Harkness Estate – Eolia Mansion // 1908

Eolia, the Harkness Estate, sits on the shoreline of Waterford, Connecticut and is significant as one of the most complete grand-scale, seaside estates in Connecticut. Similar to Seaside Sanatorium (featured previously), the Harkness Estate is another Connecticut State Park in the coastal town, but is quite opposite as the buildings and grounds are in much better condition and get use! The property was developed as a formal seasonal retreat and working farm in the early 1900s for William Taylor and Jessie Stillman, until it was purchased by Jessie’s sister Mary and her husband Edward Harkness soon after. Edward S. Harkness (1874-1940) spent most of his life managing, with his older brother Charles, a tremendous fortune built up by their father Stephen Harkness, who had had the foresight in 1870 to become John D. Rockefeller’s business partner by investing in the Standard Oil Company. Edward Harkness married Mary Stillman, daughter of wealthy New York attorney Thomas E. Stillman, in 1904. Mary’s maternal grandfather was Thomas S. Greenman, a shipbuilder in Mystic, Connecticut, who co-founded George Greenman & Co shipyard (now part of the Mystic Seaport Museum). As the centerpiece of this summer estate, the premier NY architectural firm of Lord & Hewlett, designed this stunning Renaissance Revival mansion which holds a whopping 42-rooms. Mary hired female landscape architect Beatrix Farrand to design the absolutely stunning gardens on the grounds. In 1918, Edward Harkness was ranked the 6th-richest person in the United States, and the couple decided to give away much of their wealth, including selling off some of their property in Waterford for Camp Harkness for children with polio. Mary and Edward were very private people who avoided public attention and acclaim, unlike many of the rich of today. Mary Harkness’s final gift, was written in her will, that her beloved estate Eolia, would be gifted to the State of Connecticut.

Stay tuned for some more buildings on this stunning estate!

Clement Studebaker Jr. Summer Residence // 1915

This magnificent coastal mansion embodies historical elegance in Rye Beach, NH. Built in 1914-15 for Clement Studebaker Jr., the Studebaker Estate is one of the most elegant and most recognized residences on the New Hampshire coast, and among the best preserved. The Colonial Revival home is clad with shingle siding with two strong brick end walls. A solarium runs along the ocean-facing facade with ample glazing and delicate woodwork which presents a welcoming presence to passing motorists. Clement Studebaker Jr. was an American businessman and the son of wagon, carriage and automobile manufacturer Clement Studebaker. He held executive positions in the family’s automobile business, Studebaker Corporation. The Studebaker summer residence was recently sold, and the interior photographs are amazing!

George L. Allen Summer Residence // c.1895

This massive summer “cottage” in Rye Beach, NH, was built around 1895 for St. Louis businessman George L. Allen. The massive Colonial Revival home features a gambrel roof with a series of gabled, hipped and shed dormers to break it up. A circular driveway would have allowed visitors for Great Gatsby-esque parties to get dropped off by their driver and enter right into the home’s large stair-hall. The most stunning facade is the rear, which faces a lawn with views out to the Atlantic Ocean. A full-length porch on the first floor sits recessed under the floor above to provide shelter from the harsh summer sun. Sadly, the mansion has seen better days and appears to be a shadow of its former self. Luckily, almost all of the historic windows remain and the home can definitely be saved. Fingers and toes are crossed to see this beauty preserved.

Susan Lord House // 1913

This home was built in 1913 and is a high-style Neo-Classical example of a “beach cottage”. The home is located in the fashionable Rye Beach colony in New Hampshire, which developed in the mid 19th century through the first half of the 20th century as an exclusive enclave for vacationing elite. The home was purchased by Susan Bailey Lord just years after its completion as a summer retreat from her home in Malden, MA, just outside Boston. She purchased the home just years after the death of her husband, who was thirty years her senior. It’s safe to say that Susan let loose up on the beach and had a “hot girl summer”.

Tower Cottage // c.1880

Located in the Foss Beach section of Rye, NH, this Victorian summer cottage stands out among the later new construction of lesser detailed and quality late 20th century homes seen here lately. The home, known as “Tower Cottage” was built at the end of the 19th century and exhibits Victorian Gothic elements with a massive center tower. The steep wood shingle roof is punctuated by two rows of delicate dormers which add detail and views to the ocean. The massive wrap-around porch is also a must for such a prime location fronting the Atlantic Ocean!

Lougee Cottage // c.1880

This house was built and first occupied by George G. Lougee, owner and proprietor of the Sea View House Hotel (demolished) across the street. Before building his own hotel, Lougee was a clerk at the Atlantic House, another summer resort. Lougee eventually worked his way up and ended up managing that hotel. Lougee’s success managing the Atlantic and later, the Farragut, enabled him to pursue his own enterprise and build his Sea View Hotel. When Lougee sold the Sea View hotel, he also sold this house with it. His former Stick style home was then converted to additional rooms at the hotel until it closed in the 20th century.

C. A. Brown Cottage // 1886

Located just south of Portland Head Light, on the rocky ocean shore of Cape Elizabeth, is the settlement called Delano Park, a group of summer cottages, many of which were designed by iconic Maine architect John Calvin Stevens. Arguably the most significant and interesting is this Shingle style cottage, completed in 1886 for Charles A. Brown of Portland as a summer home. The cottage, sits atop a fieldstone foundation that are the very color of the ledges out of which the building grows. The walls above the are of shingle, “untouched by paint, but toned a silvery gray by the weather” as Stevens noted in his writings. Stevens was a master in siting his designs perfectly into the existing landscaping, and by covering all of the home with shingles, Stevens created an unembellished, uniform surface, which celebrates the honesty of its form. The home originally had a wood shingle roof, finished with a green stain. The home remains extremely well preserved by the owners and showcases the Shingle style of architecture brilliantly.

Honey Fitz Summer House // 1900

Before the Kennedy compound on Cape Cod where the political Kennedy Family summered, there was this house in Hull, now known as the ‘Honey Fitz’ summer house; named after John F. Kennedy’s maternal grandfather, John F. Fitzgerald, who owned the property. Fitz, the former mayor of Boston, would holiday at this home in the summer months with his wife Mary and six children Frederick, John Jr, Eunice, Thomas, Mary and Rose, who would go on to marry Joseph Kennedy and raise the political dynasty; The Kennedys. After Rose’s marriage to Joe Kennedy, she would return to the home with her children in the summer months, including the future president John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Rose Kennedy’s family often rented a smaller cottage on the peninsula for their family, but would always visit the big house for family dinners. Joseph Kennedy, who soon ended up being extremely wealthy, later bought a summer house in Hyannis, and the rest is history. This early Tudor mansion, with its stately proportions, stands out amongst the shingled cottages in Hull, fitting for the Kennedy dynasty.

Tanglewood // c.1865

The 200-acre campus of Tanglewood, where the Boston Symphony Orchestra spends its summer months, spreads the grounds of two historic summer cottages in the charming town of Stockbridge, MA. One of the summer “cottages” Tanglewood, where the music center gets its name, was constructed around 1865 for Caroline Sturgis Tappan, husband William Aspinwall Tappan and their two daughters, Ellen Sturgis Tappan and Mary Aspinwall Tappan. Mary, with her niece Rosamund Hepburn, donated the family summer home, Tanglewood in 1937 to Serge Koussevitzky, a Russian-born conductor, composer and music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1924 to 1949. The campus has since grown astronomically as it hosts musicians and tourists from all over the region and globally to experience the arts in the charming town in the Berkshires. The Tanglewood house retains much of its historic architecture and siting, overlooking the Stockbridge Bowl (lake).

Marion Nichols Summer Home // 1935

This summer estate in Hollis, NH epitomizes the hidden architectural splendor that can be found off the beaten path in many small New England towns. Hollis began serving as a summer destination in the late 1880s and the trend continued until WWII. In many cases, old family homesteads became summer residences for descendants who had moved to the city but desired to return to their “roots” periodically. The Nichols Home is unique in Hollis as it was designed to be a summer retreat for a well-to-do widow and her considerable servant staff, combining all the comforts available with the advantages of a rural retreat. The design of the main house offers separate living spaces for the family and the servants, including a library, living room and dining room for the use of the family. The servants’ wing was designed to include a two-car garage, a butler’s pantry, a manual dumbwaiter connecting the basement and first floor used to transport fireplace wood and a receiving unit for the delivery of milk, groceries and other goods. Sleeping porches, capitalizing on the benefits of the fresh country air, are an integral component of the house design and are included in both the family and servant wings. The home was designed by the Boston architectural firm of Densmore, LeClear & Robbins, who were hired by the 52 year old widow’s children for their mothers’ summer home. It is said that Ms. Nichols never liked the home and decided to summer instead at the old family summer home down the street.