Also up at the sale is this Creil transfer ware tray and 4 matching pot de cremes. I purchased them, along with many other pieces of Creil, my favorite china, at the estate sale of one Mary Meeker Cramer, a Chicago meat packing heiress, whose architect husband Ambrose had been an associate of the great David Adler. The Cramers had just the sort of taste one would expect of associates of David Adler. Stylish. I’d love to see that sale come by again—but enough about the past.
For almost the entire 400 years since the White Anglo Saxon Protestants took New England from its rightful owners, its houses have been restless and on the move. The first settlers were constantly moving buildings. During the Revolution residents of Castine, Maine who preferred the rule of a mad king took their houses apart, loaded them on boats, and removed houses and selves to St. Andrews in New Brunswick. In 1845, Elizabeth Prince Peabody described a house moving she witnessed in Danvers, Massachusetts. “The building came along slowly, drawn by yokes of oxen. Every yoke had a driver beside it with goads, hurrying them with a ‘Hush-whoa’. It seemed as though there were 20 or 40 yoke of oxen.”
Coastal dwellers and boatmen looking out to sea in mid-coast Maine in 1925 might well have rubbed their eyes in disbelief at the surprising sight of a tall stately house floating by on the horizon. This is the story of what they saw:
The curving main stairway was reversed, a back stair removed, and the hall extended through the house, that the ocean might be seen from the front door. Wings were added to the sides with large living and dining rooms, a gun room, ladies reception room, dressing rooms, bathrooms,, and an extensive service wing with the usual assortment of kitchens, pantries and servants rooms. For more old material, an 18th century house in Harpswell was purchased and demolished for woodwork for several rooms, including a paneled breakfast room. Mr. Dodge was a connoisseur of singular and bold taste, and he furnished the house fearlessly in the best Colonial Revival idiom of the day.
Woodwork was carefully glazed to appear antiqued. Fragments of original wallpapers were reproduced in their original bright colors. One room was papered in an orange swag pattern paper, with orange and green drapery to match. Painted floors and bright hooked rugs contrasted with the elegant furnishings.
The new dining room, with woodwork copied from the similar Kavanaugh house in Damariscotta Mills, was particularly fearless. It featured a scenic wallpaper in blues with accents of red and orange, and the carpet was a Brussels woven in blues and oranges, for which Mr. Dodge had the original factory re-opened. Each room, like Henry Davis Sleeper’s Beauport, had collections of accessories chosen for their color impact and light reflection.
Darling Reggie, I mean, Reggie Darling, requested more photos of the shop from time to time, and herewith I amuse you with some of the junque that passes through. His exact request included the comment that it gave such good insight into my fevered mind…..oh dear…be careful what you wish for….
This was going to be a ‘Houses I Dream About’ post, but I have driven myself half mad trying to find the exterior photos that I know I have of this exquisite house to no avail, so we will consider the interiors instead.
Arvid Knudsen, a Norwegian born antiquarian of exceptional taste, built Duck Creek at the edge of a salt marsh in Old Lyme Connecticut in 1940. The house passed from Knudsen to his friend, connoisseur and dealer, J.A. Lloyd Hyde, who was one of Henry Francis DuPont’s chief advisors at Winterthur, supplying him with much of the Chinese Export materials there. The house is a testament to the power of architectural salvage. Knudsen bought the New London post office, then being demolished, and had the materials trucked to Old Lyme, where he incorporated them into an elegant small Adamesque pavilion. The house had few rooms, followed a rigid classical aesthetic, and depended on the quality of its furnishings and proportions for effect.
Born in Blue Hill in 1887, Chase is considered one of the heirs to the literary tradition of Sarah Orne Jewett, and indeed is one of the best of the Maine novelists. She puchased Windswept, located near the end of the world between wild blueberry barrens and the ocean on Petit Manan Point at Steuben, Maine in 1940, and there wrote nine of her books. Built in the 1920’s, the simple cottage is classic Maine, low, shingled, with simple shutters, and many small paned windows to let in the light from the sea. A big living room with fieldstone fireplace anchors two wings, one with kitchen, the other with bedrooms, forming a sheltered courtyard at the entrance.
She is considered by many literary critiques to be second only to Sarah Orne Jewett in her ability to capture the history and particular atmosphere of the coast of Maine and its people. The isolated cottage provided Ms. Chase with the tranquility and isolation she needed to write, and in turn it also provided the inspiration for the setting of ‘Windswept’ (1941), her best-selling novel about immigration and integration in old settled Maine communities.”