Famous Digs

Legendary homes meet page-turning tomes.

Life at The Dakota: New York’s Most Unusual Address

By Stephen Birmingham

Rowman & Littlefield  |  270 pages

In this witty chronicle, the atmosphere of this elegant edifice is so powerful that the building itself becomes an unforgettable major character. From its start the Dakota has attracted a lively mix of people, from celebrities to a ground-floor tenant who kept a stuffed horse in full armor in the living room. While detailing the active life within the building from the 19th century to the present, Birmingham brings to life the New York social scene and that of other fashionable American cities. Just as the 60-foot rooms, the elaborate moldings and rococo ceilings are lushly described, so is the changing atmosphere in Central Park, the smell and sound of the street below, the judgments about what was fashionable and what was not throughout the years.

 

 

 

 

Versailles

By Valérie Bajou

Harry N. Abrams, Inc.  |  480 pages

A spectacularly opulent relic of royal wealth and power comes alive in Versailles. Highlighting the château’s vibrant, tumultuous past, the book covers everything from its metamorphosis from humble hunting lodge to palace, to the dismantling of its collections during the French Revolution and its restoration and status as a UNESCO World Heritage site today. In addition, the singular château is explored from top to bottom in an extravagantly extensive photographic tour that reveals the many priceless artistic and architectural treasures of this palace of palaces.

 

 

 

 

 

The Hidden White House: Harry Truman and the Reconstruction of America’s Most Famous Residence

By Robert Klara

St. Martin Press  |  400 pages

In 1948 President Harry Truman, enjoying a bath on the White House’s second floor, almost plunged through the ceiling of the Blue Room into a tea party for the Daughters of the American Revolution. What followed would be the most historically significant and politically complex home-improvement job in American history. America’s most famous historic home was basically demolished, giving birth to today’s White House. Leaving only the mansion’s façade untouched, workmen gutted everything within—replacing it with a steel frame and a complex labyrinth deep below ground that included a top-secret nuclear fallout shelter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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