One of the perks of being a patron of your local library is finding out that they have more than just books, movies, cds, and computers all for your enjoyment. Many libraries have family passes to local museums, zoos, or historical locations. At the Westbury Memorial Public Library, you can obtain passes to two of my favorite places: the American Museum of Natural History and Old Westbury Gardens. With the Friday before Memorial Day all to myself and nothing but blue skies to keep me company, I opted to bike over to the library and pick up the pass for the Gardens.
The original owner of the Westbury House was John Shaffer Phipps (Jay). Jay’s father, Henry Phipps, Jr., was the childhood friend of Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie and Phipps had gone into business together (the Carnegie Steel Company). Henry gave his son Jay run of the family finances in 1904, a few years after the sale of the Carnegie Steel Company and Jay’s marriage to Margarita Grace (Dita). While Jay and Dita began to build their family of four children, Jay commissioned George Abraham Crawley, a designer from London, to begin construction of the sprawling 175-acre property and three-story house that was to be the Westbury House. The house was completed by 1907, the same year that Peggie, their daughter and second child, was born. After fifty happy years with their family at the Westbury House, Jay and Dita passed away leaving the house to Peggie and her three brothers. Seeing this as the end of the time at the House, the family established the grounds as Old Westbury Gardens. It has been open to the public since 1959 and the house itself has been kept in the same manner as it was over fifty years ago.
Although you can’t photograph inside of the House itself, you can photograph all over the grounds. The flower arrangements and edifices make for great photographing, both “big picture” and close-ups as well! I was very excited about this, as I’ve been a bit picky over “big picture” shots. A particular webpage was brought to my attention this month concerning how to take great panoramic shots. I definitely found myself incorporating points one and two (Go 3-D, Go Wide) in my photos at Old Westbury Gardens. As the summer progresses, I’d like to bring my tripod with me to more places so I can work on the other 5 tips.