While we were in California last year, spending the day photographing Lake Tahoe with our friends, Adam Katseff and his wife Amy, they told us about the Greyfield Inn…the magical place they stayed on their honeymoon, one that they knew I would LOVE (turned out to be a major understatement). I knew the name sounded familiar, and once they mentioned it was on Cumberland Island, it all came back to me…an enchanting wedding, an all-American couple…but more on that tomorrow…
After hearing about it, I knew I had to see Greyfield Inn for myself and with the trip down to visit SCAD, it was the perfect opportunity. I’m an extremely visual person and I’m sure it comes to no surprise to you that I quite often dream about the way life looked “back then”. I think walking through the doors of Greyfield will be as close as I will ever get to knowing the way it might have actually looked…
You leave your car on Amelia Island and Mitti, one of the four owners and inheritors of Greyfield and the Carnegie property, takes you by boat to Cumberland Island. Walking up from the dock the giant, old live oaks seem to wave at you with their long fingers of Spanish moss, diffusing the afternoon sun into a sparkling haze underneath their centuries-old canopy. Then, from behind the trees you catch the first glimpse of the four story white mansion they call Greyfield. Built in 1900 as a wedding gift to the Carnegie’s daughter, Margaret, this home is still furnished with many of the original pieces of that era but with exceptional modern day comforts (ummm…air-conditioning). As you walk up the grand staircase to the second floor porch lined with rocking chairs and swinging daybeds, you regret how short your stay is. Now, up in the canopy of live oaks, you overlook the property of white picketed fences and fields of grazing wild horses and as they offer you organic rosemary lemonade, if you’re like me, you think you’ve died and gone to heaven.
The house, grand as it is, still holds a very sweet intimacy. At night, sitting out by the waterway looking back on her, she stands a soft pearly white in the light of the moon, framed by Spanish moss draped trees with a golden light glowing out of every window, so warm and welcoming you would swear the evening was meant just for you. The charm extends to the inside with its historic clawfoot bathtubs, immaculate upkeep, full service bar, organic meals, classic high quality southern linens and L’Occitane toiletries. Every evening, men in dinner jackets and ladies in our sweet southern dresses snack on hors d’oeuvres and classic Southern cocktails (recipe for my favorite below!), awaiting a dinner bell around 7:30 where we all move into the formal dining room for that night’s seasonal meal which at times can harvest ingredients from Greyfield’s own impressive garden.
I know on busy New York days or times when I’m caught in a blizzard, I will think back on this memory and my soul will fill with the warmth of these sunny afternoons, lost on Cumberland Island in a dream called Greyfield…
Our Savannah friend Molly told us, if we were going to Cumberland we *had* to visit Gogo. In a house sitting next door to Greyfield, you’ll find an ocean, quite literally, of treasures: a jeweler’s studio full of precious metals in formations of found bones, plant life, shells, you name it, found on Cumberland Island and Martha’s Vineyard. I didn’t know what to expect meeting Gogo other than she would be fabulous…and that she was. She walked us through the collection her and her daughter Hannah Sayre-Thomas have created inspired by the natural wonders surrounding us. She showed me the bird skull cuff links Wes Craven had just purchased, told me about the wedding bands she custom made for JFK, Jr and Carolyn Bessette and then laughed as she asked me if I knew what “these” were… “these” being a porcupine penis bone she crafted into earrings! I didn’t walk away with those, but these came home with me and I have been quite enjoying them.
~The Maple Southern~
2 oz Bourbon
1TBS Maple Syrup
4 dashes Orange Bitters
Juice from one lemon
Can be shaken or stirred!
Oh, and another funny fact, Wes Anderson originally hoped to film Moonlight Kingdom here!