Carrol Daily Times Herald (Carroll, Iowa) 29 August 1953 Page 3
\ Marble Halls Nd Dream To Walter Russell By WADE -IONKS NEA Staff Correspondent SWANNANOA, Va. — (NKA) — | Thomas A. Edison and King Al- 1 phonso of Spain and Teddy Rnose- . velt. and Mark Twain and Jack I London and Richard Harding Davis should see what their old friend Walter Russell is up to now. 1 a?. Rooms Russell, a handsome little man of 82 with a white Van Dyke beard, steel-rimmed glasses and a blue beiet, in living wilh his British-born British-born wife, Lao, a vivid woman in her JOs, in a. r>2-ronm marble "palace" atop a 2100-foot moun: moun: tain. I The palace cost $2,000,000 to build back in the early 1900s Much of the. marble came from Italy. The New York architectural firm of Stone and Webster estimates it would cost $15,000,000 to build to-; day. The great formal gardens alone, cost $500,000 originally There are ()29 acres of land in the mounlain- top estate, stables big enough for a company of cavalry guest cottages cottages that look like little mansions, miles of hard-aurfaccd road, SWIM miles of bridle paths, and an IX- hole golf course, now a jungle of ! weeds. In Weeds 5 Vears Ago In fact, the whole place was weeds tive years ago. At. this same .time, in 19-18, Russell and his oride of a few months were living in -t : two-room studio in New York, and , apparently not living too well. The ' reason seemed to be that Russell 1 had pretty much forsaken the paint ing and sculpturing which had gain; gain; ed him considerable renown and I many friends among the great of 30 to 50 vears ago. Just prior to the Spanish-Amer: Spanish-Amer: lean War he was art editor of a national magazine. Then he wen! , off to war as a magazine illustrator illustrator and writei. and became close i friends with Richard Harding Davis Davis and ..lark London in those years Lrfier he knew Thirnas F.disun and .\Iaik Twain and did busts of them. President Teddy Roosevelt commissioned commissioned him to paint the Roosevelt Roosevelt children. 1 He set up studios in Pans and London and became pretty well , u-p.owp on the Continent King Al' Al' peo.'iso •j.-tv nun a medal He nie-u KI.H1V.IHJ Kipling arid still has J some letters tiom him. Back in this country he was commissioned by a. magazine to paint "the 12 most beautiful children in Amer• Amer• which produced something of a sensation in the publishing field. But somewhere along about this time Russell began to spread himself himself a little thin, artistically speaking. speaking. He composed some music and began writing on his philosophy of life and things spiritual. He even went into architecture. This didn't seem to pay off loo well, particularly the writing. But the writing brought something else •-•a wife. Attracted by what she had read of Ins works. Lao Stebbing Stebbing arranged to meet Russell Five years ago they were married. Peopjc around here have gotten the impression that Russell's wife has a fair-sized private income. But neighbors farther rtown the mountain mountain say Mrs. Russell did an "enormous "enormous amount of work with her own hands" when they arrived heie helping helping patch roofs, si rubbing the great marble floors and ceilings, dusting out the cobwebs. i liuill in I tin Swannanoa. was built hai k in 1912, by a. Major- James Donley, fabulously fabulously wealthy former mayor of Richmond. Va., for his wife, who loved swans. .Mrs. Dooley died septal years later and the place wen! to pot. S'wne Rlchmonders got together and made a country club ot it That folded in 1029. The understanding is that the Russells now lease it from its owners, a group of Charlottesville Charlottesville business men. But the Russells are by no means. alone these days in their mountain- [ top wonderland. Thousands of peo- j pie come every year, at 50 cents\ a head, to peer through the fahu-'. Ions palace and grounds, at the Tif- j fany-made stained glass window at! the head of the marble staircase, j at the astonishing view stretching j down and away for miles and miles in all directions. ; Other?, mostly women, can be seen .sitting on stone benches and gazing fixedly off towards a tall white statue nf Christ, called "Christ of the Blue Ridge," which: Russell carved and set. up in the gardens behind the palace, Most of the women are among Russell's "students," who come from all over the country to study under him and meditate In an atmosphere atmosphere most conducive to meditation. meditation. You Don't Ask The Russells live a simple but fairly opulent life now. The place is beautifully furnished. They have about 12 servants, including season al gardeners. You wonder where al. the money come from, but that ii one of those things you simply don't ask your hosts. Richard Harding' Davis would probably ask. And so would Jacl London. Not me. IXSf.DE THEIR PALACE. Walter Russell and his wife hang one of his painting'*. He is also known at* a sculptor and writer. O.N A .MOI XTAI.VJ'OI' IN VIRGINIA, artist Waller Kuril's 52 -room marble "palace." sits regally in the- midst of 629 acres of formal garden*, ttlabies, guest cottages, and bridle paths.