Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The tennis house
Any old country place worth its salt will have interesting ancillary buildings. Daheim, the estate on which I have lived for 28 years, has an abundance. In addition to the bowling alley (see below), the gatehouse, the Bungalow, the dairy barn, the farm house, the pump house, my house (it being the main house), the many greenhouses (all, alas, in ruins), and the gardener's cottage, we've also got a tennis house. It's located on what we call the tennis lawn. That lawn is directly in front of the main house, which I rented in December of 1981, moved into on June 2, 1982, and remain in today. The original clay tennis court "lawned over " years before I was born. The net and fencing probably biodegraded at least a half a century ago. Happily, the tennis house itself - a picturesque pavilion designed to store racquets, balls, cushions, nets and whites - is still standing. The hippies in the Leary period called it the "meditation house," although how much meditation actually transpired here is open to debate. Twenty years ago, I wrote "The Vanderbilts and the Gilded Age" at my old desk from 81st Street, which is still inside. The tennis house has been kicked around over the years, and I confess that today I am barely keeping it weatherproof - and trying not to be too dismayed by carpenter bees. Every so often I still go out and sit at my desk. Old photos show crossed tennis raquets on the gable end facing the lawn. One surviving stained glass transome depicts crossed cricket bats. BTW, That stone staircase leads down from the south side of the tennis house to what was originally a walled orchard below. The last shot shows what it looks like from the orchard.