Anne Carpenter Bienstock (“Nanno”) died peacefully, surrounded by family, on August 9th, 2020.
Nanno was striking, charismatic, independent, irreverent, original, and intellectually curious. She appreciated beauty in all its forms, loved her family, had a surprising quirky sense of humor and a joyous laugh.
She was born on February 22nd, 1942, in Wilmington, Delaware to W.S. Carpenter, III and Elizabeth du Pont Carpenter. Her father served on the Board of Directors and as head of the International Division of the E.I. du Pont de Nemours Company, which was founded by her mother’s family.
Nanno attended The Tower Hill School with her two sisters, Lea and Eleuthera. She went to boarding school at Ethel Walker’s and then on to Harvard College, where she received her BA, with honors, in English. She received a Masters in English Literature from Columbia University.
In 1963, she married her college classmate, Peter A. Bienstock, and in 1965 they moved to New York City, where they raised their sons, Nick and Tony. She was divorced in 1986.
Nanno developed an early interest in Chippendale furniture and the art of India and assembled notable collections of both in her apartment in New York. She donated the Indian Art collection to The Fogg Museum at Harvard. In the early 1970s, she purchased a large farm in the Hudson Valley outside of New Paltz, the centrepiece of which was a dilapidated 1736 Dutch stone farmhouse. She spent the next 15 years lovingly restoring it to its original condition and collecting and decorating it with period Dutch furniture, assembling one of the more important collections of its type. The house was included in the National Register of Historic Places, recognized in a number of scholarly journals and books, and appeared on the cover of Antiques Magazine. It was also the site of many joyous and raucous Blue Grass music barn parties and family events as well as numerous and elaborate scavenger and Easter egg hunts.
For many years, Nanno ran the farm for crops, and struck a memorable image on hot summer days harvesting hay, driving a large John Deere tractor, wearing huge dark glasses and an enormous wide-brimmed straw hat. Over the years she raised horses, ducks, chickens, pigs, sheep, donkeys and a hedgehog. She rescued a baby Great Horned Owl, raising it to adulthood, and even teaching it to fly, before releasing it to the wild. She also raised two raccoons, Schooner and Rocky, who were beloved and affectionate family pets until she successfully returned them to the wild as young adults. She was particularly devoted to her dogs and cats.
In addition, Nanno was a committed environmentalist. She was active in many Hudson Valley environmental organizations and placed the bulk of her farm under conservation easement with the American Farmland Trust. She co-founded and served on the Board of the Shawangunk Valley Conservancy, a non-profit dedicated to historic and environmental preservation, and Save the Ridge, an environmental group dedicated to fighting real estate development threatening the region. She and her husband produced “Shawangunk River – Place of the White Rocks”, a documentary film used to promote pro-environmental efforts in the region. The Shawangunk River was subsequently designated a part of the New York State and National Wild, Scenic and Recreational River System.
Nanno read voraciously and often participated in several book groups at the same time. She was particularly and endlessly fascinated by the Iliad in all its translations and forms. She loved the Tale of Genji and studied Japanese in an effort to read the original. She also wrote fiction, in particular short stories, a collection of which, “Stories” was published in 2019.
Nanno is survived by her sons, Nicholas and Tony Bienstock, her six grandchildren, Luke, Heather, William, Eliza, Louisa and Diana Bienstock, her sister Eleuthera Fiechter, and her former husband, Peter Bienstock.
Donations in her memory may be sent to The Huguenot Historical Society – (845) 255-1660.For more information on placing an obituary, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.