4.8.15

PATTERN

On a quick  outing with an observant friend to the near Down East (Winter Harbor and Gouldsboro), I particularly captivated by the textures and pattern details of many of the buildings we saw.


Above, the residence hall at the former U.S. Navy Radio and Direction Finding Station on Schoodic Point at Winter Harbor, Grosvenor Atterbury Architect, 1905, commissioned by John D. Rockefeller to replace the old Fabbri Station at Otter Cliffs in Acadia National Park.

Below, the West Gouldsboro Union Church, 1894.  The parquetry work in the ceiling is especially wonderful.







Next door, a the wonderful little Tudorbethan Gouldsboro Library, designed by Fred Savage in 1906.  One of my personal fantasies is a single room private library in the garden.  This one would do just fine.  I'm sorry I couldn't get photos of the handsome interior.







Above, stonework at the Channing Chapel, Unitarian, in Winter Harbor, built as a gift in 1887 by summer resident David Flint of Boston.  The rocks, a mixture of field stone and beach rock, were transported in winter across frozen ground, and laid by a master mason, whose name is momentarily lost in the files.  The Chapel is now the Winter Harbor Library.

Below, stonework, also a mix of old stone wall salvage and beach stones, on a 1902 private cottage.  A friend has reason to speculate that the stonework may be by the same mason as the Channing Chapel.  I think he may be right.




Stone and shingle, the classic Maine summer combination, at 'Far From the Wolf' the 1892 John Godfrey Moore cottage on Grindstone Neck, by W.W. Kent of New York, one of the finest shingle style cottages,  in a crowded competition, on this remote stretch of coast.








25.7.15

RETURN OF THE DILETTANTE

In the year since I last posted, there has been a veritable landslide of demand for my return (at least 3 people and a dog at last count), so I promise, there will be a new post soon---very soon.
"Will the Dilettante ever return?  He'd better bring me a treat when he does"
For those who wonder, I have been kept from writing by life's caprices, as well as other challenges and commitments---as here, where I am seen as auctioneer's assistant at a charity auction last weekend (Vanna White wasn't available).

The event in question was a fundraiser for the 200th anniversary of the Holt House, the beautiful Federal house that is now home of the local Historical Society.  The portrait I am holding is of an ancestress of the auctioneer, and came with a joke whose punchline was "And my grandmother would then alway point at that picture and say "isn't she a handsome woman".

I know there's another joke here....but I'll leave it up to the reader.

"Isn't she a handsome woman"
Inspecting the wares.  I bought the very chic chair at the left.  Never met a chair I didn't like.
This Victorian sofa, rather a fine example of its type, but in a style rarely popular in today's trend-driven markets is still available; proceeds for a good cause.
The Holt House, a grace note in the center of our village for 200 years.









26.3.14

SPRINGTIME DOWN EAST

Several people have sent kind emails lately, asking why I've been blogging so little---the short answer is that I have several small projects that require big attention, always a problem for those of us easily distracted by shiny objects.

And then, there's the weather.  A week into Spring, this is the scene from the top of our little mountain today at about noon-thirty.  The blizzard moved out quickly---and by 6:30, all was clear.  And cold.  And windy.

A friend, a man of great scientific and technological abilities (and the common sense to be in Florida for the winter), has a weather station from which Wunderground.com picks up our local forecast (it doesn't get much better than being predicted from 1.5 miles away).  The reports for months have been uniformly dreary.  I emailed said friend, asking him if he couldn't adjust the equipment to predict higher temperatures and sunnier skies.  I knew it wasn't possible (as you can see below), but desperate times call for desperate measures.  He did re-assure me that he understood the temperature would be warmer in June.




That big white patch isn't a snowy meadow.  It's the frozen inner Harbor.  Did I mention that we are a week into Spring?  That in just seven weeks, Lilacs should be opening?

I've recently received a couple of interesting design books to review.  Maybe, if I can stir myself out of this torpor....but first, I have to remove this latest snow from the walks and steps.

Below, the forecast for the first week of April.  

27.1.14

MONDAY MISCELLANY

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Fifty years ago today, the estimable Margaret Chase Smith, the Republican Senator from Maine who helped bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy's reign of terror with her famous 'Declaration of Conscience' speech, gave another speech, this one at the Women's National Press Club in response to rumors that she might run for President.  Here is an excerpt from that speech, dry, succinct, and deadpan.

video

Although the event has gone unmarked in the Maine dailies, this excellent story about her campaign appeared two days ago in the Wall Street  Journal  HERE

An interesting online exhibit about the campaign, complete with hats is found HERE

And the Dilettante on the subject of Senator Smith HERE


JAMES P. WHITE HOUSE TO BE AUCTIONED



One of Maine's finest Greek Revival houses, the James P. White house in Belfast, will be up for bank auction tomorrow.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Place, the house is stunningly sited on a triangular plot of land at the intersection of Church and High Streets, with a gazebo at the apex, and the house set well back in grounds that retain a romantic air of the 19th century, enclosed by the remains of a superb cast iron fence utilizing anthemion designs.


Photographs above from The Historic American Buildings Survey.
Architectural historian Earle Shettleworth, the Director of the State Historic Preservation Commission, has traced the likely inspiration for Ryder's design, with its central pavilion and cupola, to a plate in Minard Lefever's Young Builder's Assistant, and that design in trun to a villa by John Nash in Regent's Park in London.

From 'The Young Builder's Assistant', Minard Lefever
Inside, a sweeping staircase curves to the second floor, and carved woodwork echoes the anthemion motif first seen on the fence outside.  





Photos above, all uncredited, are either from White House Inn's Facebook Page, or Sotheby's website.
Literally and figuratively, the house sits at a crossroad, for we can no longer depend, in this era where everyone seems to be driven to 'improve' what doesn't need improving, that the extraordinary integrity of house and site will remain untouched.  The property has been used as a bed & breakfast in recent years, and (and has the decor to prove it---who thought picking out the carving on woodwork in gold was a good idea?), and earlier was for sale for $870,000, before foreclosuRe proceedings. Though the neighborhood is residential, apparently many of the queries have been commercial---and of course, even replacement windows could affect the integrity of the design.  Keep your fingers crossed for a good result at the auction.  More details about the auction HERE


16.1.14

FOR SALE

The Bangor Public Library is housed in a handsome Beaux Arts structure designed in 1911, after a devasting fire destroyed much of the downtown, including the previous library building, from which only 29 volumes were saved.   The architects were Peabody & Stearns, one of America's finest architectural firms at the turn of the last century.  After more than a century, the building's copper roof has reached the end of its life and is being replaced, at a cost of millions.


 The showpiece of the building is a skylit central dome, ornamented by stylized acanthus leaf ornaments.  The originals are being replaced by exact reproductions, as originally designed by Peabody & Stearns, and the originals will be sold at a silent auction  by the Bangor Library on January 21st at 5:00 in the lecture hall.  Worth a bid---they are gorgeous, and the funds raised go to a good cause.

Echoes of Florence in Bangor, Maine (Wikimedia Commons)




I

22.11.13

GRAY DAY, DECORATOR'S DREAM, ROOFER'S NIGHTMARE

Probably the world doesn't need another post about Beauport, the brilliant fantasia of early Americana created at Gloucester Massachusetts by the pioneer decorator Henry Davis Sleeper in the early 20th century.  However, on a recent visit, on a gray fall day, I happened to be the ONLY visitor in the 3 PM time slot, and to experience those wonderful rooms, and the collectioins within, free of other tourists, able to truly experience Sleeper's effects of color, light and arrangement, was a superlative experience.  One is not allowed to photograph the interiors, but the high quality of restoration on the exterior and grounds, including a new cedar shingle roof---oh what nightmares the poor roofing contractor must have had---is worth a look.

For those not familiar with Beauport, please visit the website of its owner, Historic New England, HERE

One enteres through a garden house which adjoins the high brick wall separating the grounds from the public lane.

























The new house next door, which replaced 'Wrong Roof', the cottage of Sleeper's friend Caroline Sinkler after it was lost in an explosion, demonstrates all too well that one man's dream house is a neighbor's nightmare