4 Old World While many homeowners are fixated on the use of local and recycled materials, Lisa Rose wasn’t looking for inspiration in the Old West. She’d rather go to Europe—with her husband and architect Jim Ruscitto—and track down stone, wood and metal from the Old Continent. So, for over a year, the trio crisscrossed the Atlantic, discovering a world not of antiques, but of artifacts. What they brought back, from corbels to columns, gives “recycled materials” a whole new meaning. For Ruscitto, whose network guided the treasure hunt, “The concept was a blending of European materials into a contemporary format,” he said. Matching the two was important: Rose and her husband wanted their classically-inspired home to feel open and livable, with views of the river. Nestled amongst the cottonwoods beside the Big Wood River, this well-scaled dream home doesn’t betray its setting. The project’s true bril42 sunvalleymag.com | home annual
BY Steve Friess PHOTOGRAPH Kirsten Shultz
Elaine Wynn with
he air was unusually warm and damp for a late summer evening in Hailey, Idaho, but the woman at the center of an event held in honor of four of the most powerful men in America exuded all the cool necessary to keep the focus squarely on the task at hand. Covering what’s usually the horse arena of River Grove Farm, more than 600 guests were seated at tables adorned with centerpieces overflowing with gigantic, fresh-picked sunflowers. The night’s hostess took to the podium resplendent in white, a loose-ruffled, high-neck blouse tied at the choke by an oversized black ribbon. A radiant Elaine Wynn stood to regale four Sun Valley friends who were all turning 90; Parry Thomas, Harry Rinker, Marshall Bennett and Ken Leventhal. Each was once a master of finance and development; men whose work built cities and transformed industries—and who found in one another fellow kindred spirits while traversing the ski slopes of Bald Mountain for more than a half-century. Every five years, the tradition holds, a massive joint birthday bash is thrown in their honors, an event that becomes more poignant and emotional with each party. To set the right tone that September evening in 2011, Mrs. Wynn’s charge was to balance these diverse backgrounds, demanding families and understandably big egos. It was a tall order, but one for which she was uniquely qualified given her decades at the epicenter of high society both in Sun Valley and Las Vegas; the latter of which her (now former) husband transformed with the famed Mirage, Bellagio and Wynn resorts. “I suppose at this point there’s an expectation that I will tell jokes about old age,” she told the assembly. “Well, I’m not going to do that because there are no old men here. I prefer to say that they are chronologically accelerated.”
A Coming Out Party The party at Thomas’ horse ranch was many things, most obviously and importantly a moving tribute to the men celebrated. But it also represented a triumphant moment that placed Elaine Wynn at the center of the region’s social landscape, on her own terms and not simply as the elegant half of what for decades was widely known as the “First Couple of Vegas.” In a previous incarnation, she would have at least shared the spotlight and podium with the home annual
| sunvalleymag.com 51
man to whom she was married for 46 years. Instead, the recently remarried Steve Wynn wasn’t even present despite the fact that Parry Thomas had been a surrogate father and seminal business mentor since the 1960s. Indeed, this was very much an Idaho coming-out party for Elaine Wynn, a woman who has long been regarded by those in the know— Maria Shriver, Anna Wintour and the late Nora Ephron, among others—as a tour de force in her own right but whose broader public identity had heretofore been wound tightly with that of her mediamagnet of a spouse. By the time of the Wynns’ 2010 divorce, Elaine had already staked a claim as a leading education reform advocate via work in Nevada and Washington, D.C., as well as by serving as chairwoman of the nation’s largest dropout prevention charity, Communities in Schools. She also was about to be appointed by President Obama to the board of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Despite being a lifelong Republican and having a husband who was staunchly opposed to Obama’s first presidential campaign, she aggressively supported the Democrat. Her itch to pursue her own causes and interests, she admits, “may have even created some of the tension that existed [in the marriage] because I was always going in this direction.” Still, she didn’t ask for any of this, to be suddenly single late in her seventh decade and then to have to watch as her ex-husband wed a woman 25 years his junior with whom he began an affair prior to asking for the divorce. While the split was publicly amicable, Elaine grows quietly emotional at the mere mention of the end of her famous marriage. It’s one of the few moments when her upbeat demeanor turns sour. In response to an inquiry about whether the divorce was a surprise, she asks curtly, “Why are you asking that question?”
Whipped Cream and Cherries This is not the first time Sun Valley has figured prominently in the life of Elaine Wynn. She first came to these parts 40 years earlier with her husband—then a bit player on the Las Vegas casino scene who was being mentored by banker and Sun Valley second home owner Parry Thomas. Intensely athletic, Steve Wynn loved the Sun Valley atmosphere and knew that this place away from the Vegas hubbub would further his business and personal relationship with Thomas. There was one impediment, however: his wife’s lack of skills on the slopes. After the former Miss Miami broke a foot on a European skiing trip, Steve realized something had to be done about Elaine’s failure at one of his favorite pastimes. The antidote? The Sun Valley Ski School. “We came up here around 1969 and Steve handed me over to the assistant director of the ski school, Konrad Staudinger, and said, ‘Teach her to ski.’ I just completely entrusted myself to this guy from Austria,” she explained “So Konrad was my guy and, after I finally got over my fear, he taught me how to ski. I finally had 52 sunvalleymag.com |
Everything in Las Vegas for me was sort of internal and indoors. Everything in Sun Valley is outdoors. Everything in Las Vegas was manufactured and imagined, recreated and embellished. Everything here is natural and authentic and wholesome and spiritual.”
patient instruction. You should never have your husband teach you how to ski because they are not sensitive to where you are and what your fears are. The key, like with everything, is to have a good teacher and then to have mileage.” While learning to ski, Elaine fell in love with this nook of the world where life moved at a different pace. In the 1970s, as Steve Wynn became owner of the Golden Nugget Hotel-Casino and a rising presence in the gaming game, Elaine found their home on the Fairways as a form of counter-programming elaine wynn for her children. “Oh God, it’s a dramatic contrast. Everything in Las Vegas for me was sort of internal and indoors. Everything in Sun Valley is outdoors. Everything in Las Vegas was manufactured and imagined, recreated and embellished. Everything here is natural and authentic and wholesome and spiritual. Sun Valley allowed me anonymity. It allowed me to bring my girls up with certain basic values that were a little hard to impose in Las Vegas, like not to be overly impressed with material possessions or not to be focused on hair and makeup. It was opening up for them different worlds of physical fitness, of exploring your own capacity for physical demands—hiking, skiing, ice skating, horseback riding, things that would get you outside of yourself.” While Elaine Wynn is frequently credited with divining several of the decorating flourishes of the company’s famous resorts, her life in Idaho was also responsible for making such landmark casinos as the Mirage and Bellagio possible. Elaine is the one who became best friends with her Sun Valley next-door neighbor Barbara Zax, wife of then-Hilton vice president Stan Zax who, it so happened, was a cousin of financier Michael Milken. Milken would go on to provide Steve Wynn access to more than $600 million needed to complete the Mirage in 1989 at a time when conventional banks wouldn’t gamble that kind of money on casino development. With the Mirage’s smashing success and the 20-year megaresort building boom it kicked off, the Wynns became the undisputed monarchs of Las Vegas. With her smart fashion sense, local community activism in the arts and education and an ability to project a softer public image to balance out her husband’s confrontational and
HOME SHOWCASE // for your home
FIREPLACES, ETC. Fireplaces Etc. is a locally owned family business. From its inception in January 2000, the business has been operated by Luke Andrews and Travis Zerba— brothers that were born and raised in the Wood River Valley. From the day they opened their doors, they have focused on the customer. Luke and Travis firmly believe that service should be offered professionally, knowledgeably and with a smile. And with the simple act of returning a phone call or showing up on time, they win over their customer’s loyalty each and every day. In addition to their professionalism, offering quality products has allowed the business to expand from fireplaces and barbeques to patio furniture. From Fairfield to Stanley, Fireplaces Etc. sells, services and installs hearth products, grills and patio furniture. Fireplaces Etc. believes that our envirobility (environmental responsibility) is very important. From reducing energy used in the showroom to educating customers about environmentally friendly products, we try to incorporate the ideas of reducing, recycling and reusing into our everyday operations. All of us at Fireplaces, Etc. are really proud of our 2,400-square-foot showroom located in Hailey. The showroom has 20 burning fireplace displays, multiple sets of patio furniture, grills and accessories. So head over there and enjoy the exceptional service!
EGGERS ASSOCIATES Eggers Associates is an award-winning landscape architecture firm with a focus on custom residential design. We often are involved in the site analysis and planning at an early stage of the associated architectural design process. We also work on many landscape remodels to update an expired landscape and redesign to accommodate the client’s changing lifestyle. Eggers Associates specializes in the use of large specimen trees, drought-tolerant and native species, and detailed sprinkler designs. We are fully computerized and utilize the latest version of AutoCAD for final drawing production. Because mountain communities are unique, fragile environments, we work toward maintaining their qualities and preserving their beauty.
208.725.0988 firstname.lastname@example.org www.eggersassociates.com
72 sunvalleymag.com | home annual
HOME SHOWCASE // for your home
MILLER ARCHITECTS Miller Architects, PC, is comprised of a passionate and dedicated group, led since 1992 by its founder and principal Candace Tillotson-Miller, AIA. Miller Architects excels in creating environments that appeal to the human need for transcendent beauty, refuge, comfort, and permanence. Our projects are located in unique areas, from high mountain properties to expansive cattle and horse ranches in the foothills of the Rocky Mountain range. Whether revitalizing century-old buildings or creating inspired new structures, a profound appreciation of the Western vernacular is what assures a strong sense of timelessness in our work. We achieve this quality of timelessness by creating interior and exterior spaces that are both elegant and casual, capturing at once the romance and the reality of life in the West, defining the essence of our projects. Using indigenous and aged materials creates a palette that blends a building seamlessly into the surrounding environment, speaking directly to the Western landscape. Meticulous detail, rich natural textures, spatial design sensitivity, and consistent quality are hallmarks of what we do. Miller Architects is fully involved from initial conception to completed project. Our collective experience and education is broad, our focus is precise and unwavering. We do what we do out of love for creating nurturing environments. Miller Architects is licensed to practice in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico.
WHITE CANVAS DESIGNS White Canvas Designs is an interior design firm pioneered in 2007 by Sarah Latham, LEED AP accredited. WCD was established to provide answers and solutions to clientâ€™s traditional interior design needs. From furniture to lighting, custom home designs to spatial planning, White Canvas Designs has the professional knowledge and experience to successfully complete any design project. Experienced in LEED-certified buildings, WCD is unique as we provide owners the option to incorporate responsible products and materials into the overall project design. Clients that work with Sarah form strong relationships that translate into a well-designed project for any home or office. Contact White Canvas Designs for a complimentary consultation.
208.928.6366 email@example.com www.whitecanvasdesigns.net
74 sunvalleymag.com | home annual
WHITE CANVAS DESIGNS interior design
HOME SHOWCASE // for your home
The origins of Williams | Partners Architects, P.C., go back to 1992 when Jeff Williams was commissioned to design a home in Sun Valley, for his parents. Over the years, first working as a sole proprietor then later with his partners, the goal has been to deliver the highest quality service to clients. We believe that by remaining a small firm we remain more attentive to our clients and focused on each individual project. Our job is to act as the client’s interpreter and guide, sifting through often conflicting requests and requirements to find the project’s unique expression. Our team is a collaborative operation, utilizing and integrating all of our strengths in an effort to make the home building process as enjoyable as possible for our clients.
208.726.0020 firstname.lastname@example.org www.williams-partners.com
WILLIAMS | PARTNERS ARCHITECTS
BRUCE A. MARTIN Bruce A. Martin has over 26 years of experience in all phases of interior design. He oversees all aspects of a project, from interior architectural design and coordination with architects and contractors, through furniture design, art and accessories selection and installation. He is committed to creating comfortable, yet sophisticated environments for high-end homes and commercial projects. His success comes from a desire to design elegant spaces while keeping an eye on the smallest of details. Bruce is especially known for incorporating simple, natural materials in all of his designs. Whether he’s designing interiors for a house in San Francisco or in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Bruce’s abilities to listen, apply problem-solving skills and remain open to new ideas are what keep clients coming back again and again.
208.726.1028 email@example.com www.brucemartininteriors.com
A Sun Valley resident for over 30 years, Brian Poster founded Poster Construction in 1997. Brian consistently built his business on integrity, strong communication skills, hard work, expertise, and strong values. Specializing in custom homes, Poster Construction also successfully manages renovations, remodels and small additions. Regardless of the size of a project, every Poster client receives the same attention to detail and personal management that strives for 100% customer satisfaction. This commitment builds relationships that last as long as the homes they build. Each project has its own unique requirements and having the best qualified management team and onsite superintendent is critical for its success. We guarantee the team we have on your project is the right team for you and your home, otherwise we won’t accept the job.
208.726.7676 firstname.lastname@example.org www.posterconstruction.com 76 sunvalleymag.com | home annual
DEMBERGH BROWN BUILDERS
Tim Brown Photo
Why: Dembergh Brown Builders believes they are members of a team, 100% focused on constructing highly crafted, environmentally responsible projects in collaboration with owners and design professionals. How: By utilizing our 60-plus years of collective know-how, we have the experience to help our clients realize their dreams. We concentrate on providing the finest craftsmanship and execution supported by unmatched project management, communication and teamwork. We are dedicated to providing an unrivaled building experience for every client. What: We are residential and commercial general contractors building amazing projects. We have three decades of experience building in many architectural styles, ranging from traditional rustic to modern cutting edge.
WALSWORTH FURNISHINGS Walsworth Furnishings creates hand-crafted, high-end furniture from reclaimed materials of premium quality. Wes Walsworth started Walsworth Furnishings (WF) with the vision of connecting his passion for design and woodworking with environmental sustainability. Our designs are inspired by the process of re-birthing old materials into new and unique pieces of furniture. WF utilizes various woods that have been weathered and worn over long periods of time resulting in one-of-a-kind pieces with an authentic history. We also integrate metal components into our designs giving the rustic pieces a modern touch.
208.720.3682 email@example.com www.walsworthfurnishings.com www.facebook.com/walsworthfinefurnishings
RED DOOR DESIGN HOUSE Mountain contemporary best describes the style of Red Door Design House. Red Door is a combination of an interior design firm, retail store front and a resource for custom orders placed specifically to the customer’s specifications. Often described by its customers as a refreshing and clean style, it is very approachable and mixes well with a combination of styles. Red Door opened in 2003 and is still run solely by Marina Broschofsky, a native to the Valley. Clean lines with interesting textures and neutral undertones with accents of color are some of the characteristics that you will tend to see within Marina’s designs. The inspiration and design concept often stems from the client’s vision and evolves into a beautiful, comfortable and personal space for the homeowner.
208.788.9075 firstname.lastname@example.org www.reddoordesignhouse.com
| sunvalleymag.com 77