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