Architects: Stanford White, McKim Mead & White
Renovation: Samuel G. White (great-grandson of Stanford White), Platt Byard Dovell White Architects LLP
Location: Rhinebeck, NY
About Astor CourtsAt the turn of the twentieth century, wealthy homeowners often erected small recreation houses on the grounds of their estates. These sporting pavilions were called casinos after the Italian word cascina, or little house, but were sometimes quite large. John Jacob Astor IV and his wife, Ava, commissioned noted architect Stanford White to design an elaborate Beaux Arts style casino for their Ferncliff Estate in Rhinebeck, New York. With an expansive columned terrace, the Fencliff Casino, Astor Courts, is often compared to Louis XIV’s Grand Trianon at Versailles.
Stretching across a hillside with sweeping views of the Hudson River, Astor Courts featured state-of-the art facilities:
- Indoor swimming pool with a vaulted ceiling
- Indoor tennis court beneath steel Gothic arches
- Outdoor tennis court (now a lawn)
- Two squash courts (now a library)
- Bowling alley on the lower level
- Shooting range on the lower level
- Guest bedrooms
Astor Courts passed through a succession of owners. During the 1960s the Catholic Diocese operated a nursing home at Astor Courts. In 2008, owners Kathleen Hammer and Arthur Seelbinder worked with Samuel G. White, great-grandson of the original architect, to restore the casino's original floor plan and decorative details.
Chelsea Clinton, daughter of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former USA president Bill Clinton, selected Astor Courts as the site of her July 2010 wedding.
Astor Courts is privately owned and not open for tours.