My new historical romance series called “The Baldwins of Manhattan”, is set in New York City in the late 1800s. Joseph Baldwin, the patriarch is a newspaper publisher who owns six major newspapers in the United States (think William Randolf Hearst). Each book in the series follows the lives and loves of the five Baldwin children – Adam, Allie, Mia, and twins Emma and Ava who live with their equally wonderful parents, Joseph and Clara Baldwin in a unique apartment building called The Sandanko, in the then remote upper area of Manhattan. (It was not called the Upper West Side until the 20th century.) Well, to be honest, Adam, lives in Chicago and runs his father’s Chicago newspaper there (Adam’s book will be the final book in the series, and wait until you see what I have planned for Adam! His life will be turned upside down when he FINALLY finds true love. But back to the Sandanko. I situated this wonderful living facility, just across from Central Park. This building houses 60 families and will provide the backdrop for the Baldwin family series and more series to come! In fact, The Sandanko will be a prominent “character” in all of my upcoming books.
The inspiration for this building is based on The Dakota building. Now, this is where my 50+ years as an interior designer and educator come in. Setting is so important – it is literally and figuratively the foundation of the story. So with that in mind – I want to share with you some fascinating facts about The Dakota (my inspiration) for the setting of my WIP, THE UNFORGETTABLE MISS BALDWIN (book one in my Baldwin Family Series. The heroine is the eldest daughter in the Baldwin family, Allie. Allie writes for her father’s newspaper and is, shall we say, a mite headstrong. But don’t worry, the hero Peter, in my book will be able to keep up with her. I can’t wait for you to read it. But in the mean time – here are some fascinating facts about The Dakota building:
Architect Henry J Hardenbergh designed The Dakota in1884. A local chap, he was born in New Brunswick, NJ. Schooled at Hasbrouck Institute in Jersey City, and apprenticed in New York from 1865-1870 under Detlef Lienau, architect of Lockwood-Mathews Mansion, Norwalk, CT. The Dakota apartments, a coop, is exclusive to the famous, movie stars, musicians and the wealthy.
The Dakota built 1884, photo is c.1890 First building in this remote area
The Dakota got its name because the area was remote in relation to the rest of the Island of Manhattan, and more like the remote Dakota Territory, so far west and so far north, as mentioned in Christopher Gray’s book, New York Streetscapes.
The building’s high gables and deep roofs with a profusion of dormers, terracotta spandrels and panels, niches, balconies, and balustrades give it a North German Renaissance character, an echo of a Hanseatic town hall. Nevertheless, its layout and floor plan betray a strong influence of French architectural trends in housing design that had become known in New York in the 1870s. High above the 72nd Street entrance, the figure of a Dakota Indian keeps watch.
Dakota Indian figure
The Dakota is square, built around a central courtyard. The arched main entrance is a porte-cochère large enough for the horse-drawn carriages. The area is sheltered from the weather. The general layout of the apartments is in the French style of the period, with all major rooms not only connected to each other, in enfilade, in the traditional way, but also accessible from a hall or corridor, an arrangement that allows a natural migration for guests from one room to another, especially on festive occasions, yet gives service staff discreet separate circulation patterns that offer service access to the main rooms. The principal rooms, such as parlors or the master bedroom, face the street, while the dining room, kitchen, and other auxiliary rooms are oriented toward the courtyard. Apartments thus are aired from two sides, which was a relative novelty in Manhattan at the time. Some of the drawing rooms are 49 ft (15 m) long, and many of the ceilings are 14 ft (4.3 m) high; the floors are inlaid with mahogany, oak, and cherry.
Originally, the Dakota had 65 apartments with four to 20 rooms, no two being alike. The apartments all look out onto an open courtyard as depicted here in this photo. These apartments are accessed by staircases and elevators placed in the four corners of the courtyard. Separate service stairs and elevators serving the kitchens are located in mid-block. Built to cater for the well-to-do, the Dakota featured many amenities and a modern infrastructure that was exceptional for the time. The building has a large dining hall; meals also could be sent up to the apartments by dumbwaiters. Electricity was generated by an in-house power plant and the building has central heating. Beside servant quarters, there was a playroom and a gymnasium under the roof. In later years, these spaces on the tenth floor were converted into apartments for economic reasons. The Dakota property also contained a garden, private croquet lawns, and a tennis court behind the building between 72nd and 73rd Streets.
All apartments were let before the building opened. For the high society of Manhattan, it became fashionable to live in the building, or at least to rent an apartment there as a secondary city residence, and the Dakota’s success prompted the construction of many other luxury apartment buildings in Manhattan.
Central Park at the foot of the Dakota
Wikipedia. Click this for more interesting facts like the famous who lived here, and John Lennon’s murder outside the building in 1980.
An entrance to the 72nd Street station of the New York City Subway‘s A B C trains is outside the building.
Dedicated as a National New York City Landmark in 1969, and in 1976 a National Historic Landmark.
And did you know that the Dakota has had many famous celebrity residents? Here are just a few: John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Bono from U2, Rosemary Clooney, Lauren Bacall, Lillian Gish, Boris Karloff, author Harlan Coben and the inventor of the Steinway piano, Henry E. Steinway (and his family).
Rustic Wedding cake
Writing a story is like baking a cake. There are so many layers, each one more yummy than the next.
Interior design was also like that for me. For almost half my life, I helped to make peoples’ homes both beautiful and functional. Just like cakes are beautiful on the outside and oh, so good, on the inside. Someday, I’ll write that memoir, but right now I’m busy crafting the first book in my new, five-book series about a prominent family living in New York City in the late 1800s. And lucky me, I get to spend some time designing and decorating my heroine’s bedroom, and even luckier me, I get to spend some time with my heroine’s mother who is, of course, my exceptional client.
I prefer to be on a first name basis with all of my clients, and have never been refused. They seem to enjoy the familiarity.
Mrs. Clara Baldwin
So, with a bright smile, I begin. “May I ask you, Mrs. Baldwin, if I may call you by your first name?”
Mrs. Baldwin replies, “Certainly. Please call me Clara. And may I call you Gail?”
“Of course,” I reply with a bright smile back.
“It is a pleasure to meet you Gail.”
“Clara, the pleasure is all mine. Thank you for this privilege.”
“I am so looking forward to working with you, Gail.”
“As am I,” I reply. “I have other questions to ask. Your answers will be the secret to our success. Will we be working on Allie’s room?”
“How old is Allie?”
“She is twenty-five,” Clara reveals.
“Does she have a collection of sorts? Dolls perhaps?”
“Oh, my no,” Clara chuckles. “Allie is the last person who would have dolls in her room. No, my second daughter Mia adores dolls and has a very lovely collection. Allie, on the other hand, loves books. Her room is full of them. We have no idea where to put them all.
“She sounds like a very bright young woman.”
“She is absolutely brilliant,” Clara says, her eyes reflecting a mother’s pride and love.
“Who is her favorite author?” I inquire.
Window seat w/shelving
“Her favorite author is Charles Dickens. Allie loved his Bleak House. She thought it was a special book.”
“I read a Tale of Two Cities in school. It was heart wrenching.”
“Did you know Dickens’ pen name was Buz?
“No, I did not.
“Don’t you think it an odd name?”
“I do,” I reply. “But writers are very singular people are they not?”
“Indeed,” Clara says. “Allie is also a writer. She writes for my husband’s newspaper and she is probably the most singular person I have ever known.”
“Well then, we shall have to create some very singular shelving!”
“Shelving, where would you put that?”
Victorian festoons & Jabots
I walk over to the beautiful bay window and say, “Right here on either side, with a lovely comfy cushioned seat beneath the window. Under the seat can be storage for more books if she desires, or anything else that she wants out of the way. Allie can tuck in and enjoy her books here. What do you think Clara?”
Clara clapped her hands. “Absolutely marvelous. I’ll share all of this with Allie. I’m sure she will love to know her books will be so beautifully displayed.”
“And what is that big cushion on the floor beside the bed?” I ask.
“Oh, that’s for Allie’s Great Dane, Captyn.” Clara arches one brow, but her eyes are twinkling, as though she is holding back a giggle. “It’s where he sleeps.”
“Well, I am certain that we can create a very singular bed for Captyn that will suit his size and stature.”
Great Dane Tuff Bolster nest
“That would be wonderful, since he usually ends up sleeping on Allie’s bed and then her bedding smells like dog the next day.”
We both burst out laughing.
“Can you tell me a little about the clothes she chooses?” I ask.
Clara tilts her head. “Nothing too fussy, why do you ask?”
“Her taste in clothes tells me a great deal about what she likes to live with.”
“Ah,” Clara nods. “Well, she often expresses how ridiculous corsets are and refuses to wear one. She is contemporary, if that has a meaning to you.
“Why yes, of course. I take it she prefers the new style with no crinoline, simple lines.”
“She certainly does.”
“I’ll put together three floor plans, with wallpaper and fabric choices. Then we can pick one or a combination. The plans will offer Allie’s singular pick within her taste.
“That sounds wonderful Gail, I can’t wait to see your suggestions.”
“Clara, we have run out of time, but I will come back soon with the plans, if that’s suitable.”
The choices that Allie makes, with her mother’s approval, of course, will be revealed in, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin.
The House of Gail presents: Gail’s Newsie News . . .
First issue 8/17/17
A kiss for you . . . with my Gothic lips
I love lipstick!
So what else is new?
Most women love it. But I want to share with you why I love it.
My favorite color is RED. Red lipstick is bold. It tells people – Don’t mess with me, I have a smart mouth and I know how to use it! It’s been said that men love red lipstick. Bright red lipstick, red roses, the lady in red—it seems as though all things love and romance are associated with the color red. … Do you wear the color red?
Right now, I’m wearing Clarins 60, it’s thirty years old. Can you believe it? Don’t worry, I sterilized it with 70% alcohol. This color is indicative of Dark Shadow’s Gothic television soap in the 60s and 70s, a series made in Lockwood-Mathews Mansion. Gothic indeed. I wear it whenever. I own A LOT of lipsticks. I have a wide assortment of colors and shades, from precious pink to soft nudes to the reddest reds and orangest orange. Every lipstick tells a story. And every shimmery gloss or creamy matte is important to me. Why? Because for fifty years, I was an interior designer, and if there is one business where you have to look good, it’s the design biz. And that’s where it began for me. Plus, I’m an artist/painter so of course that means I love color. And lots of it. And now that I have added romance writer to my resume, I of course have added even more reasons to LOVE LOVE LOVE lipsticks. I put it on every morning before I sit down to write about love and romance. I don’t wear it for anyone else but me. And that makes me happy. It makes me feel good when I write. Every new chapter means I get to wear a new color!
At this stage in my life, with all the volunteer work I do and all the writer’s events I go to, not to mention family gatherings, parties, weddings and of course my ballroom dancing – lipstick is still important to me.
On my morning walk one day, my neighbor stopped me and asked, “How come you always look like you’re going to a party?”
“It’s my lipstick,” I replied. “It’s the first thing I put on after my clothes.”
“You even wear it on your walk?” she asked.
“Yes, and the bonus is that my lips are always moist, never dry or chapped. And it makes me feel good.”
I could fill a cosmetics counter with all the lipsticks I own.
She looked at me like I had just given her the secret of the fountain of youth.
And what do I see when I pass my reflection? I see a happy 81-year-old woman who has done a lot in her life, raised a family, run successful businesses, founded an interior design school, was a professional artist and painter, a tennis teaching pro, and now a published romance author. I see a vibrant woman who enjoys herself.
Gail & Tom
I see me more than anyone else, why wouldn’t I want to please myself. Besides moist lips, there is another bonus to wearing lipstick – my darling husband Tom never fails to tell me how pretty I look.
And guess what? Lipstick can do a lot more than just add color to your lips. According to Miki Hayes of Bustle Magazine, lipstick can make you walk taller, reduce stress, and even bring people together.
So why do I love wearing lipstick? I love it because I love how I feel when I wear it. And that’s the most important reason to me.
Celebrate your love of lipstick. And remember, lipsticks and kisses go well together. 😉
Indigo Sky for the reader who enjoys historical romance! @AmazonKindle http://amzn.to/2nWqbcq Indigo Sky available on Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/2j0LXLE
Author page: http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA
My darling, I will love you until the end of time, an hour, a day, forever. Love at any age is contagious. it’s the kind of contagion you want. Catch a falling star, catch him in your arms. The stars tell all, or maybe your heart tells all. So many love songs, a little of Frankie here, “What is this Thing Called Love.”
Between us, Tom and I have nine grandsons, ages 11-31. And we have three granddaughters, (a set of twins, 13, and their 5 year-old sister). One of our boys got married on July 22. Jonathan married his childhood sweetheart, Taylor. And another grandson is getting married on Sunday, August 13. Ben is marrying his college sweetheart, Stephanie.
WOW! Two back-to-back weddings. Love and romance are certainly in the air! Something I know all about because I’ve been married to my love, Tom for almost 25 years.
Jonathan and Taylor’s wedding ceremony was on top of a mountain at the Mountain Creek Resort in New Jersey, on what was reported to be the hottest day of the year. We traveled up the mountain standing in, what they call a cabriolet, (pronounced cab-ree-oh-lay).
Joanne, Gail & Tom riding up on the cabriolet
The ride up was breathtaking. We had a gorgeous view of the valley as the cabriolet carried us up and up, and the ground moved farther and farther away. The sun was a blazing furnace, and by the time we reached the top, we were wilted. Thank goodness for the never-ending supply of the wet stuff. Nope, not beer! Water! There were plenty of bottles to go around. Whew! The ceremony was beautiful and the reception, even more so. The big party was held in a beautiful backyard garden oasis at the home of my son, Rick and daughter-in-law, Tammy. Only one word can describe the celebration–awesome!
Ben & Steph
Ben and Steph’s wedding will be more traditional, in a banquet hall. I’m sure it will be beautiful. I can’t wait to be with everyone again, all dressed up in our best duds and having a wonderful celebration, another milestone in our wonderful family.
I hope these sweet young couples have discovered true romance. Not just the flowers and sweet words kind, but the every-day kind of love you show the person who means the most to you. It’s the little things you do for one another daily. In my house, I cook and Tom does the dishes. I dust, and am the sergeant of the latrines (we have three) and Tom vacuums. Who wouldn’t love a guy like that? He also does the laundry. Bet you think I’m kidding. Tom won my heart long ago. He’s a guy who knows about romance. First you have romance then you have love.
So why am I hung up on romance and love? I’m a romance writer after all.
Under the backyard tent
Tom and Gail
Joanne & Paul
Gail & Rick
The House of Gail
Romance Writer’s of America does it right. A conference in Orlando with all the magic moments, including a trip to Disney. Have you ever been to a conference that had entertaining and enlightening speakers, topped off with twinkling lights and fireworks from your hotel balcony every night? It was spectacular. Until the invasion of the . . . ants!
Odorous House Ants (hardened honey)
Holy cow! Ants crawling all over me, all over the car, all over our stuff. So tiny I thought they were little spiders, squishing them with my fingers, the critters were so fast, I didn’t have time to take off my shoe to swat, hand swipe was the only way. One kept wriggling. I put on my glasses and saw they were ants. Oh no, not good news. When you see one, you can be sure there are hundreds. Did they build a colony in my car? OMG, this is serious.
White napkins and ant trap
Fumigate, and we all die. I didn’t have bug spray anyway. Two whole days to get home in the car with these crawly things. Google check. You need Terro Ant Traps and no matter what, don’t let the liquid in the traps spill, it’s sweet and a mess to clean up. We’d have to find a Home Depot, which would hold up our trip. Vacuum the car. If you think we could find a car wash that would vacuum the suckers up, forget it. Just go home and suffer. No more eating in the car. Kitchen ants in a car, what a dilemma.
We’re home, it’s dark, now what? All the luggage, what to do? OK, I got it. Lay out a white sheet on the driveway (No taking the car into the garage), put everything in the car on the sheets and tiny black ants are now all over the sheet. Sprayed them. My neighbor appeared and said, bring the luggage up to the deck and leave overnight. They’ll scatter . . . She looked me in the eye and asked, won’t they? She didn’t really know, I didn’t know, Tom didn’t know. I can’t spray bug spray on the soft luggage, all the clothes will get damaged. We wiped everything down, should have wiped with alcohol, but didn’t think of it. Wiping with a paper towel didn’t really do it. We brought in one piece of luggage at a time. Looked okay. Next morning . .
Ants on the kitchen counter from what we thought were cleaned suitcases.
Well, it’s official, now we have kitchen ants in our kitchen. Called our Terminex Pest Control. We are customers for over ten years, but no priority, they can’t get to us until Friday. This is Tuesday. You have to be kidding me. No joke. We used bleach cleaner for the counter, wow, that was a good idea anyway, great way to clean granite. Ants seemed to vanish. Put six of the Terro traps on the floor around the kitchen island, and other areas. They may be in hiding. We didn’t use any food, didn’t prepare any meals, sandwiches from Costco come in handy. It was morning when we laid out two white napkins on the counter. We put a trap on one white napkin to see them easily. It’s night now, no ants. I’ll let you know results in the morning, bugs seem to play in the night.
So, what’s happening with the car? I thought you would never ask.
This car looks innocent, but something lurks behind those doors.
Detailed the car interior, about $100 (these ants are expensive). They found ants running up and down inside the door edges. They vacuumed them away. Got home with the car, sprayed indoor/outdoor bug spray on the doors, and set two Terro traps on the floor of the car. If there is a colony, they will eat the sweet stuff, bring it to their home and poof, they are gone. Colony will be dissipated.
Why did this happen? Guess what folks? Cleaning the car, when we first got home from the RWA conference, revealed a rotten tomato, ugh. Disgusting. Shopping for produce before Florida, we never noticed that one of the tomatoes had rolled under the seat. The tomato cooked in the Florida heat. Those were happy ants. We never noticed crawly things until our trip home. Finally home, at sunset.
It’s the next day . . . nary a sign of ants . . . God is good all the time!!!
Got home in time to witness this sunset at Trader Joe’s to pick up milk for the morning.
Indigo Sky for the reader who enjoys historical romance! @AmazonKindle http://amzn.to/2nWqbcq Indigo Sky available on Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/2j0LXLE
Author page: http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA