“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Cuneo Mansion is a monument to different. While the building itself is historic and houses an interesting collection of furniture and art, even more interesting were the two families who made it home.
Samuel Insull, who built the house way back in 1914, was a British-born business baron who began his ascent to riches while working as Thomas Edison's personal assistant. He married a woman named Gladys Wallis, who was a popular Broadway actress and an insufferable prima donna. After building a business empire - yes, he DID BUILD THAT! - Insull lost it all in the Great Depression. These two people were so interesting that the writers of the classic American film “Citizen Kane“ used them as inspiration for character development. You need to research Samuel Insull to gain historic perspective, before touring the mansion.
Same goes for the Cuneos. Do your homework and try to understand the mindset of these people: family members; why this house was best-suited for them; the surroundings, decor, each unique room and its own history. For example: there is no question that the Catholic faith was a very important part of the Cuneos' lives. Take a close look at the over-the-top family chapel and their collection of centuries-old, iconic religious art and artifacts. Obsessive? Or just conspicuously, richly devout. No doubt, there's more than enough here for another blockbuster movie - or, at very least, a captivating mini-series!
It's also interesting to note that not so many years ago, this place was still a family home. How comfortable was it? How homey - as most “ordinary people“ would relate to “homey” - could it have been? IMHO: the most “comfortable” room in this house is “The Ship's Room.“ But only with the addition of a 60" flat screen HDTV, an appropriate BarcaLounger and WiFi, of course.
A visit to the Cuneo Mansion is worth the trip. Just remember . . .
”No man can tell whether he is rich or poor by turning to his ledger. It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has.”
- Henry Ward Beecher
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