Day: May 19, 2016

Raising a toast — and not a little money — to Olmsted, a century-plus later

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Cherokee Park visitors at Hogan’s Fountain in 1920.

Frederick Law Olmsted died 113 years ago this August, so we can only imagine what he’d think of the emerald necklace of parks and parkways his famous New York firm designed for Louisville. Olmsted visited the city in 1891 at the invitation of prominent citizens with newly acquired land reserved for parks; he was 69 years old, and well into a second career (first one: newspaper reporter).

Louisville was flexing its big-city muscles at a time of huge population growth. The Southern Exposition of 1883-87 in what is now Old Louisville had shined a spotlight on the city — an electric one, in fact. One of the exposition’s top draws was the largest to-date installation of Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulbs, to illuminate the exposition at night. (Edison had lived in Louisville 16 years before.) By Olmsted’s arrival, the city had 161,129 residents, a 60% increase in just the two decades after the Civil War.

The parks project ultimately grew to 18 parks and six parkways, public green space that links Louisville to one of Olmsted’s most famous works: Central Park in New York. (And, indeed, we have our own Olmsted-designed Central Park, in Old Louisville.) Much of the work was certainly executed by Olmsted’s firm, rather than the man himself. Tragically, just four years after he visited Louisville, senility forced Olmsted to retire. He died  in 1903 at McLean Hospital in suburban Boston, originally an asylum for the insane.

This morning, we heard Olmsted’s history retold when several hundred people crowded into an auditorium on the Bellarmine campus for the Olmsted Park Conservancy‘s annual fundraising breakfast. Mimi Zinniel, the group’s CEO, runs a tight ship: The event’s notice promised Heine Bros. coffee and a chance to network from 7:30 until 8, when the program would start promptly, concluding by 9. This made sense, because most of the attendees would soon be on their way to work. Nearing 8, the din of so many people talking at once was amplified by the cavernous space, which looked like a basketball court, minus hoops, but with dozens of linen-topped round tables. On the menu: yogurt parfait with granola and fresh blueberries, and quiche Lorraine.

The speakers’ remarks were mercifully short and to the point, with videos adding entertaining pizzazz; one featured children and parents proclaiming which parks were their favorite. But the video drawing the most cheers came midway through. It starred retiring Metro Council member Tom Owen, whose district includes one of the biggest and best-known: Cherokee Park in the Highlands. Owen’s just-elected successor, Brandon Coan, wore a cream-colored suit and greeted well-wishers. Boulevard complimented him on his campaign’s financial efficiency — spending just $18 per vote vs. the $63 spent by the No. 2 finisher, Stephen Riley. Coan protested, but only mildly: “Actually, I think it was closer to $13.”

Frederick Law Olmsted
Olmsted

Squint your eyes a bit — well, a lot — and Owen bears a passing resemblance to Olmsted. Some of that’s the white beard, and age: Owen is now 76. Like Olmsted, he’s all about the outdoors, famously getting about the city on bicycle in a fluorescent-green safety vest. And that’s how he appeared in the video: touring the Olmsted parks as he told their history (history-telling being his other job, after all). Concluding his tour, Owen didn’t miss a chance to plug one of the fundraiser’s main sponsors.

“Now,” he said, “I’m going to pedal off and get a special cup of Heine Bros. coffee.” Cue applause.

Photo, top: Girls pose for a picture in a Winton Six automobile in front of Hogan’s Fountain at Cherokee Park, 1920; the University of Louisville photography archives.

Lady Mary would absolutely approve: Guests dress for success at the Long Run Hounds Hunt Ball

Big smiles, big personalities and big business networking — yes, it’s everyone’s favorite feature in the society shiny sheets: party photos! Boulevard picks through the pics, choosing our favorite coverage. Today’s entry is from Nfocus Louisville.

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Napier’s nattier.

Long Run Hounds Hunt Ball
“The invitation,” Tonya Abeln writes, “eloquently stated the dress code as ‘White or Black Tie — Scarlet, if convenient,’ and for most of the members, their scarlet riding frock, designed as a bright form of identification as well as to denote a seasoned Hunt member, was the perfect dapper ensemble.”

In other words, picture “Downton Abbey’s” Honorable Evelyn Napier, looking askance in the photo, above right.

Annette Adams chaired the party at the Pendennis Club, where a silent auction was all about some serious and even mysterious paraphernalia: vintage English lapel pins, hunt bridle (?) and breastplate (?!).

Lest readers blanch at the thought of tearing a fox to pieces, not to mention the traditional “blooding” procedure, Nfocus urged calm: “Foxhunting could more accurately be called fox chasing, as LRH is one of many ‘no-kill’ hunt clubs, indulging in the sport purely for the enjoyment of the outdoors with their four legged friends.”

Phew!

Related: more Nfocus party photos. Buy a vintage Gordon Weatherill gent’s red hunt coat for £255 ($372 at current exchange rates). Check out the latest rankings in The Boulevard Social 400.

Photo, top: Lady Mary Crawley and Napier, whose Turkish hunting companion was dying to bed her.

Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald’s best-known novel chronicles the star-crossed romance between Louisville debutante Daisy Fay Buchanan and a local soldier, the future tycoon Jay Gatsby. In this passage, her friend Jordan Baker is recalling their Louisville childhood among the well-to-do gentry, living in mansions ringing verdant Cherokee Park in 1917.

Daisy Fay was just 18, two years older than me, and by far the most popular of all the young girls in Louisville. She dressed in white, and had a little white roadster, and all day long the telephone rang in her house and excited young officers from Camp Taylor demanded the privilege of monopolizing her that night.

She had a début after the Armistice, and in February she was presumably engaged to a man from New Orleans. In June, she married Tom Buchanan of Chicago, with more pomp and circumstance than Louisville ever knew before. He came down with a hundred people in four private cars, and hired a whole floor of the Seelbach Hotel, and the day before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at $350,000.*

* $4.2 million in 2016 dollars.

Related: Of the five film adaptations, Boulevard likes Baz Luhrmann’s boisterous 2013 version best.

We will sell this house today! Owsley Brown Frazier’s $4.9M ‘mansion that whisky built’

An occasional look at premium homes on the market.

The marketing campaign for the philanthropist’s country manor, “The Avish,” steps up tonight, when Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty hosts a private cocktail party and showing for clients, brokers and agents. Owsley Brown Frazier, an heir to the Brown-Forman distillery fortune, died four years ago at 77. The seller is his daughter, Laura L. Frazier; its assessed value is $4.8 million, according to Jefferson County tax records. The Avish is at 5224 Avish Lane in Harrods Creek, the wealthy enclave in northeast Louisville.

The asking price is $4.9 million, down from $5.3 million in December, when the listing was pulled after a pending sale from March 2015 fell though, according to Zillow. When it originally hit the market in 2012 after Brown’s death, Curbed put the list at $6 million. Later that year, Zillow says, it sold for $4.8 million, presumably to Laura.

Owsley Brown Frazier
Frazier

The Avish translates to “Rocky Hill” in Gaelic, and is named for the Brown family’s ancestral home in Ireland, according to The Voice-Tribune. It was built in 1910 by Brown’s grandfather, Owsley Brown, according to Curbed, which called it the “mansion that whiskey built.”

Here’s Lenihan’s description: This impressive estate is on The National Register of Historic Places and sits on 10 acres overlooking the Ohio River. With nearly 18,000 finished square feet, there are two master suites, four additional bedrooms, nine full baths and two half-baths. The grand foyer is flanked by a reception room, dining hall and a formal parlor with adjoining conservatory. The first floor is also comprised of the catering and main kitchens and the owners office suite. You may access the private living quarters on the second floor by one of three stair cases, service or passenger elevator. The third floor features a private suite that’s perfect suite for an in-law, an au pair or nanny. The grounds feature a gorgeous arbor, stunning formal garden with garden house and attached greenhouses, walkways, barn and guest/managers quarters with two bedrooms and bathrooms. The lower level is where you’ll find the indoor pool and solarium, private his-hers bathrooms with dressing areas, entertainment areas, laundry facilities, office and garages.

Related: Brown’s last will and testament. Plus, Boulevard is reminded of this scene starring Annette Bening from 1999’s “American Beauty.”

Uber using Fusions in new self-driving cars test; KFC hit over antibiotics use, and Bezos strikes back at Trump

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Activist group created “Auntie Biotic” mascot in campaign targeting KFC.

A news summary focused on big employers; updated 6:06 p.m.

FORD: Uber said today it’s using hybrid Fusions as it starts testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh (Fortune). Also, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and former Ford CEO Alan Mulally will receive awards at an innovation conference in Lexington starting Sunday (Daily Journal).

KFC: Activists are pressing KFC to stop buying chicken from industrial farms that use antibiotics meant for humans. The Natural Resources Defense Council created a mascot, Auntie Biotic, to draw attention to its cause (blog post). Australian restaurant operator Collins Foods is paying $19 million for 13 KFC outlets around the New South Wales and Victorian border (Business Insider). And teenage inmates who were involved in a tense standoff with police in Melbourne were promised KFC in exchange for their surrender (Daily Mirror). Yum shares closed at $80.07, little changed.

AMAZON CEO Jeff Bezos defended the company against criticism by White House hopeful Donald Trump, who said earlier that the retail giant was “getting away with murder, tax-wise (Seattle Times). Also, how Google Home could be Amazon Echo’s worst nightmare in the digital home assistant space (Verge). Shares closed at $698.52, up $1.07.

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Booth

TACO BELL: How the company turns fried chicken into taco shells (Consumerist). Meanwhile, the Internet can’t get enough stories about Florida’s Jack Booth, who woke up from a 42-day coma and almost immediately demanded 8½ crunch tacos. “I didn’t expect him to eat as many as he did, but he sure crushed it,” said friend and co-worker Andrew Haldeman (Naples News).

CHURCHILL DOWNS: Otabek Umarov, the owner and trainer of Looks to Spare, the longshot third-place finisher in last year’s Grade 1 Clark Handicap, has been ejected from the track’s facilities and suspended by state stewards (Racing Form).

TEXAS ROADHOUSE has weighed in on new overtime regulations mandated by the Obama Administration (Insider Louisville).

UPS is preparing to add on-demand 3-D printer services (3 D Print)

In other news, Louisville ranked No. 18 on employment site Glassdoor’s list of the 25 best U.S. cities to find work, well down from No. 8 a year ago (Business First). Glass door says its picks stand out for ease in finding work, affordability, and job satisfaction. This year’s No. 8 is Raleigh-Durham, N.C.;  full list.