Eegonos, c. 1910 view (Architectural Record)
I found an old clipping from the August 1913 issue of Country Life in America, by architect I. Howland Jones of Andrews, Jacques, & Rantoul, titled Adapting the Italian Villa to the Maine Coast. I will be posting from that wonderful article when I have more scan time, but in the meantime, it started me thinking about how many large and interesting houses in the Italian style were built up here in the early 20th century century, and I thought it might be interesting to feature several of them over the next few weeks.
In the late 19th century, when Down East Maine became a popular summer location, promoters almost fell over themselves reaching for hyperbole to describe the scenery. Comparisons included Lake Como, the Swiss Alps, the German Alps, Scandinavia—you get the idea. New summer resorts were developed with names like Lucerne-in-Maine, or Sorrento, to evoke these foreign places.
Eegonos, first floor plan (American Architect & Building News)
One of the early villa style houses was built 1907 on Sonogee Point in Bar Harbor for the Walter Graeme Ladds. The She was the former Kate Everit Macy, a Standard Oil heiress and philanthropist, and he a lawyer, who apparently spent most of his time alternating gentlemanly pursuits with the management of her fortune. The architect was Guy Lowell
, who would later design a Jacobethan manor house for the Ladd’s estate in New Jersey. In a bad case of the cutes, the Bar Harbor estate was named ‘Eegonos (Sonogee backwards), and the New Jersey estate, on the Raritan River, was called Natirir
Entrance Hall (Landvest Real Estate Ad, 2004)
Eegonos was a roomy house, with large scaled proportions (14′ ceilings in the enormous living room), 40 rooms on 3 floors and a service mezzanine, with elaborate iron balconies supported by equally elaborate stucco brackets. The central pavilion was arcaded, with elaborately carved mannerist style decoration with urns and niches. The classic Italian villa formula of arched central arcade was the most common model used in the Maine Italian villas, and in fact, both estates to the south of Eegonos on Eden Street shared variations on this form. Until the middle villa was demolished in the sixties, and the southernmost lost its upper floors in conversion to a nursing home,they made for a surprisingly harmonious streetscape, these three huge red tiled roof houses peeking through the pine trees with blue ocean beyond.
Billiard Room (Landvest)
The interior of Eegonos reflected the new trend toward a less ambitious version of the Renaissance than that seen in the last century, dependent on good proportions, with tapestries and rich old textiles and furniture providing the decoration. One entered a large marble floored gallery with apsidal ends, opening to another hall with an arched colonnade, facing huge french doors at the far end giving a direct view of the expanse of Frenchman’s Bay.
Drawing Room (Landvest)
Dining Room (Landvest)
Living between an Astor and a Vanderbilt, the Ladds entertained often, with musicales apparently one of their favorite forms in culturally self-conscious Bar Harbor, with some or another big bosomed diva trilling away for the delight of summer guests. Mr. Ladd died in 1934, Mrs. Ladd in 1945. After the triple threats of the Depression, WWII, and the Bar Harbor forest fire of 1947, Bar Harbor summer real estate values were at an all time low, and after several years on the market, Eegonos and the neighboring La Selva to the North were purchased for a song by Richard Gott for use as a summer school, L’Ecole Arcadie. The school closed in the seventies, and the contents auctioned. The cottage, still in decent condition, was purchased by an architect from Baltimore, and more recently has been a retreat center. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The grounds are unusually simple, to the point of ordinary, with none of the elaborate and integrally designed gardens typical of Guy Lowell’s work.