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Scene Last Night: Martha Stewart, Charles Royce, Church’s Olana

Olana Partnership
Emily Rafferty, president, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Martha Stewart, founder, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) -- In a room filled with palm trees and lush bouquets of roses, Charles Royce of Royce & Associates LLC and lifestyle empress Martha Stewart last night celebrated a creaky old house known as Olana.

The venue was the New York Public Library’s Edna Barnes Salomon Room, and the occasion a fundraiser for the Olana Partnership, which helps maintain Olana.

That’s the name landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church gave to the Persian-style pile he built in Hudson, New York, after visiting Damascus, Jerusalem and Beirut.

“It’s a fantasyland,” said Morrison Heckscher, chairman of the just-reopened, renovated American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Even a fantasyland requires upkeep. This summer the roof will be repaired with a $1 million grant from New York State, the Olana Partnership’s president, Sara Johns Griffen, said. A restoration of the stone walls and farm pastures on the property, which is two hours’ drive north of Manhattan, is under way with $350,000 raised privately, Griffen said.

On the wish list: funds to put carriages back on the paths.

“Church had donkeys for his,” Griffen said.

Richard Sharp, a securities lawyer and chairman of the Olana Partnership, traced his own path to becoming a supporter.

“I love hiking,” Sharp said. “Then, I started collecting Hudson River School paintings -- they captured the same views I saw on my hikes. And then, I discovered Olana.”

His goal as chairman is simple enough: “We can make our dreams a reality if we’re able to be successful with the fundraising,” he said.

‘Foie Gras’

Helping butter up guests last night was a fine meal prepared by the staff of Daniel Boulud. It included foie gras and creamy sunchoke soup.

“After taping two shows, it’s really lovely to come to a dinner like this,” Stewart said.

Heckscher and Stewart were the honorees of the event. Stewart said she visited Olana on Saturday. “I could feel what Church must have felt when he found that property,” she said. “I was jealous, really jealous.”

Heckscher, meanwhile, was thankful that so many senior staff from the Met had come to the dinner in his honor. Among them: the museum’s director, Thomas Campbell, President Emily Rafferty and trustee Lulu Wang.

The honorees received miniature replicas of the frame of Emanuel Leutze’s “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” made by fine-art framer Eli Wilner.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon in New York at or on Twitter at @amandagordon.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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