In today’s edition of the Key Room Blog, I’ll be bringing you a little bit of history from my great home state of New York. To tell you the truth, I was a little sad when I first came to the key room and saw that New York’s keys only occupy a meager fifth of one of our ceiling panels, but just a few minutes of inspection made me realize that our small section is still a mighty one. Today’s key for example comes from Yonkers, NY and its story alone involves beautiful mansions, a family of New York bankers, and one of the Civil War’s most famous generals.
It is labeled “The key to Gen. Sherman’s Wine Cellar ‘Seven Pines’” and its namesake is probably someone you’ve heard of before. General William Tecumseh Sherman fought for the Union Army in the Civil War and is most famous for the military campaign of 1864 nicknamed “Sherman’s March to the Sea” during which he enacted a harsh “scorched earth” policy and burned down everything in his path from northern Georgia to Savannah. The march amassed more than $100 million in property damage and is one of the primary reasons that Gone with the Wind is so sad. After the Civil War ended and Ulysses S. Grant became President of the United States, he appointed Sherman Commanding General of the Army in 1869.
But General Sherman is not really the key’s owner as one might assume. The wine cellar at “Seven Pines” in Yonkers, NY actually belonged to New York City banker John Bond Trevor. The Trevors were a wealthy and extremely influential family that settled in the suburb of Yonkers in 1861 and are most famous for building the Glenview Mansion; a Victorian style estate that is now listed as the John Bond Trevor House and a part of the Hudson River Museum.
“Seven Pines” was the Trevor family’s residence before they moved into the Glenview Mansion and was originally named Edgewater. Its name changed when General Sherman visited the Glenview as a guest and suggested that Edgewater be changed to Seven Pines after the battle of Seven Pines which took place in Virginia during the Civil War. In honor of him, the house’s name was changed and General Sherman was able to leave his mark on the Yonkers community.
The couple that made the donation to the Baldpate Inn, Mr. and Mrs. Howard B. MacDonald, add a bonus layer of historical significance to the Seven Pines key. They also hailed from Yonkers, NY and Mrs. Howard B. MacDonald held local musical acclaim under the name Georgia Graves. Though we do not know the exact year that this key was donated, this newspaper article from 1939 puts the MacDonalds into historical context and tells us a little bit about the contralto Georgia Graves and her musical career.
This key which is wrapped up in a long history of famous names and places is just one of the many gems that can be found hanging from the key room ceiling here at the Baldpate. If you’re in the area, just swing by and I’ll help you find your own state’s claim to fame.
Hope to see you all soon,
Key Room Museum Curator