Jun 082014

School has finished and I am spending a few days with dearest friends Robert and Gail Ornstein.  Robert is an architect in Providence, and is working on the restoration of Blue Garden, a Frederick Law Olmsted garden, and as architects who visit with other architects know, I had to see the sight and Robert was thrilled to show it off.

The Arthur Curtiss James home, which was lost to fire in 1967

The Arthur Curtiss James home, which was lost to fire in 1967, known as Beacon Hill.

Showing the Blue Garden which was originally part of the Arthur Curtiss James estate.

Showing the Blue Garden that was originally part of the Arthur Curtiss James estate.

“Once celebrated as the crowning achievement of America’s Gilded Age gardens when it was dedicated in August of 1913, the Blue Garden took its place at the pinnacle of landscape design.”

The garden was originally part of the Commodore Arthur Curtiss James estate, which was known as Beacon Hill.  Built in 1909 it was designed by Harriet James, Arthur’s wife, and then the plans were turned over to architects Howells and Stokes.

The main home burned down in 1967 and the grounds fell into disrepair. The land was subsequently purchased and subdivided.

The garden property is now owned by philanthropist Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, and it is Mrs. Hamilton that is restoring the Blue Garden.


The Blue Garden


The south portico was torn down during the 1960’s.  However, it had been redesigned from the exedra design sometime in the 1920’s.

The Blue Garden The blue tiles and parts of the coping are original. These were found during excavation for a new home recently built on the property.

Orignal paving from the South Pergola

Above is the original paving from the north portico, as shown below.


Parts of the north portico needed to be rebuilt.

There is not doubt this will be a magnificent spot when construction is finished, and it is so nice to see an Olmsted garden of this high quality being brought back.


We had the pleasure of running into Peter Borden, the executive Director of the SVF Foundation.  He was, coincidentally, showing John Tschirch, our guide at Marble House, around Blue Garden.

Peter was kind enough to give us a tour of Surprise Valley.  When the Commodore inherited his father’s prized herd of Guernsey cattle, he  hired Grosvenor Atterbury and Stowe Phelps to design Surprise Valley. This was the era in history of the gentleman’s farm remember.

The farm consists of many buildings including, during those days, a dairy, a slaughterhouse, a smoke house, a piggery, hen houses, a root cellar and a few cottages. In its heyday after WWI it employed more than 100 people.

Surprise Valley

SVF Foundation

Today it is so much more.  Mrs. Hamilton purchased this property and today it is the SVF Foundation. SVF stands for Swiss Village Farm.  When the Commodore and his wife Harriet were alive they traveled extensively, and enjoyed the architecture of Italy and Switzerland.  When they built Surprise Valley they incorporated those types of architecture.

After a two year restoration of the Swiss Village it became the headquarters for SVF.  SVF is a nonprofit that collaborates with Tuft Cummins School of Veterinary Medicine.  The foundation works in cryopreservation of rare and endangered breeds of livestock, it is state-of-the art and jaw dropping what they are working on.

SVF Foundation

This consists of the collection of germplasm (semen and embryos) and then cryogenically freezing the specimens.

Peter Borden SVF





These delightful signs, replications of originals, are all over the farm.


The chicken coop is just fabulous. While chickens are not part of the program, they grow many different types, because what is a farm without chickens?


SVF offers numerous educational programs, including: K-12 school field trips, large animal reproductive studies for fourth-year veterinary students and undergrad internships.

Smokehouse at SVF


This is the old Smokehouse/Slaughterhouse, it is now the cottage of the Farm Manager.

Roof Details

DSC_2590The front door gate – the gate folds up into the tower.

Surprise Valley is a terrific spot, doing great things, here is a paragraph from their website:

Rare or heritage breeds of livestock carry valuable and irreplaceable traits such as: resistance to disease and parasites, heat tolerance, mothering ability, forage utilization, and unique flavor and texture qualities. A particular breed that now dominates the marketplace may find its future jeopardized for any number of reasons. For instance, highly inbred and genetically uniform breeds, which dominate the industry, could be decimated by a serious infectious disease. Recall the Irish potato famine: A single variety of potato, which sustained a population, was devastated by blight. Alternatively, consumer preference could shift toward different flavors, textures or agricultural practices. With the lack of diversity in today’s animal agriculture, we are at tremendous risk.

 Surprise Valley


Jun 072014

I arrived in Newport today (May 30, 2014) to begin an 8 day course on the History and Architecture of the area.  Class does not start until this evening, which gave me the opportunity to grab the first, of what I hope will be many, lobster rolls during this visit.

I headed to Flo’s Crab Shack with my friend Phyllis, and along the walk I spotted these little plaques embedded in the sidewalk.


I am a big fan of the WPA, what it accomplished, what it stood for and the legacies that it left, so these were such a fun find for me.

The WPA employed more than 60,000 Rhode Islanders between 1935 and 1943 and spent $60million on projects offer the eight years.

WPA workers built or repaired 671 miles of highways, roads and streets and constructed or renovated 35 bridges and viaducts in Rhode Island. They also built 10,300 feet of airport runways and constructed or repaired five landing fields.

WPA Plaque in Providence RI

In Rhode Island, the WPA built or renovated 222 schools, 395 other public buildings, 34 parks, 54 playgrounds and fields, seven pools, seven power plants, and 184 miles of new sewers.

WPA employees in the state also served 818,187 school lunches; sent housekeepers on 85,558 visits; and manufactured 2.8 million garments of clothing. And 21,317 people attended WPA-produced musical performances.

If I have time to discover more WPA wonders in this coming week, I will bring them to you.

Flo's Crab Shack

A little about Flo’s…great atmosphere, but the food left a bit to be desired, but that is ok because it means the hunt is still on.

Regarding the Lobster Roll:  According to the Food Timeline:

Sometimes…the simpler the recipe the more complicated the history. Such is the case with lobster rolls. When it comes to lobster rolls, food historians generally agree on two points:

1. There is no one single recipe for lobster rolls.
2. Lobster rolls, as we know them today, are probably a 20th century invention because they require soft hot dog buns.

What is a lobster roll?
There seem to be two primary versions of the lobster roll: one is a mayonnaise-based lobster salad sandwich and the other is simply composed of hearty chunks of fresh lobster meat drenched in butter. Both are traditionally served in long (hot-dog type) buns which may be toasted. Pickles and chips are the usual accompaniments. Both are considered standard menu items with shore-based restaurants, diners and lobster shacks (inexpensive family-style outdoor eateries).

“ON A ROLL… Temperature’s rising, the surf’s pounding, the lobster harvest is at an all-time high. Bring on the lobster rolls! The roll: It must be a stand-alone hot-dog bun, rectangular, flat on both sides, coming to a crisp right angle at the flat base. If it’s oval or toasted, do not touch it. If it’s not buttered, do not even look at it. The meat: It must be fresh and predominantly from the tail. It must be at least three inches wide at the top, extending at least an inch above the crest of the bun. No less than a quarter-pound of lobster per sandwich. Some joints boast that they use a full lobster in each sandwich, but it takes nearly five lobsters to get a pound of meat. The dressing: The lobster may be mixed with a thin lather of mayo but not salad dressing. Dick Henry, co-owner of the Maine Diner, believes in naked lobster. “All meat,” he says. I, however, will accept celery, if finely chopped. “It gives a hint of the taste,” agrees Billy Tower, who has sold lobster rolls for four decades at Barnacle Billy’s restaurant. The temp: Like a hot-fudge sundae, the ideal lobster roll is a contradiction of temperatures: warm bun, chilled meat. “I’m 60 years old, and that’s the way I’ve always been told it should be,” says Georgia Kennett of Five Islands Lobster Co. But it has become quite respectable to serve the meat hot, in which case the lobster should be covered with drawn butter, not mayonnaise, and eaten with a fork and knife.”
—“On a roll,” David Shribman, Fortune, 8.13.2001 (p. 198)

A survey of current online menus confirms there is no distinct geographic boundary that separates the two versions. You can find both versions in restaurants from the top of Maine to the tip Long Island.

Mayo Lobster Roll

When did lobster rolls begin?

“Lobster rolls…because they are made with hamburger buns, they are definately twentieth century (soft, hamburger yeast buns were first maufactured in 1912).” —The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 345)

“About 1966-67 Fred Terry, owner of the Lobster Roll Restaurant…in Amagansett, New York, produced a recipe containing mayonnaise, celery, and seasonings; mixed with fresh lobster meat placed on a heated hot-dog roll that has come to be known as the “Long Island (New York) lobster roll”…According to Carolyn Wyman…lobster meat drenched in butter and served on a hamburger or hot dog roll has long been available at seaside eateries in Connecticut and may well have originated at a restaurant named Perry’s in Milford, where owner Harry Perry concocted it for a regular customer named Ted Hales sometime in the 1920s. Furthermore, Perry’s was said to have a sign from 1927 to 1977 reading “Home of the Famous Lobster Roll.”
—Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 188)

Butter Lobster Roll

“The lobster roll is a tradition, though not a very old one. My 75-year-old father, who has lived all his life in Maine, says he doesn’t remember eating a lobster roll until sometime after World War II. ”It was down around Tenants Harbor,” he said. ”Some people named Cook had a stand down there where a lobster roll cost 35 cents.””
—“Fare of the Country: In Maine, Lobster on a Roll,” Nancy Jenkins, New York Times, July 14, 1985 (section 10, p.6)

I prefer my bun toasted and my lobster with mayo, I may have it all wrong apparently.

Salva Regina Dormitory Annex

That’s my room on the top right

We are hunkered down in the dorms of Salve Regina University founded by the Sisters of Mercy, the university is a Catholic, co-educational, private, non-profit institution chartered by the State of Rhode Island in 1934. In 1947 the university acquired Ochre Court and welcomed its first class of 58 students.

We sit on the porch of the dorm and look out onto the Breakers.  Well, not exactly this view, but we can see the chimney pots.

The Breakers Newport RI

The Breakers


Jun 062014

Trinity Church Newport RI

We were told when this course began that we would learn the meaning of “Death March” or “Sherman’s March to the Sea”, well it is day one, and yup we learned it right away.

First stop was Trinity Church.  It is important to begin with a bit of Newport history, which at this point in time, is Rhode Island history.  First there were the Antimonians.  To make it simple, but I hope not offensive in it’s trite treatment towards the history of RI:  in 1639 the Antinomians came to Rhode Island and settled in Providence.  Then Ann Hutchinson left Providence with a slightly different take on religion and came to the island, a further group broke from that sect and came to Newport.  For this reason Newport has always been known as a town of religious freedom.  This point is important architecturally because, unlike most every New England town, there are no churches on the main square of Newport.

So back to Trinity Church.  Assumed to have been designed by Richard Munday,(1725) it was a period in history, where most likely, Munday was a good contractor with a lot of wealthy church members overseeing what they thought a church should look like.  There is so much history here that everyone will be happy to discuss, things such as the fact that you paid for your pew, that is how the church paid for its building, also you were taxed on that payment, another stipend in the daily grind of taxes, well afforded by the wealthy and impossible for the poor. Also the stained glass window, Tiffany versus the older English.



The church is stunning in its simplicity, but what I truly loved was the flattened-groin vaulted ceiling, somehow not noticed in the overall impressiveness of the church.

Trinity Church Vaulted Ceiling

So, yes a stop for a Lobster Roll. This time at Brick Alley Pub – FABULOUS!  Then on to 18th Century Newport…

We began with the Colony House (1739), again attributed to Richard Munday.  Because Rhode Island is actually Rhode Island and the Plantation of Newport it originally had five State Houses and one of them was the Colony House.

Colony House Rhode Island

The house is a mish mash on the exterior, and the interior consists of several different centuries of architectural styles, so I will just hit on the things I found to be outstanding.  Underneath the second remodeling are the original beams, which show that they were discarded ship masts, how cool is that?

lamp colony house

This lamp was on the second floor, and part of the second phase of construction, I just thought it was gorgeous.

Gilbert Stuart Colony House Newport RI

Gilbert Stuart was born and raised across the water from Newport, I don’t really think I need to explain further who he is, but it is fabulous to see so many of his paintings, simply hanging in buildings around Newport, OUT of the museum setting.

 Wanton-Lyman-Hazzard House Newport RINext stop, the Wanton-Lyman-Hazzard House.  Assumed to be the oldest surviving house in Newport, the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House was built for Stephen Mumford around 1697. Mumford was a merchant and a founding member of Newport’s Seventh Day Baptist congregation.

Beams in the Wanton-Lyman-Hazzard House

Beams in the Wanton-Lyman-Hazzard House

This house has had its fair share of lives.  It had a few things of note, the fact that the second floor was the entertainment floor.  This, of course, was the way that homes in Europe were designed with the Piano Nobile being the second floor, but it surprised me to find that we had adopted that in our architecture here.

A high point of this house is that restorationists have found what appears to be the first attempt at faux-painting, or “wall art”.  While looking at it, I can hear Professor Wilson saying “You will never see anything like this anywhere else”.  I am thinking, I hope not.  I really wish there was more understanding on my part as to what was being attempted.  However, what I did walk away with was an admiration for the beautiful structural beams and the original-growth planks on the floor that were so divinely wide they made me lust after them.

Wanton-Lyman Hazzard

“Wall Art” and structural beams in the Wanton-Lyman-Hazzard House.

Wall art and Structural Beams in the Wanton-Lyman Hazzard House

We then moved on to the Vernon House. (Before 1708 Renovated  c. 1760)   So many things I can say about it this house.  First, it is where Rochambeau had his headquarters and possibly met with Washington to plan the battle of Yorktown. It is pretty well accepted that the plans were hatched in Newport, in this house… is speculation.

Vernon House Newport RI

In 1758, Metcalf Bowler, purchased the house at the corner of Clarke, and Mary Streets. He expanded it to its current form around 1760. It is thought that the expansion was designed by architect Peter Harrison who is responsible for the Redwood Library, Touro Synagogue and the Old Brick Market. In 1773 it was purchased by another wealthy Newport merchant, William Vernon.

Vernon House

William Vernon, a supporter of the American rebellion and later the president of the Eastern Naval Board (precursor to the Department of the Navy), lived at Vernon House from 1773 to 1806. However, he left Newport during the British occupation in the Revolutionary War. During his absence, the Comte de Rochambeau, leader of the French forces in America, used the house as his headquarters.

Vernon House Rhode Island

 What is phenomenal are the Chinese style paintings, thought to be painted by the original owner around 1740.  They were covered up during the occupation and remodel by the second owner, and only discovered during a restoration in 1937. While I found that the artist had absolutely no sense of perspective, the ability to draw birds was breathtaking.

Vernon House

This was followed by the Hunter House. (c. 1748) The house was restored in the early 50’s and it speaks volumes about the lack of proper restoration and the lack of monies to do it correctly in this time period.  However, the woodwork is just gorgeous.

Hunter House Newport RI

The north half of Hunter House was constructed between 1748 and 1754 by Jonathon Nichols, Jr., a prosperous merchant and colonial deputy. After his death in 1756, the property was sold to Colonel Joseph Wanton, Jr., who was also a deputy governor of the colony and a merchant. He enlarged the house by adding a south wing and a second chimney, transforming the building into a formal Georgian mansion with a large central hall. Hunter House Newport RI

During the American Revolution, Colonel Wanton fled from Newport due to his Loyalist sympathies. His house was used as the headquarters of Admiral de Ternay, commander of the French fleet, when French forces occupied Newport in 1780. After the war, Colonel Wanton’s house was acquired by William Hunter, a U. S. Senator and President Andrew Jackson’s charge d’affaires to Brazil. The Hunters sold the house in the mid-1860s, and it passed through a series of owners until the mid-1940s.

Stairwell Hunter House

Mrs. George Henry Warren initiated a preservation effort, purchasing the house in 1945 and forming The Preservation Society of Newport County. The Preservation Society restored Hunter House to the era of Colonel Wanton (1757 to 1779).

Claw foot of

Furniture by Townsend and Goddard

The Goddard and Townsend families of Newport lend their name to an extensive body of New England furniture associated with Newport, Rhode Island in the second half of the 18th century.

Newport furniture is also associated with a distinct ball and claw foot, in which there is an open space carved between the talon and ball. Such a form is thought to be unique to Newport, though not unique to the Goddard or Townsend families.


We visited the home of Tom Robinson which had been in the family from the 1700’s until it was sold about 20 years ago.  This broad, gambrel-roofed house is one of the best examples of Newport’s merchant residences of the 18th century. It was beautifully preserved, and full of wonderful sailing items, as the people that now own it are avid sailors.  What, at this point in the day most likely stood out more than anything was the siting of the house.


The original three-bay, three room-plan house could have been built as early as 1725. Soon after the purchase of the land and house in 1760, Thomas Robinson enlarged the house to the north, adding a sitting or living room to the east and a kitchen to the west. The small entrance was enlarged to accommodate the symmetrical arrangement of windows and entrance on the street or east facade. This addition was deeper than the original house. Therefore there is an eight-foot projection on the west facade. The second and third floors have this same room arrangement–one room in the northwest corner and one in the northeast corner. In 1874-1875, Charles F. McKim converted the 1760 kitchen into a sitting room, adding a five-sided bay to the north. He placed a single story porch on the west facade, extending from the center hall axis to the old kitchen door on the north wall. A single-story kitchen ell with a decorative, shingled gable at the chimney was added to the south at this time. A roof-top gallery with squared and turned balusters and flame corner finials appears in photographs of the house taken after the addition of the kitchen….From Historic-Structures.com


St John’s Church (1891-94), across the street, was next.  The new priest was especially delightful to me, as he was obviously a history buff.  I am always drawn to art work done by the nuns of any church, as it is so rarely appreciated, displayed, or even acknowledged.   There is a stunning painting in the Lady Chapel, sadly, I was unable to determine the name of the Nun that was responsible for the work, but the priest assured me it is in the church records.


I also, as a tile nut, was thrilled to see Monrovia tile in this church.  The tiles in the pew area are Minton, but the tiles in the nave and chancel are Monrovia.  I have written about Mr Mercer, the owner of Monrovia tile here.

The Church was designed by Frederick Clarke Withers, with Ralph Adams Cram adding the Lady Chapel between 1913 and 1916.



Our final stop, despite the death march and exhaustion, was still able to make ones jaw drop  This was the Sanford-Covell house (William Ralph Emerson architect – 1870), now called Villa Marina.

Villa Marina

I am starting with the peacock, because seriously, who doesn’t love a house with a stuffed peacock.  That aside, I am leaving you with a house who’s woodwork, frescoed walls and simple grandeur of entry should speak for itself.


The Sanford-Covell Villa Marina was completed in 1870 by architect William Ralph Emerson for Milton H. Sanford of Pimlico Race Course fame. It is also known as the William King Covell III House.

William King Covell II bought the house  in 1896 and it has remained in his family until this day. It is currently owned by Anne Ramsey Cuvelier, the great granddaughter of William King Covell II, who now runs the home as a Bed and Breakfast.

DSC_1212 DSC_1207 DSC_1202 DSC_1200

DSC_1211 DSC_1209 DSC_1195


The truly difficult part about a class like this, is, after a day that had everyone dropping from exhaustion, a quick dinner of oysters and wine at the Black Pearl, I came back to the dorm and continued until midnight with stimulating conversations about restoration, historic preservation and how all of it fits into life in general with great young minds.  I am loving it, but it is now 1:00 in the morning. – Good night all!

Jun 052014



So, I have come to the conclusion that the reason these are called death marches isn’t just because we hike for miles and miles, but because our esteemed Professor Richard Guy Wilson, heads straight out without a care in the world.  There are thirty of us, and watching him step off the sidewalk into traffic, knowing full well the seas will part, and then 30 of us holding up traffic like “damn stupid tourists” has become rather common.

William Watts Sherman House Newport RI

So, now it is Sunday and once again we have done another long march.  I will try to do my best to share.  Our first stop was the William Watts Sherman House designed by H. H. Richardson (1874-1876).  It was built for New York Financier Sherman and his first wife Annie Wetmore.

The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Salve Regina acquired the property,  in 1982.

So, what made me go wow?  The green room, inspired by The Peacock Room at the Freer, who is to know, but still…

Sherman House Newport RI

Sherman House

There are William Morris style painted windows on the second floor.  This building is now a sophomore dormitory for Salve Regina, it has suffered pretty badly, but fortunately the green room and these windows have survived.

Professor Richard Guy Wilson atop the Moon Gate at Chateau-Sur-Mer

Professor Richard Guy Wilson atop the Moon Gate at Chateau-Sur-Mer

Chateau-sur-Merwas built as an Italianate-style villa for China trade merchant William Shepard Wetmore. Mr. Wetmore died in 1862, leaving the bulk of his fortune to his son, George Peabody Wetmore.

George married Edith Keteltas in 1869. During the 1870s, the young couple took a 10 year trip to Europe, leaving architect Richard Morris Hunt to remodel and redecorate the house in the Second Empire French style. This remodel resulted in the fact that Chateau-sur-Mer displays most of the major design trends of the last half of the 19th century.

I will, again just hit the things that made me go WOW.

Château Sur Mer

Tree of Life painted at Chateau Sur Mer

This is called the Tree of Life, and I remember this from when Michael, Joyce and I toured this house years and years ago.  I have discovered in the last two days that everyone appreciates how fabulous these things are, but they have absolutely no idea who did the work.  For me, you can imagine, how completely frustrating this is.  I hope that at some point in the future, I can work on bringing you this information, but for now, I need to just get my notes down at the end of  our ridiculous days before I forget.


*Château Sur Mer

These two beauties are lamps at the top of the stairs as you enter the house.  I see so much sculpture, but these girls called to me. Alas, there is no information. AGAIN! Frustrating!

United Congregational Church

After another Lobster Roll at La Forge Casino – not as good as yesterday, but now number two – we hit the United Congregational Church.  In horrific shape, but my OMG moment was the painting behind the alter.  Again, no one knows who the painters were, but WOW.   The Church was built in 1855 and the architect was Joseph C. Wells.  However, the interior was designed by John La Farge.  This educational group is in love with LaFarge.  No judgements, he is amazing, but I am truly disappointed in the fact that only the “biggies” are known.  The unknown craftsman continues to be a fact.

Tiffany Lam[

A Louis Comfort Tiffany lamp speaks of a longtime rivalry against LaFarge (I promise that story will be brought to you in the next few days) the only reason I am showing it is because, well frankly, it is interesting.


This is a panel on the ceiling, the panels were copied from an existing carpet.  Here are the notes from the National Park Service regarding the interiors of the church:

United Congregational Church: Executive Summary

  •  The United Congregational Church is nationally significant for the interior remodeling by American artist John La Farge. The murals and opalescent and stained glass windows of United Congregational Church (later, Newport Congregational Church), executed by La Farge between 1880 and 1881, are the only comprehensive interior designed by the artist, and the most complete synthesis of La Farge’s mastery of media and design.
  •  The murals are based upon archeologically correct Near Eastern prototypes, while the twenty stained glass windows feature an inventive use of handmade opalescent glass designed to complement the paintings. One of six major ecclesiastical commissions by La Farge, the Congregational Church survives as the only example of the artist’s comprehensive decorative scheme for the interior of a church.

It is important to understand that the reason I did not include pictures of the stained glass windows is because at this point they are a mish-mash of various works.  The church suffered very badly during a freak hailstorm in 1894 which riddled the windows on the North side of the church.  The records show what a mess was created by hiring low-budget contractors, due to lack of funds.  The results are sad and hopefully can be rectified in the future when funds become available.

Newport, Rhode Island


Kingscote – So where do you begin.  In 1839 Southern planter George Noble Jones commissioned Richard Upjohn to design this “summer cottage”.  An incredible brick covered building with Horizontal Flush Board and then painted grey with sand in hopes of mimicking stone.


At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Jones family left Newport for good, and the house was sold in 1864 to China Trade merchant William Henry King. His nephew David took over the house in 1876, and several years later decided to enlarge the home. David King hired  McKim, Mead and White to make the renovations, including the new dining room.


Opalescent glass bricks by Louis Comfort Tiffany, as well as, cork ceiling and wall panels were installed in the dining room during the remodel.









The house remained in the King family until 1972, when the last descendant left it to the Preservation Society, along with the original family collections. Today, Kingscote is a National Historic Landmark.



The next house was a private home that we were so privileged to visit.  The Charles H. Baldwin House was built in 1877-78, by the architectural firm of William Appleton Potter and Robert Anderson Robertson.


The dining room was the unique portion of this home.


We finished with a party at the Isaac Bell House.  The house was done by McKim, Mead and White between 1881 and 83 for cotton broker and investor Isaac Bell.  After passing through a succession of owners, the Isaac Bell House was purchased by the Preservation Society in 1996,

It is listed as a “shingle style”, though architects would have labeled it is as modernized colonial.  With double gables, it has Japanese, French and Italian influences.  There are several shingle styles on the exterior.  These include the fish scale and wave, the fish scale being the classic style, but the wave playing into the “modern” concept.

Isaac Bell House Newport RI


Isaac Bell House Newport RI

You have got to love the entryway.

Isaac Bell House

Notice the pink mortar, the quoins are intentionally irregular.

Isaac Bell House

This is a caned wall. I was in LOVE!

Isaac House

A cast plaster basket weave – seriously amazing.  Can you imagine the sanding work it takes to get that depth?

I can not say enough about how our days are so long, but we literally walking back to our rooms, bent over with sore feet, back aches and heads that are so completely filled with information that facts are found dripping out of our ears, lining the sidewalks as we drag ourselves home.

I hope that I have shown you the amazing things we have seen visually, even if I can not iterate with words the thousands upon thousands of facts we are learning as we go along.


Jun 042014

Today was a day of only 3 houses, but what houses they were.  All three houses were designed by Richard Morris Hunt.

The Fountain at the front of Marble House

The Fountain on the front of Marble House

Our first stop was Ochre Court.  Built between 1888 and 1893 for Ogden Goelet.  These houses are well documented as to the craftspeople.  The Ochre House sculptor was Karl Bitter, however, much of the work was purchased by Allard and Son’s of Paris.

Ochre House

Ochre House is now owned by Salve Regina University.  The Goelet’s daughter, May, married Henry Innes-Ker, 8th Duke of Roxburghe. Their son, Robert, was a businessman with an interest in American railroads, hotels and real estate. Robert gave Ochre Court to the Sisters of Mercy in 1947.

Ochre Court

The Parisian firm of Jules Allard and Sons (or Jules Allard et Fils) was in business between 1878 and Allard’s death in 1907. It was one of the most notable interior decorating houses of the turn of the twentieth century. The firm opened a New York branch in 1885. Allard’s Paris origin reinforced the firm’s credibility in composing “high style” French interiors for the American elite.  Essentially, Allard went around Europe and bought up the contents of so many of the mansions that had fallen on hard times, the firm then shipped these interiors to the US and incorporated them into the homes of the wealthy in Newport.  They also employed craftspeople to recreate and rework or supplement the pieces that they had picked up.


Since Ochre Court is a University building, it is devoid of the furniture and fixings of the home, in a way, this was nice as it let one enjoy the surroundings without being distracted.

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Next stop was The Breakers, so well known it hardly seems logical to write much about it.  The first floor was essentially done by Allard and Sons, and the second more sedate floor was done by Ogden Codman.  Codman was a noted American architect and interior decorator in the Beaux-Arts styles, and co-author with Edith Wharton of The Decoration of Houses (1897), which became a standard in American interior design.

It is important to note the designation of “architect” at this point.  Codman had only one year at MIT and commented that it was a complete waste of his time.  So architects would sketch drawings, but it was really up to the builders to keep them standing.  There was no engineering going on at this point.


The only way to really get a feel for these homes is to sit quietly and take the whole room in as a whole. To sit and look at pieces as an individual is so disquieting as it is all so busy. But here are some of my favorite shots from the first floor.

The Breakers

The Breakers

The muses are beautifully painted on, not silver, but platinum, so it never tarnishes.

The Breakers

The ceiling in the Billiard Room by Batterson and Eisele.

The Breakers

The bathtub is cut from one piece of marble and weighs approximately one ton.

The Breakers

Panels done in one of the bedroom by Ogden Codman.

The Breakers

We finished in the kitchen.

Marble House

Our last stop was Marble House.  This was built for William K. and Alva Vanderbilt, as a 40th birthday present for Alva.  There is 1/2 million cubic feet of marble in the house.  This includes Tuckahoe marble on the exterior, Sienna Marble and Numidian Marble on the inside.


The amount of gold leaf in this house is staggering.

The Marble House


These two gorgeous animals were on the ceiling in the dining room

Marble House


The plaster cherubs were over Alva’s bed

Marble House

There were four of these stunning sculptures in each corner of the high ceiling, each was just a tad different.

The Marble House

The tea house, built when Alva decided to promote the suffragette movement.  She used it for fundraising purposes.

Larry Ellison

This is Summer Wind, one of Newport’s oldest summer cottages. The home was originally owned by William and his wife, Caroline, better known as The Mrs. Astor in 1881.  It was also a Richard Morris Hunt building.  I only am showing it because it is now owned by Larry Ellison and is intended to house his art collection.

Guastavino Tiles

These are Rafael Guastavino Tiles in the entry way to the Breakers.  I remember seeing them before and being fascinated by them, and here they are rearing back up into my attention, so I figured this time I should learn a bit about them.

Guastavino tile is the “Tile Arch System” patented in the United States in 1885 by Valencian architect and builder Rafael Guastavino (1842–1908). It is a technique for constructing robust, self-supporting arches and architectural vaults using interlocking terracotta tiles and layers of mortar to form a thin skin, with the tiles following the curve of the roof.

The Guastavino terracotta tiles are standardized, less than an inch thick, and approximately 6 inches by 12 inches across. They are usually set in three herringbone-pattern courses with a sandwich of thin layers of Portland cement.

So that was our day, a complete day of the height of the Gilded/Golden Age.

Jun 032014

Channing Memorial Church

Our day started at the Channing Memorial Church.  (E. Boyden and Sons 1881).  William Ellery Channing was the foremost Unitarian preacher in the United States in the early nineteenth century.

We were at the church to view the John LaForge stained glass windows.  I promised I would tell this story, so here goes.  Charles Lewis Tiffany, father of Louis Comfort and man of the silver company, agreed to sponsor John LaFarge in a business if he would teach his son Louis the art of stained glass.  At this point, LaFarge had developed a new style of stained glass.

painted glass

Originally Glass was painted and then fired and was truly lovely.  However, LaFarge realized that adding the color to the glass gave a far better experience.  The glass would be colored and then poured into large vats.  Eventually that colored glass would be either broken or cut to fit into the lead caning.  The rivalry I spoke of a few days ago, is that after LaFarge taught Tiffany everything, his father reneged on the deal.  That is a blatant statement, that possibly has other things behind it.  LaFarge was known for having absolutely NO business sense, he was always over budget and over time, and possibly this had something to do with the situation.  LaFarge windows now command a higher price  because they are considerably more detailed than Tiffany’s.

LaFarge Glass

LaFarge Glass Windows

LaForge Wiondows

Red glass in a LaFarge window, that also has a second layer of clear glass to give even more depth to the drapery.

LaFarge Glass

Even in LaFarge windows the hands and faces would be painted, I assume because the caning would interfere with the reverence.  These are the first part of the window to fail, and as you can see this guy is aging badly – who doesn’t?


An idea of the detail in the LaFarge windows.


Our next stop was the Newport Casino.  Commissioned by James Gordon Bennet, because there was no place to have fun in Newport, (after a peeing in the fireplace incident) it was designed by McKim, Mead and White (MMW) in 1873. The word Casino has morphed over the years, in this case it does not mean a gambling spot. In Italian it is a diminutive of casa, “house.” The word was first applied to a country house and then came to be used for a social gathering place, a room or building where one could dance, listen to music, and gamble.

Casino in Newport RI

Lawn Tennis was first played here in 1881.

Newport Rhode Island Casino


We were shown around the theater with its gilded woven plaster walls, but also had the chance to watch a round of the Men’s World Championship of Court Tennis.  Court Tennis is very, very different and if you are interested you can read about it here.


This is the same basket weave plaster that was first seen in the Isaac Bell house, here it is gilded for that special POP.

Theater at the Casino in Newport RI

Next was the Griswold House which now houses the Newport Art Museum. The home was originally built for John N. A. Griswold who made his money in the China Trade.  It was designed by Richard Morris Hunt between 1861 and 1864.

Newport Art Museum

Chair at the Griswold House DSC_1715

Then a stop at the Redwood Library.(Peter Harrison 1748-50)  The library has the first full temple facade in the US.


There were no photographs allowed, but it is rather gorgeous inside. More importantly is the libraries collection. The library is a private subscription library, one of only 13 in the U.S.. Founded in 1747, it is the oldest community library still occupying its original building in the United States.

We then proceeded to do another Richard Guy Wilson death march past fourteen houses with explanations. One, we pleasantly were able to tour, and it just blew me away, that was the Samuel Tilton House, McKim Meade and White (1880-82).  The home is private and yet has some of the most stunning original interiors. I am just going to leave you with the photographs.

Samuel Tilton House

The top of the chimney at the Tilton House

The top of the chimney at the Tilton House


The exterior walls made from the grout of the stone and broken glass

The exterior walls made from the grout of the stone and broken glass

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We then proceeded to a delightful cocktail party sponsored by the William Vareika Art Gallery.  The gallery has a superb collection of Newport and Narragansett related art and upstairs is a wonderful collection of LaFarge paintings.

Newport Rhode Island

Clement Clarke Moore

The home of Clement Clarke Moore house, the man who wrote The Night Before Christmas

Newport RI


William Morris Hunt did the Horses of Anahita, this seems to be a study for the final bronze.

Jun 022014

Slater Mill

Our day began at Slater Mill.  The mill is part of the Blackstone River Valley, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Pawtucket is the local Indian word for place of falling water.  Slater Mill is the last mill standing in the valley.  This stone building is actually the Wilkinson Blacksmith shop.  When the Englishman Slater convinced the local Sylvanus Brown that he could, in fact, build a proper mill he needed Wilkinson to build the machines.

Blacksmith shop

The water wheel weighs 20,000 pounds

Slater Mill Rhode Island

I simply took photos of the equipment because the machinery is so cool, all of this machinery was run off of the mill wheel

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slater mill rhode island

This is the Slater Mill building, notice it is all wood.  The one thing we hear constantly is the fear of fire, with all the cotton dust, it must have been truly a fire trap.

Pawtucket was a major contributor of cotton textiles during the American Industrial Revolution. Slater Mill is known for developing a commercially successful production process not reliant on earlier horse-drawn processes (i.e. the water wheel). Other manufacturers moved in and helped transformed Pawtucket into a center for textiles, iron working and other products.

The textile business in New England declined during the Great Depression with many manufacturers closing or moving their facilities South where operations and labor were cheaper.

BBurleigh House RI

This is the Fleur de Lys Studio of Sydney Burleigh in Providence.  Built in 1885 with monies provided by Burleigh’s wife, Sarah Drew Wilkinson, who with her wealth encouraged Burleigh to become a full time artist.  Burleigh along with Edmond Wilson used the house to found the Art Workers Guild of Providence.  The house was, and, remains today, an artists studio, now belonging to Providence Art Club.  This house represents the beginning of the Arts and Crafts Movement.  The exterior is simply divine.


Burleigh House

Providence Art Club

The Fireplace in Burleigh Studio

The Fireplace in Burleigh Studio



This is Providence City Hall. In 1843, the municipal council passed a resolution calling for the construction of a new city hall building. In 1873, the Providence municipal government completed negotiations and acquired a former theater site for the new building.

An open call for design led to twenty one submissions, and four finalists. Samuel J. F. Thayer’s “Blue Wafer” design was chosen, and he was paid $1000.00.  The building, modified from its original design, would evetually cost the city $1,000,000. The cornerstone was laid on June 24, 1875. Inaugurated on November 14, 1878, The Providence Journal called the building “Our Municipal Palace.”

The Providence City Hall is part of this fabulous architecture of hand painted/stenciled ceilings, tile floors and wood carved walls.


















Rhode Island State Capitol

Next stop, Lippitt House, which was the home of Rhode Island Governor Henry Lippet who served from 1875-77.  The house is a Mead and McKim built in 1875. Again, I am just sharing photographs because the house is so beautiful it needs no further discussion.

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The wood on the floor is real, but the wood on the ceiling is faux paint.

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Cloud House

This is Clouds Hill.   Built in 1872-77 by William R. Walker, this house has been in the family for four generations, and is part of the Slater Mill Empire.  What made the house so unique is that nothing has changed inside.  There is just too much to say about it, so I will let the photographs speak for it.


The parlor was Egyptian.  It was just phenomenal, the wall paper, the clocks, the furniture, and the fireplace all had Egyptian themes.  A house of this type would have been planned, as a whole, down to the gnat’s ass, but this was just spectacular.


The dining room had a bird theme, again, every single thing about it…

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This was the fireplace in the hall, obviously the fireplaces were the thing that struck me the most.

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As I said, the house is still lived in by the family


Including this fellow


Just in case you haven’t had enough, here are some random shots from the day.

Victorian Society Course

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Jun 012014

Belcourt Castle

After a morning of lectures we headed out to Belcourt Castle.  Belcourt is a R. M. Hunt building( 1891-94).  The house was built for Oliver Hazzard Perry Belmont, with changes done when he married Alva Vanderbilt once she divorced William.

The house has been purchased by Carolyn Rafaelian, founder of Alex and Ani.  She is restoring the house, and we were told that it would become a museum, however, she is maintaining an apartment on the top floor.

The house, especially the ballroom, is rather over the top, granted it  is in a complete state of disarray and in the midst of construction but here goes:

Belcourt Castle

As you can see today was a very, very rainy day, so there will be a handful of photographs that are a tad “wet”.

Belcourt was built as a sort of French hunting lodge.  There is English half timbering and French style masonry work essentially drawing from varying periods.

Belmont was an accomplished horseman, establishing Belmont Raceway with it subsequent Belmont Stakes, so the first floor was occupied by elegantly furnishes stables.   Alva was given Belmont House as a wedding present when she married Oliver  and in the beginning she toned down the “masculine” touches then, after his death she converted the tack room into a dining room.


There was a storage room that is just chock-a-block full of cast off’s, and was a treasure hunters dream.


When Alva removed the stables, the front entry was changed, this caused a complete realignment of the stairway.


The stained glass window is in the dining room.


The dining room, as I said is just over the top!










This is for Deb at Sullivan Masonry.  I am truly frustrated with terms, there is a constant interchange of the word plaster and stucco, often confused with mortar, but this was the ultimate HUH? I was told that they were spending a lot of money repointing the brick so I was excited to take pictures for you – well here you go.


Next stop was Beacon Rock.  It too has an interesting heritage.  While perfect symmetry and Greek sensibilities reign on the exterior,  the interior feels as modern and frankly as McMansion as you can imagine.

Beacon Rock was done for Edwin Morgan of the Morgan Family.  Edwin Morgan was Commodore of the NY Yacht Club and owner of several America’s cup defenders.

Beacon Rock

The landscape was done by Frederick Law Olmstead, fresh off his work on Central Park, he incorporated this aqueduct styled bridge that serves as the entry way to the property.

After three decades of Morgans the home was eventually sold to Felix DeWeldon, best know for sculpting the Iwo Jima Memorial.  There was a falling of fortunes, and then a sewage debacle and the house was purchase by attorney Brian Cunha from Boston.  There was a complete overhaul of the property and today you can rent it for around $125,000/month.

Here are some of the finer details of the home.

Beacon Rock

Italian marble was brought in to recreate the ancient Athenian Stoa of Attalos and Agora.

The Stoa of Attalos

The original Stoa of Attalos


Roman Brick

This is Roman Brick.  Modern “Roman” bricks were introduced at the beginning of the 20th century. They are invariably longer and flatter than other modern brick types, but there are no fixed dimensions. We had seen a house earlier this week with Roman Brick – below- the Commodore William Edgar house which was a MMW house.

Roman Brick

Continuing with the Beacon Rock House:



Yep, loved the landscape and the views, but again the house was fabulous on the exterior but…



Earlier,  we had been given one of the most fabulous lectures regarding the way that the house staff works and lived in these homes by John Tschirch.  John is engaging, and an excellent lecturer, and made the entire subject one you want to go running out and learn so much more about.  The next stop was a behind the scenes walkthrough of The Elms.


Walking the five stories to the servants quarters.

The Bell call system



Overlooking the ground from the roof.

The laundry room, there were originally 5 sinks in the laundry room, with lye soap to boot.


This was amazing, the owner designed a coal delivery system underground.  The coal car ran 50 feet down under the lawn to the street and the manhole in the middle of the street.  The coal was loaded up and rolled to the boilers.  The ashes from the fireplaces were removed via the same system.  No dust, no muss.


Interior of the iceboxes
DSC_2100The kitchens – can you imagine how hot this must have been running 24 hours a day on coal.

While this looked like a short day, it was filled with hours of lectures, and ended with a lecture by RGW at the Newport Art Museum to open the newest show Very Simple Charm – The early work of Richard Morris Hunt.

Dinner at the Black Pearl and back to the dorms with the funniest, smartest young group I have had the pleasure of rooming with.

Here are some final shots of the day


I absolutely love sculpted faces in the ornamentation of building, I was in seventh heaven today.



William Morris Hunt placed himself in every single house he designed, this one is in Belcourt Castle.


Found this little guy on the back of a chair.



And this of course is the maquette of the Iwo Jima statue in front of some fabulous murals. – And yes – I find that silk flag horrible too!



May 312014

We began this morning in my favorite genre, Japanese revival.  The house is just lovely, as are the couple that own it.  They still have a lot of restoration to go, but what they have done is just perfect.  The house is called the Knapp house and was designed by Ralph Adams Cram in 1894. Cram was better known for his churches and revolutionizing church design in America.  The house is also called The Rising Sun, and I was in love.

Rising Sun House

Tori Gate Doors

Notice the Tori Gate Surround


this was my favorite room.  It is the parlor off of the front door with this great little fireplace


This chipped wood wall blew my mind


Check out the Tokobishira and the grass painted wallpaper


This is the second floor, take a look at this great woodwork.


The dining room has these unusual china cabinets.


Over the fireplace


We then headed to the town of North Easton.


This is the gatehouse to the Ames Estate.  It was designed by H. H. Richardson and the gardens are by Frederick Law Olmstead.

The right hand side was a guest cottage and the left was the gardeners shed.  The Ames Shovel Company traces its beginning to 1774 when Captain John Ames began making iron shovels at West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. His son Oliver moved the company to North Easton in 1803. Gold was discovered in California in 1848, and in Australia in 1851, which created a worldwide demand for the company’s shovels.

 The Ames brothers entered politics and became influential in financing the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, as well as the development of the village of North Easton. Expansion of the shovel factory continued over the years until 1928.

Ames shovels became standard issue for troops in the U.S. Army for every conflict from the American Civil War to Korea.

The Ames Shovel Company ceased production in Easton in 1952



The house has pretty much been remodeled past recognition, but there is this marvelous fireplace.  The tiles are Tiffany tiles, and the fireplace carvings are by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.  The covering over the little settee is lincrusta.

Ames House


On the second floor was a wishing well, and this Saint-Gaudens frog is sitting on the outside of the well.


Train Station

This is the local train station, The Old Colony Railroad Station, it is also known as the North Easton Railroad Station. The station’s facade is constructed of rough-faced, random ashlar of gray granite with a brownstone belt course and trim. Two large, semicircular arches are ornamented with wonderful carvings of a  snarling heads.

Old Colony RailRoad Station



The station was commissioned in 1881 by Frederick Lothrop Ames, director of the Old Colony Railroad.  The architect was H. H. Richardson.  The building currently houses the Easton Historical Society.


The next stop was the Unity Church. The church was built in 1875 at a cost of $100,000. It was designed by Gothic Revivalist John Ames Mitchell, nephew of donor Oliver Ames.


This frieze, which includes twenty-two oaken seraphim, was carved by Johannes Kirchmayer.  He was born in Bavaria, and educated at the University of Munich, he was considered “one of the most remarkable sculptors of wood”.


The organist, who gave us our tour, said that he had the privilege of helping to clean these, the saints lift out of their niches and are complete carvings, in other words, the backs are carved as well, even though you will never see them.


We were there, however, to see the windows.  There were the two largest LaFarge windows ever made.


This LaFarge window was commissioned by botanist Oaks Ames and his brother Winthrop Ames  in memory of his grandfather Congressman Oakes Ames, and their fathers Governor Oliver Ames and Oakes Angier Ames.  This is the “Figure of Wisdom”



This window is the “Angel of Help” and was donated by Frederick Lothrop Ames.  It was installed in 1886.


But there are more.


This window was by Gorham, better known for silver, they did two in this church.


This window is by Franz Meyer of Munich


And these are by Burnham of Boston.


Ames Free Library

Next stop, the Ames library, again designed by H.H. Richardson. The library was built from 1877 to 1879, although it did not open until March 10, 1883.


There are dragons on most every exterior corner.

Ames Library

Notice the lovely wood barrel vault ceiling

DSC_2246This chair was also designed by H. H. Richardson.


Ames Memorial Hall

Next door to the library is Ames Memorial Hall, not only was this designed by H. H. Richardson, but the citing was done by Frederick Law Olmstead.  Again, a building that has been radically changed inside, but I just loved the sculpture on the exterior.







The stone carver was John Evans, a welsh man and member of the stone carver’s guild of Boston.

We then headed to Bristol………………………

Colt School

Bristol is a lovely town with the country’s largest 4th of July parade, the main street is tree lined with quaint stores, everything you would think of as fairy land New England.  It is also the home of Herreshoff of the Herreshoff Boat Building company. Nathanael Greene Herreshoff I, was an American naval architect-mechanical engineer. “Captain Nat,” as he was known, revolutionized yacht design, and produced a succession of undefeated America’s Cup defenders between 1893-1920

Our tour was a walking tour and I am not presenting them in order here.  One stop was the Colt School, donated and named after the “gun” family. Designed by Cooper & Bailey of Boston in 1906-1913.


This is a Tiffany window in the auditorium.

Colt SchoolI loved the tile floor that looked like puzzle pieces.


This is the Bristol State House.  This was one of the five state houses in Rhode Island.  I just loved the hitching post.


Burnside House

This is the Burnside Memorial Hall designed by Stephen C. Earle in 1883.  Burnside is rumored to be the origination of the term Side Burns.


DeWolf Colt House

This is the DeWolf-Colt House (also known as Linden Place). The lineage is extremely complicated, but essentially it was built in 1810 by Russell Warren.  It was built for DeWolf.  The DeWolf family was the largest single importer of slaves to the United States.  The original DeWolf ran out on his bills in the middle of the night.  The son eventually came in and purchased the house back and found all the existing furniture and reassembled the family home. When that line died out the home went up for auction.  Colt purchased it, and yet no one knew who this Colt was.  Once the deed was recorded it was discovered that Colt had purchased the home for his mother, the daughter of the DeWolf gentleman who left the home in a snow storm in the middle of the night.




Seven Oaks

This is Seven Oaks. The architect is not known but it was done in 1816-1817.

We squeezed a few Gothic Revivals in and then headed out, it was a very full day!






May 302014


Edith Warton as a child

Edith Warton as a child


We were asked to read a few books before class started.  Henry James An International Episode and A House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.  I enjoyed An International Episode, but truly had a hard time plodding through A House of Mirth.  I came to the conclusion this it was because I really became exceptionally bored reading about a truly stupid woman that continued to make really stupid mistakes her entire life, until her life was destined to fail.  The third book I chose to read was Theophilus North by Thornton Wilder, a true gem, and absolutely worth a read.

This was all in preparation for the fact that Edith Wharton, along with Ogden Codman were such an influence on 19th century architecture and interiors, and thus a large part of our course. Together they wrote the Decoration of Houses, first published in 1897, it was a forum to denounce the “over” style of the Victorians, over stuffed chairs, over stuffed rooms and over decorated style.


Ogden Codman

Ogden Codman

The book lead to the acceptance of the professional decorator.  While I have no issue with the highly intelligent and successful Edith Wharton, and in fact I completely agree with the importance of balance, symmetry and good use of space, I take issue with the concept of “style makers” and their following.  I can not think of a worse way to create a singular way of thinking and a singular style followed by many, eschewing the concept of individuality.

Having said that, I am thoroughly aware that there are many people ready to knock me over the head with a singlestick, but hey this is my website not yours.

So, onto our day.

We began with the Harold Brown house. (Dudley Newton Architect 1894) The interior was originally done by Ogden Codman.

The Brown House



John Carter Brown was a rare book collector whose philanthropy created Brown University and the library most famous for its unparalleled collection of books on the Americas.  Harold Carter Brown commissioned the house.  Since Brown collected French furniture he most likely had quite a symbiotic relation with Codman and his lighter classical attitude.  The grounds were done by Frederick Law Olmstead.

Our hostess was Beryl Powell, and you would be hard pressed to find a more delightful woman.

Beryl Powell

Harold Brown House



Ogden Codman Interiors throughout the first floor of the house.






Next stop was the Bellevue House / Berkeley Villa  This house was done by Ogden Codman for his cousin Martha in 1910.

Martha Codman House


The house echoes Codman’s interest in Federal-style architecture  The paired columns and the monumental entry porch are so appealing.

Berkeley Villa

The entry way holds a multi storied cylindrical volume spiral staircase, topped with a dome.  The colors of the house interior seem to be chosen from the marble inlaid on the entry floor.

Ogden CodmanThe interiors seem to be more English than American with shallow inset arches and appliqué reliefs throughout.

Codman interiorsWho doesn’t love a split pediment topped fireplace?


The home is now owned by Ron Fleming, and his love of the house is obvious, but his flair seems to be in developing the garden.  As a Landscape Architect I was just gaga.  I loved the adherence to the English garden and its many follies, but the humor of monkeys spread throughout speaks volumes for this mans sense of humor.


A beautiful Japanese influenced gardenDSC_2451

One of many follies around the grounds


We stopped by Gray Craig, (also called Gray Crag or GlenCraig). Built for Michael Van Beuren  by Harrie T. Lindeberg in 1924. Lindeberg was known as the premier country house architect in the area during his time.

Van Beuren House Newport

In the late 1800s, Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont owned 77 acres of rural ocean-side land. Belmont, along with Cornelius Vanderbilt and other leaders of Newport society, formed The Gray Craig Park Association, named for the dramatic rock outcroppings which border the property and stocked the land with wild and exotic game and birds.  The Van Beuren’s purchased the property in the 1920’s when Lindberg convinced them that the property they had originally chosen in Portsmouth was not dramatic enough. The home remained in the van Beuren family for 60 years.





We finished our day in the perfect way.

This is Greenvale Farm and Winery.  It was designed by John H. Sturgis for John Barstow, and is still in the family.  Barstow had the home designed after the farm described in Robert Morris Copeland’s Country Life published in 1859.  The book preached that a gentleman’s farm should be no more than 50 acres, that 2/3 should be farm plantings and the rest the estate.  This is considered the “American Plan”, and the house has managed to maintain itself since it never got “too” big.  The present owners have planted a vineyard and make a DIVINE white wine (Vidal Blanc). I so respect what they are doing, adaptable re-use to help keep the family home in the family.



Greenvale Farm and Winery*









This family has served proudly in every war since we have been a country, including, as you can see by the last hat, Afghanistan.


Greenvale Farm and WineryThis has been an amazing experience, the course was beyond what one could absorb as a human being, which is why I am so grateful I that I was writing at the end of each evening, I could not possibly remember it all, even from one hour to the next.

I have met the most interesting people, professionals, students and people still trying to find their way (including me).

To the older adults in the crowd, thank you for bringing your experience, and knowledge to round out all that we have learned.  To the students that kept me up till 2 in the morning talking about every subject under the sun, I applaud you, and can’t wait to see where you all end up.  Good luck on your theses, and everyone keep in touch, it has been an amazing ride.