Bella Vista Villa // 1908 //

Designed to resemble the stone houses of Italy, this home in Chester, Connecticut stands out among Colonial-era homes in the region. The home was designed by the owner, Ila Howard Stone (1870-1931), known to many as “Madame Pierre”. Although she was the ex-wife of a reverend, and not a trained architect, she designed this massive estate to house her lavish parties and many suitors.

After her divorce (which was almost unheard of for a reverend and his wife), Ila recreated herself as Eila Pierre “Madame”. She was viewed as promiscuous and a modern day feminist, who affronted small town sensibilities in her modern Italian Villa mansion.

The home was constructed by at least five masons and laborers who immigrated from Italy. Some of the laborers even constructed the Gillette Castle across the Connecticut River.

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