‘Mountain Aqua’ // c.1882

Located near the base of Pleasant Mountain in Denmark, Maine, you’ll find this stunning Victorian house, possibly the best example of Queen Anne architecture in town. Down the dirt road, you can imagine how shocked I was to stumble upon this beauty set back off the road, overlooking the White Mountains in the distance. The house was built around 1882 for the Warren Family, descendants of one of the first settlers in the town. Caleb Warren Jr., is likely responsible for this house, which served as a base lodge for the hotel once located at the summit. In 1845, Caleb Sr. built the first guesthouse atop the 2,200′ mountain, which was purchased just years later by a Joseph A. Sargent. Sargent converted the old hotel into a bowling alley and built a new hotel at the summit. That structure burned to the ground, and was replaced in 1873. The buildings at the summit were eventually purchased and demolished by 1908 when the mountain was sold to the Appalachian Mountain Club. Mountain Aqua would have served as a base lodge for the mountaintop hotel, and was a place where visitors could depart by foot or wagon to the summit. Mountain Aqua appears to be a single-family home today.

Sunnylea // 1881

One of the best Queen Anne style summer cottages in Newport is this gem, named Sunnylea. The house was built in 1881 for Charles F. Chickering, who ran the Chickering & Sons Piano Company in Boston. Chickering hired local architect Dudley Newton, who had previously apprenticed under George Champlin Mason, a builder of many Newport summer houses. Sunnylea was the first independent commission that Newton designed with his own firm. The house was later owned by Luther Kountze, a New York banker and his wife Annie. After WWII, the home was converted away from single-family use, and was occupied as a prep school, before being converted to condos late in the 20th century. It recently sold, and wow, the interior is just as beautiful as the exterior!

The Reefs Mansion – The Bells // 1885-1963

‘The Reef’ a fabulous Gilded Age estate in Newport was built in 1885 for Theodore M. Davis by the Boston architectural firm of Sturgis and Brigham. The elegant shingle and stone Queen Anne villa was erected as both a summer house and to house some of Davis’s vast collection of paintings and Egyptian artifacts, collected during his excavations in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings between 1902 and 1913. Besides the architecture of the home, the Reef Estate was also famous for its walled gardens, greenhouses, and outbuildings, sitting upon eighteen acres. overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Following Mr. Davis’ death in 1915, Milton J. Budlong of Providence purchased the estate. Milton divorced from his wife Jessie in 1928, and it was MESSY. Their Newport summer estate was placed in contention. The house, never again lived in by the family. During World War II, anti-aircraft gun emplacements were set up around the grounds, with the mansion housing gunnery personnel. After the War, the estate was given back to the Budlong heirs, who did not reside there. Vandalized throughout the 1950’s, the villa was set on fire in 1961 and demolished two years later in 1963. In 1969, the waterfront property came under the control of the State of Rhode Island and in 1976, became a state park. The old carriage house/stable and a later observation tower (possibly converted from a former water tower) stand today.

The Old Breakers Mansion // 1878-1892

For my last post on this series on The Breakers in Newport, I wanted to highlight the original Breakers mansion. Built in 1878, the original Breakers was equally as significant, but a completely different style architecturally. The Breakers was constructed for Pierre Lorillard IV (1833-1901), a tobacco manufacturer and thoroughbred race horse owner from New York. In 1760, his great-grandfather, and namesake of the family company, founded P. Lorillard and Company in New York City to process tobacco, cigars, and snuff. The ‘cottage’ would serve as a summer retreat for Lorillard and his family for the summer months. The home was designed by one of the premier architectural firms in the country at the time, Peabody & Stearns, who specialized in high-style country estates. In 1885, Lorrilard used his family land in Orange County, New York, to lay out a new residential colony as a playground for New York’s wealthiest residents during the summer months. The colony is known as Tuxedo Park. He sold The Breakers to Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1885 and the family would summer in the massive Queen Anne style estate for just seven years until a fire destroyed the home. The detached children’s cottage (also designed in 1878 by Peabody & Stearns) survived the fire and remains on the site. The Vanderbilt’s decided to erect a fireproof house immediately, and the result is the massive limestone mansion we can tour today.

The Breakers – Children’s Cottage // 1878

While the Breakers Mansion in Newport is one of the most opulent buildings in the United States, a tiny cottage on the grounds always gives me feelings of whimsy. Predating the larger mansion by two decades, this cottage was constructed on the grounds of the original Breakers House, owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt, which was destroyed by fire in 1893. The cottage was built as a children’s playhouse around the time the original Breakers mansion was built in 1878. The Boston architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns built the mansion and adjacent cottage for Pierre Lorillard IV, a New York cigar manufacturer and millionaire. The Queen Anne Revival style elements, including the half-timbering and shingles and asymmetry, were in keeping with the style of the original Breakers, and complimented it well. My favorite part of the cottage is the open porch facing the ocean, which has four wooden posts, carved in the shape of figures from Dutch folklore, a sort of caryatid, supporting the roof. The house contains a living room and kitchen separated by a huge red brick chimney, which would be maintained by servants for the children while they play.

Calvert-Marin House // c.1845

In 1843, George Henry Calvert (1803-1889) and his wife Elizabeth Steuart moved to Newport, Rhode Island from Maryland, not long after built or purchased this home. George was the son of George Sr. a plantation and slave-owner in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Maryland. His plantation house, Riversdale plantation, also known as the Calvert Mansion, built between 1801 and 1807, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997. From his wealthy upbringing by unsavory means, George was able to attend Harvard and spent time travelling to Europe. There, he met poets Goethe and William Wordsworth. He lived in Baltimore and served as editor for the Baltimore American, the largest local paper in the city. He worked on poetry and eventually moved to Newport, RI, possibly seasonally. This home was built in the Gothic Revival style for Calvert and his family. Years later, he was elected Mayor of Newport. Calvert hired Fannie Jackson Coppin as a servant for the household. Coppin was born a enslaved in Washington D.C., but gained her freedom when her aunt was able to purchase her at the age of twelve. She went on to become an advocate and leader in Black education. Historic maps show two properties owned by the Calvert’s. A nearby building, presently 38 Kay Street was possibly built as a barn or stable for the Calverts. This home was purchased in the 1880s by Captain Mathias Candelaris Marin, a sea captain who fought in the Mexican and American Civil wars. Marin likely modernized the Gothic House, adding the shingle siding and large Queen Anne additions to the rear. The Marin Street at the side of the house is named after him.

Soudant House // c.1850

This eclectic house in Collinsville was likely built in the mid-19th century in the Greek Revival style, with its gable roof serving as a pediment. By the end of the 19th century, the prominent corner tower with mansard roof and porch were added to create the oddly pleasing composition we see here today. The home was likely altered by Walter Soudant, who ran a grocery store in the village out of the Valley House (last post). Walter’s daughter, Belle Julie Soudant, was an established singer, who toured Europe before accepting a position as a singing teacher at the Institute of Musical Art in New York, known today as the Juilliard School.

Benjamin Case House // 1888

This large Queen Anne Victorian house in Canton Center was built for Benjamin Franklin Case (1861-1931), a banker and businessman who incorporated the town creamery. He made his fortune harnessing the rural character of the village, creating the Canton Creamery, where farmers could package and sell their dairy products to the rapidly growing communities nearby. Case was credited as bringing the telephone to town, with his office in his home serving as a switchboard room. He is also known as the first person in town to own an automobile. After his death, the property was used by his daughter Ruby as a vacation house. After WWII, she realized it was too much house for her to upkeep, and she converted the single family home into apartments.

Swedenborgian Church of Lancaster // 1881

This beautiful old building was constructed in 1881 in Lancaster, MA as a Swedenborgian Church. The congregation in The United States has always been much smaller than other prominent religions, but Lancaster had a sizable group of believers. Some wealthier residents bankrolled for a new church building, which would and could not compete with the Unitarian Church designed by Charles Bulfinch. Architect Francis Ward Chandler from the Boston firm of Cabot & Chandler designed the modest, yet beautiful building in the Queen Anne style. The congregation died off and in 1923, the building was purchased by members of the Current Topics Club, seemingly a debate and social club in town. The old church sold in 2020 as a residence.

Founder’s Hall // 1883

The centerpiece of of Atlantic Union College‘s campus in Lancaster, Massachusetts, Founder’s Hall is significant not only for its architecture, but as the oldest educational building constructed for a Seventh-day Adventist school in the United States. The school was constructed in 1883 as South Lancaster Academy, the school was established Stephen N. Haskell, an elder of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church. Haskell financed the school by floating a stock issue of $75,000 among the 15,000 Adventists of the time. Wood for the building’s construction was cut locally and much of the labor to build it was donated without charge. The architectural firm of Barker and Nourse designed the Queen Anne/Stick style building. South Lancaster Academy changed names, first to Lancaster Junior College, and then to Atlantic Union College, the name which it retains today. The building is presently used as administrative offices.