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About this collection

Contains photographs of Otto Kahn's estate, "Cedar Court" at Normandy Heights in Morris Township, (ca. 1900 - 1920) and a chapter on Cedar Court from the book Country Residences in Europe and America by Louis Valcoulon Le Moyne, published in 1908. The estate was demolished in 1937, and today is the site of the former Honeywell corporate campus on Columbia Turnpike in Morris Township.

 

 Cedar Court

“Cedar Court” was designed by the architectural firm Carrère & Hastings, who also designed "Blairsden" in Peapack-Gladstone, the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue, and the Frick mansion, (now museum), in New York, among many other notable public, commercial and residential commissions.  The photographs in this collection depict exterior views of the mansion and gardens from different angles and several focus on specific areas of the building, including the main entrance, the gallery, the entrance courtyard, gardens, and landscaped grounds, interiors of the dining room, bedrooms, living rooms, and porch. Three panoramic photographs also show views of the house on the hill, the entrance, and grounds.

 

Between 1895 and 1898, Abraham Wolff built “Cedar Court”: adjacent, twin mansions on 260 acres in Morris Township, New Jersey, for his two daughters. One of his daughters married the financier Otto Kahn. The estate, with its beautifully furnished Italianate style mansions, extensive stables, tennis courts, roller skating track and 18 hole golf course was a highlight of Morris County. Between 1903 and 1905 the 100 acre grounds were re-designed by the Brinley and Holbrook landscaping firm of Morristown.

 

One of the twin mansions was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Otto Kahn, and the other by Mrs. Kahn’s sister, Clara Wertheim.  In 1902, Mrs. Wertheim died in childbirth, leaving the estate solely to the Kahns. In 1905, a fire destroyed one of the houses so the Kahns built a new single story structure in its place.

Otto Hermann Kahn (1867-1934)

Otto Kahn was a distinguished New York financier, builder of railroad empires, philanthropist, influential patron of the arts and friend to world leaders, opera stars, and artists.  He lived in Morristown from 1897 to 1920. Born in Germany to a cultured Jewish family, he came to America in 1893 after working in the banking industry for several years in London. He was 29 when he married Adelaide Wolff, whose father was Abraham Wolff, a partner at the banking firm of Kuhn, Loeb & Company. Soon after his marriage, Kahn was admitted to the partnership.

The Kahns alternated residences between Morristown, New York and London. Cedar Court was their country estate; their mansion in New York was one of the largest private homes ever built in the city, and for a while, they owned a mansion in London near Buckingham Palace. Kahn was one of the main supporters of the Morristown Field club and had prizewinning horses for many years. He transformed and bankrolled the Metropolitan Opera and many artistic organizations. Among his many friends were Arturo Toscanini, Isadora Duncan, and Enrico Caruso. The Kahn’s four children were born in Morristown.

Although a long term Morristown resident, a generous philanthropist, and a respected business associate, Kahn was never accepted into Morristown society. The Kahn estate bordered the Morris County Golf Club; despite his illustrious personal and financial influence, Kahn was blackballed from the club.

A disparaging entry from "The Club-Fellow: The Society Journal of New York and Chicago” in August 18, 1904, refers to Kahn’s in laws, and Cedar Court.

 

"Although Morristown accepted the Behrs, it couldn't admit the Wolfes. The Morristown Golf Club was successful in keeping the Wolfe from its doors. The Hebraic Schiffs, with the help of August Belmont, may be anchored some day at Meadowbrook, but the Wolfes will never be enrolled among Morristown's elect. The patriarch Wolfe built a large house, with a smaller one on each side, and his married children lived practically within its fold. It was a small settlement of Wolfes."

 

During the mid-1900s, Kahn purchased 443 acres of property on the north shore of Long Island, where he constructed the palatial estate “Oheka” for his family. By then Long Island had surpassed Morristown as a prestigious place of residence, and the Kahns abandoned Cedar Court.

The Physiatric Institute and other corporate campuses

In 1920, the Kahns sold the property to Dr. Frederick Allen, a specialist in the early treatment of diabetes. His Physiatric Institute, which opened in 1921, was a sanitarium devoted to the treatment of diabetes. Before the discovery of insulin, diet therapy was the primary way to manage diabetes. Allen’s diet advocated severe fasting and essentially brought his diabetic patients to the brink of starvation in order to control the disease. For some, the diet allowed them to survive long enough to receive insulin therapy when it became available. Some of Allen’s famous clients were Thomas Edison and the painter Charles Demuth. However, Allen’s lack of business skills and the stock market crash of 1929 led to the closing of the institute after Allen was evicted from Institute property for defaulting on the mortgage. The buildings were demolished in 1937.

Allied Chemical & Dye bought the property in 1942. In 1958, it became Allied Chemical Corporation and moved its headquarters to the site. Allied Signal merged with Honeywell in 1999, and the property remained a corporate campus until 2015. The property will soon be converted to a residential condominium community.

  

Portrait of Otto Kahn

 Otto Kahn

 

Otto Kahn sells 'Cedar Court'

 

Kahn Sells Cedar Court

"...The estate was laid out originally by Abraham Wolff, who built two large houses of Spanish type architecture for his two daughters, Mrs. Henri Wertheim and Mrs. Otto H. Kahn. One of the houses burned down and Mr. Kahn then took the whole place over, reconstructed it and made one large dwelling. With all this work and the original amount by spent by Mr. Wolff the property cost more than a million dollars. There are fifty rooms in the main dwelling . Besides this there are six cottages, a large stable...farm buildings, dairy squash court, two tennis courts, and an eighteen hole golf course. The grounds were laid out by Brinley and Holbrook and they are famous in that section of the country for the specimen trees and shrubs which abound..."

New York Times, July 7, 1920

 

 

 

 
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