The Elms – Mr. Berwind’s Bedroom and Bathroom

Mr. Berwind drew the short straw and occupied the smaller of the two bedrooms in the Elms mansion as his wife Sarah Torrey Berwind, got the larger corner room. I was shocked to see just how small the bedroom was for one of the richest men in the country, even if it was just a summer residence that they occupied for a couple months of the year! Mr. Berwind did have a small bedroom, but he spared no expense to furnish it well. The fireplace in his bedroom is of ox-blood marble with gilt bronze mounts. The walls are covered in red silk and the carpet is a late 19th-century Khorassan. His private attached bathroom contains a sink of translucent white onyx.

The Elms – Dining Room // 1899

The Dining Room of the Elms Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, is represents the Gilded Age in all the best ways. The room sits just off the ballroom and like all of the other rooms in the summer residence of the Berwinds, it was designed by famed interior designer Jules Allard. The dining room was specifically to display a collection of early18th-century Venetian paintings purchased by Mr. Berwind from the Ca’ Corner estate in Venice (the Berwinds were avid collectors of 18th century French and Venetian paintings). The iconic coffered ceiling is not of wood, but of molded plaster, grained and painted to imitate oak. Each coffer is decorated with the winged lion of Saint Mark, the patron saint of Venice. Pour custom-made crystal chandeliers hang in the four corners of the room. At the end of the room is a stunning green marble, agate and onyx fireplace that is framed by a ceiling-high pediment supported by carved Ionic columns. Could you see yourself entertaining in this dining room?

The Elms – Library // 1899

Merry Christmas from Buildings of New England!

To celebrate, I wanted to feature the library aka the “red room” in the Elms Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. The library is lined with high wainscoting and walls of inlaid walnut hung with red damask/fabric. The center table, fireplace mantel, and inlaid bookcases were all designed by Jules Allard, and the table in particular displays the exaggerated proportions and classical ornament typical of 16th-century French design. The mantel piece consists of white carved stone with the upper part of richly carved walnut. The room is one of the coziest in the Elms, one of the more refined and “homey” of the Newport Mansions open for tours. From this library, owner Edward Julius Berwind, would keep up with his growing businesses while away for summers in Newport.

The Elms – Ballroom // 1899

The Louis XV style Ballroom of the Elms Mansion in Newport sits just off the Stair and Gallery halls at the core of the building. This room was the scene of lavish parties, including the 1901 housewarming party hosted by the Berwinds to announce the formal opening of The Elms to Newport’s summer society. The large, 50’x45′ ballroom was designed by French designer Jules Allard crafted the Louis XV style paneling with plaster shell and floral ornament. The white relief decorations on the doors, paneling, and cornice are continued in an elaborate ceiling frieze and center medallion of winged cherubs. As a stark contrast from other Gilded Age mansions in Newport, the ballroom has very minimal gold gilding, besides the mirror frames on the wall. The muted cream and white colored walls with ornament show the sophistication and grandeur of the design, not gold.

The Elms – Stair and Gallery Hall // 1899

Stair Hall

Immediately upon entering the main entrance of The Elms, one of the finest Gilded Age mansions in Newport, you are enveloped in the Stair Hall or foyer. The space is stunning, with walls lined in limestone and purple Breccia marble pilasters and columns with bronze capitals and bases. The floors are of white marble bordered in green with stairs in white Italian marble. At the beginning of the stairs, there are two large urns of green marble and pink granite, each with four bronze female figures. The urns bear the name of the decorator, Allard et Fils of Paris, who was responsible for crafting the details of the period rooms for the mansion. At the top of the first set of stairs is the Gallery Hall, a long hall connecting many rooms on the first floor and also serving as a gallery of irreplaceable art including two early 18th-century oil paintings depicting episodes in the history Scipio Africanus, the ancient Roman general who conquered Carthage by Venetian artists Paolo Pagani and Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini. The space is grand, yet cozy and feels more like a home than the larger Breakers mansion.

Gallery Hall

The Breakers – Music Room // 1895

You know you’ve “made it” if you have a music room, especially if you have one in your summer mansion in Newport! The Music Room in The Breakers evokes the opulent Parisian interiors of the Second Period and when inside the room, you just feel sensory overload (in the best way possible. The room is located off the Great Room and Morning Room, at the southern end of the house. The Music Room was used for recitals and dances for the Vanderbilt Family and guests. The room displays ornate woodwork and furnishings designed by Richard Van der Boyen and built by J. Allard of Paris. The room looks like it was plucked out of a French building and dropped into the mansion, and that is because it was! The room’s interior was constructed completely in France and then sent to America where it was installed at The Breakers by French craftsmen. My favorite parts of the interior are the bay window at the end and the gilt gold coffered ceiling.

The Breakers – Morning Room // 1895

Possibly my favorite room in The Breakers mansion is the Morning Room, found on the first floor, just off the Great Hall and lower loggia. The Morning Room is executed in a late Renaissance style and faces east to catch the morning sun and provides sweeping views of the Atlantic. It served as a family sitting room at all times of the day. The interior design, including the fixtures, woodworking, and furniture, were designed by French architect Richard Bouwens van der Boijen and designer Jules Allard. The predominant grey, and gold colors of the Morning Room are echoed in its fireplace which is made of Campan marble. On the walls, you will find the most stunning shimmering silver wall panels, depicting ancient Greek goddesses. It was originally believed that these features were silver leaf, but the Newport County Preservation Society investigated further, determining it is actually platinum! The Vanderbilts clearly wanted this room to shimmer with the sunrise, so the use of platinum, which never tarnishes, was a great solution!

The Breakers – Dining Room // 1895

The Dining Room at The Breakers Mansion in Newport is straight out of a postcard! As you walk through the Great Hall into the Dining Room, you can imagine the high-quality 10-course meals served to the Vanderbilts and their wealthy guests. The two massive chandeliers always catch my attention first. The chandeliers are comprised of thousands of crystal balls and beads and were executed by Cristalleries Baccarat, the French glassmakers founded in 1765, but were partially designed by William Morris Hunt, the architect of the home, in the imperial pattern with a crown atop each fixture. Twelve free-standing columns of alabaster surround the room each with Corinthian-style capitals of gilded bronze, which seemingly support the edges of the vaulted ceiling. These columns support a massive carved and gilt cornice. The fireplace of the Dining Room is of carved and gilt grey marble; its hood is of a deep grey Cippolino marble, and it is amazing!

Frank Anderson House // 1906

One of the finest mansions in Nashua is the Frank Anderson House, a c.1906 Beaux-Arts style property on Concord Street. The home’s original owner, Frank Manning (1852-1925), co-ran the Estabrook-Anderson Shoe Company in Nashua, which at its peak, manufactured over 10,000 pairs of shoes daily. In 1925, the house was sold to New Hampshire’s seventy-fourth governor, Francis Murphy, a successful businessman. Most recently, the home was home of the Manchester Convent of the Sisters of Mercy, then became a private girls’ high school; and in 2016, it was purchased by Thomas More College. The home was given a full restoration in 2018.

At the exterior, the symmetrical home features red brick and Vermont marble trim. A hipped slate roof is accentuated by twin dormers. The interior was surprisingly well-preserved given its wide variety of uses, and local interior designers completed modern, but appropriate modifications to the spaces.

Gasson Hall – Boston College // 1913

The Boston College campus at Chestnut Hill represents the best of the Collegiate Gothic style in the Boston area.

Boston College was founded by the Society of Jesus in 1863, and is one of twenty-eight Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Originally located on Harrison Avenue in the South End of Boston, where it shared quarters with the Boston College High School, the College outgrew its urban setting toward the end of its first fifty years. A new location was selected in Chestnut Hill, then almost rural, and four parcels of land were acquired in 1907. A design competition for the development of the campus was won by the firm of Maginnis and Walsh, and ground was broken on June 19, 1909, for the construction of Gasson Hall.

Originally called the Recitation Building, then the Tower Building, Gasson Hall was finally named in honor of Father Thomas I. Gasson, founder of the Chestnut Hill campus. The building was designed by Charles D. Maginnis and built from stone quarried on the present campus. The style of the building and much of the campus can be classified as Collegiate Gothic. Gasson Hall was publicized by Ralph Adams Cram, who helped establish Collegiate Gothic as the prevailing architectural style on American university campuses for much of the 20th century.

At its interior, the Rotunda at the center of the building is a special treat to behold. A blending of different mediums of art including: architecture, sculpture, stained glass, and painted murals, the space is truly awe-inspiring. The dominant feature inside the rotunda is the large marble statue of St. Michael triumphing over Satan. The art piece was commissioned by Gardner Brewer, a Boston merchant for his great hall in his Beacon Hill house. Brewer hired Scipione Tadolini, a renowned sculptor in Rome, and he (along with his assistants) turned a massive block of the finest Carrara marble into the epic battle between good and evil. The piece was eventually purchased by Boston College when they envisioned it to be placed in their Rotunda.