Published: January 29, 2002
BRANFORD, CONN. – Antiques dealer Pat Guthman (nee Rosenau) died Monday, January 28. To honor her life, the Town of Southport, Conn., flew its flag at half-staff the day that she died. Pat was born October 31, 1926, in Glencoe, Ill., but lived most of her life in Westport, Conn.
Pat, a founding member of the prestigious Antiques Council, began her work in the antiques business with Bill and worked with him for more than 40 years. Since 1980, she has run her own business, Pat Guthman Antiques, Inc in Southport. For the past five years, she has shared a shop with Peter Warren on Pequot Avenue. Pat was known for her vast inventory of antiques for the hearth, country furniture and folk art.
Business associate and close friend Peter Warren said, “Pat was one of my dearest friends and a very important part of my life. She will be sorely missed by everyone who knew her.”
A.J. Warren, daughter of Peter Warren, worked with Pat in the Southport shop. “She was like a second mother to me,” A.J. recalled. “Pat was a lot of fun, she had a great sense of humor and a wonderful sense of style. I will remember her as a great saleswoman, a very positive person, and a beautiful lady.”
Fellow Antiques Council member and close friend Karen DiSaia of Old Lyme, Conn. shared, “She was a really strong and gracious person. She put everything into all she did. She was fun.”
R. Scudder Smith, editor of Antiques and The Arts Weekly, said “Pat and Bill Guthman were among the first people we met when our interest in antiques first began to grow. They were knowledgeable and interesting and we spent many evenings around their pool in the summer and the fireplace in the winter enjoying their company.
“We became close friends,” he continued, “and remained so after their divorce. Pat never faltered, but launched into the antiques business on her own, becoming an authority on antiques for the hearth and building collections around the country. Even when business at a show was not so good, Pat still had a smile and an upbeat attitude. She was skilled in the kitchen, had a flair for decorating and enjoyed the friendship of countless people. We were honored to be her friend, knowing that Pat Guthmans do not cross your path all that often in life.”
Pat Guthman received the following letter on January 8 from Julian F. MacDonald of Washington, D.C.
“Dear Pat, I’ve been a regular patron of the Shoreham [Washington] Antiques Show for so long I can’t remember when I started. And your absence from this year’s show knocked out a big part of my interest and pleasure in attending. I have always looked forward to visiting your booth, and you have never failed to bring several pieces which captivated me.
“You will remember me as a guy who enthusiastically admired you prize pieces, but was practically always an admirer who couldn’t buy,” wrote Mr MacDonald. “You were always gracious to an enthusiastic but nonbuying visitor. Was it last year you brought the extraordinary cast-iron chicken windmill weight – in previous years, the wrought iron kitchen implements, or elegant brass cooking vessels? You set the standard for the best and most original utilitarian pieces – often close to breathtaking for those of us who collect and admire objects of this genre. You and the pieces you offered had an inimitable style. We will miss you – the show will never be the same. Sincerely, Julian F. [Pete] MacDonald.”
Pat is survived by her children, Pam Guthman of Westport, Conn., and Scott Guthman of Scotts Valley, Calif., daughter-in-law Bernadette Guthman and two grandchildren Rachel and Laicey Guthman.
The Guthman family invites all who knew Pat to a celebration of her life at the Westport Inn, Gennaro’s Restaurant, 1595 Post Road East, on Saturday, February 16, noon to 5 pm.
Donations in Pat’s name may be made to Near and Fair Aid Association, PO Box 717, Southport, CT 06490; The Connecticut Hospice, 100 Double Beach Road, Branford, CT 06405; and The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 175 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.
The following is a piece written by Pam Guthman, stirring memories and recalling many events in her mother’s life, from childhood to her last days in Westport:
Born October 31, 1926, in Glencoe, Ill., on Hazel Avenue to Gustav and Irma Rosenau during a Sunday Church service, Patricia lived in that house until she was five. From the house she could walk to the beach on Lake Michigan. It was at the end of the block. The house was built by her father and her mother helped to design it. There was a spiral staircase up to a tower and it was from the tower window that Pat remembered watching the wedding of her mother’s cousin in the garden outside.
Because she lived so close to the beach, Pat remembered learning to swim before she even walked. She also remembered playing in the woods behind the house with the Thompson kids – the family who lived on the other side of the woods. They had a bunch of kids, and she remembered a tree with a “V” made by the branches that was between the houses. Her sister Bobette (five years older) and the Thompson kids would leave notes for each other in the V of the tree. Another neighbor was Tom Bosley (later an actor who played Richie’s father on Happy Days) who lived next door. Across the street in a wonderful white stucco house with a wall was the Mich family.
Pat remembered that one Christmas the French doors blew open because of a bad storm, and their tree blew over, breaking all the ornaments.
She also remembered a childhood friend, Joan Steif, with whom she kept up throughout college. Joan married a friend of Bill’s (Pat’s husband). She also remembered the Cowan family, Christian Science friends and today Bobette still keeps up with them. Pat and Bill took pictures of the grandchildren when they were in the photography business in Chicago.
When she was five, Pat’s family moved to Rambler Road in Elkins Park, Penn. The house was just two blocks away from Irma and Gus’s brother and sister (Irma’s sister Ruth married Gus’s brother Fred) and Pat’s cousins, Lorraine and Gary. They moved there because Gus went into the family business: his brothers had a girls’ dress company called Rosenau Brothers/Cinderella Frocks. While in Chicago, Gus had been in the real estate business with Irma’s father, Harry Goldstine. Harry was very influential in Chicago politics and helped to develop the Outer Drive. Pat’s grandparents (Harry and Sadie) lived in the Edgewater Beach Apartments – a residence given to them for life as part of a real estate deal. It was right on the beach with a glamorous beach walk and where the Paul Whitman band played.
The Rosenaues lived in Elkins Park for two years and then moved across town to the corner of Waring and High School Roads. They lived there until Pat got married. It was a wonderful house, Georgian style in red brick.
While living in Pennsylvania, Pat went back to Chicago each year for her mother’s Christian Science Student’s Association with Judge Greene. They stayed with her grandparents. Her grandmother, Sadie Goldstein (Irma’s mother) had been an opera singer, and she also had played the organ at Edgewater Beach. On these visits, Pat would see her mother’s old friends – including Carol Seiden’s (Kaufman) mother. Pat used to see Carol at the Winnetka Antiques Show each March.
Pat had lots of cousins, and they always had Thanksgiving at different houses with more than 50 people (all family). Some were Lorraine and Gary (Fred and Ruth’s children), Rob (Shirley and Joe Rosenau were his parents), Jerry (Leo and Fay Rosenau), Mildred (Pauline Rosenau Haas and Fred Haas), Richard (Francis Rosenau Strauss and Mr Strauss). Jerry and Pat were the youngest – all the cousins were within five years (older/younger) than Pat. In the summer they all went to the shore – Atlantic City – and rented houses together. Later they went to Fourth Lake near Old Forge in the Adirondacks. The name of their home was “Seymour Point” and Ruth and Fred’s home was called “The Boulders” (Lorraine’s family). Rob’s family had another. The cousins would all be together to swim, water-ski and aquaplane (like water-ski but on one board). One time Pat fell off the board and they didn’t pull in the board so she broke her ribs. She was all bandaged up and she wore a two-piece bathing suit with the tape/cast in between – everyone signed her tape/cast. She was around 12 years old at the time. Pat used to put their dog Rex on the front of her board – he loved it. He used to bark to get on when he saw them getting the board out. Rex was a police dog and he’d swim with the kids all the time. Rob and Gary drove the boat. One time Gary made a kayak with a sail and gave it to Pat and she used to sail it all around the lake.
When she was around 11 or 12, she had a pine cone business – she collected them and painted them and sold them to people who gave them as hostess gifts. Also one summer she had a store with Lorraine in town for “Bundles for Britain” – sold pins with Britain’s seal and other gift rdf_Descriptions they made for charity.
One summer the boathouse burned down – everyone was in town and coming home they followed the fire engines. They were so surprised when they turned down their driveway, which was a mile-long drive, to find their home burning.
Pat was always so active and she used to break bones every year – she said it seemed like every birthday she was in casts.
When she got older, she went to camp Teela Wooket in Roxbury, Vt. It was a riding camp and she went for two or three years. Then for two years she went to Sundown Ranch in Holbrook, Ariz., where she broke horses, rounded up cattle (because the cowboys were at war), took a trip to the Grand Canyon and to Gallop, N.M., for an Indian Festival. She kept in touch with the friends she made there and saw them in New York in the winter. One of them married the publisher of The New York Times. Pat ran into her during the East Side Antiques Show in New York City in the 90s.
Pat’s schooling consisted of Myers Elementary School and Cheltenham Junior High School in Elkins Park, and Abington Friends School (Quaker) in Jenkintown. She was very active in girl’s field hockey and made All-State. She did a lot of horseback riding and was a good friend growing up of Cubby Haines (now Gill), who ended up on the US Equestrian Team. Another friend was Peggy Miller, who later in life set herself on fire and died. She was married to Dick Trifield who is now married to Ben Alexander’s ex-wife (Ben is cousin Lorraine’s second husband).
In high school she went to dancing school. Also, since it was during World War II, she remembered being with her father and finding out about Pearl Harbor. At the time she was going with a guy who was a glider pilot. Also at that time she was part of a group of friends who had a singing skit that they gave for veterans who came to their country club (Philmont County Club) for R&R (Rob is still a member and is president of Philmont Country Club today).
Pat grew up going to Christian Science Sunday School and was always a member of The Mother Church. She had Christian Science class instruction in New Canaan, Conn., with Olivia Whittiker and she is a member of a branch church – First Church of Christ, Scientist, Westport.
Pat was accepted to Wellesley College, but there was no housing available until February. Since her father didn’t want her hanging around the house until then, he had Harry (Pat’s grandfather, who was well-connected in Chicago) help get her accepted into Northwestern University in Evanston. She had planned to stay only until February term and then transfer to Wellesley. Because it was too late by the time she was accepted at Northwestern to get into the dorm housing, she got a room in a house in Evanston that took students. It turned out that she was the only girl and she thought it was great, but her father didn’t and he went to the Dean of Housing and very soon she was moved into the freshmen dorm. She loved Northwestern, didn’t want to transfer, so she completed school there.
She pledged to a Jewish sorority, AEO, because if the others found out she had Jewish ancestors, she’d be kicked out. She became a big woman on campus: chairman of the cultural department at the Student Union; Panhellenic Organization for all societies on campus working together; president of the ShiAI honorary society (representative from each sorority); yearbook; and field hockey team. Evanston was fun, but it was during the war so there weren’t as many men on campus. The Cirals were good friends of her parents in Chicago and she used to stay with them on weekends. She was friends with their son Shev (Shevlin). Also, her grandfather still lived at the Edgewater Beach Hotel and so he often let her have the car on weekends. She’d see him once of twice a week. He moved to California toward the end of her time at Northwestern.
There was a special program for Bachelor of Arts – freshmen were chosen to concentrate on a country and professors of every department would lecture. But, during freshman year she slipped on the floor in the Tech Building and received a concussion. She was out of school for a semester and was dropped from the program. But, she did get all her credits except psychology, and so she took that at the University of Pennsylvania in the summer. She graduated with a BS degree, major in English and minor is Poli Sci. It was in Poli Sci that she sat next to Bill Guthman her junior year. They started dating and got serious, but she promised her parents she’d finish school before she got married.
In her junior year she went on a train to California for a sorority convention with two other girls and stayed in a cottage at the Ambassador Hotel. On the train going out an older man joined them as the fourth for bridge in the club car. He turned out to be Sam Spiegel (a Hollywood producer) who invited the girls to call his house and houseman while they were in California. He’d be away, but he said they could use the pool and spend a day at the house in Beverly Hills. He arranged, too, for them to have a tour through the studios with a very attractive guy who ended up liking one of the girls with them.
On the way out on the train, they stopped in New Mexico where everyone got off the train to stretch their legs. Sam Spiegel introduced them to a friend of his – this friend turned out to be Clark Gable who was studying a script and hadn’t come out of his compartment except to stretch his legs. Pat remembered that she didn’t know if he was getting ready for a part and was trying to be in character, but she wasn’t too impressed with him.
At the convention in California she promised to look up the daughter of a friend of her mother’s. It turned out to be Mim Golden (from Chicago but at school at one of the other big 10 Midwestern schools). She became a good friend and always stayed in touch – and saw each other when Pat did the Winnetka Antiques show.
During her senior year, Pat’s parents gave an engagement party for her and Bill. It turned out that her mother knew Bill’s mother (Ethel Goodman) when living in Chicago before they were both married.
Pat and Bill were married at her parents’ Elkins Park house – in the garden on September 11, 1948. It rained all night the night before. Her mother made plans to have the furniture in the house placed into a moving van if the wedding had to be inside; but it cleared up and turned out to be a beautiful day.
They went to Washington, D.C., and then to Williamsburg for their honeymoon. They drove through Skyline Drive in Virginia and West Virginia on the way home. They had to be back in Chicago to take pictures at the University of Chicago, as they had joined Bill’s parents’ photo business. Harold did the portraits and Bill developed the candids. He liked to tell the story in pictures. Bill became friends with Mrs Byron Harvey, chairwoman of the Cotillion, the first year the Cotillion began, and he became the official photographer of the Cotillion. The Cotillion was for the Passavant Hospital. They also did wedding pictures and debutante pictures. Bill did newspaper spreads of the day in the life of a debutante for the Chicago Tribune, which brought in his journalism education.
They first lived in Hyde Park in a one-room apartment where a bed came out of a closet (Murphy bed). This was at the Chicago Arms. Later they moved to a one-bedroom apartment just a few blocks away. Pat recalled rolling a kitchen table down the street with a toaster on it and other things for the move. Later they found the studio in the Italian Court on Michigan Avenue (no longer there). It was a wonderful two-story apartment plus a showroom on the ground floor. They would interview brides in the office; in the duplex they’d serve tea and had showings of the photos where people would come and place their orders.
Irene Castle lived in the building – she and her husband Vernon had been a famous dance team. Also John Beremon, an American antiques dealer; and Robert Somerville, an eccentric man who dealt in exotic Chinese antiques.
They hung out with people in the wedding business: caterers, entertainers, wedding secretaries, bridal consultants, bridal departments (from Hannah’s in Winnetka, Marshall Fields, etc.) They also hung out with friends from college and used to have a poker night where they guys would play and the girls visited: Goldens (Mim), Gottliebs, Kaplans, Minows.
When Pat became pregnant in 1952, they decided to move East and lived with her parents at 336 Waring Road, Elkins Park (where she grew up). They were there until I was born – February 22, 1953. Then they moved to a house in Scarsdale. Pat’s mother and sister (Bobette) and a real estate agent (a Christian Scientist they had found in an ad in the Christian Science Monitor) found the house – a 4-bedroom house at 21 Thornberry Road. Pat didn’t see the house until they moved there. Scott was born there, January 28, 1955. Pat found it a friendly neighborhood. She took several neighbors’ kids one day a week and then rotated with other mothers so they each could do errands. Lulubelle was the live-in help.
They decided to move because they needed a bigger house. They looked all over but decided on Connecticut because they could get more for their money and the schools were good. There were also great beaches, and from Westchester County Bill felt the commute would be difficult because he would have had to change trains in White Plains. They found Westport – a town where people were just beginning to live year-round. They found a house they liked (on Maple Avenue near the intersection of Hyde Lane), but it sold before they could put in an offer. So, the builder said he would build the exact house on any lot that they got. That was better because they were able to make a few changes to the house – like a room above the garage. It was just about a mile away at 51 High Point.
They moved in 1956, but their house sold faster than the new one was ready, so they spend the summer months in an unfurnished apartment in New Rochelle, N.Y., living on mattresses on the floor. They were able to join a beach club so they spent time there in the summer. Goodrich’s boyfriend Jerry came along later.
They were the sixth family to move in on this mile-long road. Pat says the people and the neighborhood were lots of fun – people were moving in from out of state, so it was new for everyone. They formed the neighborhood association in order to buy plants and stuff at better prices/bulk rates. They also had fall picnics (The Block Party) and Christmas caroling; decoration contests (at the holiday season); and garden club. It was a very close-knit community because most of the kids were the same ages and the husbands commuted to New York City together. Some of their goods friends were: Hollingsheads, Welders, Schnables, Shepherds, Nesbitts, Campfields, Smiths, Knoxes, Woogs, Wildes, etc.
A few years after they moved in, the town built the new high school behind them. Before that Bill would take me into the back to look for deer.
Pat was very active in the League of Women Voters, PTA, Girl Scouts, Youth Museum, Foreign Affairs Discussion Group, and hosted UN guests.
Pat and Bill built additions to the house over the years, including a pool, enclosed the screen porch, Bill’s gun room, the mud room and new screen porch, and renovated the kitchen. When Bill retired from Rosenau Brothers, Pat helped him with his new business – their hobby of antiques. They did shows together, and she started a cooking column in The Newtown Bee’s Antiques and The Arts Weekly called “Bee in the Kitchen.”
In 1980, Pat and Bill divorced and Pat moved to a new condo in Fairfield by beach: 81 Salt Meadow. It was the last unit – the model. She built in antique architectural elements in the den: a fireplace mantel and bookcases. From the condo she had an antiques business and also did a few shows. Her business focused on early rdf_Descriptions used in the early kitchen. Less than a year later I moved in (back from Boston). As the shows and her business grew, Pat had to find a shop and located one in Southport at 342 Pequot Avenue. I left work in New York City a year later to go into business with her – we were roommates and business partners.
After four years we needed a bigger place and Pat saw a building in town, across the street, for sale. She bought it and designed it. It took nine months to build and included three shops downstairs and a three-bedroom, three-bath apartment upstairs. She expanded on her use of architectural pieces, using Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Century architectural pieces throughout the building (doors, floors, cabinets, arches, fireplaces, walls) in a modern setting (cathedral ceilings, skylights, white walls, track lighting, modern kitchen and baths). Her shop had a fireplace with hearth and beehive oven – made from Eighteenth bricks. There she had cooking demonstrations plus showcased her antiques. She rented the two other shops to various antiques and art dealers and held many shows, events, and met wonderful people who became good friends. For a while we also ran a craft shop in one of the galleries, but it became too much to have two businesses. The building was featured in House Beautiful, Country Living, Martha Stewart, Living TV magazine and HGTV.
Pat helped form the Antiques Council and was the first show director and liaison for the Southport-Westport Antiques Show (SWAS). Later she served as president of the council. She also served on the Board of Sasquanaug (a Southport community organization) and the Southport Conservancy and she was an active member of the Southport Merchants Association. This organization started the Southport Christmas Walk (we created that and it is still going today) and had Santa at the shop in front of fireplace for the kids during the Christmas Walk, which was in early December. It started with luminaries on the street, lighting of the village Christmas tree with caroling, all shops open late with food and drink, Santa arriving by a fire truck and throwing popcorn balls and all town and shops decorated.
It got to be a lot with the building, all the shows, the shops, etc. and so Pat sold the building 12 years later in 1997. She moved her shop back to the former building where she first had an antiques gallery, but upstairs and shared the space with Peter Warren (former CEO Pepsi International and tenant in her building). She moved her home to a luxury condo in Westport (about a mile away) at 131 Regents park with me. At the height of her business years she annually participated in twelve antiques shows across the country.
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