The Bradys …
The history of the Brady family begins for our concern with the success story of Anthony Brady, the father of Nicholas. Anthony is responsible for the family fortune. He was born in France on August 22nd, 1841. His mother and father had moved from Arboe near Belfast, Ireland, because of depression in the linen trade, to a town near Lille in France. It was not a profitable move and the family emigrated to Troy, New York, and shortly thereafter went back to Ireland where Anthony’s father died in his native town of Arboe.
Anthony’s mother took the family back to Troy. She remarried, lived in Cohoes and Albany where, at the age of 12, we find Anthony in the employ of the Delavan House in Albany. Resourceful, ambitious. Anthony started, by the age of 19, his own teahouse, then several similar houses in the neighboring towns. There followed a whole series of advancing ventures — selling building materials, contracting for public improvements, owning stone quarries, and finally we find him in public utilities, especially in light and in traction.
In 1867, Anthony married Marcia Powers, a devout Episcopalian, and the religious life of their children was left entirely to her. Nicholas, her oldest son, who ultimately built “Inisfada”, was born on October 25, 1878 in Albany and was raised as an Episcopalian as were all his brothers and sisters. Apparently his father was too busy with business to concern himself with his own faith.
In 1880, Anthony shifted his business interests to New York. He commuted to Albany every Friday to spend the weekend with his family. One successful endeavor led to another – from Metropolitan Traction Company to Brooklyn Rapid Transit to Street Railways in Washington and Philadelphia, to Electric Public Utilities, to oil, tobacco, rubber. He became president of the New York Edison Company and the Brooklyn Edison Company and chairman of the Board of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit, — and these are a partial list of his multiple enterprises. He died on a business trip to England of angina pectoris in the Carleton Hotel in London on July 22nd, 1913, leaving an estate valued at $70,000,000. Quite a story for a boy born in dire poverty.
His oldest son, Nicholas, was 34 at the time of his father’s death and had all the training necessary to succeed his father in business. He had graduated from Yale in 1899, and under his father’s strict tutelage he passed through the various departments of business, receiving for his apprenticeship the current wages of employees in comparable positions. It was a stern training and Nicholas in later life attributed his success to this severe novitiate. His compassion towards employees in later years was the outgrowth of this training.
Nicholas married Genevieve Garvan of Hartford, Connecticut, on August 20th, 1906. He had met her while he was at Yale. Shortly before his marriage Nicholas was received into the Catholic Church byBishop Cusack, the Auxiliary Bishop of New York.
The Brady office was at 54 Wall Street, the home of the Central Trust Company. Across the street was the National City Bank and up the street the offices of his keen business rival, J. P. Morgan & Company. It was at 54 Wall Street that the Brady empire flourished, amplified, extended over a good section of the world. As was perceptively observed in these golden years — “You can hardly puff a cigarette or enjoy your favorite pipe without paying tribute to the Bradys. Not a car wheel turns in the great borough of Brooklyn that is not sent out by these young men – A New Yorker cannot light his gas or turn on his electric bulb without adding to their riches. And, besides, the Bradys are in lumber, rubber, fuel, iron, sugar, cement, carbide, locomotives, land.”
Quite a litany for 1912, the year before Nicholas’ father’s death. The empire continued its ample expansion and with it the influence of “N.F.” as Nicholas Brady was familiarly known. He became the director of 24 corporations, yet he had a genius for obscurity. He loved the quiet, retiring life and if you wanted him after business hours you would find him in his library at 910 Fifth Avenue, New York.
Nicholas was a deeply spiritual man, loved to serve daily Mass in his private chapel here at “Inisfada” or in his villa, the Casa del Sol in Rome. His close friend. Cardinal Pizzardo, Papal Undersecretary of State, tells us: “Mr. Brady’s most impressive natural qualities were his great modesty and simplicity . . . his was a soul shorn of all that was not the noblest … he was happy to be in the company of priests and deemed it an honor to walk with priests … he always insisted on serving my Mass ….He remained kneeling on the floor without the support of a prie-dieu during the entire Mass. . . ..On various occasions we were walking companions and always we made a visit together to the Blessed Sacrament. … He lived in virtue. He lives in glory. He will live in memory.”
Mr. Brady had a great knowledge of the economic and sociological teachings of Leo XIII and his successors and put them into practice. He steadily kept in mind the best interests of labor and of capital. “When I started out, after leaving college,” he said, “I experienced straitened circumstances, just enough to make me remember their depressing effect . . . after all, what are rich people but the trustees of God for the deserving poor and honest labor … the natural law seems to say plainly enough that adequate wages should be the first payment … the working man’s right and dignity should come before high dividends.” His favorite hobby was reading. He had two libraries, one in his apartment on Fifth Avenue, the other here at “Inisfada”. His New York library was his “working library” as he called it, with all his serious books on business and finance, with a substantial section devoted to Catholic books on asceticism, apologetics,canon law and scholastic philosophy. His library here at “Inisfada’ was literary, his favorite author beingThackeray, with Mark Twain a close second. One treasure he prized was the original manuscript of Tom Sawyer.
In October 1929 he suffered from a painful malady of the spine diagnosed as arthritis. His wife took him to Florida in February 1930, where he lived on his yacht until the latter part of March at which time he returned to his New York apartment. “It is good to be back”, he said. Death came quickly on Thursday, March 27th, 1930. He was in his 52nd year. He had been anointed by the then Bishop (later Archbishop) Murray, assisted by one of his dearest friends. Father Thomas Delihant, S.J.
Mrs. Brady received more than 700 cablegrams and telegrams, including one from His Holiness, Pius XI, President and Mrs. Hoover, Cardinal Hayes, Governor Roosevelt. Cardinal Hayes was the celebrant of the solemn Mass celebrated in St. Ignatius Loyola Church on March 29th, 1930. The church was crowded with hierarchy, the clergy, dignitaries of State and representatives of 113 corporations. He was buried in a vault under the main altar of the Jesuit Novitiate in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, which he had built and given as a gift to the Society of Jesus.
Nicholas Brady’s dislike of personal publicity is more manifest in his charitable benefactions than in any other area of his life. It is impossible to find out the amount of his contributions for he would on occasions, give them anonymously in cash to a trusted employee. His biographer admits to $12,000,000. This amount tells only of his known contributions; we shall never have an accurate account of all his gifts. His answer to Archbishop John Murray of St. Paul telling him that God was not unmindful of Mr. Brady s generosity and would reward him one hundredfold tells much of his deep religious faith: “Almighty God owes me nothing; I owe Him more than I can ever pay.”
In 1930 no public figure disputed the fact that Nicholas F. Brady was the leading Catholic layman in the United States, yet so few Catholics were aware of his existence. He loved to be unknown. In his in stance, this was an achievement.
Let us pause in tribute to his wife — a regal lady; unostentatious, reserved, charming. She met Nicholas while her brother was at Yale and they were college friends, and the Garvan home at Hartford became a frequent place for Nicholas to visit when he was a senior at Yale. It is easy to say that her sparkling, good example and the practice of her Catholic faith made his entrance into the Catholic Church the more comfortable. Genevieve Garvan was born in East Hartford, Connecticut, and was baptized in St. Mary’s Church on April 27th, 1879. She had a deep fondness for children yet it was never her pleasure to have one of her own. Frequently she invited to “Inisfada” the children of the Brady chauffeur who enjoyed to the full the luxury of playing in these sumptuous acres. These children were always invited to the movies shown in the Dining Room. They still remember with pleasure the joys of these private movies. “Our mother always rehearsed our manners before we left the carriage house for what we considered ‘our own private movies’.”
A consecrated oneness of heart united Nicholas and Genevieve. They were seldom separated. He made her the heir to his wealth and the sole executor of his will. She was one in the trinity of his special loves, the others being his faith and his charity.
She died in Rome November 24th, 1938. Her body was brought back to America; she is buried at Wernersville, Pennsylvania, in the vault beside her Nicholas.
The Property at Inisfada …
The original tract of land for “Inisfada” (Gaelic for Long Island) extended from what is now the Long Island Expressway to Northern Boulevard. It was purchased by the Bradys in 1916 and approximated 300 acres. The retreat house property is about 122 acres. We do not know the original cost of the property though ledgers still exist saying — land $400,710., improvements on the land $290,119., roads $40,513 and gardens $11,000. The original entrance to the property was not from the present Searingtown Road but from the gatehouse at the southern end of the present property, and the first view of the house was from the south. Our ledger tells us that from 1916 to 1920, $2,254,872. was spent on “Inisfada” — with such items as the swimming pool, the gatehouse, the gates, and all furnishings not included in this cost.
The House …
Obviously it was not built for its present retreat house purposes. It was a mansion for Mr. and Mrs. Brady and their friends. Designed by the architectural firm of John T. Windrim of Philadelphia, it is Tudor-Elizabethan in style, one of the most elaborate mansions on Long Island, if not in the United States. The entrance to the property was by the gate at the present gatehouse and by a road now closed (Searingtown Road in 1920 was a dirt road). Your first view of the house was from the south and it was an inspiring view and you approached the house itself by a winding road from the gate to the main entrance.
The house is constructed of multi-colored bricks, varying from yellow to red to brown-red and to charcoal grey. The total appearance is lightened by touches of limestone trim. The main architectural feature is the high-rising tower.
Two special features add to the picturcsquencss of this house. First, the 37 chimneys, each unique in design and pattern, giving character to the slate roof; and secondly, the beautifully carved granite figures of nursery rhyme characters which are spotted tastefully on either side of the porte-cochere and on every side of the house or high in the gables. You’ll find Little Red Ridinghood, Mother Hubhard, Peter and the Wolf, etc. Easily the finest of these medallions is that of St. Genevieve (451-512), patroness of Paris and also the patroness of Mrs. Brady. Christian symbols surround her. The Medallion is on the north side of the porte-cochere. Observe the Church of St. Denis, her church in Paris. Over her head is the star of Bethlehem and flanked on each side are the Apocalyptic signs of the Evangelists. Also St. Peter with his key, and opposite is St. Paul, sword in hand. Below Paul is the ox and the ass of the Nativity and on the lower right is the peacock, the ancient symbol of the resurrection.
It is not the purpose of this brochure to describe in detail the external architectural features of this house, its columns, pillars, arches, window frames, variety of trim, etc. Its beauty, strength and variety grow on the beholder day after pleasant day. It merits your leisurely study or observation.
“Inisfada” Is Given to the Jesuits …
It is understandable why Mrs. Brady would be lonesome in the vast corridors of this house after the death of Mr. Brady. She offered it formally to the New York Province of the Society of Jesus and it was so accepted on May 1st, 1957 by Father Wlodimir Ledochowski, the Father General of the Society. On May 27th, 1937, Nathan Miller, the ex-Governor of New York and the Attorney for the Bradys, drew up a deed of transfer and “Inisfada” became St. Ignatius House of Studies.
Mrs. Brady’s original hope was that it would become a country day school for boys. Bishop Molloy of Brooklyn did not think kindly of such a school at the time, so it became the house of philosophy for the scholastics of the Society of Jesus. The first group of 43 scholastics arrived at 5:45 P.M. on Saturday, September 4th, 1937. Father J. Harding Fisher, S.J., was the first rector.
The first Solemn High Mass in the great hall — now our St. Ignatius Retreat Chapel — was on Friday, October 8th, 1973***the last was June 2, 2013*** , with Archbishop John Murray of St. Paul presiding.Father Joseph Murphy, S.J., the Provincial of the New York Province, was the celebrant of the Mass with Father Fisher as Deacon and Father Joseph Dinneen, the rector at Wernersville, as sub-Deacon.
“Inisfada” was the house of philosophy for three years. From 1940 to 1965 it became a residence for Jesuits on missions and on retreats. In 1965 Father John Magan, S.J., became the Retreat Director and the conduct of retreats from 1965 to the present day has been the primary purpose of this house.
The Interior of “Inisfada” …
Let us now approach the house by the main entrance. Notice the 12 mythological signs of the Zodiac over the door. The door itself is a delight to metallurgists; nature’s own patina over the course of more than 50 years has added to its beauty.
The foyer gives an indication of the symphony of stone and wood so characteristic of “Inisfada”. The fireplace (one of 18 in the house of today) is of limestone and the high closely-beamed ceiling introduces visitor to the majesty of the edifice. Over the fireplace is a bronze plaque of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the Founder of the Society of Jesus and the patron of all retreats and retreat houses.***perhaps Saint Ignatius Loyola should be blamed for the demise of “Inisfada” 🙂 *** It is a true likeness made from his authentic death-mask.
We note here that there are few pieces of furniture or works of art which were in the original house. When Mrs. Brady offered “Inisfada” to the New York Province of the Society of Jesus and that offer was accepted, a decision was made that the house was to be used for a house of studies for the Jesuit scholastics. It was thought then to be out of keeping with the spirit of poverty for the Jesuits to live in such luxury so the Anderson Galleries of New York conducted a public sale in May, 1937 of tapestries, rugs, furniture, architectural items, dishes, linens, etc.; the sum realized from this sale amounted to $471,752.50. This money was disposed of in charity to organizations selected by Mrs. Brady.
Leaving the foyer, we enter the long graceful gallery and we behold the beauty and harmony of the ultimate detail. We see its original grandeur in the pictures on display in the Sacred Heart room at the foot of the staircase. Today it is still beautiful to behold, the delicate ceiling and the panelled walls giving it a feeling of warmth and nearness.
It will serve no useful purpose to describe in detail all the furnishings, the pictures, etc., in this hall which measures approximately 163 feet in length and 11 feet in width.
One of the few pieces left at “Inisfada” which was a part of the Brady household is a walnut refectory table, 32 feet long on 8 turned columns, priced at $3500. It is an Italian Renaissance table of the 17th Century.
Also, the carved oak Tudor style bookcase and its 10 leaded glass doors with Gothic arches. It contains, in addition to the pictures of Nicholas and Genevieve Brady, a collection of eccelesial memorabilia once owned by Mrs. Brady; an album signed in 1876 by Pope Pius IX, and many distinguished eccelesiastics of that era. Also clothing of Pius X, the zucchetto of Benedict XV, a cincture of Pius XI, the scarlet clothing ofCardinal Bonzano, a great friend of the Bradys, and the red hat is his also. The cloth of gold vestments were used by Cardinal Pacelli when he was here as a guest in “Inisfada” in 1936. There is also a letter signed J. B. Montini, our present Pope Paul VI.
Some paintings enrich the gallery, v.g., the Entombment of Christ outside the-dining room over the walnut credenza. At the far end of the hall is a painting of Cardinal Pacelli executed while here in 1936. Other paintings include Raphael’s Madonna, the Assumption of Our Lady, Christ Taken Down from the Cross, and the Adoration of the Shepherds.
At your leisure — and it will reward you — look at the consoles, the cabinets, the episcopal chairs and the other attractive oak chairs and benches.
The Great Hall: St. Ignatius Chapel …
It is somewhat difficult to recapture the once royal qualities of the unique Great Hall of the Bradys. Close examination of the several pictures in the Sacred Heart room reveal it to be fashioned after the great hall of the Tudor palaces with high beamed ceilings and a fireplace in the center of the room. On most occasions for the Bradys, it was their parlor but as far as any history of the house is concerned it was used on only several occasions for gala affairs. One was for the pre-nuptials of her niece, Betty Jackson. As is perceptively observed by Mrs. Carroll, the housekeeper at “Inisfada”: “There were many lovely parties at “Inisfada” such as the pre-wedding dinner and dance parties for Mr. Mrs. Brady’s nieces and nephews. They usually numbered 200 young people having a gay time until 5:00 in the morning, dancing to themusic of Paul Whiteman and another orchestra.”
The great hall was used for ecclesiastical purposes on the occasion of Cardinal Bonzano’s visits to “Inisfada” when he was Apostolic Delegate to the United States, and in particular when he was Papal Delegate to the Eucharistic Congress in Chicago in June, 1926. “Inisfada’ was dear to him as Apostolic Delegate in Washington, and when he returned to “Inisfada” as Papal Delegate he was visited here by many Bishops and Cardinals, according to Mrs. Carroll, who adds: “He was happy to spend a short while at “Inisfada” as he so often did when he was in Washington.”
The last great public reception held at “Inisfada” was on the occasion of Cardinal Pacelli’s visit to the United States in 1936. This was his home for approximately a month and while here he received many dignitaries of Church and State and many of Mrs. Brady’s personal friends on an individual basis. The splendid reception held here in his honor was for approximately 700 people. The great hall was decorated like a throne room; two high-backed red velvet chairs were placed under a canopy of roses in the center window of the great hall. The guests were escorted by a Knight of St. Gregory to the place where Cardinal Pacelli and Mrs. Brady were seated and afterwards the guests retired to the main dining room for refreshments.
Another kind of splendor and majesty takes place now in the great hall. It is the St. Ignatius Retreat Chapel where retreatants and others gather for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, making the Way of the Cross and their own visits to the Blessed Sacrament, offering morning and evening prayers. It gets far more attention and more sublime use now than it did in other days.
Architecturally, the Tudor Gothic great hall is exactly as it was in the time of the Bradys. The old panelled walls and the fine carvings, the massive stone-carved fireplace, the vaulted ceilings, the gorgeous windows, the exquisite floor. Aesthetically, however, it is quite different for the splendid tapestries are gone as are the Jacobean and Queen Anne period furniture, the bookcases and the chests and the Chinese lamps and so much else.
Let us first examine the altar designed by Maginnis and Walsh, an architectural firm of Boston, Massachusetts. The altar was designed to conform to the architecture of the Tudor Gothic great hall. Originally the altar table (mensa) was attached to the reredos. It was moved forward for the new liturgy. The altar contains ten statues — two angels on either side and the six in the center depicting St. Isaac Jogues, St. Rene Goupil, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Ignatius Loyola and St. Francis Xavier. The remaining two are from the Medina collection and are quite valuable and very old — the Pietaand Our Lord before Pilate.
Over the fireplace is a tapestry, a gift of the Leeds’ family of New York, depicting David with the head of Goliath. The other tapestry of less value but of historic importance was used as a rug under the desk of Pope Pius XII. The stained-glass leaded panels with wrought-iron frame of St. John Berchmans, St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, add to the beauty of the chapel.
Look now to the balcony and see the beautiful linenfold panelling on the balcony. It is exquisite. In the balcony itself of the chapel — originally called the musicians’ gallery — is the console of an Aeolian pipe organ.
The Stations of the Cross in water color were done by Fernando Battisti of Port Washington. The wrought-iron candelabra with thirteen candlelights on scrolled arms are quite attractive. The chapel itself is beautifully lighted by the ceiling-to-floor windows, all of which open out to the rolling lawns to the south.
The Dining Room …
The grandeur of this once palatial room — as you may see it in the picture gallery in the Sacred Heart room — is gone. It is still as glorious a dining room as any retreat house would want. We do not have the original mahogany dining room table which could be extended ten leaves to 24 feet 4 inches and the width of 5 feet 9 inches, seating 34 people, nor the China cabinets, nor the Georgian gilded console, the mahogany urns, the four-fold gilded letter screens, the Georgian sculptured and inlaid marble mantel. We have instead, to every retreatant’s satisfaction, a lightsome, sunny room, restful, religious. All that remains of the Brady dining room are three pairs of finely-carved pine sconces, consisting of bow-knotted nosegay of flowers and floral pendants.
The Crucifix comes from Our Lady’s Chapel at Shrub Oak. The oil painting of the Madonna and Child is a copy of an old master. The wood-carved plaque of St. Anne has the date 1609 on it. The sideboard under the Madonna is 80 x 80 x 23 inches and is Gothic-styled carved oak with symbolic figures. The new gold draperies were hung in 1972.
The Faber Lounge — Room 122 .. .
This room, contiguous to the dining room, was the breakfast room of the Bradys. It is now a library named after Father Faber, the only priest among the original companions of Saint Ignatius in 1534 in Paris. Nothing remains of the original room but the fireplace. The sculptured oak cabinet, now outside St. Genevieve’s Chapel, was once in this breakfast room. The crystal lustre chandelier that hung in the breakfast room is now in Saint Barbe’s room, the table, the chairs, the walnut china cabinets, the and irons were sold at auction. Still, the Chinese oil painting of the Virgin and Child is quite attractive, as are the two tables. Possibly the most desirable item in this room is the 17th century vargueno, the Spanish mobile desk with wrought-iron bail handles. The hinged-front drops exposing the drawers and the secret compartments all elaborately decorated.
The Saint Barbe Reception Room — Room 113…
Once called the Angelica Kaufmann room, it was the reception room of “Inisfada” and a magnificent one. Angelica Kaufmann (1741-1807) was of Swiss birth, married to a Venetian painter, Antonio Zucchi, worked in England. She had ten paintings in this beauteous room, all sold at auction. The picture in the Sacred Heart room shows how beautiful was the original room with its Adam and Hepplewhite period furniture, its wall bracket lights of gilded, carved wood and crystal chandelier, its blue Sarouk rug. However, there is beauty left in the architecture of the room itself. The design of the ceiling with cast plaster ornaments of honeysuckle and urns and the walls with their graceful Corinthian columns, the friezes and the enriching capitals, is something to behold. The beautiful antique mirror in its carved goldleaf frame over the mantelpiece was an adornment of this room; the chandelier was in the breakfast room. The door leading into the hall is walnut on the inside and oak on the outside. So, too, the door that leads from this room into the retreatants’ chapel.
The draperies are new, hung in 1972; the furniture was re-upholstered at the same time. We observe here that all the new interior designing in all parts of the house is the imaginative achievement of Mrs. Doris M. Dailey of Manhasset whose father, Frank Moffitt was the designer and builder of St. Genevieve’s Chapel.
One of the finer pieces of furniture is a mahogany commode with rouge marble top, fitted with three drawers and doors with gilt flower motifs.
The Baldwin piano was a gift of Fred Gretsch, Jr., also of Manhasset. The mosaic of St. Peter’s comes from the Vatican Mosaic Studios. Worthy of note is the grandfather’s clock, the statue and the pedestal, the marble top table and the andirons. This room represents gracious and elegant living at its best.
The Retreatants Library — Room 102 …
The book shelves in this library remain from the Brady mansion and the stone mantel and the fireplace, also the gilded brass chandelier. The priceless volumes are gone, and all the furniture.
What you see is a serviceable library for lay retreatants with readable up-to-date books on all subjects desirable for retreats. Books on the life of Christ, of Our Blessed Mother and the Saints, books on Sacred Scripture and Theology, particularly of the Sacraments, books on youth and current problems. This room gets a lot of attention from the retreatants.
The Sacred Heart Room — Room 103 …
Usually referred to as the red room, it was once a sitting room. Observe in the pictures on the walls how graceful a place it was in the time of the Bradys. Now it is a multi-service room — for meetings and classes. It is completely new save for the fireplace. The chandelier was installed in 1973, so also the blue draperies. The red benches were built in this room in 1963.
This room is the talking place of the house where it contains a gallery of pictures of the house that Mr. and Mrs. Brady lived in. Also, eight pictures of the grounds in the springtime, particularly showing the azaleas and the dogwoods at the Shrine of Our Lady. Likewise, some winter scenes of our snow of 1973. All these pictures are due to the photographic skill of Mr. Young of Manhasset.
Of particular interest are enlargements from Life magazine. They show the articles written on the occasion of Mrs. Brady’s gift of this property to the Society of Jesus in 1937, and the picture of Cardinal Pacelli and Mrs. Brady in the great hall on the occasion of his visit to “Inisfada” in 1936.
The Solarium …
Presently this room gets more use than any room in the house. We use it for conferences for retreats, for lectures, classes, days of recollection, receptions, etc. It is a rare day it is not occupied and for good reason. Its eleven windows make it brightsome, cheerful and they all look out on the lawns and the gardens.
The draperies were newly hung in 1973. The metal statue is of St. Francis Xavier; the wooden one is of St. Ignatius.
Today, no metallurgist will put a price on the two hand-wrought copper doors leading into this room; they are twins of the doors at the main entrance and their kind of workmanship cannot be duplicated today. Fortunately, for us at least, the magnificent and truly priceless Ispahan palatial rug (36′ 10″ by 12′ 10″) was not sold at the 1937 auction, for it gives the room a charming warmth. How better praise it than to quote from the Anderson Galleries catalog of 1937 at the time of the auction: “This is a rare type of carpet as indeed all medallion rugs of the classical period, and we have been able to find no closely analogous type in wool. The rug has certain similarities with the class of silk carpets, woven probably atKashan in the closing years of the 16th Century which indicates by their wide and elaborate border designs that they were themselves replicas of still earlier rugs; this is the type illustrated in F. R. Martin’s Standard Work. The present carpet is also noteworthy for its purely floral composition, most rugs of its general class containing animal forms; its most striking feature being the broad areas of rich contrasting color into which it is divided by medallions. While it is difficult to assign an exact date to this carpet, it may be stated with high probability that it is a product of the Imperial looms in Harat in Eastern Persia from about 1580 to 1590, the early years of the reign of Abbas, the Great.”
The Monserrat Lounge …
Monserrat is a famous shrine and Benedictine Abbey in the Basque country of Spain, where St. Ignatius took off the robes of a courtier, garbed himself in pilgrim’s robes and prayed the night of March 24th, 1522, before the Blessed Virgin’s altar, and after Mass on March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation, went to a little town, Manresa, 12 miles away.
Even in its present form this room still reminds us of a club room. Rightly so. It was the billiard room of “Inisfada”. It merits more than a casual look. The pool table is gone and also the paintings, tapestries, chairs, the painted leather above the Jacobean oak-panelled walls, the lamps, the writing desk, the tables. It remains very attractive.
Let us begin with the random oak floor, go up the Jacobean oak panelling, then inspect the pargework ceiling — a rarity in our civilization. The Jacobean stonework is quite imposing, and matches the woodwork and a once-enclosed fireplace.
On the north wall is a document designating Mr. Brady as a Deputy United States Marshall, the date being May 31st, 1917. The carved oak bookcases contain some of the books beautifully bound, a small part of the Brady library. The monastery table is a gift from the estate of Daniel Somers of New Jersey. The ceramic depicting the Agony in the Garden comes from the estate of Miss Rhonie Brooks of Sands Point, L. I. The couches and chairs were newly upholstered in 1973.
This room remains one of the retreatants’ favorite places for reading and meditation. It is quite restful.
Second Floor …
Let us now ascend the grand staircase to the second floor. This staircase is beautifully carved, as you will see. Look up and behold the most elaborate plaster ceiling in the house with its 18-inch plaster drops. The tapestry at the first landing shows the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon. The bronze chandelier is part of the original house.
At the top of the stairs is a magnificently carved cabinet, enriched with figures of Christ the King and others. This also was in the house at the time of the Bradys and was originally at the head of the cast staircase, outside St. Genevieve chapel. It protected the elaborate vestments used in that chapel.
To the right of the cabinet is the entrance to the apartment of the Bradys, pictures of which are in the Sacred Heart room. The luxury of this apartment has given way to 14 retreatants’ rooms. Rooms 201, 202 and 203 were originally a closed porch. The master bedroom was in the rooms now occupied by retreatants — 204, 205, 206 and 207. Rooms 209 and 210 were Mrs. Brady’s dressing rooms. Her clothes closet is now a lounge, but the closets and the drawers are still in evidence.
The other bedrooms on the second floor were guest rooms and are now occupied by priests of the staff.
To those interested in ancient printing, it will be most satisfying to examine leaves from original bibles from the year 1121 to 1935. They are becomingly framed on walls of the second corridor.
Saint Genevieve’s Chapel …
This is the precious pearl of the house and is today what it was when Nicholas and Genevieve Brady heard Holy Mass in this sacred spot. The only thing missing is the oriental rug. Experts tell us that this chapel is the finest thing of its kind in the United States; you would go far to find its exquisite equal.
It was designed and executed by Gorham and Company under the skillful direction of Frank Moffitt. The architect of the house was not involved in the design of the chapel. You enter the chapel by a stone corridor. On your right is a silver holy water font set into a niche and on the opposite wall an oil painting of the Holy Family. The hand wrought iron gate leading to the chapel is done with perfect craftsmanship and its twin leads from the chapel to the sacristy.
You pause at this gate and give your first expression of joy and beauty at the whole chapel, a gem in every respect, from altar to stained-glass window. The altar is Siena rose marble of rare quality, the mensabeing of one piece. There is a gilded and carved wood canopy over the altar; a beautiful hand carved Crucifix with the symbols of the four Evangelists; Our Lady and St. John looking intently at the Crucified; the setting very inspiring. The tabernacle door has a carved pelican feeding her young. The center niche of wood is painted with lattice effect in red and gold. The altar is supported by two marble columns on a marble base. The six canonical candlesticks are of carved wood and gilt.
The inscription on the altar “Altaria Tua, Domine V’irtutum, Rex Meus et Deus Meus” (“Thy Altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God”), is from Psalm 83 verse 3.
On the wall to the side of the altar is the Madonna del Gran Duca by Raphael, done in mosaic. A beautifully carved and gilded frame with an arched pediment, having a floral swag held by two cherubs, a frieze with two kneeling angels holding a crown, enhances the mosaic.
On either side of the altar, in decorated niches, are attractive, hand-carved statues of the Madonna and St. Joseph. The chapel floor is marble and the chapel walls and ceiling are done in carved oak. The walls form a fittingly attractive base for the hand carved Stations of the Cross, each an architectural gem, executed in minute detail and framed by tiny statues of angels and separated one from the other by statues of the twelve Apostles. The Stations are hand carved in lemonwood, the frames are in oak.
The ceiling honors Our Lady, the carved rosettes announcing her titles in Latin. Over the altar is her title — Porta Coeli***Gateway to Heaven***, and the last one over the organ is Turris Davidica***Tower of David***. In between are Oliva Speciosa***Olive Tree***, Radix Jesse***Hope That Does Not Disappoint***, Plantatio Rosae, Stella Maris, Sedes Sapientiae and Civitas Dei.
The stained glass window is a thing of rare excellence. St. Genevieve, patroness of Paris and also of Mrs. Brady, is in the centre holding in her hand the church of Notre Dame. Next to her is St. Nicholas, patron of Mr. Brady; on the opposite side is St. John the Baptist. On either end is St. Martin of Tours and Joan of Arc. In the upper section you see St. Boniface, St. Patrick, St. Michael the Archangel. The coloring in this window is particularly glowing in the noonday sun. In the arch above the window is St. Cecilia carved exquisitely in stone.
In front of the window is the organ and to the side is one of the very first statues of the Little Flower, the work of Mario Korbel, a marble copy of which is in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.
There are four wrought-iron torchiere lamps with four glass panes in scrolled support which are appraised at $2500.
The reliquary on the side wall at the entrance to the chapel contains relics cherished by Mr. and Mrs. Brady and given to them by their many close personal friends who were dignitaries in the Church. Few if any Catholics have a comparable collection. Among the relics you will find two certified relics of the true Cross; others include relics of St. Francis Xavier, Saint Aloysius, John Bosco, Peter Claver, John de Britto,the Little Flower, Margaret Mary, Madeleine Sophie Barat, Robert Bellarmine, John Eudes, Francis Hieronymus.
In the Brady household daily Mass was offered in St. Genevieve’s, not alone for Mr. and Mrs. Brady, but in the words of Mrs. Carroll, her housekeeper, “We hear Holy Mass every day, thank God. The Chapel is always open and everyone who wishes to come to pray can do so at any time.”
St. Genevieve’s Chapel gets more attention now than ever in its spiritual history. Every retreatant spends at least 15 minutes alone while here on retreat. For many, it is their most cherished period in the schedule.
Our Property …
It is quite unnecessary for the purposes of this brochure to go into details about the features of the property. First of all, there is the original gatehouse, frequently occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Brady. It matches in form and design and brick pattern the main house and was constructed with it. So also the carriage house, still in strong, robust existence. The swimming pool came into existence in the late 1920’s.
The sunken garden, however, was planned and built at the same time as “Inisfada”. The very beautiful shrine of Our Lady, enjoyed by every retreatant and every visitor to “Inisfada”, came into existence in 1938 with the arrival of the Jesuits, though the flowers, rock garden and the pleasant brook go back to the time of the Bradys.
The outdoor Stations of the Cross were erected after the lay retreats began. They form a pleasant path on the way to Calvary for all retreatants, each one a gift of individuals or retreat groups. The bronze castings on these Stations of the Cross are all originals, set in foundations built by retreatants who are members of the St. Joseph, the Builder retreat group. Fernando Battisti of Port Washington did most of the planning and development.
The trees arc something else again, a delight to every landscape gardener. Enjoy for yourself the great variety of trees, the oaks, the ashes, lindens, maples, pines, dogwoods, copper beeches and so many others.
“Inisfada” Today …
Little did Mr. and Mrs. Brady conceive of the ultimate use of their palatial house and property.***or its end!*** Without boasting, let us briefly tell you what is going on now at “Inisfada”. It is used at least 300 days a year presently for supernatural purposes. There are retreats from Thursday to Sunday and from Friday to Sunday for laymen. In addition, there are Married Couples’ retreats of several forms and varieties. There is an increasing demand for Directed Retreats for priests, for nuns and for lay people, one of the enriching apostolates of the present Church. We have also traditional retreats for priests, for brothers and for nuns.
Youth is not neglected at St. Ignatius, for youngsters in grammar school and high school come from the Metropolitan area for days of recollection twice a week during the school year.
We are the center for the Alcoholics Anonymous, for Al-Anon, for Gamblers Anonymous and several alumni associations. In brief, we consider ourselves an apostolic center for fulfilling the Ignatian ideal for God’s greater and still greater glory.