Series 3: Personal
Series 3 is a small series, artificially arranged, containing materials removed from the Blaustein residence at Alto Dale. Included in the series are photographs, albums, correspondence, awards, memorials, and certificates.
Of particular interest are files from 1928 into the 1930s that describe the acquisition, alterations, renovations, and interior design for the Blaustein estate, Alto Dale. The property was previously owned by the family of John Goucher, and in the agreement signed April 14, 1928, Blaustein purchased the 185 acres, live stock, trucks, farming equipment, and tools. Thereafter began the complicated business of re-fashioning the grounds and house to the specifications of Mr. and Mrs. Blaustein. Part of the Goucher house was removed entirely, new entrances and porticos were designed, and an entire new wing was built adjoining the south wall of the old house. Blaustein gave to this personal project the same attention to detail that he gave to the other aspects of his business and diplomatic efforts. In Boxes 1 and 2 of Series 3 are building contracts, correspondence, catalogs, blueprints, invoices, notes and drawings, and many complaints related to disputes and delays. Blaustein dealt with Baltimore architects Palmer and Lamden, the contracting firm of L.L. Chambers, and the interior design firm of Milton H. Blum of New York. Included are catalogs that describe selections of tile, appliances, plumbing fixtures, cabinets, an elevator designed by the Otis Company, and the installation of heating and electrical equipment. Blueprints also show the re-design of the gardens. Blaustein was later known to have taken particular pleasure in the growing of orchids, and visitors to Alto Dale often received gifts of the exotic plants after their reception at the house. One grower that Blaustein ordered from was Mansell & Hatcher (Rawson via Leeds, England). A communiqué from the gardeners at the beginning of the Second World War describes their urgency to sell seedlings since they were forced to use most of their nursery plots for food production.
Other personal items include a wonderful collection of photographs: signed photographs to Blaustein with Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson; Blaustein with other world figures at the UN; Blaustein at many award functions; AJC meetings with prominent speakers; and other early photographs of service stations and tank wagons. All of the photographs are listed in the Container List. Of interest too are original letters to Blaustein from noted persons, including Abba Eban, Levi Eshkol, Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon, and Golda Meir (Boxes 3.7 and 3.13).
Box 3.7 also includes incoming correspondence to Blaustein, received during 1950-1965. The papers were part of materials removed from Alto Dale. Most pages include the annotation “study.” Some of the letters were found to be in an alphabetical arrangement, and this has been retained. The letters are filed in folders A to Z. Most likely these letters were kept in the Alto Dale study because they are original and are signed by the correspondent. Duplicates of the letters were often kept within other files with other subject headings (e.g., an original Dag Hammarskjöld letter was kept with Blaustein’s files at Alto Dale but may have also been copied and included with a United Nations file).
In Box 3.10 photographs show the interiors of the modern, spacious Blaustein Building, headquarters for the American Trading and Production Corporation and the Crown Central Petroleum Corporation. The layout of the new building was featured in Progressive Architecture in March 1964. At the dedication of the building, May 28, 1964, Blaustein remembered the family’s first corner office in a small warehouse: “We did not need a large office then; our office was really in our heads. Father and I would be on the street most of the day . . . selling coal oil to grocery stores. They were days during which we could (with our own eyes) really see and feel steady growth and progress. I do not want to forget those early days. That was our beginning.”
A collection of letters designated VIP letters are filed in Boxes 3.14 – 3.16. A separate index contains the names. Another collection of original letters is filed in Box 3.17. A series of notebooks that contain an oral history compiled by the American Jewish Committee is filed in Box 3.56.