A Carriage Ride in Cuba

Coach Big
Larz Anderson was a collector of many things, including several dozen fine old motor cars  – from an 1899 Winton Phaeton that he named ‘Pioneer’ (motto: It Will Go!) to a 1926 Lincoln Seven Limousine, ‘The Emancipator’ (motto: Son Courage Fait sa Force/His Courage is his Might).  Larz was, however, as avid a collector of horse-drawn carriages as he was of horseless carriages.  The attic of the Andersons’ Gilded Age carriage house, built by one of Isabel’s cousins in 1887-88, is packed full of not just Larz’s carriages, but spare parts and wheels for them, and even a Japanese jinrikisha (人力車) that he acquired in Japan for his collection.

On a visit to Cuba, the Andersons took a memorable carriage ride to visit the caves at Bellamar. Isabel described the journey in her book Presidents and Pies (1920):

“The carriages — called volantes, a sort of clumsy chaise with enormous wheels and shafts fourteen feet long — were exceedingly comfortable. They were drawn by two horses hitched tandem with a postilion sitting on the second one. I recall a particularly pleasant ride to Ballamar, a beautiful cave with galleries running for a distance of nearly three miles, and great pillared halls and endless narrow passages with wonderful crystals.”

Carriages - 2Photos: At the Larz Anderson Automobile Museum, Brookline
by Skip Moskey

An eclectic compendium of short, illustrated essays about the celebrities, buildings, gardens, art, books and more that help define America's Gilded Age.