Typical Dilettante, I’ve got half a dozen posts in some stage of completion, but am very busy for the next few days, so until I get there here is quick post from the files.

A few months ago, this architectural rendering, of a proposed house by Daniel Romualdez for fashion designer Tory Burch in one or another of the many Hamptons, was doing the internet rounds.  I saved it because I was interested in the design, of two wings terminated by porticos, forming a courtyard.  It was a popular motif in houses many years ago.  The plan offered plenty of light and air, with  3 exposures possible in many rooms, many balconies and porches for a summer afternoon, and worked well for hierarchical separation of public, family, and service areas.   Here are  a few other examples:

The granddaddy of them all appears to be ‘Beacon Rock’ in Newport, RI, designed in 1887 by McKim Mead & White for E.D. Morgan.  A very large house, with 3 floors, it was designed to appear as a one story ancient Roman villa, and was quite radical for an era still in thrall to turrets and verandas.

 Beacon Rock, Newport Watercolor by Vernon Howe Bailey, 1887 (Vareika Fine Arts, Newport)
 (Dilettante Tangent: Even great architecture can extract a cost.  Before its top was blasted to provide a site for the house, Beacon Rock was one of the most beloved subjects for 19th century painters visiting Newport, including luminist John Frederick Kensett who painted this sublime view in 1857)
This house on the Down East coast of Maine seems to be next up in the chronology.  It was designed in 1911 as a summer cottage (seen here on an early postcard) for F.B. Richards, vice president of the M.A. Hanna Company in Cleveland, by Frank Chouteau Brown, one of the leaders of the Colonial Revival.  Here the porticos have grown to two stories, with square columns inspired by Mt. Vernon, on a house otherwise inspired, on blown-up scale, by classic New England Federals. The courtyard formed by the two wings contained a ‘colonial’ garden designed by Beatrix Farrand
Architect Howard Major, later known for his suave tropical houses in Palm Beach, designed this Glen Cove, Long Island house in 1918 for William Beard.  Looking at this picture, one is tempted to speculate that Major had seen at least the postcard published of the Richards cottage, as his design includes not only the double porticoes with square columns, but nearly identical fretwork railings at second floor level.
In 1919, Tobacco and Utilities magnate James B. Duke, wishing his daughter Doris to be better acquainted with her home state, as well as the Newport whirl that her mother preferred, purchased a Colonial Revival house in Charlotte, North Carolina.  He had local architect C.C. Hook triple it in size, to the present configuration.   He named the place Lynnewood, and here Doris sometimes attended local schools.  Not a man to do things by halves, Duke took the design idea to the limit, with two facades featuring the twin porticos, as it also appears does Burch’s proposed house, where this ramble started.  Despite his hope that the house would foster an affection for North Carolina in young Doris, the house was sold upon his death, the only one of his four homes not retained by his widow and daughter.
Last up, below, is a country house in Minnesota designed by the great David Adler in the 1920′s for the Egil Boeckmans, she the daughter of railroad tycoon James J. Hill, pleasant, although lacking in the usual elan of Adler’s work
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