• Title: The Architect of Desire: Beauty and Danger in the Stanford White Family
  • Author: Suzannah Lessard
  • ISBN: 9780385319423
  • Page: 275
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Architect of Desire Beauty and Danger in the Stanford White Family The story of Stanford White his scandalous affair with the year old actress Evelyn Nesbit his murder in by her husband the millionaire Harry K Thaw and the hailstorm of publicity that surro
    The story of Stanford White his scandalous affair with the 16 year old actress Evelyn Nesbit, his murder in 1906 by her husband, the millionaire Harry K Thaw, and the hailstorm of publicity that surrounded the trial of the century has proven irresistable to generations of novelists, historians, and biographers The premier neoclassical architect of his day, White s leThe story of Stanford White his scandalous affair with the 16 year old actress Evelyn Nesbit, his murder in 1906 by her husband, the millionaire Harry K Thaw, and the hailstorm of publicity that surrounded the trial of the century has proven irresistable to generations of novelists, historians, and biographers The premier neoclassical architect of his day, White s legacy to the world were such masterpieces as New York s original Madison Square Garden, the Washington Square Arch, and the Players, Metropolitan, and Colony clubs He was also responsible for the palaces of such clients as the Whitneys, Vanderbilts, and Pulitzers, the robber barons of the Gilded Age whose power and dominance shaped the nation in its heady ascent at the turn of the century.As the century rolled on, however, the story of Stanford White and Evelyn Nesbit came to be viewed as glamorous and romantic, the darker narrative of White s out of control sexual compulsion obscured by time Indeed, White s wife Bessie and his son Larry remained adamantly silent about the matter for the duration of their lives, a silence that reverberated through the next four generations of their extended family.Suzannah Lessard is the eldest of Stanford White s great grandchildren It was only in her 30 s that she began to sense the parallels between the silence about her great grandfather s life and the silence about her own perilous experience as a little girl in her own home Thus she became drawn to the remarkable history of her family in order to uncover its hidden truths, and in so doing to liberate herself from its enclosure at last The result is a multi layered memoir of astonishing elegance and power, one that, like a great building, is illumined room by room, chapter by chapter, until the whole is clearly seen.

    One Reply to “The Architect of Desire: Beauty and Danger in the Stanford White Family”

    1. This is a memoir written by Suzannah Lessard, the great grandaughter of the most famous gilded age architect, Stanford White. White is as famous for his talent as he is for his violent demise at the rooftop theatre of Madison Square Garden, a building that White designed, by being shot several times by Harry Thaw, the husband of Evelyn Nesbit. Evelyn Nesbit was a very beautiful young showgirl whom White had ravished by stealing her virginity while she was still a naive and vulnerable sixteen yea [...]

    2. This is a really good book, both as a very personal memoir of White's great granddaughter and as a biography of Stanford White. Lessard, whose life overlapped not with White, but with his wife Bessie and many other family members from both sides, brings a unique perspective to the work, the life and the scandal of the architect's murder. I found myself seeking out White's buildings in Midtown Manhattan--there are many surviving buildings. No doubt White and his firm left an indelible mark on the [...]

    3. A good follow up read to American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, the birth of the "it" girl and the crime of the century by Paula Uruburu (which is very well written).Found Lessard's book to be part memoir, family history, spiritual journey, but with a very fuzzy connection between all of the aforementioned. Lessard has a poetic way with words but leaves the reader lost as to what she did learn by taking on such a complicated and messy past of her family's life. I hope Lessard finds what sh [...]

    4. The short version is, i should have read the straight-up biography of Stanford White (Stanny, published in the 80s) instead of this book, but i had hoped I might get some interesting "inside insight" from White's great-granddaughter so i tried this one first. It's a fairly standard 90s memoir, of the form that was popular then--an author has a unique biographical circumstance that "qualifies" them to write a memoir, which in this case is being the great-granddaughter of Stanford White, and the t [...]

    5. So far, if you are an architect realizing your life is messed up, take comfort in this family and realize you have some close competition.

    6. Fascinating behind-the-scenes of the Evelyn Nesbit-Stanford White story, and how White's actions affected his family for generations. Written with smart, beautiful prose.

    7. This is just a fascinating book! The great-granddaughter of Stanford White intertwines the story of her childhood with her family history, and the architecture that is the framework of their lives.

    8. A book of family memoir that has changed my brain and mind, and way of thinking. Suzannah Lessard writes beautifully with precision and heart. There's much tough material in here, about privilege, wealth, plunder, waste, power, male treatment of women, women's treatment of women, children's lack of power. And architecture around the turn of the 20th century in America, and the New York area in particular. It's got love in it, and despair, and hope. I will be re-reading this. 'The world can break [...]

    9. I had been looking forward to this book for a while, but it didn't live up to the hype. Part history; part memoir. History gets 5 stars; memoir 2.

    10. Suzannah Lessard is a fine, poetic writer who knows how to translate her intuitive experiences to the page. I started reading this as I am a crime buff and wanted to read more about the Stanford White shooting. This book is so much more.Lessard does a fine job of documenting the shooting and the events that built up to it, but the cream that rises to the top here is her expression and exploration of what constitutes home and our anchorage to our concepts and memories of home and family; how that [...]

    11. The author at one point mentions that Stanford White's fame was just understood in her family to be a fact, even when people had mostly forgotten about who he was and the scandal that enveloped him. That was my a-ha moment in this book. While Lessard tries to understand that not everyone knows the scandalous details of Stanford White's rise and fall, I think she is really still under the family spell. Consequently, as we go back and forth between the Stanford White story and the author's own sto [...]

    12. this was a good read, and an interesting look into the personal life of one of America's most venerated and infamous architects. Also interesting because it was written by his great grand-daughter, who adds a lot of personal family history, which may or may not add to the story of Standford White the architect, but certainly adds interest and sexual intrigue to the family history. I found the beginning much more compelling than the end -- but where can you go after America's most prominent archi [...]

    13. Written by his eldest great grand daughter, this book begins with the title character being shot to death at the theatre by the husband of an actress he had used and discarded. Stanford White, a brilliant neoclassical architect during the Guilded Age, whose work included Newport mansions, Madison Sq. Garden, etc whose life is riddled with scandal makes for an interesting book! What an interesting time in our country's history; definitely FUN to read about!

    14. This offers a perspective from the great-grandaughter of Stanford White and details about her childhood experiences at the Box Hill home in St. James, which Stanford White built for his wife Besse Smith. Besse Smith is the descendant of Richard "Bull" Smythe who founded Smithtown, and there is Long Island history and the Smith family discussed, which I found fascinating.

    15. This is a different twist on the memoir as the author tells the story of her youth and buried memories by researching the history of her great grandfather and the scandal his murder brought to her family. I thought it was like 2 books in one - her own and his. Lots of gossip and juicy details but then you realize this isn't fiction and see how real people are impacted.

    16. I really enjoyed this book. Sometimes I thought the author got a little too touchy-feely, but it's very well written and it is interesting to see how certain themes carry throughout the generations in that family.I would also suggest that the reader read America needs either before or after they read this book.

    17. This book would have been better if it had concentrated on the story of Stanford White and Evelyn Nesbit et al. The recollections by the autor became a distraction from the more compelling story. I finally gave up on the recollections and skipped through to the history of White. The author's recollections were overwritten in my opinion.

    18. Bought this because i find the Stanford White-Evelyn Nesbit-Harry Thaw story fascinating. When talking about the history of White and the Gilded Age, I really enjoyed it. Otherwise, it was a story about a very troubled family and its litany of "characters"/minor felons

    19. I may never finish this one. Half way through and I'm still just not that into it.Update: I left this at my parents house when I moved back, no regrets yet. I didn't not like it, I just felt no impetus to find out what happened next.

    20. Weird, and not in a good way. Self-indulgent author, I think, who capitalizes on her linneage without having the writing ability to back it up. Too bad, too, because it would be great to learn more about Stanford White from the family's perspective.

    21. I felt like I was reading two books at once. The author's private thoughts probably are not something I would ordinarily read or be interested in, but I skimmed through those parts to get to, and through, the Stanford Story.

    22. While it was interesting to learn more about Stanford White and his contributions to the body of American architecture, my attention waned when the author indulged in personal observations of her own life and innuendoes into the dastardly deeds of her relatives. A revealing moment in history.

    23. I was interested in Stanford White and wanted to read about him but the book is quite badly written and the author too self-indulgent for my taste.

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