In 1908, New York City financier and attorney Charles E. Rushmore commissioned the building of a new Spanish Colonial mansion in Highland Mills, N.Y., so his ill wife Jeannette Carpenter Rushmore could benefit from the fresh country air. Rushmore also directed Tiffany Studios to create a stained-glass window for the home’s grand staircase.
On June 14, 2023, 115 years later, that one-of-a-kind window was auctioned by Christie’s. It was expected to fetch $300,000 to $500,000.
Instead, the purchase price was $907,200, reflecting the elegance of the Rushmore Estate’s design and the care put into the home by Charles Rushmore.
The ornate window’s removal from the home circa 1996, purchase by the famed Getty family and route to the auction block from Berkeley, Calif., is just one of many fascinating stories about the Rushmore Estate, now enjoying its next chapter as an events/wedding venue and bed and breakfast.
“I had heard that a Tiffany window was in the house years ago, but was never able to find out where it was,” said Dr. Seth Pulver, the current owner of Carmore, the name bestowed on the estate by Charles Rushmore, for whom Mount Rushmore in South Dakota is named. “Then, all of a sudden, I got a call from the historical society in town that someone from Christie’s was inquiring about the window.”
The Christie’s auction inaugurated the next era for the “Cypress and Azalea” landscape window. It was being auctioned on behalf of the family of Ann and Gordon Getty as part of “The Ann & Gordon Getty Collection: Temple of Wings.” A similar auction of the Gettys’ arts, porcelain and more earned $150 million in 2022. Proceeds from the window’s auction benefitted arts and science organizations.
The leaded and plated glass window – 77.5 inches high by 77 inches wide – depicts the country landscape beloved by the Rushmores, featuring cypress trees against distant purple mountains. The forefront shows a stream and blooming azaleas under a blue sky, all “beautifully rendered in multicolored opalescent glass. Greens, pinks, and yellows hint at grass and flowers, while the dream-like mountains shimmer in cobalt and deep purple,” according to the Christie’s description. An acid etching says TIFFANY STVDIOS NEW YORK.
The window remained in the Rushmore Estate mansion until 1996, when the owner at the time – likely recognizing its uniqueness and value – sold it, and the Gettys acquired it at a Christie’s auction for their Berkeley home. A conventional window replaced it at Carmore. That window remains in the home Pulver purchased in 2002 as a residence for his family.
Rushmore Estate guests will see that much of the Rushmore Estate’s interior is preserved in its original condition. The ballroom features vaulted ceilings with elegant plaster carvings, French doors opening to a stone patio, oak floors and an oversized fireplace. The lavish architecture ensures a unique experience for guests accommodated in four large suites offering privacy and luxury.
Of interest, however, is that Tiffany, to this day, remains represented at the Rushmore Estate. A stone and glazed terracotta clocktower with the original wind-up clock, dating to the early 1900s, still ticks inside Tiffany-designed clocktower faces.