Friends of Florham Events

A Day at the Races

A festive afternoon . . .

. . . of race horses and hats in the grandeur of a Gilded Age mansion. Join Friends of Florham as we celebrate the Kentucky Derby in style. Wear your best hat, grab a mint julep and enjoy the excitement of one of America’s oldest sporting events, all while helping to preserve local history.

Saturday, May 4, 2019, 4:00 to 8:00 PM

Florham Mansion at Fairleigh Dickinson University
285 Madison Ave
Madison, NJ

The day includes . . .

  • Live broadcast of the 2019 Kentucky Derby
  • Race Day Picnic
  • 50/50 Raffle
  • Auction
  • Best Dressed Award, Best Hat Award and more!


Tickets: $120/person

Please Register by April 24, 2019 but note that space is limited.

All proceeds assist Friends of Florham to provide historic preservation of the Vanderbilt-Twombly Estate. Contributions in excess of $115 are tax deductible.

Additional Information

For race day tips, fun details and registration, please visit Friends of Florham or contact us directly at

Also stop in at Hat Shop Madison, Stitch in Madison, and Cambridge Street Papers in Madison. Tell them Friends of Florham sent you!

Previous Events

Previous Event: Day trip to the NY Botanical Garden Annual Holiday Train Show Exhibition, Tuesday, November 27, 2018, included

  • Round-trip transportation to the Botanical Garden in NYC and return
  • All Garden Pass ticket
  • One-hour guided tour by Botanical Garden experts
  • Tram tour of the gardens

Previous Event:The White House 1792 to 1962

A lecture The White House – From “Presidential Palace” to the People’s House 1792-1962 by Gary Helm Darden, Ph.D., Thursday, September 27, 2018

Dubbed the ‘Presidential Palace’ by some and the ‘Executive Mansion’ by others, what became the White House evolved over many First Families as both a bustling public office and private home..

Previous Event: American Girl Luncheon at Florham

Sunday, June 3, 2018 from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM at the Florham Campus — a fun and exciting event that merges your child’s love of American Girl with the past and present in the beautiful Florham mansion (Hennessy Hall), gilded-age home of Florence Vanderbilt and Hamilton Twombly.

Previous Event: Sculpting the Land: Creating Gilded Age Gardens

April 29, 2018 at 1 PM at the Florham Campus a presentation by Ed Zimmermann on the gardens and landscape of the Florham Estate, the historic Preservation Plan and the influence of Frederick Law Olmsted.

Previous Event: Day Trip to the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, NY

Tuesday, December 5, 2017, in the splendor of a Gilded Age mansion now dressed in the finest Christmas decor.

The bus trip begins and ends at the FDU Florham Campus in Madison. The 8:00 AM – 2:30 PM schedule includes transportation, admission and box lunch.

Previous Event: Architectural History, October 5, 2017

On October 5 the Friends enjoyed a reception followed by a talk by Gary Helm Darden, “Edifice Complex: The Vanderbilts and the Architectural Rivalries of America’s Gilded Age.” Darden, associate professor of history, chair of the Social Sciences and History department and a board member of the Friends, spoke about the buildings and architectural rivalries of the Vanderbilt siblings, including Florham, the home of Florence Vanderbilt and Hamilton Twombly. Vanderbilt family homes include six of the largest homes ever built in the United States, with Florham the eighth largest.

Previous Event: Luncheon and Tea, May 18, 2017

The Friends of Florham and Cosy Cupboard will host a Gilded Age Luncheon and Tea celebrating the history of the era and the role of tea in a grand household. The event will include a collection of silent auction items, a live auction and an opportunity to win the 50/50 cash prize. Proceeds are directed toward the restoration of Florham. View the invitation and then register for the event.

Previous Event: Authors of Florham: An American Treasure speak at Morristown Library

The Morris County Historical Society announces a special presentation on Sunday, March 12 at 2 p.m. at the Morristown Library, 1 Miller Road, Morristown featuring the book “Florham: An American Treasure“. A pictorial history of the iconic Vanderbilt-Twombly estate, the book follows the property from ‘home’ to Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham Campus. Meet authors Carol Bere, Walter Cummins, and Arthur T. Vanderbilt II as they share their insight into Florham’s history, recreate the family’s amazing lifestyle there during the Gilded Age, and explain how Florham survived, when countless other local mansions and estates did not. Enjoy viewing vintage photographs as well as new color images that were taken for the book by photographer Mark Hillringhouse.

Previous Event: 25th Anniversary Celebration of The Friends of Florham

Please join the Friends as they celebrate their 25th Anniversary on Friday, September 23, 2016 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Hennessy Hall at the Florham Campus. The evening’s entertainment will include:

  • Guest lecture by Laura Overbey, Collections Manager, Biltmore Estate
  • Unveiling of Phase I of the Portrait Project
  • Premiere of the 1930’s home movie by Chef Donon featuring a tour of Florham
  • Cooking Demonstration by Chef Jeff of a Chef Donon recipe
  • Photo Gallery of Past Projects

Previous Event: Return to the Tiffany Table: A Luncheon at Florham

In an afternoon celebrating history, great design, and classic good taste, a return to the Tiffany Table was held on May 20, 2016. The event included a collection of silent auction items, a live auction and an opportunity to win a diamond bracelet from Tiffany & Co. Proceeds were directed toward the restoration of Florham.

Previous Event: Tiffany Blue and FDU: Perfect Together

On Thursday, May 21, 2015 Hennessy Hall at Fairleigh Dickinson University was showered in Tiffany blue. The first fundraising luncheon hosted by the Friends of Florham in partnership with Tiffany & Co. attracted an enthusiastic group of men and women who were greeted with sparkling drinks, complimentary gifts courtesy of Tiffany & Co., many silent auction items and a chance to win a diamond metro bracelet valued at $6,200 generously donated by the Short Hills (N.J.) Tiffany store especially for the event.

Previous Event: The Beaux Arts Treasures

Ulysses Grant Dietz, Chief Curator and Curator of decorative arts at the Newark Museum, spoke about the “Great Treasures of the Newark Museum,” on Sunday, March 15, 2015 3 p.m. in the Orangerie of the Monninger Center.

Copies of Dietz’s book, Dream House: The White House as an American Home, were available for sale and signed by the author.

Previous Event: Ulysses Grant Dietz

On Sunday, November 8, 2014, Ulysses Grant Dietz, Chief Curator and Curator of Decorative Arts at the Newark Museum, gave a fascinating talk (with accompanying slides) about his book, Dream House: The White House as an American Home. Mr. Dietz discussed the homes of various presidents–from Thomas Jefferson’s relatively modest country estate to Andrew Jackson’s villa, to the middle-class home of Dwight Eisenhower. The audience was particularly interested in the White House furnishings of various presidents, including furnishings and other objects selected by designers such as including Louis Tiffany and McKim, Mead, and White.

Previous Event: Janet Wallach

On Sunday, March 16, 2014, noted author, lecturer and commentator Janet Wallach spoke on her recent book The Richest Woman in America, a biography of Hetty Green — Feisty, Frugal, Financial Genius of the Gilded Age.

Previous Event: “Stanford White, Architect”

Sam White spoke on Stanford White, Sunday, November 10. Copies of Samuel White’s book “Stanford White, Architect,” were available for purchase and signing.

Previous Event: Newark Museum Curator

Ulysses Grant Dietz, chief curator at the Newark Museum, gave a spirited, informative talk entitled Beauty Money and Power: The Transformation of Taste in America’s Gilded Age to an enthusiastic overflow audience of more than 90 attendees on March 17 in Hartman Lounge (Hennessy Hall). Dietz concentrated on the explosion of wealth in the U.S. in the post-Civil War era, the resulting rise of the mansion, and, most important, the major changes in style and taste during these years. In the early post-Civil War period, for example, the “new money” embraced all-things luxurious, costly, and modern with emphasis on “Americanness.” By the late 1880s-early 1990s, however, the social arbiters of the time such as the Vanderbilts and the Twomblys looked to “foreign things with aristocratic histories” to reinforce their positions. Ultimately, as Dietz explained, the evolution of taste had changed for the next century.

Previous Event: Author Carol Wallace

Carol Wallace, co-author of To Marry an English Lord: Tales of Wealth and Marriage, Sex and Snobbery, spoke on Sunday, October 21, 2012 in Lenfell Hall. The book was one of the inspirations for PBS series “Downton Abbey.”

Previous Event: 2012 Gala

Friends of Florham hosted their annual Gala on Saturday, September 29, 2012. The black-tie evening featured fine dining, dancing and entertainment by the “Bucky” Pizzarelli Trio.

Past Events

  • 04/29/2012; Carol Bere, Sam Convissor, Walter Cummins; Florham: The Lives of an American Estate — Book signing reception
  • 03/18/2012; Justin Martin; Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted
  • 03/6/2011; Mosette Broderick; Art, Architecture, Scandal and Class in America’s Gilded Age
  • 10/10/2010; Janet Foster and Barbara Brennan; The Story and Scandal of Hurstmont: A House of the Gilded Age. Music by Dan Williams, Guitarist.
  • 05/03/2010; Troy Simmons; Music for Millionaires: The Residence Organ in the Gilded Age
  • 10/29/2009; Constance Webster, ASLA; Beyond Versailles: The Influence of Andre LeNotre in Europe and America
  • 06/13/2009;  ; Mansion Tour for the Beaux Arts Alliance
  • 03/29/2009; Prof. Walter T. Savage & Arthur Vanderbilt II; The Twomblys of Florham: The Beginning and End of an Era
  • 10/26/2008; The Ten; Something to Sing About: 50th Anniversary of College at Florham
  • 10/28/2007; John K. Turpin and W. Barry Thomson; New Jersey Country Houses: The Somerset Hills
  • 12/10/2006; Cocktail Reception; Lights of Florham
  • 12/10/2006; Lighting Ceremony; Newly Restored Lanterns
  • 10/29/2006; Jeff Gourley; Dining in the Gilded Age: The Menu of the Twombly Table
  • 10/29/2006; David Breslauer; Dining in the Gilded Age: Dinner Table to Auction Block
  • 10/23/2005; Mark Hewitt; Glen Alpin and the Country Houses of Morris County
  • 10/24/2004; Remarks by Dr. James Griffo; Dedication of Frederick Law Olmsted Cutleaf Maple Garden
  • 10/24/2004; Marta McDowell; Frederick Law Olmsted: Estates, Parks, Campuses and Communities
  • 03/16/2003; Janet Foster; When Florham Was New: Architecture in the Gilded Age
  • 12/29/2002; Collaboration with Arts Council of Morris County; “Make a Joyful Noise: Music from a Country House,” by Solid Brass and Champagne reception, event to benefit the Arts-in-Education program
  • 03/17/2002; Sam White; McKim, Mead & White: The Reinvention of the Classical Ideal
  • 11/18/2001; Leslie C. DeGeorges; The Secrets of Historic Restoration from Scalamandre
  • 04/09/2000; John Foreman; The Vanderbilts & Their Architectural Aspirations
  • 02/27/2000; Charles Beveridge; Florham & the Design Legacy of the Olmsted Firm
  • May 1999; Reception; Restoration of Lenfell Hall
  • 05/17/1998; Reception; Dedication of Italian Garden
  • 05/18/1997; John Fritz, Richard Simon, and Walter Savage; The Vanderbilts & Twomblys at Home: a Look at Life in the Gilded Age
  • 04/28/1996; Frank Emile Sanchis III (vice president of Stewardship of Historic Properties) and Maureen Ogden (NJ assemblywoman); Historic Preservation in a Disposable Society: A National and a Local Perspective
  • 06/04/1995; Dedication; Restored Mansion Gardens dedicated to William D. Clowney
  • 05/07/1995; Paul Edwards and Constance Webster; Preservation of Historic Gardens: An American and a British Perspective
  • 03/19/1995; Nicholas Baldwin, Robert Fredericks, Kathleen Galop, and Marion Harris; Preserving Historic Buildings: An American and a British Perspective
  • 04/24/1994; Sam White, John, Fritz, Richard Simon, and Walter Savage; The Custom of the Country House: Social and Economic Impact of the Landed Gentry at the Turn of the Century.
  • 04/25/1993; Mac Griswold; The Country House Garden in the Golden Age With Reference to Florham
  • 11/22/1992; William H. Adams; The European Influence on American Country House Garden Design
  • 05/03/1992; Richard Guy Wilson ; The Vanderbilts, Their Houses, and the Survival of the Olmsted-White Estates
  • 03/22/1992; Mark Hewitt; The Architect, the Client, & the 1890s Country House in the Greater New York Area
  • 11/17/1991; John T. Cunningham ; The Morris Area Gentry & Their Estates on the Eve of the Golden Age