Monday, August 3, 2009

father and son

At Shelburne Farms in Vermont this weekend for a wedding, we took in the country estate of William Seward Webb and his wife Lila Vanderbilt Webb, with grounds planned by Olmsted and buildings, which include barns larger than some villages, designed by Robert Robertson. Through the generosity and vision of their descendants the estate was opened to the public in recent years and has become a center devoted to teaching conservation practices and sustainable agriculture. Proceeds from the inn and restaurant on the shore of Lake Champlain, which serve products of the farm's vegetable gardens and Brown Swiss dairy herd, support the conservationist initiatives.

The man with the fetching eyebrows is William, a doctor who had to drop his medical practice and take up business to please his betrothed's grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt. He later became the region's premier Railroad magnate eventually providing easy access to the region of the Adirondacks. I believe the child is Vanderbilt Webb, the youngest of William and Lila's 4 children, appearing to embody the some curiously ideal childhood.

As an aside, I was surprised by the landscape of the lake, which is bound not by gentle shores as much as steeply eroded cliffs, causing the several islands we saw from the shore to have abrupt boundaries resembling the profiles of Sperm Whales.

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