago Pam and I took lessons at Cornell’s Merrill Family Sailing Center followed by several seasons of memberships.  We’d take out sailboats the size on the one enjoyed by the fellow above in Northport Harbor.

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Fountain and Pool
Fountain and Pool of the Mansion Garden

We’d spend entire days on the water, looking up at the people driving the hill up and down route 13.  “How lucky we are here and not there”, I’d say.

The Stories

Willy Vanderbilt named his Centerport estate “Eagle’s Nest” after his first yacht, “Eagle” that was anchored in Northport harbor along the estate shoreline.  In 1932 the German Krupp Germaniawerft company build a new yacht named Alva, after his mother.

Fountain and Pool
The mansion garden features several fountains and pools. Northport harbor and Long Island Sound are the view.

Willy had a “thing” about the infant Baccus.  My first Vanderbilt Museum posting “A Taste of Gatsby: details from the Vanderbilt Museum”included the following depictions of the infant Baccus.  the name preferred by the Romans.

Museum Garden Statue
Statue of a young Bacchus in the Mansion Garden with Northport Harbor and the Long Island Sound reflection

To the Greeks he was Dionysus.  Also known as the “twice born” from the myth of his being carried in his father Zeus’ thigh after Hera, the jealous wife, plotted the death of his mother, the mortal Semele.  

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Fountain Figure

The infancy of Dionysus was perilous, with Hera plotting revenge Zeus found safe haven for the child at a place of earth called Mount Nysa, with beings named Rain Nymphs.  The fascination of Vanderbilt with the story continued with the acquisition and display of a statue of the infant Dionysus with a protective nymph.

Dionysus and protector, a Rain-nymph of Nysa

The Things

The statue and plinth are at the stairs into the garden.

Mansion Garden and Fountain from archway.


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Mansion Garden with Red Maple


Window and Red Maple
Garden of the mansion with window, red maple and early growth of tiger lilies


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Ornate Grating and Flowers
The mansion garden with an ornate grated window, azelia and bleeding hearts.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Wikipedia “Dionysus” and “Willy Vanderbilt”

2 thoughts on “Dreams, Stories and Things from the Vanderbilt Museum

  1. Your mention of Alva made me wonder about Thomas Edison’s middle name. I searched and found this, quoted from the Edison papers at Rutgers University: “Among the family friends was Captain Alva Bradley, a prominent ship-owner on the Great Lakes from whom Thomas received his middle name.”


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