By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times
In 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a little novel called, “The Great Gatsby”, which caused a bit of a stir. Subsequently, movies were made in 1926 (a silent film staring Warner Baxter, Lois Wilson and William Powell) and again in 1949, this time starring Alan Ladd, Betty Field and Shelley Winters, and yet again, in 1974, featuring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.
This summer, the Great Gatsby once again graced the silver screen with Leonardo DiCaprio in the leading role, along with Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan in supporting roles. With the Great Gatsby’s ongoing popularity over the past 88 years, it comes as no surprise that the Cullman Regional Medical Center Foundation Service Guild chose this period of Americana as a theme for their upcoming fundraiser, the Great Gatsby Party.
Set in the Roaring Twenties, all of the movies highlighted the era of prohibition, flappers, and bathtub gin. The glitzy clothes, hairstyles and opulent homes described in the book all give us a glimpse into the world of the ultra-rich. The book describes opulent houses, which were thought to be styled after several mansions, including a Long Island mansion called Lands End, built in 1902 by architect Stanford White for the executive editor of the New York World newspaper, Herbert Bayard Swope, one of American’s first newspaper moguls.
It is thought that Lands End may have inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, but it was not used in the 1974 film, the one in which Redford played the part of handsome millionaire, Jay Gatsby. Heatherden Hall in England became Daisy Buchanan’s parent’s mansion in the 1974 movie (Daisy was portrayed by Mia Farrow in ’74).
One of the most familiar sets to have ever been recreated by Hollywood was the lavish pool area in the 1974 version of the movie. This house, the one that was chosen for the film as Jay Gatsby’s mansion, was Rosecliff, a mansion commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs. It was completed in 1902 by same architect, Stanford White.
All of the movies depict a fun-loving decade in America’s youth — an almost carefree period when wealthy people were able to buy fancy automobiles, wear flashy clothes and dance, dance, dance the night away.
Because it’s always fun to dress up in period costumes and because Cullman loves to dance (and is home to some of the most talented dancers in the Southeast) this event promises to be a glamorous, fun-filled and worthwhile evening.
Special guests are the Edd Jones Orchestra, playing the music of the era in which the romantic drama was set.
The venue is perfect for the theme. The event will take place at one of the highest points in all of Cullman, Top of the Town (formerly the All-Steak Restaurant location, in the Cullman Savings Bank Building). On this night, it will shine with stars both literally and figuratively.
One-half of the third floor, and the entire fourth floor of the building have been completely remodeled. The area is absolutely stunning. According to president and CEO of Cullman Savings Bank, John Riley, a group of skilled local designers and crafts people, including Amy Wood and Deborah McAfee, were instrumental in transforming Top of The Town. The 16,000 square foot space now includes a banquet facility and a bar area. Double doors open out onto a balcony overlooking the city, perfect for dancing or dining under the stars.
The bar was designed by Danny McAfee and built by local craftsmen/carpenters John and Steve Schwaiger, who are also responsible for many of the other details that make this such a unique space. "Amy and Deborah chose the lighting and the colors throughout," said Riley. "Danny McAfee also did a tremendous amount of work for us."
Doors from Southern Accents complement the new design for Top of The Town. All of this local talent combines to make Top a real showplace for Cullman.
Everyone is invited to join the fun. Period attire is optional, and business casual is fine, however, if you love the beautiful clothing of that period, but never have an excuse to wear it, this is the perfect time to shop for strings of pearls, fascinators for your hair, and those cute little low-waisted shift-type dresses that made the “flappers” famous.
According to executive director of the CRMC Foundation, Maria Stanford, "All proceeds will benefit the Refresh-A-Room project now underway at CRMC. The event will also honor all past and present CRMC Hospital and Foundation Board members. We are trying to raise $5 million over the next three years. We have seven maternity suites still available, approximately 40 rooms still open for donors in addition to other areas in the medical center that could be named after a family, organization or company.”
The event will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 27. Tickets are $75 per person. Guests will enjoy a catered meal from Designs By Grace, the exclusive caterers for Top of the Town. In order to prepare for the meal, attendees are asked to please RSVP by no later than Sept. 25, by calling 256-737-2565.
CRMC Foundation’s Great Gatsby Party
When: September 27, 2013 - 6:30 p.m.
Where: Top of the Town, Cullman Savings Bank Building
Why: Honoring past and present CRMC Hospital and Foundation Board members
Proceeds: Benefit Refresh-A-Room Project - Tickets $75/person
RSVP by Sept. 25 to 256-737-2565