Elizabeth White (BardCorps)
Friend of Bard
Helene Tieger '85, Amy Parella '99
Elizabeth White, the great grand-daughter of Andrew C. Zabriskie–who, with his wife Frances, built Blithewood in 1899—recounts four generations of her family’s history. Her story focuses on the many characters in, out, and around Blithewood: the Bard, Zabriskie, Aldrich, and Jones families, just to name a few. Recently married, Captain Andrew Christian Zabriskie purchased the Blithewood property that once belonged to the Bard family in 1899, along with its contiguous land holdings. Prominent real estate owner and dedicated philanthropist, he erected the current manor house and garden at Blithewood and funded the restoration of the Barrytown train station. Elizabeth attests much of her knowledge regarding this local history to the meticulous scrapbooking that Andrew Zabriskie enjoyed, though few of these records survive today.
The Zabriskie Light Infantry was one of Andrew’s many “community activist” pursuits which Elizabeth describes as a common practice among rich landholders in the area at this time. Having served in the National Guard, Captain Zabriskie believed in the value of military discipline and wanted to provide “an outlet for young men in the community” to practice marching and music. Christian A. Zabriskie, Elizabeth’s great uncle and son of the Captain, carried on his family legacy in a similar fashion to his father. As such, he was a major supporter of military institutions such as West Point Museum; on the other hand, an avid bibliophile, he was a Life Fellow of the Morgan Library in Manhattan. Elizabeth had a meaningful bond with Christian while growing up: he influenced her cultural upbringing by funding her musical education and sharing his copies of the Illustrated London News.
Discussing the portraits of her grandparents Julia and Edward which hang in the Blithewood mansion, Elizabeth contextualizes their relationship from family stories. While many of her memories of Blithewood were passed down from her elders, Elizabeth does actually have some of her own from childhood: “My memories [of Blithewood] really are of being in the garden–as a place you could run around and play–and being allowed to splash a bit in the fountain.” The beautiful landscape she recalls was maintained by a team of gardeners who were recruited for their skill. Concerned with the preservation of the Blithewood garden, she says “that with the passage of time there are increasingly fewer real artifacts of the turn of the twentieth century, so the most basic answer to the question is this is still extant and salvageable and…is a document of the way that people–or, some people–lived at that time.” As one of few who remember the mansion as a home, Elizabeth helps us clear some of the fog that has accumulated around memories of Blithewood.
Elizabeth White, Helene Tieger '85, Amy Parella '99, Blithewood Estate, Monacelli Press, Captain Christian Andrew Zabriskie (1853-1916), Frances Hunter Zabriskie (1866-1951), Christian Andrew Zabriskie (1899-1970), Julia Zabriskie Jones (1897-1931), Edward Powis Jones (1880-1927), Edward Powis Jones Jr. (1919-1998), St. Stephen's College, Canada, Vermont, Chocolate Factory (Red Hook), Barrytown, Citizen's Cornet Band of Red Hook, Zabriskie Light Infantry, Lyndhurst, Gould Family, Helen Gould (1868-1938), West Point Museum, The Morgan Library, The Illustrated London News, New York Society Library, Long Island, Jones Family, Brazil, Brooklyn, Edith Wharton, Harvard Law School, World War I, Rhode Island, "Good Hap" (house), Sylvania, Chanler Family, Chapman Family, Suffern, Delafield Family, Powis Castle, Annandale Rose Show, Dutchess County Fair, Richard "Dick" Bard, NYSDEC, Hudson River Estuary Program, Montgomery Place, Saw Kill Creek, John Ross Delafield, Platt Byard Dovell White Architects, New York, Samuel "Sam" G. White, Margaret Livingston Chanler-Aldrich, Aldrich Family, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Sotheby's, Rizzoli New York, David Morton, Mckim Mead and White, Francis Hoppin, Garden Club of America, Province Island
White, Elizabeth, "Elizabeth White (BardCorps)" (2022). BardCorps -- All Oral Histories. 80.
Elizabeth White Transcript
White_Elizabeth_p1.mp3 (526 kB)
Construction of the Blithewood Manor
White_Elizabeth_p2.mp3 (1970 kB)
Zabriskie Light Infantry
White_Elizabeth_p3.mp3 (2913 kB)
Julia and Edward Jones's Portraits
White_Elizabeth_p4.mp3 (3439 kB)
Early Memories of Blithewood
White_Elizabeth_p5.mp3 (2853 kB)
Findings in Family Scrapbooks