Within the early Sixties, after a variety of summers renting on Martha’s Winery, Jamie Bernstein’s household purchased a trip residence on a wooded hill in West Redding, Conn. There, 9-year-old Jamie and her youthful brother, Alexander, devised numerous video games of make-believe, chief amongst them a fantasy that they lived the identical kind of low-key, small-town existence because the characters on their favourite tv reveals.
It was a testomony to the imaginative presents of kids whose precise residence was a duplex condominium throughout the road from Carnegie Corridor, and whose father was the celebrated, heat-seeking “West Aspect Story” composer and New York Philharmonic conductor Leonard Bernstein.
“As soon as we had this little home, we weren’t going to Martha’s Winery and we have been a lot nearer to Manhattan, which was in all probability far more handy for my mother and father,” mentioned Ms. Bernstein, 70, the writer of the 2018 memoir “Well-known Father Woman” and the host of “The NY Phil Story: Made in New York,” a brand new podcast in regards to the Philharmonic produced by the orchestra and the general public radio station WQXR. “It meant that we might go there on the weekends through the common a part of the yr.”
Then, when her sister Nina was born in 1962, “we have been a household of 5,” Ms. Bernstein continued. “Plus the nanny and the prepare dinner who generally got here up with us on the weekends. And instantly the home appeared too small.”
A number of months later, her mom, Felicia Montealegre Bernstein, an actor and artist, introduced that she had simply purchased a giant, new nation place. “And I suppose I should have requested, ‘Nicely, how a lot did it price?’” Ms. Bernstein recalled. “And my mom mentioned, ‘Oh, I can’t discuss that. It was so costly I can’t even say it out loud.’ And my brother and I have been saying, ‘Oh, come on, how a lot was it? How a lot was it?’ We badgered her till lastly she whispered, ‘80.’”
Her kids gasped: “$80 — it price $80?”
In that very same whisper, Mrs. Bernstein corrected them: “$80,000.”
What in these days appeared a lordly sum purchased a former horse farm with a pool, a tennis court docket and outbuildings on six and a half acres in Fairfield, Conn. Through the years, further parcels of woodland — virtually 12 acres’ value — have been acquired to present the household extra privateness and extra of an escape from city cares.
“It was marvelous,” Ms. Bernstein mentioned. “We spent many summers right here, and virtually each weekend throughout the remainder of the yr. All of us liked it.”
Jamie Bernstein, 70
Occupation: Creator, filmmaker, podcast host
Taking the treatment: “We go to the home to be fully relaxed. It’s just like the antidote to New York life.”
After Mr. Bernstein’s loss of life in 1990 (Mrs. Bernstein died in 1978), the three kids inherited the property. However it’s Jamie who’s most steadily in residence — just about each weekend.
As when their mother and father have been alive, the compound is a gathering spot for birthdays and holidays, and for fiercely contested rounds of Anagrams. These days, it has additionally served as a set for the upcoming movie “Maestro,” a portrait of the Bernsteins’ sophisticated marriage directed by and starring Bradley Cooper. (Carey Mulligan performs Felicia.)
“He wished an authenticity about how he was evoking our dad and his world,” Ms. Bernstein mentioned of Mr. Cooper. “He was very curious to return up right here and go to, and that’s when he determined he wished to return again and shoot in and round the home. Bradley completely obtained why this place was so nice and the way it incorporates the household DNA.”
Certainly, the home, with its graciously proportioned rooms, has barely been altered because the days when it was populated by the senior Bernsteins and their nice and good pals — amongst them, Stephen Sondheim (who didn’t fairly take it in stride when Jamie beat him at Anagrams), Jerome Robbins, Mike Nichols and Richard Avedon (who took the image of Jamie that sits amongst a clutch of household pictures in the lounge).
“Once we obtained older, we realized, ‘Boy, we had quite a lot of cool folks at our home,’” Ms. Bernstein mentioned. “However once we have been little, they have been simply our mother and father’ pals. To us, they have been simply Steve and Jerry and Mike and Dick.”
It might have been Mr. Sondheim who purchased his “West Aspect Story” collaborator the abacus that sits on a shelf within the eating room — “I can’t assure that’s the case,” she mentioned — and it was Mr. Sondheim or perhaps Mr. Nichols who purchased the nice telescope on the ground close by.
“There was some time there when our mother and father would have these Christmas events for all their buddies,” Ms. Bernstein mentioned. “And there was a competitiveness in regards to the present-giving that turned so oppressive that my mom mentioned, ‘We’re not having these events anymore.’”
The furnishings — heavy on rattan, wicker and bamboo — conjures a summer time pavilion. So does the eating room, which is anchored by a white-painted desk and chairs, and full of vegetation. Its entryway, framed by a trellis, provides to the phantasm.
“Our mom was a form of good, instinctive decorator,” Ms. Bernstein mentioned. “Everyplace we lived was elegant however comfy.”
She recalled dinners along with her father or mom on the head of the desk. Beneath the carpet was a plug for a bell to summon the assistance, “and my mother and father would begin disappearing,” Ms. Bernstein mentioned. “They might go decrease and decrease down of their chair, as their foot groped for the buzzer.”
The Steinway child grand in the lounge was a present to Mr. Bernstein from a childhood piano instructor, Helen Coates, who later turned his secretary. It was Ms. Coates who determinedly made the profitable bid when, in 1949, there was an public sale to boost cash for the library in Lenox, Mass., and Mr. Bernstein made a portray, supposedly of Salome doing her Dance of the Seven Veils, to assist the trigger.
“Helen acquired it, in order that for the remainder of time no one would see it,” Ms. Bernstein mentioned, pointing to her father’s well-meaning work hanging in a nook not removed from the piano.
“My father,” she added, fairly unnecessarily, “was not visually gifted.”
The recollections that Ms. Bernstein and her siblings have of their childhood on the Fairfield home — household swims; their father carrying a saltshaker to the vegetable backyard within the morning to correctly season his chosen breakfast; elegant lunches of stuffed tomatoes with do-it-yourself mayonnaise on the terrace — have been overlaid by newer recollections. And the subsequent era, the kids of the Bernstein kids, now have their very own historical past right here and, after all, their very own recollections.
“That,” Ms. Bernstein mentioned, “is the great thing about having a home that stays within the household.”
“If some wallpaper is coming unglued, if some materials are fading, if some drawer fronts are hanging by a thread and cupboards are full of baffling detritus — properly, it’s all a part of the household DNA.
“We don’t sort things,” Ms. Bernstein conceded. “There’s a distinct component of funk on this home now. It’s form of funky. However we’re form of funky, too.”
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