Kykuit guide recalls growing up on the estate

Published:

Wednesday, 7/24/2013 12:28pm

Many institutions around the country can say that John D. Rockefeller gave them millions. But how many people are there who can say that he handed them dimes? Or that they still have some of the dimes he handed them?

To get the answer to this question, one need look no further than Laura Bunt, a Kykuit tour guide. Since the Rockefeller estate opened to the public in 1994, many visitors have had the good fortune to tour the property with Laura, whose father, a first-generation Italian immigrant, worked as a cabinetmaker at Kykuit. Laura lived above the Coach Barn at Kykuit as a child and peppers her tours with stories about six generations of the Rockefeller family, famous but remote figures to most, yet lifelong presences in Laura’s life. 

After years of prodding from family and fellow Kykuit guides, Laura published a remarkable memoir, Times and Dimes with the Rockefellers: A Little Italian-American Girl’s Journey through Six Generations. The book, which is available in the Philipsburg Manor/Kykuit Visitor Center Museum Shop, chronicles Laura’s family’s life and a number of  the ways in which it intersected with Kykuit and members of the Rockefeller family and staff.

The book is full of intimate anecdotes, letters, and stunning photographs. Two of the most memorable images show Laura seated in front of a replica of a Donatello statue in the Rose Garden at Kykuit. The difference is that one photograph was taken in 1930, and the other 80 years later, in 2010.

Like a tour of Kykuit, Laura’s memoir paints a very human picture of the Rockefeller family. At the same time, the book tells the story of her Italian immigrant family’s life journey, a journey full of life, love, nature, and meaningful work.   

Click here for more information about Kykuit tours.

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