Mrs. Stotesbury and her emeralds in 1926, the year Wingwood was completed. Pastel portrait by Douglas Chandor
A sense of the Stotesbury’s simple summers by the sea can be gleaned from the 1946 Wingwood auction catalog, where table linens are listed by the mile, and silver flatware, dinner china, and crystal were listed by the hundreds and thousands of pieces.
Inside Wingwood House, the merry aesthetic confusion of the exterior continued. The architects, Magziner, Eberhard, & Harris, were primarily theater architects, and the complex floorplan suffered from being the remodel of a very large house to an enormous house.
In an interview with James Maher, Mrs. Stotesbury’s son, serial heiress marrying James Cromwell (Delphine Dodge, Doris Duke ), remembered that while Lord Duveen had supplied much of the art and furnishings, the interiors were the work Philadelphia decorator Gustav Ketterer, who had also worked on a restoration of Independence Hall. Interestingly, Lord Duveen did supply an eighteenth century French drawing room for Hauterive, the neighboring Miles Carpenter estate just north of Wingwood.
Mrs. Stotesbury, emeralds, playboy son
Despite the building’s strict symmetry, the main entrance was not in the center, where a false door was located, but in the North arcade that shielded the large service wing from the public areas.
(All interior photos by Mattie Edwards Hewitt, from Samuel Freeman Company auction catalog.)
One entered under the Porte Cochere with its roof copied from Mulberry Plantation, and from there down a long arcade, floored with Zenitherm, a material much beloved by designers in the jazz age. There was a room in the service wing overlooking the driveway, staffed by the switchboard operator. One of her tasks was to alert the butler when cars entered the gate, so he could already be opening the door as a chauffeur discharged passengers under the porte cochere. The four 18th century painted Gothick benches, redolent of Strawberry Hill, are enviable.
One would then turn right into the entrance hall (not pictured), then turn left into another long hall. One would pass the North stairhall, with its scenic wallpaper and curving staircase.
One passed handsome 18th century landscapes, with an 18th century Georgian marble fireplace ahead, surmounted by a self portrait by Vigee LeBrun
Another right past the fireplace, and one went through the Cross Hall, past a small reception room (neither pictured), and into the Red Hall, with its 18th century English mantel and trumeau., and another gracefully curved staircase, in front of the false Nickels-Sortwell doorway centering the Garden facade
Why Red Hall, I don’t know. I once owned a pair of the columns salvaged from the demolition, as well as the sofa seen here. The columns were painted a traditional Georgian green, and the sofa was upholstered in emerald green damask.
Across the Hall from the Dining Room was the Chippendale Drawing Room, with the finest of the house’s English chimney pieces, and some very dated lampshades.
Wingwood, the Green Drawing Room
Four Acres/Wingwood House, the Cassatt’s den, prior to its incarnation as the Green Drawing Room
(American Architect & Building News)
Turning back into the Red Hall, one could then head south through the Green Drawing Room, in the 18th century French style, with painted chinoiserie panels set into the boiserie, and the ubiquitous bust of Marie Antoinette on the 18th century marble mantel. In the Cassatt era, this room had been the den, and it is amusing to compare the Cassatt’s arts and crafts sensibilities to the Stotesbury’s evocation of royalty past.
From the Green Drawing Room, one continued to the Garden Room, 60 feet long. Borrowing design details from the dining room at Syon House in London, designed by Robert Adam, the version at Wingwood house was specially designed for the set of Adam furniture that furnished it. The room was equipped with hidden speakers and a motion picture screen and projection booth, great luxuries for that pre blu-ray era.
From the garden room, one proceeded into the south arcade, which in turn led to the domed tearoom By the time a guest arrived here for tea with Mrs. Stotesbury, one had traveled an indoor distance of over two hundred feet from the front door in the opposite wing.
The tearoom opened to an enclosed ‘colonial’ garden designed by landscape architect Beatrix Farrand, designer of Dumbarton Oaks, who also had an estate at Bar Harbor. (UC Berkeley, Documents Department, Farrand Collection)
North Hall, second floor
Game Room, with Mr. Stotesbury’s racing trophies
The second floor sitting room, opening to the curved portico on the ocean front.
The Colonial guestroom on the third floor.
The depression took its toll on even the Stotesbury fortune. Mr. Stotesbury died in 1938, leaving a mere ten million—over a hundred million in today’s inflated dollars—barely enough to run three palatial households. Whitemarsh, the palace in Philadelphia, was shuttered and sold to a chemical company, Mrs. Stotesbury moved to Washington, and lived relatively quietly there and at Wingwood and El Mirasol, until her death in 1946. The forest fire of 1947 spared Wingwood, but burned its ten car garage across the street. The contents of Wingwood were auctioned, the house was eventually sold to a Carolyn Trippe, who could not afford it. Abandoned and overgrown by 1952, it was purchased by the Canadian National Railroad, who intended to use the site for a terminal for their ferry service to Nova Scotia. To appease the concerns of the town, the Canadian National originally said they intended to use Wingwood as the terminal and a hotel, but in 1953 changed their mind, issuing a statement that “no one is interested in maintaining these old palaces anymore” and Wingwood was demolished. It was followed a few years later by it neighbor to the north, Hauterive, with its Duveen drawing room, and lacquered dining room by Baron DeMeyer; replaced by a motel. A couple years later, the estate to the south, Sir Harry Oakes’s The Willows, was converted to a motel, its sweeping lawns covered with lodging units. The old Bar Harbor was gone.
The elaborate 80-room Wingwood produced a great deal of architectural salvage. Several of its decorative components can be seen on houses around Mt. Desert Island. A mantel showed up in a Christie’s sale. . Over the years the trumeau from the red hall, a pair of columns and a sofa, the mantel from the Apricot guestroom have all passed through my hands, and other pieces keep turning up in the marketplace, even 50 years later.
Pilaster capitals from exterior of Wingwood
As for Wingwood, this is the site today