The 18th Mansion In May Designer Showhouse And Gardens
Alnwick Hall – The Abbey 355 Madison Avenue, Morristown NJ
Be A Part Of New Jersey’s Gilded Society At Mansion In May 2017
By Sarah Emily Gilbert
This spring, Alnwick Hall in Morristown, New Jersey will come alive for The Women’s Association for Morristown Medical Center’s (WAMMC) 18th Mansion in May Designer Showhouse and Gardens.
A year after incorporating Morristown Medical Center (MMC) in 1892, Myra Brookfield, with the aid of Augusta Stone, established the WAMMC. Come 2017, the association has grown to over 700 member volunteers, but it remains steadfast in its original mission to support the advancement of the hospital and its programs.
“A lot of people don’t realize that our organization is 125 years old and started the hospital,” explains Mansion in May’s Publicity and Marketing Chair, Kathy Hobbs. “It’s incredible that today’s members are still donating their time to the same cause. The WAMMC is a group of highly professional fundraisers that have great knowledge and skills, but more importantly, a passion to be part of this group.”
To date, the WAMMC has raised close to $25 million, which has helped MMC become a nationally ranked hospital. To generate revenue, the group operates three gift shops and a Starbucks in the hospital, along with a local thrift store called The Bargain Box, but Mansion in May is their primary fundraiser. Since its debut in 1973, the biannual event has grossed more than $10 million, making it one of the country’s preeminent designer showhouses.
This year’s mansion, known as The Abbey, is currently on the market and was offered for the event by its owner, Tom Maoli. Although Mansion in May doesn’t officially begin until spring, the WAMMC “moved in” on January 1 to prepare the space. Updates included new carpets, refinished floors, and Wi-Fi, but the real transformations were at the hands of leading designers from the region.
For the 18th edition of the fundraiser, over 270 interior and landscape designers toured The Abbey in the hopes of participating in its renovation. Each applicant submitted three inspiration boards to the WAMMC’s selection committee that outlined their rooms of chose and design proposals. After days of jurying, the WAMMC awarded 45 interior designers and 17 landscape designers from New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania a space in the home or on its property.
According to Hobbs, there is no shortage of design inspiration at this year’s mansion. “The first time I walked into The Abbey, I was so impressed by its integrity to the Golden Era. It’s one of the last homes standing from that time period, but all the early designs are still there, from the magnificent ceilings to the gorgeous stairway. When you look up the stairs, you see the stained glass windows, which are exceptional.”
Renowned architect Percy Griffin built the 21,000 square foot mansion between 1903 and 1904. Along with 42 rooms, the palatial home boasts quality wood detailing, intricately decorated ceilings, and stained glass windows created by American artist, Otto Heinigke. Typical of Gilded Age mansions, The Abbey was designed to mimic European architecture. The mansion’s crenulated parapets and brick and stone exterior are reminiscent of Alnswick Castle in Northumberland, England.
Although The Abbey did not house a king, it was home to American Telephone and Telegraph executive, Edward Peter Meany and his wife, Rosalie (née Behr) Meany. Between 1880 and 1929, the area that connects Morristown and Montclair, New Jersey was home to America’s elite, and consequently, some of the premiere social events of the time. If there wasn’t a soiree at the Vanderbilt, Dodge, or Morgan residence, there was sure to be an opulent gathering at the Meany estate, such as a live performance by Metropolitan Opera Singer, Madame Alma Gluck.
Over time, most of the homes along this iconic stretch called “Millionaire’s Row” fell to decay and disrepair, but the Meany estate remains as a vestige to the time. Located on 335 Madison Avenue, The Abbey will be brought to its former glory as its doors open for house tours and private events during the month of May.
The proceeds from Mansion in May 2017 will support the Center for Nursing Innovation and Research at Morristown Medical Center. For four consecutive years, the hospital has received the Magnet Award for Nursing Excellence, given to healthcare organizations with exemplary nursing. With a special focus on research and post-acute patient care, the new center will help the MMC apply for the Magnet Award once again, and continue to grow its exceptional nursing program.
Between May 1 and May 31, over 30,000 visitors are expected to walk through the doors of The Abbey, an impressive turnout even by Rosalie Meany’s standards. To step into the Gilded Age of New Jersey, purchase tickets for this year’s Mansion in May at www.mansioninmay.org.