Louis Comfort Tiffany had been dead for 24 years and his art had long since fallen out of favor when a fire destroyed Laurelton Hall, his extravagant Long Island estate, in 1957. In reporting the fire, The New York Times did not even mention that Tiffany was an artist and designer, only that he was a member of the Tiffany jewelry family.
The 84-room house had been sold and abandoned, its furnishings auctioned off, its glorious stained glass windows and other permanent fixtures left behind and forgotten. At auction, Tiffany’s collection of other artists’ work had brought more attention than his own lamps, vases and other art glass.
Although the family no longer owned the property, Tiffany’s daughter wrote a letter to a Winter Park couple, Hugh and Jeanette McKean, who were fans of Tiffany and had put on a small exhibit of of his works, suggesting they try to salvage a stained glass window from the burned-out ruins.
That letter launched the McKeans on an extraordinary 30-year mission to salvage some of Tiffany’s most important works. And it would lead to the establishment of the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, a small, privately endowed museum near Orlando that today houses the most comprehensive collection of Tiffany’s work.