About Joye Cottage - continued


            “The sheer size of the place was astounding,” said their architect, Robert Rich, a cousin of Mr. Smith, who practices in New York City and designed the Vera Wang bridal salon on Madison Avenue.  “It’s an incremental building, with several styles coming from different directions and no underlying rationale.  The Whitney’s just made it up as they went along, building what they wanted in the fashion of the day for each addition.”

           Joye Cottage is, simply put, a mongrel.  First, there is the compendium of building materials, from shingles and brick to clapboard.  Then there is the cacophony of facades:  the center block has a 175-foot Southern-style veranda capped by New England-style dormer windows; one wing is shingled Queen Anne with diamond-shape panes; another is plain and shed like; the two wings flanking the main courtyard are Roman-flavor classical revival, and the carriage entrance is French-style Beaux-Arts.

            Curiously, given modern mini-series notions of how turn-of-the-century millionaires lived, Joye Cottage is made up almost entirely of bedrooms.

            “It was built as a recreational house,” Mr. Rich said.  “You came down to Aiken to be outside all the time.”  The only faintly deluxe convenience was a small outdoor swimming pool; there was no ballroom (that came later, when one of the classical revival wings was gutted) and no art gallery. The dining room is only about the size of one in a modern tract house.

            There was also no library, a sad situation for a pair of writers with hundreds of books between them and years’ more research ahead.  Mr. Rich combined two pokey bedrooms into a library with an adjoining sitting room, 1850’s Greek revival in style, a decision prompted by the house’s chronological architectural hodgepodge.

            (For those who wonder how the men can afford all this, they run Woodward-White, a small publishing company of law and medical directories, and Best Doctors, Best Lawyers, a national referral service.)

            A biography of Van Gogh is in the works, and Mr. Naifeh, the researcher, and Mr. Smith, the writer, have completed their next book “Making Miracles Happen,” which will be published next spring by Little, Brown, is the story of Mr. Smith’s battle with a vascular tumor of the brain.  Diagnosed as inoperable in 1986, the tumor, Mr. Naifeh said, “was in a part of the brain  they weren’t willing to enter.”  A new surgical procedure allowed the tumor to be removed in a 12-hour operation in 1992.  “Felt like 19,” Mr. Smith said with a laugh.

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The garden off the ballroom wing

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