COTE DE TEXAS: A Pictorial History of Grey Gardens

A Pictorial History of Grey Gardens


It’s hard to understand how this sweet faced child and her mother – perfectly dressed for an afternoon party – could end up as the reclusive, eccentric women that they did, living out their lives in squalor – but that is exactly what happened.

imageI know everyone has probably overdosed on Grey Gardens, but just this week, Architectural Digest trotted out long unseen photographs of Sally Quinn’s restoration of the famous East Hampton’s mansion, once owned by Jacqueline Kennedy’s aunt Edith Ewing Bouvier “big Edie” Beale and her daughter Edith Bouvier “little Edie” Beale. There are multitudes of books and articles written on the history of these two eccentric women - how they came to live in squalor and abject poverty after a life of high society, debutante balls, expensive jewelry and glamour. But, for me, the story has always been about Grey Gardens - the house itself – the beautiful shingled summer mansion built by Joseph Greenleaf Thorpe in 1897 at Georgica Pond in East Hampton, Long Island. Big Edie’s husband Phelan bought Grey Gardens for his soon to be ex-wife in 1923, and she lived there until she died in 1977. The house was sold two years later to Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee. The Bradlees won the house from Little Edie because Quinn promised to restore the house, which just needed “a coat of paint,” according to Beale, rather than tear it down. Today, when it rains for a long period of time, the house will start to faintly smell of cats – 30 years after any felines have lived there – that is how squalid the property truly was. To read all about the history and current events of Grey Gardens and the Beales and anything else on the subject online – see the fabulous blog that was started in 2006: Grey Garden News – written by a raccoon named Buster, in honor of the Beale pets who ate through the sheetrock of the house. Many of the links on Grey Garden News led me to these pictures and stories – thank you Buster!

With this article, Cote de Texas is going to attempt to reconstruct the house and gardens of Grey Gardens, from before the Beales to the Bradlees and on through to the sets of the HBO movie. I have tried to collect all the images of the house available from then and now, and together – we will see how it has evolved over the past hundred years. I plan to keep this up to date, including new pictures of the house as they are made available, so if you have any pictures or see any, please let me know!!! Everyone who reads Cote de Texas knows of my obsession with that other famous Hampton house - Something’s Gotta Give, and Grey Gardens holds a very similar appeal to me, and to you too, I hope! A word of warning, this is long and very detailed. I have divided it into two parts - exterior/interior and gardens, so you might want to read about the house at one sitting and the gardens at another. I sincerely hope you have as much fun reading this as I did putting it all together. Finally, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy!


The young Little Edie modeling – when she was so gorgeous. The eldest of the Bouvier grandchildren – she was considered the beauty in the family, even over her first cousins Jacqueline and Lee Bouvier. In later years Little Edie suffered from alopecia, which is why, in an effort to hide her baldness, she began wearing her trademark scarves and even sweaters on her head, held on with elaborate costume pins. In the original Maysles brothers documentary Grey Gardens – you can actually see her head through the scarves in certain daylight shots. Additionally, in other scenes – you can see tufts of snow white hair peeking out. Did she truly suffer from alopecia? Her cousin and family historian John Davis wrote that he once witnessed her setting her locks on fire because she feared her hair was thinning. The truth may be somewhere in the middle, as it usually is.


The HBO movie Grey Gardens starring Drew Barrymore as Little Edie and Jessica Lange as Big Edie was remarkably similar to the Maysles documentary – word for word, scene for scene, especially in the later years. Here Barrymore wears a dress modeled on the one Little Edie wore, above.



A rough sketch of the floor plans, created by a fan of Grey Gardens. The first floor starting from the left shows the dining room, center entry hall, living room, solarium. Upstairs layout is at front right. The yellow bedroom where the Edies lived during the Maysles documentary is on the left side, back room on the floor plan. The pink bedroom attached to the sunbathing deck is the room on the right side, back.



A satellite picture of East Hamptons. The arrow shows Grey Gardens and its close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.


A close-up shot of the property – taken in winter. Here you can see the left side of the house that faces the famous Walled Garden. To the left is the front of the house and the circular drive. Behind the house is the green swimming pool and behind that is the tennis courts, which owner Ben Bradlee insisted on installing against the wishes of his wife and the landscape designer. At the bottom of the picture – you can see the brown hedge which separates the property from the neighbors. Once four acres, today Grey Gardens is just two.


Looking from the other side of the property – you can clearly see the back wing where the kitchen and sitting room are located. Connected to that is the secret Private Garden – hidden behind the tall hedges. Notice the hedges that line the entire property. An again – you can see in detail the concrete Walled Garden to the right of the house. You can even see the pergola slats in the center of the back wall. Past the Walled Garden is the swimming pool, then the tennis courts. I wish there was a satellite picture from the summer!!!!



The original Grey Gardens, 1915, before any of the famous landscaping was installed. The building behind the house on the right is the original carriage house. Nothing is said about the carriage house today – is it still standing, or was it sold off as another piece of property along with the two acres?


A hand tinted postcard showing the same photograph of Grey Gardens. At this time – the house was owned by the Phillips family. In 1913, the Robert Hills bought the summer house and Anna Gilman Hill created its original gardens - including the famous Walled Garden made of imported Spanish concrete. At the time the house stood on four acres, not the two acres of today, and it was said to have 28 rooms, not the 14 rooms that the Bradlees say is the true number. There is no side solarium to the right of the house at this time – it was added sometime later, probably during the Hill years.


Taken in the early 20s, the house is now covered in ivy. Notice the room above the porch – called the Eye of the House room by Little Edie - is still not enclosed as it was during the Beales era. Notice how the windows are all open to catch the sea breezes. There is still no circular drive – instead the front yard is grass. So neat, clean and manicured!


The same picture, not hand tinted. The upstairs room at the right is now the Bradlees master bedroom. The dining room is front, left and the living room is front right – under the porch.


The newly built solarium, with a pergola (no longer there today) during the Hill years.


Little Edie and her brothers playing on the roof – not sure exactly where this was taken, but it looks similar to the one story area shown above at the far left of the house.


Edie’s younger brother at the house. There is now a hedge growing and the circular drive way has been installed. Was this done to coincide with the advent of the Model T car?


The house, built for the HBO movie, is depicted here as it was in 1936. The movie house, built in Canada, was quite a feat - the resemblance is remarkable. The Eyes of the House room above the front porch is now enclosed.


A young beautiful Edie in front of the solarium with its distinctive diamond paned windows.


Little Edie’s brothers on the upper sunbathing balcony at Grey Gardens. The railings look different, shown below, but these do seem to match the entry hall and dining room wainscot. Perhaps these original railings were damaged in a storm and replaced with something less substantial?


The back of the house, showing the sunbathing balcony with the different railings. The balcony was probably added by the Beales and has now been demolished by the Bradlees.


1972 - The world first heard of the Beales, the eccentric relations to the famous Bouvier family, in 1972 when the magazines reported on the eviction threat they faced. Jacqueline Onassis and her sister Lee Radziwill, came to their rescue and paid $30,000 to have the house cleaned up. At that time, there were no working toilets, and Grey Gardens was home to large families of cats and raccoons. Here, in a Life Magazine pictorial, Little Edie, in her early 50s, stands in front of the squalid mansion.


1972 - This picture shows just how dense the landscape had become, a “sea of leaves” Little Edie called it in the documentary. Little Edie claimed she liked the “vines” that had overtaken the property.


1972 - You can just barely make out the old car – far right - that had been left for years to rust away on the property. During the clean up it was finally hauled off. Notice that large tree towards the right of the property, it is still alive and is quite a specimen (see further below.)


The house as it appeared in 1972 depicted in the HBO movie. What an uncanny copy! It looks exactly like the real house. The production department is sure to win an Emmy for the movie.


Outside the small pink bedroom is the balcony where the Edies sunbathed. The railings are different here than during their childhood years. The best view of the Atlantic Ocean was from this balcony.


Big and Little Edie on the balcony in the cold. During the filming of the Maysles documentary – there is a famous scene on this balcony. Filming of Grey Gardens lasted for just six weeks, September through October.


1979: The beginning of the Bradlee era. Here you can see the back balcony which was removed and never replaced. Buster, the raccoon who writes the Grey Gardens News blog feels it should have been restored for historical accuracy. The Bradlees disagree. I do too – a living room with an outside balcony above it steals all the natural light. I’m sure Sally felt the living room was much lighter and brighter without the upstairs balcony blocking the sun. Notice here too that the side solarium addition is still enclosed with diamond paned glass - although its roof had caved in, exposing the solarium to the elements. For a long time after the Bradlees rebuilt the solarium, it was not enclosed with glass - instead it remained an open porch. Eventually they did close up the solarium with its distinctive diamond paned glass.


1985: The house as photographed by Peter Vitale for Architectural Digest. Due to the huge renewed interest in all things Grey Gardens, Architectural Digest just recently republished these long-forgotten images. The photos were taken a few years after the Bradlees had moved in. The gardens had not yet developed into the romantic, wild, and lush ones that they are today. Quinn said they had to wait years and years for the garden to finally mature. She found pictures of the original Hill garden and says that the two gardens are remarkably similar. Note: in this picture the balcony of the Eye of the House room, above the front porch, is no longer enclosed, just as it was when the house was originally built. Either the Hills or the Beales had first enclosed it in glass. Sometime after this picture was taken, the balcony was finally enclosed in diamond shaped glass – just like the glass found in the solarium. This detail is not historically correct though – the original glass in the Eye of the House window was plain, not diamond shaped, a detail that the Grey Garden News blog is most concerned with.


Town and Garden magazine took this photo in 2003. Notice that the house shingles have faded to dark brown, just like a Nantucket house. And notice – no back balcony. The door that once opened onto the balcony now opens to a Juliet balcony.


2005: hard to tell if the trim is blue or white here. But this view gives a clear shot of the solarium, now all glassed in. The Bradlees replaced the windows in the living room and solarium with French doors so that the back yard and deck was accessible to the house.


2007: Here you can plainly see the doors in the solarium and the living room that open onto the deck. Also above, now that the balcony is demolished, the glass doors open to railings, a type of Juliet balcony, in order to still catch the sea view and winds.


Today: The back yard – the solarium is on the left, then the living room. Past the corner is the kitchen and sitting room. In this picture the shingles are in various stages of newness: the wing with the kitchen and sitting room and the lower section of the house – all looks recently replaced.


Close up the side solarium with its recently replaced windows. The third floor attic space was once son Quinn’s room. Now it is a dormitory for younger relatives and friends.


A recent garden party – I think the house looks so pretty in black and white too! Here you can see the proximity of the swimming pool to the back deck. At the very right of the house – off the kitchen/sitting room is the Private Garden, totally enclosed within large privet hedges.


Looking at the corner of the house from the back yard. To the right is the Private Garden, hidden behind tall hedges. Straight ahead are, probably, the windows in the powder room behind the stairs. Right above, on the second floor, is the row of windows that surround the stair landing.


Not exactly sure where this leads, but it probably is off the kitchen/sitting room wing, facing the street side. Anyone know for sure?????


A rare view of the left side of the house facing Apaquoque Lane – the north side. This was shot by a fan during a Christmastime pilgrimage. There is a Grey Gardens fan site on the Yahoo Talk groups – where people post pictures of their GG stalking trips. On the first floor here – the three windows are the dining room. The next set of windows are the kitchen and sitting room. The lone window on the second floor by the gable is in the yellow bedroom where the Edies lived while the documentary was filmed.


Today: taken from the street - no, this was not taken in the Beales time! But the house is without a doubt, still covered by much greenery. Neighbor, author and Godmother to Quinn Bradlee, Nora Ephron says that today Grey Gardens still has that overgrown, mysterious quality it had during the Beales era (when she was a neighbor then too!) – it’s just more beautiful now.


Winter at Grey Gardens. You can see evidence on the front porch that the Bradlees use the wintertime to spruce the mansion up. Here it looks like they are painting the house and/or replacing the lower level shingles. The hydrangeas – so gorgeous in the summertime, are now just wispy golden balls.


The house as it looks today – with a gravel circular drive, and blue trim. The front porch was rebuilt by the Bradlees, losing a lot of its charm – according to Buster, the raccoon, of Grey Garden News – one of the premier blogs on the subject. Notice too, that balcony above the porch is now enclosed in the diamond panes.



An earlier shot of Little Edie before Grey Gardens had completely fallen in disrepair.


1975 - The original front porch – the columns softly curve into the support beam here. But today – after the Bradlees replaced the porch, the columns are now at a straight angle. Also notice the balusters which are closely placed to each other. Today, the Bradlee porch has wide spaced balusters – a detail that Buster the raccoon from Grey Gardens News finds most distasteful.


The Beales porch – on the left you can really see the curvature of the posts at the top and the tight balusters.


1975 - From the original documentary – here you can see the benches on the front porch that remain there today.


2003 - The front porch in Town and Country – notice the shingles are the natural color and the trim is white. And notice the gorgeous hydrangeas – they surround the property.


The front porch today – notice the enclosed diamond paned balcony of the Eye of the House room. And notice the straight columns, no longer softly curved as originally designed. In these pictures, it appears the shingles downstairs were recently replaced – hence their lighter color, which almost looks like yellow paint.


The front porch today – compare the wide spaced rails here with the more tightly spaced balusters used originally. And notice the benches that are still being used today.


The front porch barely visible behind the magnificent tree probably planted by Mrs. Hill.


Beautiful diamond paned doors leading off the front porch into the side solarium. The porch also has a wonderful beaded board ceiling. It is the details like this that help you understand why Sally Quinn fell so in love with the house – that she restored it instead of tearing it down, something that everyone, including her husband, advised her to do. When she was first shown Grey Gardens as a potential owner, the real estate agent refused to go inside – the stench was too horrible, as were the fleas.


Today – the house almost looks like it was painted to match the hydrangeas! The trim is now light blue. It looks like the shingles on the first floor have been painted yellow – but that is just because they were recently replaced – whereas the second story shingles may not have been replaced in a while.


A side view of the front porch. To the right is the solarium, which was a later addition to the house probably put in by the Hills – the second owners of Grey Gardens.



1936 - The gorgeous carved stairway is the star of the house and was a leading character in the original Maysles brothers documentary. Here is the front hall as imagined by HBO’s production designer Kalina Ivanov. The HBO sets are gorgeous – for the year 1936 - before the squalor set in. I haven’t found any pictures from the actual interiors in the 30s, so it’s hard to know if the house actually looked like this.


The HBO 1936 entry hall. I can assure you there was NOT a trendy Swedish sofa in the original house! The movie set shows two sconces where there was and still is only one, and these sconces are much fancier than the real ones. See further below.


1971 - The Edies in the front hall. This wicker chair is in the living room today, painted white and fully restored by Quinn. When these photos of Big Edie were taken, she had not been downstairs in over 18 months!!!!! She commented, “Edie, you haven’t been dusting” – a slight understatement. The photograph is scary looking to me!!!


Little Edie welcomes Life Magazine into her house to see it all cleaned up, paid for by her cousins Jackie and Lee. After the house was cleaned up to pass the health department inspection in 1972, it immediately went right back downhill. Many people were shocked to learn that the Maysles documentary was filmed AFTER the clean-up, since the house was so disgusting during the filming.


Fans of the documentary will recognize this then freshly painted blue paint color in the entry hall. All the moldings in the entry hall are so distinctive and beautiful. The original sconce, still in the house today.


1985: Peter Vitale captured the newly refurbished entry hall for Architectural Digest. The beautiful wallpaper is from Cowtan and Tout. The console table (flip top dining table) and chair are originally from the house – brought there by the Hills! When Little Edie sold the house to the Bradlees, Quinn said Edie could either leave it empty and “broom clean” or leave everything in the house, as it was. Edie chose to leave everything. The attic was filled with untold treasures: papers, letters, photographs, accessories, dinnerware, and furniture. Quinn was besides herself when she discovered the attic loot. She was so excited and overwhelmed, she says she started up smoking again. The Bradlees furnished the house almost entirely from the furniture found up there. Of course, everything first had to be restored and fumigated. In the Beales time, the newel posts were painted – but Quinn has stained them dark to match the floors. The sconces appear to be the original ones shown above.


Today – the chair has been upholstered in a floral chintz fabric, which I much prefer. Quinn has stated that over the years she has replaced a lot of the chintz fabrics as they faded with new, fresh ones. I wonder if that is a powder room, wallpapered in a floral paper under the stairs? The striped Cowtan and Tout wallpaper continues upstairs onto the second floor landing. I think this is my favorite space in the house!!!


Today - A closeup of the refurbished entry hall – it appears the new fabric on the chair is Bowood, by Colefax and Fowler.


Taken off a You Tube tour of the house – this glimpse of Bowood wallpaper is probably in the powder room under the stairs. The Bradlees have framed an original poster from the documentary. Watch this You Tube video for a tour of the house!!! It is fabulous!!!


Original photographs of the house are displayed on the console, along with home grown hydrangeas. Quinn says the hydrangeas from the gardens are the most delicious colors – I agree! The framed drawing above the table is of the Grey Gardens of old.


Albert Maysles returns to Grey Gardens for the first time since filming – 30 years prior. There was a garden party held for the occasion of the anniversary. Albert’s brother David, the younger of the two, died in 1987. Here Maysles looks at the old pictures – during an interview.


I just love this room and that chair and wallpaper so much – I had to show it one more time!! This time, a guest from an open house party thrown by the East Hampton Historical Society.



The living room, 1936, as depicted in the HBO special. There are no pictures that I know of from this era to compare this with. While this room is quite beautiful, I’m not sure if it accurately portrays the Beale interior. For one thing, the bookshelf is missing here. It should be where the oil painting is. But rather if it is faithful to the original or not – isn’t this just beautiful?


The HBO movie set – the living room from the other side, which faces the front porch. To the left is the solarium with its diamond paned windows.


The portrait of Big Edie is above the mantel. The mantel is an almost exact replica of the one in the house today! (see pictures below)


Another view from the HBO movie – looking into the solarium. Today the Bradlees have replaced this wall with French doors leading into the garden room.


1971. The first pictures of the Beales taken in the squalor. There are very few, if any, pictures taken during the years in between the good times and the 1970s. So for thirty years, the two lived totally reclusive lives, mostly in bed. What did they do all those years? Family visited infrequently – apparently the grandchildren saw their grandmother just a few times. The HBO movie tried to tell the story of before and after – but not much was said of the many long years in between. And – the Maysles filmed for only six short weeks – all the pictures come from such a short time of history in so many, many years. What a sad existence. This picture is in the living room looking at the back yard. The Bradlees replaced this large window with French doors to open the room to the deck and pool area.


The famous portrait of Big Edie – this picture was taken in the living room where the bookshelves are. The actual portrait of Big Edie is quite different than the HBO portrait.


1971 – Before the big clean up. The living room with the remnants of a sofa. Notice where a painting once hung on the wall – maybe Big Edie’s portrait?


1971. And at the other side of the living room. The flip top table in the entry hall is shown in this picture, as is the piano and just a few cats.


From the HBO movie – as it is depicted the 1970s. Notice how they used the Life Magazine, with cousin Jackie on the cover, as a prop.


1979: The squalor - the living room as the Bradlees photographed it. The piano fell apart when Sally hit a key. Through the large opening here, you can see the entry hall with the wainscot molding leading up the stairs at the right, then further into the dining room. What a dump!!!!! Look at the walls and ceilings. The floor is not even recognizable as hardwood anymore. The table in the dining room is the same one in the entry hall today. Where the bookshelves are here, the Bradlees added on to them making them reach the ceiling.


1985. What a HUGE difference! Architectural Digest depicts the early stage of the living room. The chaises, wicker, and brass lamps all came from the Beales attict. The rugs used throughout are coir matting (I would use seagrass, of course!) It was said that all the coir was found in the house and was restored – but I’m not sure that would be possible. Notice the bookshelves, now reaching up to the ceiling. The fancy crown molding has been replaced with a less dressier style. The view out to the back yard is just beautiful. The Bradlees added the French doors to open up the living room to the deck. What an absolutely perfect summer house!


A close up of the chaises and fireplace by Architectural Digest. Notice how Quinn painted the space between the crown moldings seafoam green to match the fabrics. Quinn used roses as a theme, inside and out Grey Gardens. What a gorgeous basket of roses in the fireplace!


The living room – with a vintage French newspaper ad. Interesting starburst mirror she is holding!!! I believe the chair on the left is the same chair that Big Edie is sitting in a few pictures above – now all nicely painted white, cleaned, and fumigated.


Today: Years after the Architectural Digest photo shoot, the house was photographed again. The solarium is seen through the French doors on the left. Not much has changed – an area rug was added, but otherwise it is very similar – still fresh and summery.


Today: Looking out to the front porch from the living room.


Today: The living room – the French doors on the right lead to the solarium.


At a fundraiser party – guest sit on the chintz sofa - in front of all the books – many which came from the Beales attic.


Was the piano added to the house – or was it just rented for the occasion?



The HBO dining room – in 1936. I love the curtains and the Empire style light fixture! So beautiful. Wonderful wallpaper too. You can see the Dutch front door through the opening. The wainscot and built in cabinets appear an almost exact copy as seen in the Bradlees dining room today.


1936 - From HBO: In the dining room – looking through the entry hall, stairway on the left, into the living room where the portrait is. The large summer house required much staff and after Big Edie’s husband left her, he no longer paid for the help. Through the years, she was forced to live on a small amount of money left to her by her father, which her two sons managed for her. It was claimed that Jackie’s father Black Jack Bouvier actually stole most of the money that was intended for Big Edie, his sister, to give to his daughters Lee and Jackie. But the truth might also be this: at the wedding of one of her sons, Big Edie, showed up halfway through the ceremony – dressed in her Bohemian style. Her father was so disgusted by her behavior that it is said he changed his will two days after the wedding, leaving her just $65,000. which had to last her for the rest of her life. It wasn’t enough to properly take care of Grey Gardens – hence its downfall. In the movie, much is made of the fine diamond jewelry that the Edies owned – and recently, some of these jewels were put on the market for sale by Big Edie’s granddaughter-in-law, Eva – who also owns a fabulous web site selling costume jewelry: The Grey Gardens Collection. Be sure to look at their velvet cuffs – I bought two and they are drop dead gorgeous!!!!!!


Another view from the HBO movie.


1972 - The dining room – with all the accumulated cans of cat food. Notice the assistant holding up the drapes on the left. Probably holding his nose too!


During the cleanup – the dining room. Notice how the ceiling has broken through the sheetrock. How, how, how does something get this filthy?????? How???????


After the big 1972 clean up – the dining room with clean 50s style furniture that someone probably donated. Looks like an early version of a sectional!! Within a few years, the house was right back to where it was before the clean up, as documented by the Maysles in 1975. In this picture you can see the built ins in the dining room and the sconces – all of which remain in the house today.


The dining room – as seen by Architectural Digest in 1985.


In 2003, the house appeared in Town in Country. The table has changed to an oval one but the chairs and chintz remains the same.


And still later, today the room is now painted aqua – hard to tell in the pictures above if it was always this color. Here you can see the built ins and wainscot – original to the house.


The dining room set up buffet style for a party.


A rare glimpse of the dining room fireplace, beautifully restored by the Bradlees. On the left is a built in cabinet. To the right is the door to the kitchen area.


Forgive the Party Picture Logo – but this was the only picture I could find of the tall cabinet to the left of the fireplace. Notice it too has the diamond shaped glass, like the Eye of the House room and the solarium.


Looks yummy! On the right – you can see the paneled door to the kitchen. This door leads into the wing that protrudes from the left side of the house, making a 90 degree corner at the back facade.


Another recent party pic to show a close up of the fabric used in the dining room and at its windows!!! I wish someone would invite moi to a party at Grey Gardens! I promise, I’d straighten my hair first!!



The cleaned up Butler’s Pantry that was said to be between the kitchen and dining room. Further down is a picture of the Butler’s Pantry today – now a part of the kitchen/sitting room.



1972. In the kitchen with its bead board walls. I count four cats in this picture alone, plus the two in the picture below!


Proudly modeling in the kitchen, like nothing at all is wrong with this picture. At least the cat knows something is strange!!! Doesn’t that cat’s expression on top of the refrigerator just say it all? Taken in 1972 before the great clean-up, the house probably stayed clean for a few days afterwards. You can see the hot water heater behind the ladder - this is next to the stove shown in a few photographs below.


All cleaned up – exact same space as shown above. The Bradlees removed that door and opened up the area to make one large space.


And her new stove, which was quickly abandoned for hotplates in the bedrooms upstairs – God forbid they should have to walk downstairs ever!!! Who can forget Big Edie boiling a large pot of corn IN BED???!!!!! OMG!!! Hysterical, but so sad. These pictures really show Little Edie’s philosophy about life – I mean – truly how embarrassing- posing in your newly cleaned up house like it is just a normal occurrence. But the Edies didn’t care what anyone else thought about them - at all. They just didn’t care.


The stove in 1972 during the clean up. This is now the kitchen/sitting room – the hot water heater shown in the picture before is behind the ladder.


1979: The same exact space as shown above. The same stove, the same hot water heater – as the Bradlees found them. The stove was falling through the floor by then. During the cleanup someone had painted this area and tried to make it more cheery.


Architectural Digest: 1985 The kitchen/sitting room – with its new stove that is against the brick wall in the same exact spot shown in the pictures above. The Bradlees opened up this space to the area behind the stove, which is now the breakfast room. I wonder if the white chairs and table in there are the ones seen in the dining room, before the clean up? The new French doors on the right lead to the swimming pool and the back yard. The actual kitchen is to the left of this picture – along the left side of the house. Also, the circular stairs lead upstairs – but to where? I wonder if that upstairs area was once the servants quarters on the second floor.


I did find this small picture of the kitchen – in the party pics – sorry for the logo! But you can see the kitchen is under the same three windows that face out on the left side of the house as it was always was.


This is the only other picture I could find of the current kitchen. You can see the refrigerator and oven and lots of beadboard. The Bradlees actually only stay at Grey Gardens for one month out the year – August. (Wow! I would live there all year or at least all summer!!) The other 11 months, it is rented by this woman – Frances Haywood. Haywood is a philanthropist and a well known animal rights activist. She opens Grey Gardens for many different fund raisers through. Here she is shown with the piano player. Not sure who he is!!!


The refrigerator encased in beadboard - does this show the Butlers Pantry in the back? Probably. The cabinetry looks the same. Thanks to the Party Pics! Wish they didn’t have those logos on them though. Sorry about that!


One more mystery solved by the Party Pics! At the top of the circular stairs is this room that appears to be a working office.



The Solarium before the Beales – during the Hill’s ownership. Notice how the doors fold back onto each other – this is how they open today.


The Solarium from the garden book about Anna Gilman Hill. You can see how close the house is to the ocean when no other houses blocked its view. You can see the pergola here, but where are the garden walls? This must have been before they were built!!


An early picture of Little Edie and her two younger brothers Phelan Jr. and Bouvier or Buddy as the family knew him. Here they are in the solarium with its distinctive diamond paned windows. Both Phelan and Bouvier are now deceased. Phelan’s daughter actually lives in Houston!! Stalking time!! And Bouvier’s son Bouvier Jr. is the executor of the estate. Bouvier’s wife Eva is the woman who runs the web site that sells the velvet cuffs, mentioned before. AND, another son Chris actually lived with Edie for a while in California after she left Grey Gardens. She left California to move to Florida so she could swim in the ocean every day. The Pacific was too cold for Edie. The family all say they adored their aunt and grandmother.


1979: The solarium as the Bradlees found it. The roof had collapsed and was open to the elements. What a mess!! The back part where the open roof is is actually the addition that was added later.


Party pics again! The solarium – are the doors open or is this before they were installed? Hard to say for sure. To the right – through the French doors you can see into the living room with its bookshelves. Against the back wall to the is a large built in bar. The floor of the solarium is tiled.

Snap268 Another Party Pic: The solarium – with the built in bar against the back wall of the living room’s fireplace. The door opens to the front porch.


In this Party Pic, the solarium is now enclosed with the diamond pane glass. Recognize the NY Housewife – the Countess?!!


The now enclosed solarium – it looks out on a straight axis to the Walled Garden all the way back to the pergola!! Beautiful!



1972-73? Rare photos of Little Edie holding court. This picture really surprised me – where do the French doors on the left lead? Do they lead to a bedroom or a hallway? Were they added later? They just seem out of place up here with all the solid core doors in the house. Notice though that the distinctive molding around the top of the doors is around the French doors too – so they must have been there originally. The door behind Edie with the transom– is that a bathroom? The wall behind Edie faces the front of the house – that would be the Eye of House room with the glass enclosed balcony. In fact it is – as you will see in a few pictures below.


Close up of the mysterious French doors. I have finally – after four days, figured out where the French doors lead – to the master suite!


The upstairs landing. After a small fire during the filming of the documentary – the hole in the wall became huge. Nice little guest.


HBO set: The movie theatre upstairs where the Beales watched the Maysles documentary and gave it a thumbs up. The bank of windows on the left are at the back of the house and overlook the pool and backyard. The yellow bedroom where they lived is right behind that chair at the end of the landing.


1979: The staircase, as photographed after the Bradlees had bought the house. The yellow bedroom where the Edies lived is through that door on the right, past the three windows that overlook the back yard.


Today: From the You Tube video – the landing with the French Doors. Behind the doors is the master suite!



1036 - HBO movie: the master bedroom as imagined for Big Edie – one of the prettier rooms in the movie. Notice the wonderful hand painted wallpaper and French furniture. So lovely! Of course – it is doubtful that the real master bedroom ever looked like this, but it could have!


Another view of the bedroom, in different lighting – here it looks more blue, a color that runs throughout the house in the HBO movie. In real life, we do know that the entry hall was painted a strong turquoise shade of blue. HBO certainly got the paneling of the doors correct!


The master dressing room – so pretty! From the HBO movie. There are said to be just 5 bedrooms in the house. The third floor was once where the Bradlee’s son Quinn lived. Now it is a bunkroom for grandchildren. The master suite is what lies behind the French doors on the landing.


1972. I believe this might be the original master bedroom where Big Edie once slept. During the clean up she moved to another bedroom, the smaller yellow one and I don’t think she ever moved back into the master bedroom. Notice the cat book! Always cats, cats, cats. Interesting though, after allowing cats to destroy Grey Gardens, at the time that Little Edie died – she hadn’t owned a cat in five years! The box in their room was probably from a food delivery. The person who delivered food to the Beales said that he was told to put the box of food on the porch, turn, and run away as fast as possible.


1979: The master bedroom as found by the Bradlees – with Little Edie’s attempts to decorate it in her bohemian sense of style. If it was only clean – it looks like something you might find in domino magazine!!


Sally restored this cabinet found in the pink bedroom and all the things inside – today it is on display in Grey Gardens!


Another picture of the pink bedroom as the Bradlees found it. This is what the Bradlees use for their master bedroom today, see below.


The master bedroom in 1985 – as Architectural Digest showed it. The quilt is from Sally’s collection. The iron bed was found in the attic. The small wicker desk and chair are also original to the house. This bedroom is located at the front of the house – if looking at the facade, it would be on the front right. This is the suite behind the French doors. I believe there is a sitting room, not shown.


Another important Party Pic – this shows the fireplace in the master bedroom. The chintz on the chaise has been updated. And the curtains have changed – thank God! Much better! The coir rug appears to be different too. It’s good to see that the Bradlees continually update the house – not ever allowing it to go downhill like the Beales did.



Today – another Party Pic – but a very important shot to figure out the layout. I enlarged the picture so you could see inside the bedroom. This shows the area where the Eye of the House is. The transom that was over the door was removed – but if you look inside the bedroom, you can make out the diamond paned balcony that was enclosed by the Bradlees. Another mystery solved! The other door is a bathroom I think. To the right through the open door is a large bedroom that was once the boys room – pictured below. It is at the front, left side of the house if facing it.



There are said to be 5 bedrooms in Grey Gardens – not sure if that is correct though. But I think this may the boys original bedroom, the clue I am going on is it appears to be the same chest in the next picture – but there is no mirror in this picture. Plus the terrible roof damage looks the same in a following picture.


1972 - This was from the Life Magazine story – after the clean up. In the movie Little Edie says it’s her brother’s room. This room faces the front of the house on the left side when facing the facade.


1979: Years later, as the Bradlees found the same room, now a disaster. All the drawers are broken on the chest. Notice the game board on the left, the seashells, and all the piles of books.


Today – from You Tube – a glimpse of the room as it is today. Chintz curtains, of course!


This is the room today with two four poster beds and a French armoire. I believe this is where the renter stays – that is a picture of her dog!!



1975 – another important room - the tiny pink bedroom. This room is at the back of the house – through the door is the balcony/deck that overlooks the ocean. Much action takes place in this room during the movie. Most of the furniture is still in this room – just painted white now.


The same room – the chest shown here is actually now in what used to be the yellow room in the movie. Painted white, too.


In the small pink bedroom, the same spot – wrapped in their coats in the middle of the winter. I wonder about the doorknobs – did the Bradlees keep them all?


1979 - The pink room as the Bradlees found it when they moved in. The door leads to the balcony, which the Bradlees demolished.


Today: how the pink room now looks. The door to the balcony and the other window were taken out and replaced with two Juliet balconies. The large balcony where the Edies sunbathed is no longer standing – the Bradlees demolished it. All this furniture was restored by Sally and painted white.


From You Tube – sorry for the bad quality!!! Notice how Sally created a closet in the area under the eaves. Also the window was moved – pushed closer to the wall. In the room on the other side of the wall another window was added, creating symmetry on the outside.



1936 - HBO movie – Little Edie’s childhood bedroom. The white furniture resembles that found in the house by the Bradlees. Is this what was once the yellow bedroom where the documentary was filmed? Could be!


1075 - After the big clean up - the yellow bedroom where most of the action in the Maysles documentary took place. The two ate, lived, and slept here. To Edie’s left you can see the hot plate on her bed where she made her meals. So appetizing! Big Edie shows herself as a beautiful debutante in the picture.


From the documentary – in this famous scene – a cat goes to the bathroom on Big Edie’s portrait and she thinks that is so funny!!! Through that door is a large closet that connects to another bedroom. This room is actually very very small.


Real life. During the long, cold winters, the two woman stayed mostly in bed wrapped in their coats – there was no heat in the house, nor was there running water for years. Notice Big Edie admiring herself in the mirror.


The HBO movie set – hard to tell if this picture is from the movie or real life. But – it’s the movie set!


Today: from You Tube: past the bank of windows on the landing that look out the backyard, the door leads to the yellow bedroom.


From You Tube again – the yellow bedroom today! Painted cream. Instead of two beds, there is only one – with a pretty wood frame. As with the rest of the house, chintz curtains and bedding. So much pathos in this small room once!


The once blue chest that was in the pink bedroom is now white and is in the once yellow room. Got that?


Albert Maysles returns to the yellow bedroom at the 30th anniversary party. The bathroom is behind them. He is such a charming man – be sure watch the You Tube video of him.



1979: Not sure where this is, but it is Little Edie’s bedroom, after she was left alone in the big, old house for two years, following Big Edie’s death in 1977. That’s a light bulb in a hanging bird cage. Little Edie appears to be neater and cleaner than her mother. You can see this in the yellow bedroom too – Little Edie’s bed always has a blanket made up on it.



To refresh your memory of the property layout – here is the front of the house. The Walled Garden is to the right. The swimming pool is colored vivid green and behind it is the tennis court.


Looking from the left side of the house with the Private Garden hidden behind the tall hedges clearly visible behind the kitchen. The Walled Garden is also plainly seen here.



An early picture of the original Grey Gardens Walled Garden designed by Anna Gilman Hill. You can see the little house on the back, left and the pergola on the right. This garden was completely hidden when the Bradlees bought the property. Only after the yard was bulldozed were the concrete walls revealed.


Probably the same exact picture – just a different look to it.


Scene at the garden gate during Hill’s time.


The Walled Garden – the little house and the pergola!!


Rare color view of Walled Garden and pergola during Hill’s era.


Bench in the Walled Garden during Hill’s era. This looks like the bench at the front porch but taller.


Color photograph of the early days of the Walled Garden under Anna Gilman Hill’s green thumb.


Another view inside the Walled Garden.


Notice the picture below is the same shot as this one!!!


1979: The Spanish concrete walls of the Walled Garden are rediscovered in the late 70’s by the Bradlees.


A very young Sally Quinn – 1985 for Architectural Digest – leading visitors into the Walled Garden. An amazing factoid – the Bradlees had only been married one year before they took on the massive job of renovating Grey Gardens!!!!


In 1985 – looking through the gate into the Walled Garden. Here the gardens were just getting started. It took years, decades, to get the gardens to where they were supposed to be – lush and full. Notice the keystone!


1985 – looking from the pergola in the Walled Garden back up to the house – located on the straight axis. In this picture – you can see that the solarium windows have not yet been replaced on the side porch. Today – this porch is completely closed in again, just as it was when it was added to the house sometime after it was first built.


The Walled Garden in 1985. Just planted – it looks so bare here. You can see both front garden doors and the small house at the back left. The pergola has been rebuilt. A few years later, Sally decided she didn’t like this arrangement with the circular bed and hired another landscaper designer. The inside circle was cleared – and the plants were placed around the clearing. Notice how the wall is not closed here in the middle.


Today – inside the Walled Garden. The same view as above – hard to believe! What a difference 20 years makes. You can see how the chairs are now inside the once round bed – with the flowers encircling them. The concrete walls can barely be seen because of all the vines and flowers. You can just make out a blue gate on the right side. Behind the chairs is the pergola – hidden under the vines. The Thatched Roof House peeks out on the left, just outside the walls. And notice to the back – the row of hedges and trees that act as the property fence. Too beautiful for words.


Today: the pergola in the walled garden – shaded and serene.


Today – inside the Walled Garden. Side view of the house.


Walled Garden – a peek at the front porch.


Another view inside the Walled Garden – taken at a fund raising party.



The thatched roof house located right outside the Walled Garden was restored by 1985. Notice yet another garden gate leading into the back part of the garden.


Today: And how it looks landscaped! Quite a huge, huge, gorgeous difference!!!!! Notice in the back the tall hedge that encircles the property and acts as fence. Oh – what I would do to visit this garden in the summer!!!!!


The house, decades later – its thatched roof doesn’t look so shiny and new.


Charming view of its window and the picket fence in the back. Notice too the thatched roof! Too cute for words!


From the book, A Room of Her Own, by Chris Madden, thank you to Buster of the Grey Gardens News blog. This was taken inside the Thatched Room House – all white wicker and faded chintzes.



The swimming pool back in 2003. You can see the thatched roof house in the back right.


Today: The swimming pool is located behind the house. The Bradlees replaced windows with French doors in the living room and the solarium to open the back of the house to the gardens. A deck leads off the entire back of house to the pool area.


Today: The landscape architect stands out by the pool. The Thatched Roof house is in the background. Isn’t this just beautiful?


Today: Another view of the swimming pool, looking at it from behind.


And coming up from the tennis courts, looking up at the pool.


And a view from the house, looking down at the gardens from the Juliet balcony in the once pink bedroom. You can see the ocean from here! The swimming pool is on the left, then the Thatched Roof House, next to the Walled Garden where the two Adirondack chairs sit. The tall hedges mark the edge of the property on the right side. So, so, so, so romantic and too wonderful for words!!!!!



Behind the kitchen/sitting room where the stove heater is, is the Private Garden, completely surrounded by tall privet hedges – this garden is clearly seen in the satellite photographs. Sally plants herbs here to use in the kitchen.


The Private Garden – a perfect place for breakfast or a small dinner party.


Peeping at the Private Garden through a small arch cut in the hedge.


Party goers – in the back of these women – you can see the tall hedge that hides the Private Garden.



Through the trees on the left you can just make out where the tennis court is. At first Sally had a terrible time trying to camouflage the area – but apparently she succeeded in the end.


Today: The tennis courts are just beyond the swimming pool.



Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis at the funeral of her aunt, Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale, who died in 1977 at the age of 81. Little Edie lived for two more years at Grey Gardens, alone, until she sold the house to newlyweds Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee.


A very rare picture of Little Edie, all dressed up and away from Grey Gardens. Here she is at the wedding of a friend, and reportedly she sang at the wedding!


After Little Edie left Grey Gardens, she lived in NYC for a while, then Florida, she then moved to Montreal to learn French, then lived for a while with her nephew in California, and finally settled back in Florida – where her brothers had begged her and her mother to go 30 years before. She looks so happy here, so normal – and so clean! In Florida she swam every day and her nephew said she must have had friends for she talked on the telephone for hours. She was happy everyone says. She lived for 23 years after leaving Grey Gardens and died in 2002 at the age of 84.


Edie is survived by three nephews and one niece. Pictured here at Grey Gardens is her nephew Bouvier Beale Jr. and his wife Eva, who runs the Grey Gardens Collection. Be sure to check it out! Edie’s niece actually lives right near me in Houston! hehe I’ll behave myself!


Today, Grey Gardens is owned by Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee of the The Washington Post. The Bradlees come to stay at Grey Gardens, with their son Quinn, just one month out of the year – August. Love this picture!!!


Frances Hayward rents Grey Gardens 11 months out of the year from Bradlees. She frequently opens the house for garden parties each summer.


The happy tenants of Grey Gardens – wonder which month this was? Did Frances get to stay the night or the Bradlees?

The End!

Note: The beautiful gardens were designed and are attended to by landscape designer Victoria Fensterer. To watch a video of the gardens go to her web site here.


  1. At the end of this blog I thought "WOW"! Not just for the incredible story of Grey Gardens, but for your amazing talent to tell it here! WOW!

  2. Wow Joni! I loved this and what
    incrdible work you did on this post, as well, as the one about the home! It is an amazing story and so intriguing. I don't have HBO but plan on getting it when it is released on DVD (they always are!) From what I have heard, it is
    incredible. Your post on the house was just amazing! heck, YOU are I groveling too much here? *smile*


  3. Joni Thanks so much....I cannot seem to get enough of Grey Gardens! Amazing post with details galore!

  4. Joni,
    I'm kind of at a loss for words...but thank you so much for your time & consideration that you have given to Grey Gardens.
    This is called "doing your homework" I always feel so much smarter after a visit with you!

  5. Rocio said...
    Greetings from rainy Spain! Thank you for a most interesting post. I am still aghast by the pictures of the two Eddies living in such conditions. Probably not Diogenes syndrome, but many things in common for sure.

    April 27, 2009 4:12 AM
    Pigtown-Design said...
    WOW Joni! This is the most comprehensive post about GG I've seen. You're amazing.

    April 27, 2009 8:41 AM
    Mrs. Blandings said...
    Make that two cups of coffee! Knocked my socks off - thanks for gathering it all here.

    April 27, 2009 8:45 AM
    Linda/"Mom" said...
    * I'm not toooo much of a coffee drinker anymore, but this was a "1/2 potter", for sure!!! You never fail to A-M-A-Z-E, Joni~~~ so complete~ so well-researched~ so well-written!!! (THEN AGAIN, that's "our lil' Joni"!).

    THANKS for a most INTERESTING read this Monday morning! Fascinating, just fascinating.... "Who'dathunk?"~~~

    Hugs, Linda in AZ*

    April 27, 2009 9:06 AM
    Cheryl said...
    Joni, this was masterful! I just forwarded your blog to a friend who is also obsessed with Grey Gardens. I will have to come back and read your detailed history again later because I should have been preparing this morning for a luncheon at my house today and now I'm to Central Market to pick up food that looks like I made it!

    April 27, 2009 9:17 AM
    Things That Inspire said...
    Great, informative post! I must say, though, that I would never use any of the old furniture from Gray Gardens, no matter how historically accurate or interesting it is. The fact that the house was infested with cats and wildlife, and other vermin, not to mention that the animals used the house and furniture as their bathroom for countless years, would be a big deterrant!

    My favorite part of this post were the gardens, in particular that spectacular view from the balcony where you can see the ocean in the distance, and the beautiful pool and the garden that surrounds it can be seen and appreciated.

    April 27, 2009 9:30 AM
    Joy said...
    Joni, This was wonderful! When do you find the time to do all that you do? Every time I think you can't get any better, you do. After watching the HBO GG three times I was already looking up any thing I could find on these odd two and that wonderful house. I could have saved time by waiting for you to post this.
    Thank you,

    April 27, 2009 10:34 AM
    mary said...
    This is an amazing post. Great research--thank you so much for the pictoral history of the house, but also the family. I have this post saved for further study. Thank you so much for this great story. Houses do have souls.

    April 27, 2009 10:40 AM
    thasglaks said...
    Very long, but richly informative, and oh so beautiful. What a unique and interesting, albeit disturbing story of the decline, and how wonderful that someone cared enough to restore that gem. Great post Joni.

    April 27, 2009 10:45 AM
    Tricia said...
    Wow Joni, I loved every detail and it was definitely a 2-cup read for me.
    Thank you!

    April 27, 2009 10:51 AM
    Debbie said...
    Hello, lurker here. I just had to say thank you for all the effort you put into putting this together! Your blog reallly is wonderful and I always enjoy it! My jaw was dropped wide open the whole time! in the world did they let that place get like that?? I just can't believe the piles of cat food..omgoodness, I'm just speechless. Thank God someone had the love to restore it. I also agree that I probably couldn't keep the old furniture lol, Thank you again Joni! ~Debbie

    April 27, 2009 11:07 AM
    Karena said...
    Joni Fabulous post! I have not seen the movie so am thrillled with your editorial and all of the intriging images. Book recommendation?

    April 27, 2009 11:14 AM
    mypoliticalexile said...
    Wow..I am going to start calling you professor. I have learned so much from you about home and garden design and its historical context..It makes it all so rich. This was a fantastic effort. Thanks for sharing the wisdom.

    April 27, 2009 12:17 PM
    Kristi L. said...
    Wow...I have no idea where you find the time for such in depth research!!

    I had never heard of these women until the recent media blitz for the new HBO movie. Their lives were truly fascinating. It boggles the mind how one can go from such a lavish lifestyle, to living in such deplorable conditions...and to seemingly be okay with it.

    Thanks so much for the glimpse into thier lives and their home!

    April 27, 2009 12:32 PM
    Riviera View said...
    Thanks Joni for another great post. I watched Grey Gardens the other night and loved it. It was fascinating. The cast was fantastic. Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange were great.

    I recently read on someone's blog (can't remember whose)that only the set and costumes were worth watching but I totally disagree. I could easily watch it again.

    Your timing is impeccable. Thanks Joni.

    - Alixe

    April 27, 2009 1:07 PM
    Pat@Back Porch Musings said...
    You've outdone yourself, Joni! An amazing post!!

    I've seen an article or two about Grey Gardens, but nothing like you have here! Thanks so much!

    April 27, 2009 1:29 PM
    Cara said...
    Thanks Joni! Love the post! And yes, you must straighten your hair if you visit GG!

    April 27, 2009 1:56 PM
    Cara said...
    This post has been removed by the author.
    April 27, 2009 1:56 PM
    Love Where You Live said...
    This is a first time I've seen such a comprehensive pictorial tale of Grey Gardens! What a fab collection you have. So interesting. Really almost unbelievable, too, ya know?! (I don't think your blog is updating itself on my blog, btw.) --susan

    April 27, 2009 2:31 PM
    Anonymous said...
    Thank you.

    April 27, 2009 2:46 PM
    Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...
    I've been waiting for you to do a post on Grey Gardens... you did not dissappoint.

    April 27, 2009 3:01 PM
    master cylinder said...
    Im sending this link to all my friends in gray gardens!
    thanks for an incredibly detailed post.

    April 27, 2009 3:10 PM
    Swan Family said...
    That was wonderful. I truly enjoyed a bit of history and you did a fantastic job writing about Greys Garden! I stumbled across your blog and have just fallen in love with you! Funny I live in Houston...I wonder if I'll ever see Edie's niece walking around town!! :)

    April 27, 2009 3:40 PM
    Kathysue said...
    Joni, I saw the documentary by the Maysles and was fascinated with the story. I saw it from the human perspective,Reading this post made me see the life of the house.What a sad site to see such a beauty in such ruin and decay but to see it in its grand state now is wonderful. The saddest picture in your post is of Big Edie looking out the window in the liv. room with her gorgeous portrait behind her and then the contrast of the picture above it of the living rm now. It shows the decay of a home and the spirit of a woman at the same time. Wonderful post, I thorougly enjoy it, Thank you for all the time this took to do it, kathysue

    April 27, 2009 3:40 PM
    Linda/"Mom" said...
    ~~~* TOPIC REQUEST for your ROUNDTABLE *~~~

    * Might you consider a few minutes of discussion about pillows?~~ IE: about the use and "artful" arrangement" (or lack of it) of them (on sofas in particular)?~~~ MANY THANKS, ladies!!! * Linda in AZ *

    April 27, 2009 4:39 PM
    Anonymous said...
    Great post! You always put a tremendous amount of research and work into your blog and it shows. Many thanks.

    April 27, 2009 5:17 PM
    Anonymous said...
    Joni! Amazing research and compilation! Thanks a mil. And thanks to the Bradlees for saving this treasure. (There are a few Bradlee kitchen pics in Chris Madden's book, Kitchens.)

    April 27, 2009 5:20 PM
    Anonymous said...
    You are amazing. Thank you so much!!

    April 27, 2009 7:01 PM
    Anonymous said...
    As a thank you for this smashing post (one among many but this is very special) I am sending you a virtual gift certificate (value $50,000) for Wish it could be the real thing!

    Only had time for the house but will eagerly await the garden tomorrow.

    Thanks again, really.

    April 27, 2009 8:01 PM
    *moggit girls said...

    The most definitive post EVER. Fab job!


    April 27, 2009 8:27 PM
    lisagh said...
    Fabulous post! Thank you so much for your hard work putting it together to share.

    April 27, 2009 9:16 PM
    Sanity Fair said...
    This is an incredible post - what wonderful research and commentary (not too mention pictures - it almost crashed my computer!). I can't wait to watch the movie with all this background in mind!

    April 27, 2009 9:42 PM
    Bethany said...
    You are the best. I just watched the show! This really creeps me out and is so interesting. Those pictures are haunting and that cat in the kitchen front and center. LOL that is my favorite one. Thank you Thank you Thank you. I am so happy to see the house in great condition agian.

    April 28, 2009 12:46 AM
    Visual Vamp said...
    You're more obsessed than I am ha ha!
    Great piece! You always educate us above and beyond.
    Love you,
    xo xo
    PS While you're shopping for GG velvet cuffs, remember my birthday in July ha ha

    April 28, 2009 6:46 AM
    Anonymous said...
    Wow! Thanks so much. Technical question: do you think the pictures of the benches in the walled garden are not the exact same ones but from either/both sides of the garden? The "doorways" to the garden seem to be on opposite sides.

    April 28, 2009 7:15 AM
    Anonymous said...
    This would have been great, had it not been for the nasty, condescending swipes at the Beales. You should have just let the pictures and the facts of their life spoken for themselves.

    April 28, 2009 8:12 AM
    Anonymous said...
    Hi Joni.......How interesting all this was ! Very fascinating. I was glued to my computer looking at all the pics. Thanks for posting all about this - you did alot of research & work for us!

    April 28, 2009 8:21 AM
    Rebecca said...
    It was such an interesting read! The pictures send a thousand messages.

    April 28, 2009 8:23 AM
    mrsben said...
    Joni, thank you for sharing this Biographical and Residential journey.

    Pitifully sad in so many aspects, it makes me question what could have promoted such deterioration?

    April 28, 2009 9:02 AM
    Anonymous said...
    Thanks so much for this fantastic posting about Grey Gardens. I am writing this from overseas so I am missing the HBO program. It took a long time to open all the pictures but well worth it. According to Wikipedia, the Bradlees bought the house from Little Edie for $220,000which was a very cheap price even with the cat urine smells.

    April 28, 2009 9:03 AM
    Linda at Lime in the Coconut! said...
    This may well be your best sleuthing post yet! Fantastic and sooo comprehensive. So hard to se that place and those women living in such a state. Those cat food cans. OMG. Can you just imagine the smell??!

    I don't think I would have had the courage to take on the monumental task of cleaning it up and furnishing it.

    Turns my stomach a bit.

    Thanks joni.

    Forget the coffee...I'm going for a tums!

    April 28, 2009 10:03 AM
    J.Covington*Design said...
    Said it once before... either a Gold medal or a Blogging Pulitzer. Holy cow, that was a huge post and just fantastic!!

    April 28, 2009 10:47 AM
    MIMILEE said...
    THANK you, thank you for gathering this all together! Wonderfully done and so informative.....I am so fascinated with Grey Gardens and everything is right here that I need to know about it all!! You are the BEST!!


    April 28, 2009 11:07 AM
    Anonymous said...
    Having a large home and never ending, it seems, upkeep which requires time, skill and money, I do see how these two women could let a house of that size deteriorate. Of course most people would have realized their limitations and done the rational thing and moved to Florida with the sons/brothers. But obviously these women had other ideas.

    April 28, 2009 12:15 PM
    Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS said...
    I've got Grey Gardens on my DVR, waiting for the time I can sink into my sofa and enjoy it. Thanks for the "preview." (I couldn't talk my husband or teenager into seeing it on Broadway when it was running and we were visiting NYC.)

    April 28, 2009 1:39 PM
    Kelly Galvin Robson said...

    April 28, 2009 1:58 PM
    Cass @ That Old House said...
    Hi -- Great post -- exhaustive!

    As a native Long Islander with strong ties to the East End and a family beach home there, I can almost guarantee you that HBO's depiction of the house in the 30s is not what it looked like in reality. Your instincts are right.

    Look at the style of the house -- good old Long Island shingle style, very common in the Island's shore communities. Such a summer house (no heat -- it was indeed a summer house) would not have had interiors that were so "fancy" and European in influence. It just was not done in that type of house, and would have been in questionable taste. Good simple style -- that would have been the ticket. (Still is.) The HBO sets are scrumptious, but they are flights of fancy.

    Sally Quinn has done a wonderful job of resurrecting this old house. Her interiors are closer to the originals, I am sure.

    Grey Gardens is a compelling story, but I'm always a little uncomfortable peeking into the terrible private tragedy of these women. And I think the Maysles brothers were exploitive.

    But we just can't look away, can we?


    April 28, 2009 5:16 PM
    Leigh Ann said...

    Since stumbling onto your site, I've been a daily lurker. Love pretty much everything! But being a quiet kind of gal, I just didn't have much to say. You've forced out by this piece on GG. AMAZING! I mean your work assembling and analyzing: timeline, photos, history. Thanks so much

    April 28, 2009 6:38 PM
    Andrea V. said...
    Two words: Thank you.

    Wait, I can't be that concise! know how obsessed I am w/ GG and was thrilled to see this in my inbox!!!! Where did you rummage that AD from 1985???? Do you really keep all of those mags?? Never cease to amaze, my friend!!

    I haven't seen the HBO movie, and I must admit that I'm a bit hesitant b/c I feel that it would cloud my adoration for the Edie's. There's just nothing better than the real thing, IMO.

    Thanks again!

    April 28, 2009 7:00 PM
    Libby at Aurora Primavera said...
    Thank you, Joni.

    April 28, 2009 7:10 PM
    The Quintessential Magpie said...
    Joni, I love the fact that you have gone to so much trouble to research this house. Thanks much!

    I think the renovation is beautiful, but to me, the house was far more interesting when the Edies lived there. The house is very, very nice, but it would not be the house it is if the Edies had not been so eccentric. They MADE this house, even though it was nearly destroyed in the process. If they hadn't lived there, to me, it would be just another mansion. Their eccentricity breathed life into it because it gave it a story, and their connection with Jackie fascinates me. I love that Big Edie told Little Edie that she had been negligent in her dusting. What amazing spirit! LOL!

    There was once a house in Natchez called Goat Castle, and a very similar story took place after the not so Civil War. Only, the house had to be torn down eventually, and the parts were salvaged to build a different home. As I recall from reading, it had the bed in which Robert E. Lee or at least some of his family had been born (or slept). The roof finally caved in, and the owner (Dick Dana, as I recall) was without the funds or the ability to replace it. That's how it starts, and it escalates from there.

    That's most likely what happened here. It's clearly a situation of too proud to whitewash too poor to paint as Daddy would say, and that combined with eccentricity created the mess that became legend. I'm glad the Quinns saved it. They must have been amazingly intuitive/persuasive in convincing Little Edie to sell.

    I'm so glad that Jackie and Lee came to the rescue so their aunt and cousin could stay in their home as long as they did.

    April 28, 2009 10:28 PM
    The Quintessential Magpie said...
    One more thing... I realize that the animals added another dimension to this, but I think of lots and lots of houses in the South that were desserted, lived in my pigeons and raccoons along with snakes and owls, and restored when some stalwart soul took on the challenge. I have a friend who lives in a National Register treasure that was the worst wreck you've ever seen. This house in its worst shape looks like a mansion by comparison. Of course, people weren't living in my friend's house when it reached the zenith of its decay, but it had to be completely rebuilt. He put in 800 panes of antique/antebellum glass in the windows, and all the wood is from the period when possible. It's an amazing house built in the early 1800's. He had five of the original six mantles, and he found a sixth in a house of the same period and salvaged it.


    April 28, 2009 10:35 PM
    The Quintessential Magpie said...
    I'm tired, it's late, and I meant to say the Bradlees, not the Quinns, AND "lived in BY pigeons," not "my" pigenons. Pigeons and I are oil and water. LOL! Flying rats that they are...



    April 28, 2009 10:38 PM
    Shelly said...
    I loved every word and every picture in this post. I made myself a giant latte to drink while I was cold by the time I finished reading.
    Thank you!

    April 28, 2009 10:48 PM
    Jenn said...
    Amazing!!! Thank you for sharing your talents with us.

    April 28, 2009 11:11 PM
    Erin said...
    This was incredibly informative and utterly entertaining. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

    April 28, 2009 11:16 PM
    Shelia said...
    Oh, Joni, what a wonderful post! I haven't seen the movie but did see the play on Broadway in New York and was just fascinated by this story! I got online and looked up everything I could about the odd ladies! Have you seen some of the videos of the Edies on YouTube?
    I'm like you, I can't imagine how a house could get into this bad of shape! Love the transformations!
    I got to thinking, the house really wasn't a mansion or anything, just a very nice big cottagey home! How did they tear it up like this!?
    Thanks for all of your research and insight! You're the bestest!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)
    p.s. I wonder when late at night when the wind is just right and the new owners get up to go to the kitchen for a drink of water - do they catch a quick sniff of cat food? :)

    April 28, 2009 11:20 PM
    Pamela Terry and Edward said...
    Past midnight. I'm checking late emails before bed and thought I'd see what you were up to before turning off the mac. Whoa. This is a treat to be savoured. So I'm saving it til morning. Lovely to have something delicious to look forward to!! I can't wait!! Thank you, Joni!

    April 28, 2009 11:27 PM
    Lisa said...
    Joni, I am SPEECHLESS! At times you made me laugh out loud...that poor cat's wide eyed expression-too funny! But mostly SCARY. I mean really. What in the world could those two be THINKING! Thanks for a great post.

    April 28, 2009 11:45 PM
    Michelle said...
    a few cups of coffee later, I am glad I put the work into reading this post. I know nothing about Grey Gardens, and now I am thinking have to go clean my house now.


    April 28, 2009 11:59 PM
    Emily Evans Eerdmans said...
    Gobsmacked. What a resource this is.

    You've also solved a mystery that's been haunting me for years. My mother is always going on about "Sally Quinn pink" and asserts it's a famous shade - undoubtedly it must be the pink in the living room. Many many thanks for this astounding post.


    April 29, 2009 1:33 AM
    Chris said...
    That was wonderful, I am so fascinated with Grey Gardens.
    Where in Canada was the movie house built ?

    April 29, 2009 6:35 AM
    Blushing hostess said...
    In as many posts as I have read recenlty about Grey Gardens this was certainly the best if not the only one the world really needed. So well done, Joni. Thank you so very much.

    April 29, 2009 8:44 AM
    Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...
    Simply definitive! What a great job you've done with this.

    April 29, 2009 8:45 AM
    Eloise said...
    I'm sure I'm losing all credibility with you by commenting after each post, "That was my favorite post ever!" but that post was truly amazing. I spent over an hour looking at it. I can't even IMAGINE how much time you put into constructing it! I was fascinated by each picture and by all the fabulous background you provided. And of course, I failed to notice much of what was in each picture until you pointed it out. Bravo!

    April 29, 2009 9:21 AM
    hello gorgeous said...
    Joni: I love you!! This post was awesome!! Although I do have to come back for the garden tour and to look up the YouTube video. I've been watching the original on YouTube and I just ordered the (repro) orig. poster.

    Excellent, excellent post. 5 gold stars for you. And a blogging Emmy. A Blemmy. :-)

    April 29, 2009 9:40 AM
    Jill said...
    Fabulous post as usual...I was happy to see that her life turned around once she left Grey Gardens.

    The other day I spent the whole day upstairs...reading the paper, eating breakfast and lunch, blogging, going thru magazines. I looked around at the end of the day...plates, detritus of newspapers, mags on the floor and thought, "This is how it starts!"

    April 29, 2009 9:46 AM
    ArchitectDesign said...
    This must have taken you weeks to's certainly comprehensive! wow!
    The original house didn't have sheetrock but rather plaster (sheetrock wasn't invented till after the house was originally built). I know it's plaster because you can see the lathing(wood strips) that hold the plaster to the wall where it has collasped. Plaster is really easily damaged by any moisture, so any leak in the roof and it can all collapse (like shown in that old dining room photo)

    April 29, 2009 10:14 AM
    Jennifer said...
    definitely a two-cups-of-coffee post! loved every word of it.

    and please, for our sake, don't behave yourself! ;)

    April 29, 2009 10:17 AM
    Fifi Flowers said...
    AMAZING!!! I cannot wait until this comes out on dvd... I do not have HBO so I missed it... le sigh!
    You have FAB photos posted here!
    BTW... something will be coming your way if you would kindly email moi your address!!!
    ENJOY your day!

    April 29, 2009 10:40 AM
    Jessica said...
    Hi. I love your blog. This post was amazing. I just recently watched Grey Garden on HBO OnDemand. It amazing how well HBO portrayed the two women so well. You obviously put lots of work into this post and it so appreciated. So interesting. Love the house... so much history.
    Thank you.

    April 29, 2009 11:38 AM
    Anonymous said...
    Truly amazing....I am going back for 2nds...I watched the movied on HBO I don't think I blinked an eye...Drew was GREAT I thought..such a sad story though...

    Joni thanks for this post...LOVED it !!

    Kathy :)

    April 29, 2009 12:18 PM
    J Santa Fe said...
    Joni dear ... .

    I do so love it when you put on your
    "Sherlock Hat" and start your investigations! Truly, no one does it better. Beautifully blended photos and discourse.

    Merci Beaucoup -


    Coir Restored??!!!
    Oh, please.

    April 29, 2009 1:05 PM
    Anne N. said...
    Awesome post. I think there are photos of the thatched cottage in Chris Casson Madden's book _A Room of Her Own_.

    April 29, 2009 1:11 PM
    kikislc said...
    That was MOST AMAZING, thank you for the post!!!!!

    April 29, 2009 1:53 PM
    Julie said...
    Okay my Dear...I just wanted you to know that not only did I enjoy this since I did watch the HBO movie ...but about 5 other ladies were hanging over my shoulder at work reading your blog as well! Good job and thank you so much for posting that.

    April 29, 2009 3:06 PM
    tracylynne said...
    Loved this post you always do such a fab job of finding interesting pictures and stories-you outdid yourself this time.

    April 29, 2009 4:16 PM
    balsamfir said...
    Another Cote de Texas classic Joni. I can't get the link to Victoria Fensterer to work though, and I've been trying to find her website for years. The gardens alone are a masterwork. The Bradlee's deserve every credit for committing to such a huge project. I'm also glad to read that after years of what must have been mental illness, Little Edie had an improved old age.

    April 29, 2009 4:37 PM
    decinc said...

    I'm new to your blog and WOW!!!
    This was fascinating, horrifying, educational and beautiful all rolled in to one. Thank you for a fabulous post. I am forever a fan.

    April 29, 2009 5:02 PM
    Janie's World said...
    This was an amazingly fascinating post. Thank you so much for all your time and effort. Truly informative and I loved all the pictures you found.

    April 29, 2009 7:05 PM
    MarciaSmith said...
    Fabulous post - thanks for giving me tons to think about with my own redo of our house in Maine! You are the best! Love all your posts.

    April 29, 2009 7:24 PM
    Linda Merrill said...
    Holy moly that was quite a treatise! I could go on and on... I think the only thing the Bradlees have gotten wrong is the front porch - the columns are just too plain and spindley looking. Everything else is exquisite and I agree the set decorators totally deserve an Emmy for this tour de force! And so do you! A bloggie for sure!

    April 29, 2009 8:23 PM
    mrlfvl said...
    JONI! You are a machine!!! You delivered what I have been craving - a totally comprehensive step by step history of always, you are a class act...thank you for another PERFECT post!!! And for the record, I personally found nothing you said to be "nasty" nor "condescending" towards the Beales (anon 4/28/09 8:12am) - your post is a wonderful celebration of the touchingly human portrait painted by the two Edies....what beautiful and "staunch" characters they were...

    April 29, 2009 10:06 PM
    Kwana said...
    What a post. I enjoyed it a like a good book. I'm so crazy for Grey Gardens. This was a special treat.

    April 29, 2009 11:18 PM
    columnist said...
    What a terrific histoire! I spent a lovely few days in East Hampton many summers' ago, in a georgeous house in close proximity to Georgica Beach, so not far away from this Frog Hollow Lane. I shall have to go and dig up some photos.

    April 30, 2009 12:52 AM
    Angie said...

    Wow! Thank you so very much for posting this comprehensive study of Grey Gardens. I just recently discovered all things GG and I was beyond ecstatic to see that you had taken on Grey Gardens! I have been reading your blog for about 2 months now and I feel like I'm getting 2 or 3 new magazines, in the mail (my obsession) each time you put up a new post. Thank you so very much for what you are doing.

    I just listened to the Skirted Roundtable and heard how some of the ladies don't want to blog something that others have already blogged about. Thank god you didn't feel that way about Grey Gardens. I loved how you dissected the house and put it all together for us. You are amazing!

    I have so many design questions that I have wanted to ask - but haven't because I know how busy you must be!

    Before you put up the post of Grey Gardens - many days had passed since your previous post - I kept checking back ..... nothing, nothing - I kept saying "Where are you, Joni?" It was more than worth the wait for Grey Gardens!!

    Thank you, again!

    April 30, 2009 9:27 AM
    annechovie said...
    Ok, I have to know just HOW long it took to out this post together, Joni? about thorough! Thanks for all the info and photos...what a bizarre story, creepy, yet fascinating at the same time.

    April 30, 2009 1:19 PM
    Debe said...
    I spent the whole day at work sneaking back to keep reading your blog. Saw the HBO show so reading all this added so much. That is an incredible story. Thanks for all the hard work and for giving us more insight into the lives of two very unusual ladies. You are right, I would love to sit in those gardens for just a few hours...

    April 30, 2009 2:38 PM
    Anonymous said...
    Does anyone know the name of the wallpaper in Little Edie's bedroom?

    April 30, 2009 3:13 PM
    victoria thorne said...
    This is the most astonishingly comprehensive, beautifully magnetic, ridiculously cool post I have ever, ever Amazing. Must catch my breath. It's a work of art.

    Thank you.


    April 30, 2009 8:17 PM
    Buster said...
    What an amazing post! I went through a similar process myself a few years ago when I first discovered the world of Grey Gardens a few years back. The way you so clearly organized everything with photos by far outdoes all my efforts, though!

    A couple of comments:

    "entry hall was painted a strong turquoise shade of blue"Yes and no. The hall was that color after Jackie's cleanup, but wouldn't have been back in the 1930s. And the room you're seeing off the master is actually an anteroom that leads into it, and not actually the hall itself.

    "The other door is a bathroom I think."Yes, this is correct. I believe that the door is open in the YouTube video from which you have some screen captures.

    I'm so honored that my blog was able to help your research! Thank you for putting it all together for the world!


    April 30, 2009 8:34 PM
    Laura Ingalls Gunn said...
    I am oh so thankful that you created this brilliant post. I am currently swamped with work, school and houseguests and have not seen the movie. I am DYING I tell you!
    It took me two days to really study your post and view the accompanying sites~those velvet cuffs are amazing!
    Thank you so very much for your efforts. It is quite obvious that this post took several days to research and write.
    It is completely brilliant.

    May 1, 2009 9:07 AM
    Kate said...
    What an amazing job you did of pulling this information together. I own the two Grey Gardens dvds and am so intrigued by the home and its occupants. Thank you for so much additional great information.

    May 1, 2009 2:16 PM
    Libby said...
    Wow, Joni, so fascinating & thank you for the detail. I think I'm a little afraid to watch the HBO film, & for sure the documentary. We had a family member that isolated herself - a condition that feeds on itself, so I understand some of what happened with the Beales'.
    I'll have to go back & go through this again to absorb it!

    May 1, 2009 5:27 PM
    Raph G. Neckmann said...
    How amazing! I'm visiting via Pamela Terry & Edward. I had not heard of Grey Gardens - what an incredible story. I'm stunned how they lived like this, and really glad that little Edie had some years of happiness after she left.

    May 1, 2009 7:22 PM
    The Polished Pebble said...
    I totally enjoyed this amazing post. I have watched Grey Gardens now twice because of the details you pointed out. I am a huge fan of historic homes and this one is right up there as one of my favorites too.

    Thanks Joni!

    May 2, 2009 3:41 PM
    a fanciful twist said...
    Wowsa!! What a post!! I was first introduced to the two Edie's when I was 18 years old and attending university. I fell in love with them, and they have held a tender place in my heart ever since...

    SO many wonderful photos youcollected here!!

    May 2, 2009 4:08 PM
    ~Lavender Dreamer~ said...
    AMAZING! Thank you so much for all the photos and information! It opened my eyes! You've done an amazing job on your blog! I've put a link to this post on my blog today! I know there are many others that would like to read this! Kudos to YOU!

    May 2, 2009 4:14 PM
    Tara said...

    I live not to far from Grey Gardens here in the Hamptons...the restoration has been beautiful and the house has always been on the loveliest stretch of road...there is no better place for thrifting than in the Hamptons, I have put up a post about this well as a trip to Ina Garten's fave Hamptons bakery! The whole area is amazing, filled with incredible homes and stories...and the best beaches anywhere!!


    May 2, 2009 8:44 PM
    laurie @ bargain hunting said...
    Joni, this post is absolutely incredible! I have just spent my entire morning (at the office, when I was supposed to be working) reading this post! Such a sad, sad story. I assume they were so accustomed to servants doing everything for them, they didn't even know how to clean up after themselves, and certainly didn't care to learn! Amazing how happy they were in those conditions! Such a beautiful home and those gardens are so extrodinary! Thank you for all of the work you put into this. laurie

    May 4, 2009 12:12 PM
    angela | the painted house said...
    Well, good golly, woman! That post was amazing! Thank you. I've always been fascinated with this story. Aren't the rest of us so happy that these kinds of eccentrics exist for our fascination and entertainment? I gasped out loud at the room of cat food cans. Oh, the horrors. I've had cats and always gagged at the smell of canned cat food--but hundreds piled on top of each other????

    Thanks, Joni! I needed to sit and relax this way.

    May 4, 2009 8:49 PM
    Anonymous said...
    Thank you so much, loved this. So wanted to see more photos and a floor plan! You were right on target with answers to questions, like the french doors upstairs, I thought maybe a mirrored closet. I think the room behind the kitchen was the staff dining room Eddie refers to as the maids dining room.
    I am pretty sure the upstairs was as you said servants quarters, accessed by that stair. They were usually over the kitchen. Also from the exterior photos, the old garage was converted to the house on the back two acres, it is identical in architecture. many thanks again

    May 5, 2009 4:21 PM
    duet letterpress said...
    what a wonderful post. truly fascinating. thank you, thank you! i had not heard of gg before this, and now i must track it down to watch it!

    May 6, 2009 11:52 AM
    Anonymous said...
    Thank You this is Fantastic. Great work!!!
    Debbie in Tennessee

    May 6, 2009 2:39 PM
    Anonymous said...
    From May 4th anonymous poster:

    Your photo 34 and question. I believe that view is from rear of service wing which opens into walled or secret garden. Doors dead ahead would enter into sitting room, former servants dining room. In documentary was always confused in begining when Edie has exchange with Brooks then heads through jungle to a porch, not the front porch. Here she delivers the past and present line, thought it was back porch directly behind living room but had door at end of it and a cellar door in ground to left.

    Realize now it is #34 porch and view and than she heads into the kitchen from that piece. The door at the end I saw is the door to the immediate right of the steps in 34. Doors to left and right in 34 are proably storage or laundry.
    This back entry is rarely seen due to privet hedge. Same privet Eddie refers to being removed for veg garden. This spot is where you would put one, to the rear of then kitchen.

    May 7, 2009 12:49 PM
    sashyjane said...
    I'm obsessed with Grey Gardens! Thanks for doing so much research and posting this wealthy of information!

    May 8, 2009 9:10 AM
    Caroline said...
    Lovely to see all these pictures in one place online, and strange to hear people talking about how sad the Beales were - passionate, artistic, eccentric, completely unconcerned about what anyone thought of them, yes - but sad? Not a word that comes to mind for me. My staunch opinion is that they were remarkable women in an untenable situation who chose to live remarkable lives.

    In "The Beales Of Grey Gardens", the 90 minutes of extra footage released in 2005, Little Edie tells of selling "the garage", and I think she says that was sometime in the 60's.

    May 8, 2009 12:39 PM
    Anonymous said...
    Big Eddie's portrait originall hung in her parent's dining room at Lasata in EH. John Davis writes about family portraits in the dining room while going into detail about family events there.
    She must have gotten it for GG after her fathe rdied and Lasata was sold. late forties. It was by Herter, as was the twins portrait which hung in Lasata's living room.

    May 13, 2009 9:31 AM
    Anonymous said...
    Picture 116 or master suite. Note in this set from the movie, the wall with the bed has only one widow. That side facing wall over the solarium has two windows side by side. A bit of film license to make room for the headbord.

    I believe yor comment about the movie furnishings is true. A bit elaborate for a summer cottage. Lasata was furnished much more casually, comfortable, a few antiques mixed in. Edith and Phelam's Park Ave apt was luxurious, but GG was funished when they still had that. Maybe when Park Ave was given up some of the furniture came to GG.

    May 13, 2009 9:57 AM
    Helen Perry said...
    After seeing the documentary on Grey Gardens, and the movie, I can say I am now officially a Grey Gardens AND Joni fan. What a wonderful pictorial trip through "The Edies" lives and fantastic home. Joni, you are commended on doing such thorough research and to have taken the time to put this all together. I do fully believe that this site should be your invitation to a Grey Gardens party. I look forward to more insightful and exciting dialogue from you. All the best!

    May 15, 2009 6:28 AM
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  6. What a labor of love. This pictorial documentary stands hands and shoulders right up there with birthing a baby. I'm interested in knowing how long this took to compile. This is quite an interesting read, when one considers all the various components intertwined within the publication of the Grey Garden narrative.

    In times past the public was exposed mostly to rags to riches stories but hardly ever the slip-flop side (riches to rags). Then, we observe the historical conservation element of the home and gardens as they are restored. And then sadly we survey the psychological dysfunction of a prominent family (mental health element). Lastly, we witness the rebirth of the locale by new ownership and get a glimpse into their life. One could adequately caption it Grey Garden Genealogy.

    Thank you Joni for the time and energy spent on this publication.

  7. Between you and a friend, I have developed a fixation for Grey Gardens! I just got the original documentary from and am watching it this weekend. If you need to see it again, let me know and I can lend it to you (but I think you probably have a copy of your own by now!!!??). Your research is superb. There is a book in you. And I love the Skirted Table; spent part of yesterday morning tip-toeing around my kitchen so I could hear the last three round tables. Brilliant!!

  8. Cheryl - thank you!!! SOOOO sweet!! glad you like the Skirted Roundtable - we are having a blast doing it.

    ANON: this was actually published a few weeks ago and I just updated it last night. It accidently showed up as a new post! I put it bsck in its right place by date now.

    In truth - it took me about 4 days to get this all together. 24/7 - it was a lot of research to find the pictures and go through - all the social pictures took hours to go look at each one for clues. Then it would take hours to figure out what picture went where on the floor plan - that really took the most time, just looking at the oldl picutres vs. the new pictures.

    so glad you enjoyed it!

  9. Marvellous! You've managed so wonderfully to put it all in prospective; until a couple of years ago I had never heard of them, but I can imagine how they let it go: they were privileged woman who were not used to do anything by themself and after the money run out they just let go...once you start and you have no motivation it is a fast way down! The cats were companions, a place with lots of cat gets disgusting very quickly. When I was young, I had a bohemian artist friend in Dresden, were I grew up, she lived with at least 6 cats in her small dilapidated farmhouse on the outskirts of town, the smell was horrible!
    What I do not understand is how the rest of the world did not noticed, apart from the one time clean up!!!
    A great story! Thank you.


  10. Miss Joni.
    What can be said that hasn't been already? I am so glad Starbucks serves a Venti sized latte! The gardens as they are today are absolutely gorgeous. I wonder how many teams of gardeners it takes to take care of them? The lives of the two women was extraordinarily sad. your skirted roundtable... :-)

  11. Joni...I need a drink! Since I never heard of the Grey Gardens (and even if I had) I read every single line and looked at every single image putting the two together as per your super thorough explanation. What a story! so well documented and written. Quite intense to be read on a computer screen but grrrrreat!

  12. I'm now an insta-fan of your blog, after relishing this one, the one about Lee Radziwill's homes, and also the one about the home in Galveston. Beyond superb work--as an English major, I appreciate your painstaking attention to details when captioning the pics. So happy that I randomly ran across you in a Google search!

    Brian T. in ATL

  13. Do you know if they kept the house they built for the HBO movie? I live in Toronto and would love to go see it!

  14. I just watched the movie but seeing the movie is insufficient without your tremendous contribution. After seeing the film, I was totally taken aback at their staunch behavior. Peculiar they may seem but loved the two ladies. Your wonderful compilation photos of Grey Gardens are treasures. Thanks for sharing them.

  15. Thanks so much for creating this fabulous blog post. I have always wanted to see how Grey Gardens looks now and was delighted when I stumbled upon this. What I wouldn't give to live in this house!

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  19. Amazing story, thanks for sharing.

  20. incredible! i grew up on long island--in suffolk county--but never saw the house in real life. after seeing the documentary, i, like so many others, became transfixed by these two women--the ties they had to that house--and the loving, but incredibly complicated relationship they had with each other. you have done a wonderful job of juxtaposing the old and the new. i cannot get over that photo of little edie's room circa 1979--with the lightbulb in a birdcage! there is something so beautifully serene about it. the house was lucky to have found a new owner in quinn--who clearly understood how special the house was, and made every effort to retain that. so happy to have found this! thank you!

  21. LOL @ Countess Luann de Lesseps, She's such a drama queen.

  22. I came across this post by chance and so glad I did. What a brilliant read! Many thanks for sharing such a facinating story and wonderful images.

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  24. I also came across this by chance...I had just seen the movie a few hours earlier...I was enthralled by everything, having seen both the movie and the documentary....Kudos to the Bradlees for being so true to the original character of the house, even though they made a few changes. Those changes are not critical and do not compromise the beauty of a great home. Nicely done!

  25. Really enjoyed your history of the renovations of Grey Gardens and evolvement from the very beginning.
    But as an International reader I had no idea of your phrases: console (table top?), Juliet balcony (an open window without a real balcony, just a railing ?) and dorm (a bedroom?), as well as: powder room (a bathroom?). So many decorating terms seem to be different
    in the USA from other countries! Maybe you could include what they mean in brackets for readers outside the USA who have no idea
    what it is all about. Thanks.

  26. Great post! Very very interesting, Joni!
    I saw the movie with drew barrymore, and it was great, but you add even more dimension.
    Thank you for all the painstaking details you go to to really show every aspect of things.

  27. What an amazing job you have done showing how the house has been transformed. The story of Grey Gardens is fascinating. It is a mystery as to how these two women lived the way they did and why. But a story that intrigues me. Thanks for sharing all this information with us.It makes me happy to see how this neglected(understatement)old home has been lovingly restored. I would love to see it it person.

  28. Miraculous blog site!! I would surely bookmark this site and every day I’ll get more and more latest information. Delaney

  29. Just amazing to read and see. Thank you so much for sharing all of this! I cannot believe the owners only stay here for one month out of the year.. I would want to spend every moment here! So romantic and incredible.

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  35. Just spent the evening reading about Grey Gardens and looking at the photographs, after coming across it quite by chance. It has been an absolute pleasure, Thank you so much Joni, for your research and collation in such detail.

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  40. Somehow I missed this post when originally posted. However, I found it fascinating and informative. I appreciate the hours, no days, no weeks of time and effort you put into your research to provide your readers with ace prehensile view of the house-past and present.
    Well done!

  41. Hi.
    Wow, this DID take a lot of time!
    Just a few notes.
    > Movie set exterior. Not quite exact - the chimneys cave a couple extra descending courses of brick, probably done for an extra hint of detail and elegance.
    > Carriage house. Look carefully in your early photos in this post and think about where photographer of the early photo with the carriage house in view was standing. Now look at the modern photo from above. The carriage house still stands behind the tennis courts, although the first floor entrance has been altered. The three gables are still as they were. It now seems to be part of another plot.
    > Entry way wall sconce: The vintage photo shows the arms of the sconce emanating from the sides of the base. The current sconce has the arms originating at the center. However, later in the post, I did see a sconce in the upstairs hallway that may be the one from downstairs, or an identical one. It does seem that they saved as much as possible, down to reusing the garden gate hardware. Perhaps it was relocated for continuity.
    > The poster of the "starburst mirror" is actually most likely the goddess Mazda holding her lamp of light.
    > Sheetrock. The walls and ceilings are/were clearly of lath (strips of wood) and plaster, not sheetrock, which didn't come into large scale use until after WWII.
    Houses that go unheated quickly suffer this kind of damage, especially once the roof starts leaking.
    > Enclosing upper eye porch and solarium. Winter. What's lovely and useful in summer can quickly be a catch all for drifting snow and ice in winter. Standing snow can damage floors and cause leaks. Infiltrating water that freezes accelerates the damage. Notice the Bradlees eventually re-made the modification.
    > Filth/dirt/damage how? If 52 cats were found dead inside in 1979 after just a few years, imagine how many died inside before the cleanup. Cats make highly acidic waste and attract vermin, which would have broken down the wood floors. The solid waste and rotting wood degenerates to peat, then back to dirt. The "hill" of it in the kitchen is an example. Mix that with food scraps and garbage, and 30 years...
    Anyway, there's some insight for you. Thank you for taking the time to post this all up. Fascinating!

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  46. amazing article and incredible pictures. BTW, the piano player is Bob Stillman. He was in the musical Grey Gardens when it was off-Broadway and I believe on Broadway as well.

  47. Stumbled upon this via Pinterest...I would like to Thank You for sharing this fabulous've done an incredible job researching so many little details...Grey Gardens glorious (and not so glorious) past can easily be re-imagined thanks to your pictures, descriptions and history references.
    Great Post!

  48. It makes my heart so happy to see this house restored. Wonderful people. Thank you for this post! God Bless

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  50. I hope to see this Grey Gardens home from the road or closer if not prohibited this June. I am completely fascinated with the story as told on HBO and by the Maysles.

  51. This is such a well reseached article and some of the information and photos are true treasures. As I am sure you know, Sally Quinn Bradlee has sold the house [which is fantastic news for Grey Gardens] and the house is presently being restored to its original state and its provenance will finally be respected. I am looking forward to the completion of the work, which is far off since the house had to be jacked up and moved so the foundation could be restored and a proper basement put into place. I hope that the new owners will open the house to fundraisers and some discreet events that will keep all those parvenus from "The Maidstone Club" out that Mrs. Beale and Aunt Edie both despised. So far it looks promising, and we shall see. You may also know that the Carriage House most definitely does still exist [though Mrs. Beale sold it long ago] and it is still for sale as far as I know. Carry ON!

  52. The outside of the house is now beautiful but the interior is lacking.

  53. A love letter to the ladies:

  54. Fascinating factoids & photos, don't know if this collection exists anywhere else on the web! However, it is unlikely that the postcard of the original house is as late as 1915 as stated, since Mrs. F.S. Phillips sold it in 1913.