Space of the Week: Roses in Spanish Harlem

Artist Alida Whitney Morgan has been painting gardens and flowers for as long as she can remember. Recently Morgan took her fascination with flora and fauna and brought it into the real world; after getting a degree from the New York Botanical Gardens, she launched a landscape-design business, AMGardens. “Everything was weedy and overgrown,” Alida says of her own backyard garden, which featured a rotting wood deck that she replaced with salvaged New York bluestone. It was an attempt to rid the garden of feral cats that initially prompted Morgan to redo her backyard. As you can see, it still attracts the occasional feline visitor. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Morgan lives on two floors of a brownstone in Spanish Harlem that was built at the turn of the century. Most of its original architectural details are intact, including the Portuguese tile floor of her parlor-floor landing. Photo: Wendy Goodman

A Beatrix Potter”style mouse painting has lived with Morgan since childhood. Her apartment is filled with family heirlooms, including pieces from with her great-grandmother, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the artist who founded the Whitney Museum of Art; her step-grandfather, Averell Harriman; and his wife, Marie Norton Harriman, who was Morgan’s maternal grandmother. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The dining room is used as a studio and office during the day. Morgan’s still-life paintings are on the wall and in progress on the table. Photo: Wendy Goodman

A portrait of Morgan’s father and grandfather painted by artist Lydia Field Emmet hangs above the living-room mantel. Two child’s chairs, which Morgan painted, flank the fireplace. Photo: Wendy Goodman

This elegant desk and bookshelf was found in France by Morgan’s grandmother during her honeymoon with her first husband, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney. Morgan was able to retrieve it at auction a few years ago. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The antique Kilim rug is from the Jacques Carcanagues Gallery in Soho, now gone, and was part of the estate of her mother, Nancy Marie Whitney. Morgan also re-covered this antique nursing chair with Italian silk, which had belonged to her mother as well. Photo: Wendy Goodman

This painted screen was done by the late Robert Winthrop Chanler, an artist and good friend of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s. Chanler painted leaping red flames on his sculpted grand stucco fireplace chimney in Whitney’s studio on Eighth Street, now home to the New York Studio School, and where her fireplace can still be seen. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Upstairs in Morgan’s bedroom, she has installed one of her own painted screens behind the 400-year-old Portuguese headboard that belonged to her great-grandmother, Beulah Norton. Beulah was still doing swan dives into Averell and Marie Harriman’s Sands Point swimming pool well into her nineties. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Morgan is surrounded by family history at home. Here in her photo gallery in the stairwell is a photograph of Flora Payne Whitney sitting for the artist Joe Davidson. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Here’s another family photo of Morgan’s grandmother, Marie Norton Harriman, and her step-grandfather, Averell Harriman, at home in their New York City townhouse’s living room with their dog, Broomie, and some of the Impressionist paintings they donated to the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Note Picasso’s Woman With a Fan over the couch. You can see more photographs of Morgan’s apartment in Rizzoli’s Heirloom Modern: Homes, filled with objects bought, bequeathed, beloved, and worth handing down, by Hollister Hovey and photographed by Porter Hovey. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Space of the Week: Roses in Spanish Harlem