Over the years of dealing art and antiques, I have worked with many old home restorationists. They are a very particular lot, fascinating in their degree of commitment to a vision of recreating something from the past.

No person ever so perfectly exemplified that than Richard Hampton Jenrette, which is why no antiques collector should be without his book “Adventures With Old Houses.”

Published by Wyrick & Company of Charleston in 2000 and with a foreword by the Prince of Wales (yes, that one), it is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever owned and has been kept on or near my desk for 15 years now (I keep a copy at my home here in Palm Beach and also one in my office).

Jenrette was born in North Carolina and educated at Chapel Hill and Harvard before beginning a career on Wall Street in the late 1950’s. However, it was in the 1960’s that he began acquiring and restoring historic homes. This endeavor would eventually see him resurrect such notable historic structures as the Robert William Roper House in Charleston; Millford Plantation in South Carolina; Ayr Mount in North Carolina; Estate Cane Garden on St. Croix; the George F. Baker House in New York City; and Edgewater, former home of the writer Gore Vidal, in Barrytown, New York.

To be sure, Jenrette’s homes are completely over-the-top in their degree of perfection. Not only was he careful to select houses that were, from conception, immaculately executed buildings, he also took extraordinary care to do nothing that would compromise the historic integrity of the structure. Consequently, the results are pure art. Beautifully expensive art!

But there is so much to be learned from what he has done that transcends finances – the idea of passion for what antiques or fine art you collect; of patience to find the right piece or right place; and, more practically, the idea of proper scale and proportion when furnishing a space.

Trust me, find a copy of this book. Whether for inspiration or pure fantasy, no antiques collector should be without it.

The next Palm Beach Show Group show will be held in New York on Nov. 20-24, followed by a show in Palm Beach on Dec. 3-7.


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