Friday, November 9, 2012

"Neverland is me..."

Neverland in Michael's own words...

"What inspired me? It was so easy, because it was me being myself, creating things that I love. And what I love, kids happen to love, or the child that lives inside the adult happens to love… You know? It is so easy, because I’m just creating behind the gate what I never got to do when I was a kid.
When I was really little, you know, 11 or 12, I was in the contract with Motown and I would have to go to the recording studio. I had to go… and make these albums… Because the summer tour was right around the corner, and right across the street from the recording studio was a ball park. And I could hear the kids, you know, the roar of the crowd and playing and catching ball and having fun and playing tennis. And some of those times I so passionately wanted to just go over there and just play a little bit, and not go to the recording studio and sing. Just to, you know, have some fun with the kids… And I couldn’t…
People say, ‘Why is he always with children?’ Well, you know, I was raised in a world with adults. When kids were playing and in bed asleep, I was doing clubs.
We worked, we worked, we worked, there was no Christmas, there’d be no birthdays… So, I’m compensating. Nature made...made sure that I compensate for the loss. So, when you come behind my gates, you’ll see an amusement park, you’ll see animals, you’ll see everything that I’ve never got to do, there’s candy everywhere… It’s fun."
(Take Two: The Footage You Were Never Meant To See, 2002)

"Neverland appeals to the child inside every man, woman and child. It’s a place where I feel like you can return to your childhood. You find grown-ups, you know, doing things they hadn’t done since they were like 10 years old. And it’s a... Just a fun, wonderful place to be; there’s so much to do. I’ve always wanted to have a place where you’re just busy all day and there is just unlimited space to go on quads and mountains and horse-back and all kind of fun things. So, it’s a… It’s just a fun place. I love it. And I will always love it. And I will never ever sell Neverland. Neverland is me… You know? It’s – it represents the totality of who I am. It really does… I love Neverland."
(Private Home Movies, 2003)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tour of Neverland - The Sycamore Valley Ranch real estate brochure - part 4

The expanse of the lower lake is the major focus of the front garden. It is designed for one to walk around it or sit nearby. The boulder outcroppings are good places to rest – a clump of daisies may be at your feet. A view of home or mountain or wild lands is one’s choice to make. As with the clump of daisies, there is the quality of ordered randomness, of the right natural event occurring at just the right place. Lichen covered rocks add an element of interest to the landscape. To the right of the center of the photo on the north shore is the masonry boat dock. The “Fishing Rock” with the felled tree trunk is seen to the left of it. The Guest House on the peninsula features four separate guest rooms, each isolated from the other, each with its own unique interior style and private garden.

The William and Mary Room of the Guest House expresses the light, civilized ambience of that period. A typical period floral pattern covers the window seat. The view looks out over the flower beds and across the lake toward the stone bridge. The four poster bed, the tilt-top table and the chair are all William and Mary period pieces. The ceilings, windows, door and floors are of dark stained white oak in contrast to the light linen-covered upholstered walls. The ceiling surface is plaster between the boxed oak beams. A Heritz rug lies on the Bordeaux patterned floor.

Seen through the open French doors of the Pine Room, the lower lake reflects in the short-lived, magenta glow of twilight. The Pine Room of the Guest House is a favorite of younger guests. The ceiling, posts and floor are made of Idaho pine. Pine is the wood in the Victorian-American chest and in the French doll cart seen through the doorway. A reupholstered American turnpost chair sits on a cotton braided rug. The chandelier was converted from an old brass kerosene fixture of the Victorian-American period.

The Western Room is situated on the peninsula to allow a view of the lake in two directions. The vaulted ceiling is made from rough-sewn Douglas Fir; the doors, windows and floor are oak which complement the end wall of Bouquet Canyon Stone. The American four poster is a York County reproduction, the table and desk are 18th-century American maple and the chair, a reproduction of a 19th-century style. The brass lamp is a converted oil burner.

The Empire building English were once the world’s greatest collectors which allows this more eclectic room to be called the English Room. It contains a number of styles, but none so diverse as to not mix gracefully with the others.
It shows a rough-hewn timber beam ceiling and a post and beam bay. The English desk is mahogany; the chair before it is a mahogany Queen Anne. The lamp on the desk is fashioned from a Chinese cloisonné vase. The two armchairs are French Bergere. The table between them is an English tilt-top. The rug is custom-made in Thailand as a Portuguese needlepoint. Not seen in the picture are some striking pieces - a Queen Anne lowboy and two very rare Chinese-Chippendale bed boards. The floors are all oak peg and groove, and the walls are upholstered in yellow silk.

The Executive Office was designed as a retreat. It is rustic, casual and warm, an environment meant for meeting and talking to people. In addition, the location of the room allows a complete observation of all persons coming to or going from the residence. The ceiling is rough-sawn Douglas Fir, the end wall of Bouquet Canyon Stone. A fireplace is out of view behind the photographer. The partner’s desk is mahogany with inset leather top; behind it is an antique French walnut table, on the wall a pair of hunting scenes of painted enamel on copper. For conferencing, there is a long English library table with an inset leather top. Six ball foot Queen Anne armchairs in original leather sit around it. An old English work table has been cut down for coffee table use. The wing chair in the foreground is English with a fruitwood finish. Not seen in the photo is an enormous wood-cased London train station clock, which hangs to “striking” effect over the fireplace.

The antique American barn was the inspiration for the amply sized interior of the Recreation Building. To be properly weathered, the ceiling and wall boards were laid out in the elements for two years. But the boards fell short of the required number, so for three months during construction additional ceiling boards were individually weathered. The plaster grouting seen on the underside of the stairway and the wall also presented a problem by not staying in place. After three months of experimentation, a system was devised of inserting expanded metal and the plaster stayed put. The wall plaster is mixed with straw to create an uneven, wattled appearance. An antique French iron chandelier hangs over the pool table. An old French worktable holds an antique iron scale. At the foot of the stairs a meticulously fashioned, English antique house-shaped yew box holds its complete set of croquet mallets and balls. The upstairs loft provides a wide-screen television viewing area. Beyond what is visible in the picture is a bar, game table and video games. One side of the Recreation Building looks down on the Tennis Court, the other onto the swimming pool. The downward stairs lead to the Wine Cellar.

The Wine Cellar was a beguiling afterthought during construction. The basement was dug in from the walls of the Recreation Building so as not to undermine the foundation. There is something of a Hollywood fantasy in the romantic, subterranean setting. It is used for wine tastings, and dinner guests are also invited down to sample hors d’oeuvres and cheeses before the main course in the home or garden. The antique French standing candlesticks, circa 1700, are of wrought iron. The table is antique French with a walnut inlaid top. The antique French chairs retain their original upholstery. A warm Persian rug lies across the stone floor. Adjoining this somewhat medieval setting is a modern butler’s pantry kitchen with dishwasher and two refrigerators for chilling the wine, a functional asset that can be ignored when the many candles burn and friends sip their wine in soft, mellow light.

Entertaining outdoors is a feature of California's lifestyle, admirably served by the Ranch's barbeque area - a complete outdoor kitchen facility that can suit 2 or 200. It is situated between the Terrace and Autumn Gardens and shielded under a canopy structure of rough-sawn Douglas Fir. The long counter has recessed trays for salad, a sink and a gas grill. There is dishwasher, two food warming drawers, icemaker and trash compactor and two Corning cook tops. There are cabinets for linen, silverware and dishes; there is a refrigerator, electrical outlets, taps for instant cold and instant hot water and a telephone. The floors and walls are the familiar Bouquet Canyon Stone.

In the evening, an unobtrusive lighting scheme assures a clear view of all walks and steps, and the trees are not allowed to fade into the gloom of the dark; rather, they are given a new aspect by a lightning design that seems partner to the moonlight.

The winding stone path to the Recreation Building has created a sinuous garden. Held in by a border of low lying white Sweet Alyssum, the serpentine Autumn Garden is a profusion of multi-colored snap dragons and other flowers.


Like a stopping place in the course of a stream, the spa seems to be a natural pool sheltered by boulders and ringed by flowers, a place favored by nature for relaxation and contemplation.

The rear of the house can be seen through the full foliage of summer. In the foreground a graceful crop of day Lilies hug the boulders through which a bubbling brook springs.

Like a pond, the swimming pool’s natural contours are a part of the garden concept while supplying fully the needs for swimming and pool play.





(Sycamore Valley Ranch PDF)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tour of Neverland - The Sycamore Valley Ranch real estate brochure - part three

Virtually every room of the home interior has a unique floor and ceiling detail combination. The ceilings, particularly, are a major design and craft statement reminiscent of the finest old mansions and palaces. Since modern construction does not make such emphasis, two antique furniture restorers finished the doors, windows, handrails, moldings, and ceilings. In the manner of Michaelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, the two craftsmen worked on their backs on scaffolding for over a year. After distressing the ceiling wood, they applied lacquer, then rubbed the wood down with steel wood – thirteen lacquer coats in all. Seven different floor patterns run through the house; ten months were required to complete them. The comment is made that “the floors are beautiful, even to the touch.”

The rustic and sophisticated mix in the foyer, setting a tone for the entire house. A hand-hewn structural beam spans overhead alongside the elegant and graceful Dutch 18th century chandelier. The rich, light-to-dark patina of the oak banisters reflects the red cast of the Persian carpets. The ranch logo, a Sycamore, is carved in the stairway newel posts. The larger of the two rugs is a Heritz, dates 1810, the smaller, an 1810 Caucasian flat weave. On the left a 1680 French convent table supports a pair of antique Chinese jardinières. A Queen Anne style English settle sits against the wall beneath two Gainsborough paintings. Pillows on the settle are covered in old tapestries. Old American samplers hang on the wall of the upstairs gallery.

In the library, the warmth in the richly hued oak ceiling and walls is particularly evident, while accents of green marble, bronze and leather blend their complementary qualities. Standing on the Heritz Persian rug is an 18th century drop-leaf table. Om the right is an elm and beech wood English Windsor chair, circa 1840. A leather upholstered English Gainsborough chair sits on the left. Flanking a pair of English coaching scenes are a pair of French bronze horses signed by Moignier. Hidden from view in this classic setting is an electrically-powered movie screen that drops from the ceiling at the touch of a switch and converts the library to a screening room.

The northward view, as seen from the windows to the left of the library fireplace, extends past the lawn into the golden oat field and up into the mountains. In winter, when the wild lands are green, the view suggests an enormous expanse of lawn. A French oval tilt-top table, circa 1820, sits on a Hamadan antique rug. The tabletop is cherrywood, its base oak. The foreground chair, resting here in shadow, is the English Gainsborough seen in the preceding photograph.

The spacious living room easily accommodates a 15 by 22 foot Heritz rug. The chandeliers are an important accent throughout the house; here they are French twin brass, circa 1860-70. A French, late 18th century walnut tallcase clock in perfect working order stands against the far wall. The piano is an extended keyboard, concert grand Bosendorfer, custom-made in rosewood. An array of 19th century twist candlestick of oak and fruitwood line the mantle. Through the archway against the far wall the rosewood accent is repeated by a sculpture from the Louvre in Paris, signed Raymond Bigot, Grand Prix, 1925. The drop-leaf table is exceedingly rare, of French manufacture, circa 1700, and made from yew wood. Yew is almost always exclusive to English pieces.

The Bigot wood sculpture from the Louvre in Paris sits on an antique French work table. Two 17th century French monastery wall mirrors with embroidered frames hang on the brick wall; a Chinese porcelain tobacco jar sits on the floor.

Casual comfort is the object of the family room.  A ceiling of rough-sawn decking is supported by two levels of rough-sawn beams. The rugged floors are held in place by wrought iron nails. The exposed brick and timber walls, the beam mantle and fireplace of Bouquet Canyon stone, and the chandelier of hammered iron carry through the rustic theme. A Bokana Turkaman sits on the floor. An English oval table, circa 1800, has been cut down to make the coffee table. The side table behind the English style settle is English Oak, circa 1800. The child’s Windsor rocker is made from elm and beech, circa 1860. The other chair in view is Spanish, upholstered seat and back in tooled leather. A portion of the pewter collection can be seen on the mantle. The two figures, a Bavarian man and a woman in polychrome finish, are dated 1840.

An atmosphere of country intimacy pervades the breakfast room. The ample window space frames a view of the front garden and the lake beyond. Sitting on a rustic wool braided rug is an oval English drop-leaf table, late 17th century, and made of yew wood. Four armchairs and six side chairs are yew wood low-back Windsors. The room features pewter pieces from the 17th century to the present day, part of a remarkable collection displayed throughout the house. Wedding plates, mugs and goblets are prominent in the Welch dresser, circa 1800. The antique chandelier made of pewter continues the motif. A pewter charger hanging on the wall opposite the dresser is dated 1832. The pewter is part of an extensive collection owned by William Bone. Pewter is almost exclusively made for decorative purposes today but in earlier times the malleable alloy of mostly tin was used for functional plates, mugs and goblets.

An aura of sanctuary pervades the lady’s bath adjoining the master bedroom. Dappled light streams through the cathedral-like ceiling glass and the floor-to-ceiling windows. Outside, a small enclosed garden offers the serenity and seclusion of a cloister. The Rose Aurora marble of the bath fits well with the discreet hue of the silk Tabriz rug. An 18th-century English oval cherrywood table stands beside the English style chaise. The chair is a French walnut child’s model. On the bath is a silver colored, antique English pewter vase.

The gentleman’s bath is elegant and masculine. Wood tones predominate. Brass candlesticks and fixtures accent. The counter marble also compliments the wood’s hues. A camel-hair Heritz rug lies on the peg and board floor. On the left is a mid-19th-century linen press. An antique pony stool, still with its original leather, sits alongside.  

The interior finish of the master bedroom is refined. The rough hewn beams of the ceiling are smooth and finished with many coats of lacquer. The white linen wall fabric, the classically styled white painted fireplace mantle and columns, the blue and white patterned Portuguese tiles – these all announce a more genteel sensibility. A custom-made Portuguese fine-point stitched rug picks up the blue and white floral pattern of the tiles. The four poster mahogany bed was custom-carved to match the pattern on the balustrades. The trunk at the foot of the bed is a burled chestnut coffer, and under the bed lies a custom-made wool cut-bordered rug. Against the wall to the left is an intricately fashioned, prize antique English secretary, circa 1760, with accompanying English Yew Windsor chair. The lowboy on the left wall is Queen Anne, 19th century. The brass fireplace accessories are English antiques. The windows in the bay overlook the lake. A custom made Thai rug sits in the bay.

Though the kitchen boats every modern convenience, it does not depart in either materials or style from the character of the home. It is generous in size and capacity, able to feed a small family or many guests. It boasts a commercial sized Wolfe range and oven. The range and hoods have been copper clad with and elegant brass trim. A brass rail on the hoods is intended for hanging copper pots. A diffused light pours through the obscure leaded glass of the skylights. The working table surfaces are Portuguese tile and butcher block. The cabinetry is of oak. The contents of the upper cabinets to the right in the photo are viewed through the pleasant distortions of German antique glass. The planter at the window is copper-lined and the foliage in changed with the season. Out of view are two very large walk-in pantries and a commercial glass-door refrigerator and freezer pair.  

The elegance of the dining room contrasts sharply with the informality of the family room. Here, the more formal nature of the setting begins with the Bordeaux patterned oak floor and the refines oak box beams. The large windows look out into the front garden where the trees are subtly lighted at night, and beyond to the lake where their reflections shimmer on the water’s surface. The rectangular 18th century monastery table rests on a Bidjar rug. Ten 18th-century English frog-arm high back Yew Windsor chairs provide the seating. The oval, English Yew wood, 19th-century gate-legged table seats an additional ten persons. A cross-banded oak Welch dresser base, circa 1780, serves as a sideboard. The painting by Paul Clemmens, 1978, is a portrait of Mrs. Bone and the Bone children. The Ranch logo is clearly seen on the post to the right.