Friends of Florham Project History
Since its formation in 1990, Friends of Florham has successfully served its mission assisting in the preservation of the historic elements of the Florham campus with a variety of restoration and preservation projects. Funds for these projects are raised at the annual gala as well as from individual contributions and foundation grants.
1994, Clowney Garden: The garden between the back portico stairways to the parapet overlooking Park Avenue was renovated by Ann Granbery, ASLA with contributions made in memory of William Clowney, a former FDU trustee. The space appeared briefly in the 2001 movie, A Beautiful Mind. (see Newsletter articles, Spring 2000, Spring 2002, Fall 2006)
1997, Italian Garden: The garden on the north side of the mansion, thought to have been designed by Alfred Parsons, was restored with the help of Ann Granbery, ASLA, reconnecting the estate with the Madison, NJ descendants of Italian workers who helped to build and maintain the garden in the early part of the 20th century. (see Newsletter articles, Winter 1997, Winter 1998, Fall 2001, Spring 2002, Fall 2007)
1997—1999, Lenfell Hall: Renovation of the former Drawing Room of Mrs. Twombly, renamed Lenfell after a university donor. Appropriate restoration experts and contractors were hired and with help from grants from the F.M. Kirby Foundation, the Hyde and Watson Foundation, and the Tomlinson Family Foundation as well as proceeds from galas, the large room was beautifully renovated. This elegant room is now the focus of most of the university’s events and entertaining. (see Newsletter, Summer 1999)
2001, Great Hall: This grand McKim interior was carefully restored to reflect its former elegance and offers a striking “first impression,” of the mansion and university. (see Newsletter, Spring 2001)
2003-2004, Photograph and Portrait Restoration. Family paintings were cleaned and rehung in Lenfell Hall. Also framed and mounted were important interior and exterior photographs made in 1957 by Shirley Burden, grandson of Florence Vanderbilt Twombly, before the dissolution of her estate. (see Newsletter Article, 2009)
2003, Olmsted Cutleaf Maple Grove Walls and Plaque: Hearing there was a danger that construction might take place on this area designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Friends of Florham moved to delineate the space with three stone walls reminiscent of Olmsted’s work in Central Park. (see Newsletter articles, Fall 2003, Fall 2004)
2004, Painting, Lighting, Second Floor, Mansion: Second floor hallways were given the same paint color as the Great Hall and Lenfell Hall. Lighting for the lounge areas was provided.
2005, Baluster replacement: Limestone balusters surrounding the front courtyard and the Italian garden were repaired or replaced (see Newsletter, Spring 2005)
2005, Archival work on Burden Bequest: Edward Burden, grandson of Florence Vanderbilt Twombly, donated family papers to the university. Friends of Florham hired archivist Dr. Antonia Moser to organize these papers as well as the rest of its collection according to best archival practices. This project was partially funded by a Morris county Heritage Commission grant. The ledgers were digitized and now accessible to researchers and students.
2006, Mansion Chain Barrier: Rotting post railing was replaced with a black chain barrier, restoring a sense of elegance to what is now known as “Mansion Drive.”
2006, Digitization of Archival Photos: the archives contained well over 100 black and white photographs, the majority by Shirley Burden. This photo archive provides visuals of life on the estate prior to 1957. At the suggestion of the Morris County Heritage Commission, which partially funded the project, the photographs were digitized, and are now accessible to researchers and students.
2007, Courtyard Lantern Restoration: The original courtyard lanterns were either broken or missing. Friends of Florham hired the services of International Architectural Ironworks to repair and restore the lanterns. (see Newsletter, Spring 2009)
2008-2009,Replacement of Front Doors: Due to 1960 safety codes, the mansion’s original solid mahogany front door and French doors on either end of the façade were replaced with commercial grade doors. Friends of Florham hired architect, Nick Bensley, to design and oversee installation of suitable historic replacements for the commercial doors, restoring a sense of elegance to the entrance of the building. (see Newsletter, Spring 2007)
2009-2010, Digitization Project: To reduce wear and tear on the fragile Twombly household ledgers, and to make them electronically accessible to students and researchers, Friends of Florham has undertaken to have the ledgers digitized by Princeton Imaging.
2010, Landscape Preservation Project: As the university’s needs change, the original character of Frederick Law Olmsted’s landscape design for Florham, now FDU’s College at Florham campus, is slowly being lost. As part of their mandate, Friends of Florham has decided to record the details of the site designed by this iconic landscape architect. To this end, Friends of Florham has commissioned Ann Granbery, ASLA, to create a Historic Landscape Preservation Plan that will both examine the history and evolution of the site and make recommendations for its appropriate treatment in the future.
2011, Renovations to the Great Hall: Friends of Florham continued restoration of the public areas of the estate with a refreshment of the Great Hall. Renovations include reupholstered furniture, mirrors reflecting the earlier grandeur of the mansion, a new building directory, and a number of very fine paintings. The Friends are grateful to the Hennessy Family for a donation commissioning artist Patrick Reid to do a portrait in oil of the Mansion’s namesake Edward L. Hennessy, Jr.
2011, Florham Heirlooms Return Home: While Friends of Florham were in the midst of renovations, Wendy Burden, great-granddaughter of Florence Twombly, decided to return many Florham treasures to their rightful home. Included in the boxes shipped from Ms. Burden were a backgammon table, boxes of monogrammed linens, silver chafing dishes, an 18K gold-rimmed luncheon service, monogrammed crystal stemware and much, much more. Each item was carefully unpacked, cataloged and recorded by the Friends, who then purchased a beautiful breakfront to display many of these treasures. The breakfront is now in the Great Hall of the mansion.
2011, Renovation of the President’s Office: The office was repainted and a new carpet was selected. Fabrics to re-cover the furniture were selected both for their functionality and appropriateness to the architectural period. The results, in rich blues and reds, are warm and inviting, and provide a more gracious environment for meetings or entertaining special guests.
2012, Renovation of Hartman Lounge: The lounge was formerly the billiard room of Hamilton Twombly. It is relatively small with mahogany-paneled walls and moldings, and is one of the busiest rooms on campus. Renovations included elegant new blue-and-red striped draperies, new Chippendale-style sofas and a Persian-style carpet. The herringbone floors, a quintessential element in McKim, Mead and White’s work, were left partially uncovered. Meeting chairs were reupholstered and brass lamps were polished to a perfect shine. McKim, Mead & White and Frederick Law Olmsted drawings were re-matted in navy and mounted on the walls, calling attention to the history of the room.