She patented the first modern bra at the age of 19 in the year of 1910 and married Harry Crosby after scandal and divorce. They joined the expatriate crowd in Paris in the 1920s where they published early works of twentieth century greats at Black Sun Press. Theirs was an unconventional and fraught alliance, the best account I’ve read can be found here: Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby (New York Review Books Classics) (9781590170663): Geoffrey Wolff: Books.

I found these pictures of her estate in Virginia while thumbing through a pile of LIFE magazines – Salvador Dali visits in Virginia…

Salvador Dali in Virginia.

Caresse Crosby buys historic estate in Virginia for her Hollywood Flame

…While taking her daughter Polly to Hollywood where she aspired to become an actress, Caresse met Selbert “Bert” Saffold Young, an unemployed aspiring actor and former football player 18 years her junior. When he saw her staring at him in a restaurant, he immediately came over and asked her to dance. She described him as “handsome as Hermes” and “as militant as Mars.” Her friend Constance Coolidge described Bert as “untamed” and “entirely ruled by impulse.”

Without a job, he convinced Caresse he just wanted to own a farm and they decided to look for land on the east coast. They drove into Virginia looking for an old plantation house smothered in roses. When their car broke down, she accidentally discovered Hampton Manor, a Hereford cattle farm with a dilapidated brick mansion on a 486 acres (197 ha) estate in Bowling Green, Virginia. It had been built in 1838 by John Hampton DeJarnette from plans by his friend, Thomas Jefferson. John Hampton was the brother of Virginia Legislator Daniel Coleman De Jarnette.

On September 30, 1936, she wrote to the New York Trust Company and instructed them to send 433 shares of stock that she used to buy the property,[37] which was in need of renovation. They were married in Virginia on March 24, 1937. Bert was always asking Caresse for money, he crashed her car, ran up the telephone bill, and used all her credit at the local liquor store. Bert ended one bout of drinking with a solo trip to Florida and did not come back to Virginia until the next year.

via Caresse Crosby – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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  1. George Kaplan
    February 26, 2013

    I like the story that she had a wall in her old european holiday home that she was distressed to discover had been painted over by the nazis. The reason for her distress? House guests of hers and Crosby’s such as DH Lawrence and Picasso had been invited to leave their signatures and marks in watercolours. Stylish.
    Harry Crosby doesn’t sound all that charming an individual, apart from anything else having Polly change her name to Caress with an “e” on the end is a black mark in my book! Although earlier choice “Clytoris” is many degrees worse…

    • February 26, 2013

      I have a friend who told me a story her grandmother told her about Caresse, well it’s more of a quote… “Ah. Caresse and her castle! Twenty-one bedrooms and not a single indoor toilet. Tsk-tsk, etc.”

  2. George Kaplan
    February 26, 2013

    Ach. No indoor toilets? That’s just not *right*!

    • February 27, 2013

      Maybe she was into restoration accurate to the period? Or, maybe with her multiple residences she never stayed there!

  3. February 27, 2013

    Dearest Ms Lester

    What a splendid story and a rather dashing residence – The Dandy is much taken with their taste in interior design!!

    Thank you as always for bringing these tales to our attention.

    You are a public service!!!

    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy.

    • February 27, 2013

      I’ve always wanted to see his and Gala’s home in Spain, Portlligat – I’ve heard it’s wonderful!

      • WJM
        December 2, 2013

        For Gala’s own home, her castle in Pubol is just as much obligatory and fascinating.
        Don’t forget to check out their music/grammophone collection (in Portlligat I didn’t notice any of such artifacts, yet all his books there were replaced by dummies/fakes, so perhaps theft has been a larger argument there then in Pubol (which is situated in a baffling middle of nowhere, especially outside the tourist season).
        For fashionada’s, the ‘dark room’ on the first floor is a must, where dozens of Gala’s dresses are on display….somehow, that is about as close as you will get to the soul of Gala (together with her tomb in the basement (a rather cruel artifact, because Dali wanted to be buried next to her, but wasn’t, in favor of Figueres, cq prevailing commercial considerations))
        (and don’t forget to check the big Cadillac in an outside garage, another lovely reminiscence of the splendeur of times long gone)
        (and imagine driving such a beast many many times down the long & winding road between Roses & Cadaques)

        (if you visit Pubol by own transport, also try to take the long & winding road northwards, through a nature reservate, and somewhere at the center-/summit-point of that road, don’t forget to check the church/chapell where Gala & Salvador once had his secondary/catholic wedding ceremony, La Capella de la Mare de Deu dels Angels (when searching, try not to get stuck on that exact spelling, because any details, not to mention pictures, are amazingly hard to find)).

        Another must, to understand both Dali and Gala, is reading Amanda Lear’s ’15 years with Dali’.
        (my recommendation: first visit all those places, then read the book….which makes you want to visit again instantly….:))

        (lovely TV-interview of Dutch TV-presentator Ivo Niehe with her in 1996 (before she lost her house and all of Dali’s arts to a fire, along with husband and friend): )

      • December 3, 2013

        Thank you, WJM – this is fascinating!

      • WJM
        December 3, 2013

        Oh btw, your family being half from Moscow (just checking the intriging picture/thumbnail of you…;)), you obviously must have a profound interest in the Russian background of Gala, right?….:))

        This is about the most comprehensive story about her (darker side) that I have found thusfar:
        (though I haven’t read any book dedicated to her yet….the only one that has tempted me thusfar is ‘Les Diners de Gala’….:))

        Not sure if Kazan (her birthplace) has any memorabilia present; sadly I learned that fact years too late, since I once visited that town with an oldtimer-rally.
        One of the most pleasant & friendly/open cities of Russia, so if you need an excuse to visit….:))
        (Krasnojarsk comes second, but that one partly also because of the total lack of moskito’s…:))
        (and my first-ever Chinese restaurant with an open terrace outside….:))
        (which wouldn’t have been possible *with* moskito’s, in most of the other cities)
        (and that terrace being a very rare treat in most of Europe….my second one was in Mexico-City….:))

        Btw, when I visited her castle in Pubol/LaPera{*}, the only other visitors were….2 Russian ladies….:))
        (just not sure whether they were on a long-distance cultural tour, because all of the Spanish coastline is frequently inhabited by Russians, including semi-permanent real-estate)
        {*} take note of both geographical names, because searching/navigating that place is only slightly less difficult than Des Angels (add Spanish/Catalan language differences, and things get really interesting)

        PS: there is a nice cozy little Dali museum in Paris too, in Monmartre.
        (deep in the basement, quite surprising)

  4. February 28, 2013

    I always worry that Salvador Dali was going to poke himself – or someone else – in the eye with his moustache.

  5. February 28, 2013

    I should have scanned the rest of the article – after 6 months in residence and a great deal of “enchantment” the house was opened to tours for war relief. Dali spent a portion of each day at the local store, there’s a picture of him by a pot belly stove, chatting with the regulars. It also notes he played chess every night with his wife, and lost – it’s really charming.

  6. March 5, 2013

    Fascinating details, Vickie, and the pictures are eerily informative. Creative eccentrics make for stunning topics. Thanks for a great post.

  7. March 22, 2013

    Fascinating.I had never hear of Harry Crosby before.I shall look him up.Was this the same Crosby family that David Crosby from Crosby,Stills,Nash and Young came from?I had heard that he was from a pretty wealthy background before musical fame.

    • March 22, 2013

      I think he came from a wealthy east coast family… and I think his dad worked in the film industry. I don’t know that Harry Crosby ever had any children…

  8. WJM
    December 3, 2013

    Btw, another artifact I might have missed, while visiting, many years ago: is there any history left of Dali in Monterey?
    1941 During the seven years that the Dalís reside in the United States, they travel to California during the summers and stay at the Del Monte Hotel in Pebble Beach or a studio in Monterey where Dalí could paint. Gala would often drive along the California coastline in a Cadillac to gain some solitude from Dalí’s demands. In the winter they would travel back to the St. Regis in New York to conduct business.

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