A Down East Dilettante—an antiques dealer, a bit ADD, whose enthusiasms jump around architecture, design, landscape, style, history, arts, and more. Occasionally amusing, more often amused.

19 thoughts on “About”

  1. Hi there,

    I found your blog during a Google search for Polhemus & Coffin. I certainly found your “Will the real La Lanterne please stand up” quite interesting. Strange that the reference is made as far back as I can find, even as far back as within a few years after Champ Soleil was completed. Although I am not certain Polhemus & Coffin officially cited Lanterne as a reference source, much less THE inspiration, Who knows though?

    My grandfather is Lewis Augustus Coffin, Jr, partner in Polhemus & Coffin. I’ve recently discovered that 2 of the books they published prior to 1923 are being republished in a manner that is quite disturbing, and re-acquiring copyright protection is nearly impossible. So i’ve undertaken a rather interesting project to reclaim control of one of their most reputed books, Small French Buildings.

    Please take a look, as you might find the project pretty cool, and possibly worth writing a blog entry.

    Normandy, Google Books Scrapers and 3 Coffins


    -Tristram Coffin

  2. Somehow, this message eluded me until this evening—-so sorry. By some very odd coincidence, I happened to borrow a copy of Small French Buildings from the University of Maine Library last week. It is a most beautiful book—I hadn’t looked at in years and had forgotten. Gorgeously conceived and printed. I can well understand your distress at having it republished less than well. While looking through it, I found a couple of houses with details that were obviously the sources for similar details in Champs Soleil. It always fascinates me to track an architect’s sources. Clearly the central entrance pavilion of Champs Soleil is from La Lanterne, as are the french windows flanking it, but just as clearly, the massing of elements, and other individual details are from other sources, as handsomely combined by your ancestor.

    • Hi there, not sure hot to contact you directly, but I am wondering if you have more pictures of Guy’s Cliff?

    • Sorry, this seemed like the only way to contact you. I lived in Bar Harbor from 1979 to 1991. I did extensive research on the old Bar Harbor cottages. Your article about Mrs Henning’s cottage ‘Air Castle’, I think was later ‘Mizzen Top’ after a great deal of remodeling. Mizzen Top had two big octagon like structures on either side of the rear of the house. It was close to the roadway. You can just make out the rear octagon structure in your picture as well as the veranda that was on the north side of Mizzen Top.

      • No,”Mizzentop” was always “Mizzentop”, from the time it was built for Mrs. William Morris Hunt in the early 1880s. It was purchased around 1895 by Robert Hall McCormick, who enlarged it to the two octagonal towers you note. “Air Castle” was just north of, and downhill from, “Mizzentop” on Cleftstone Road. “Air Castle” was sold by Mrs. Henning to W.W. Seeley , who renamed it “Hillhurst”

  3. Greetings,

    While going through some old family pictures, I came across an actual postcard of the yacht Vanda. This ship appears on your website and indicates it was built for E. B. Dane in 1929. The postcard belonged to my grandfather – on the back are the words “D. L. McIntire” and below this “Yacht Vanda”. I thought this might be of some interest to you. If you would like, I can scan the postcard so you can see it.

    Best regards,

    George Jones

  4. Theresa Mattor said:

    Greetings! You have a fascinating site here — I’m enjoying reading it very much. I’m working on a historic landscape project for The Cultural Landscape Foundation in Washington, DC (but I live in Hollis, Maine). Here’s the link: http://tclf.org/landscapes/about

    Would you consider giving permission to post some of your photographs of the Alfred Village Green? Please drop me a note if you have a chance. Thanks very much!

  5. Dear Dilettante,
    I’m assuming no offshoot of the Dilettanti Society of London. Anyway, I just found your blog while doing research on Ogden Codman. Brilliant!! You may love your antique business, but you should be teaching! I wish I’d had you as a lecturer instead of the nerd (I’m being kind, he’s much worse) we’ve got. I’m from Boston, summer on Peaks, and in London getting an MA in Decorative Arts and Historic Interiors (specifically the “long” 18th century English and French). Other degree from New York School of Interior Design. Am starting research on dissertation. I’m convinced Edith had nothing to do with the Dec. of Houses other than typeset, and although Codman is known for the French side I’m going to try and prove he had English influences as well. It is documented Belton House in Lincolnshire, England was the precedent for The Mount, I don’t think he drew that out of thin air. If you have any thoughts, as you’re about to go into mud season, would love to hear from you. I will, of course, credit you with any information….maybe you’ll decide to start teaching 😉 I return to Maine mid-August and, based on your blog, will go see the Moffatt-Ladd house. Like I said, Brilliant! All the Best, Lesley

  6. Hi– I have a query and a minor correction: I’m thrilled that you wrote the piece as there is very little available about the house. I’d love to know where you found that image from Putnam–I can’t find it online and would love a bigger version for my family archive–can you send me a reference? Also, Mizzentop was owned by Louisa Dumaresq Perkins Hunt (my GGgrandmother) not “Sarah Hunt” as you state in the opening lines of your blog about the house. Thanks so much and thanks for the fun blog! –Alice

    • Dear Alice,

      I hope this catches up to you—the blogging message system is such that I do not always see messages when they are fresh—in fact, this only just caught up with me in a roundabout way. The Putnam image was from ‘Building’ Magazine, Vol. III, No. I, October 1884.

      Images of Mizzentop do seem to be scarce. If this reaches you, please email me at downeastdilettante@live.com, and I will send you some sources.

  7. I am interested in your Beatrix Farrand post — wonderful. I lived at Dartington, for which she designed the gardens, and am researching the history of Dartington’s founder Dorothy Elmhirst, your post was a brilliant source of Farrand material — thank you.

  8. Stephen Conrad said:

    Dear Down east Dilettante,

    I found your blog because in one you mention Elizabeth Drexel Dahlgren Lehr later Lady Decies, whose early portrait by ADOLFO MULLER-URY (1862-1947) you mention and illustrate. I am researching and writing a book and trying to compile a catalogue of this artist’s work – a distillation of which is in his Wikipedia entry which I have enormously expanded from 4 inaccurate lines.

    No artist was as much in High Society in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, having been dubbed by the US Press as “Painter to the 400”, and yet there is still a sense that American scholars and collectors, and historians have overlooked his work. Some portraits are at Newport, mainly Havemeyers, and some are in the ANPG in Washington, one is in the White House, but there seems to be a sense that nobody KNOWS about him, and yet he KNEW everybody and painted most of them.

    Can you help me in some way, please, to get some more of his work seen, even if they are mainly sepia images from the time? It would be grateful for anything you might do, as I find it hard to believe there are not descendents of his sitters in the Hamptons, Oyster Bay, New York and the eastern seaboard of the US who are not still in possession of pictures by him. Many thanks in advance.


    Stephen Conrad MA FRSA
    Art Historian

  9. will you continue this blog? it’s wonderful

  10. You need to understand the style of writing that works on the website and get to know what type of subject garners the most attention. The prerequisites of running your own blog are first and foremost purchasing your own domain name.

  11. Dear Dilettante are you on Instagram by any chance?
    elizabeth – hisbateauherchateau

  12. Annemarie Quin said:

    Thank you for this wonderful blog site.
    How does one buy your book if your proper identity is unknown?
    Kind regards,
    Annemarie Vickers Quin

  13. penny sparke said:

    Please could you let me know how I could get permission to reproduce some of the elsie de wolfe showroom images that you show on your site in an article I am about to publish?

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