Sundown Towns: The city of Llewellyn and the community of Park Place are fictional, though there were many very real “sundown towns” throughout the United States. Sundown Towns were a form of racial apartheid throughout America. Communities from Connecticut to California placed signs at their borders warning African-American and other ethnicities—including the Chinese, the Japanese, Jews and Mexicans—that they had better leave town by sundown. If they were caught inside city limits they were subject to harassment or worse by the police or vigilantes. Until the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, sundown towns were legal in the United States. The best resource on this racist practice is the book, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism by James W. Loewen.
Jackson Ward is a community on the edge of downtown of Richmond Virginia. Known as the “Harlem of the South,” it was the center of black commerce, entertainment, religious life and community in the early 20th century. Like many black communities, Jackson Ward was split in two in the 1950’s during the construction of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway system. It was designated a National Historic Landmark district in 1978. More information on Jackson Ward is available on Wikipedia and from the Black History Museum and the National Park Service.
Evergreen Cemetery in the East End of Richmond, Virginia is a historic African-American cemetery dating back to 1891 when cemeteries in the south were strictly segregated. Several African-Americans that contributed to the growth and development of Richmond are buried there including Maggie L. Walker. Here I Lay My Burdens Down: A History of the Black Cemeteries of Richmond, Virginia is a great resource for more information about Evergreen Cemetery.
Villa I Tatti was the home of Bernard Berenson (1865–1959), the connoisseur whose attributions of early Italian Renaissance painting guided scholarship and collecting in this field for the first half of the twentieth century. Berenson was closely associated, personally and professionally, with Belle da Costa Greene. Villa I Tatti is now the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Study and houses the Berenson collection of Italian primitives, and of Chinese and Islamic art, as well as a research library of 140,000 volumes and a collection of 250,000 photographs. Two resources for information on Villa I Tatti are http://itatti.harvard.edu and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_I_Tatti
SS Île de France, a French ocean liner launched in 1926, was the first major ocean liner built after the conclusion of World War I and the first to be decorated entirely with Art Deco designs. Known for its three distinctive red smoke stacks, the Île de France was the last ship to leave France before the outbreak of World War II, just hours before France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. During the war the ship was used to carry war materials and for a while was a floating prisoner of war camp. After the war, the Île de France was once again returned to its former glory as a luxury passenger ocean liner. However, with the decline of ocean travel, the once magnificent ship was sold for scrap and used as a floating prop for the 1960 disaster movie, The Last Voyage, where it partially sunk during filming.
The Morgan Library was built as the private library of financier J. Pierpont Morgan (1837 – 1913). It was built between 1902 and 1906 adjacent to Morgan’s residence at Madison Avenue and 36th Street where it still stands today. J.P. Morgan hired Belle da Costa Greene in 1905 to organize his rare books and manuscripts. In 1924 she was named Director of the Library and remained in that position until 1948. More information on the library can be found on the website for The Morgan Library & Museum.
Paris, France: I used several resources to learn about Paris in the 1930s including Paris Between the Wars 1919 – 1939 by Vincent Bouvet and Gerard Durozoi. Additional resources are Paris Noir: African-Americans in the City of Light by Tyler Stovall and Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story by William A. Shack .
Round Hill Hotel and Villas was conceived as a private haven for celebrities opening in 1953. Many, including John F. Kennedy, Paul Newman, Bob Hope and Ian Fleming, enjoyed its luxurious setting and impeccable service. Oscar Hammerstein, the original owner of Villa 12 (pictured) wrote the Sound of Music there after meeting Maria von Trappe at the resort. Seems the muse is still there, I also wrote some of Provenance in Villa 12. The popular movie, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, with Angela Basset, Whoopi Goldberg and Taye Diggs was filmed at Round Hill. More information on the history of Round Hill can be found here http://www.roundhill.com/history-en.html
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