Colonnade in George Eastman's time
The colonnade looks to the Schuyler (pronounced Skyler) C. Townson Terrace Garden, which is modeled after sixteenth-century Italian Renaissance terrace gardens. This garden was actually in place before the house was finished. For Mr. Eastman, first things first!
The garden has been restored to look as it did from 1912 to 1926. At either end of the lily pool, you will see two structures. These are seventeenth-century Venetian wellheads, which were installed in 1912 and, at one time, were used as fountains. They give an interesting focus for the formal walk. They are covered during the winter to preserve them, as they are the oldest bit of decoration in either the house or the gardens. In season, please feel free to walk in the gardens during your tour.
Mr. Eastman used this area as an extension of the house for entertaining. In October of 1905, Mr. Eastman invited 100 businessmen from his company and the community to celebrate the completion of the house. Beluga caviar and vodka were followed by a nine-course dinner served at tables for six and eight in the colonnade. The brick wall behind you was illuminated with colored lights strung through ivy. A string orchestra played, and a vaudeville act from New York City performed for the guests … and there was group singing.
The main event was the illumination of the gardens proceeded by a 20-minute fireworks display … and an artificial moon rising from behind the pergola on the other side of the lily pool! The evening ended, as most events in the house did, with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne.”
Behind the colonnade wall is the Dryden Theatre, where classic and contemporary films are shown each evening. You saw its pillared public entrance as you parked to enter the Museum. Funds for the construction of the Dryden Theatre were given to the Museum by Mr. Eastman’s niece, Ellen Dryden, and her husband. The couple and their children were favorite visitors of Eastman’s.
Please move up the ramp in to the dining room.