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Historic NEW ENGLAND

PRESENTED BY THE SOCIETY FOR T H E P R E S E RVAT I O N O F NEW ENGLAND ANTIQUITIES SUMMER 2007

SLEEPER’S ADVENTURE WITH COLOR


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FROM THE PRESIDENT

What would New England be like without its historic houses? The character of a place develops over time, with new layers added by subsequent generations. We appreciate the mature trees, individualized design, diverse styles, and meandering roads and pathways that are signs of old neighborhoods. Sometimes immediately visible in our New England communities, but sometimes buried under later changes, are buildings 350 years old. Historic New England cares for some of the most important surviving seventeenth-century properties, but others remain in private care. Rooted in the past while at the same time present in our midst, these buildings contribute to our sense of place and the feeling that there is longevity to a community and its stories. This year marks the bicentennials of Rundlet-May and Nickels-Sortwell houses and the centennial of Beauport, the SleeperMcCann House. How readily they could have been lost if steps had not been taken by people dedicated to their care. We celebrate Members’ Month in June to recognize your support of Historic New England’s efforts to protect the broad scope of the region’s architecture, landscapes, artifacts, and visual record.

Historic NEW ENGLAND Summer 2007 Vol. 8, No.1

Henry Sleeper’s Adventure with Color 2

Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman 16

S P OT L I G H T

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Festive Fundraising Y E S T E R DAY ’ S H I S TO RY

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Preserving Aviation History

—Carl R. Nold

M A K I N G F U N O F H I S TO RY

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Colorful Artwork 12

P R E S E RVAT I O N

The Porch in New England OPEN HOUSE

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Two Ports in a Storm Historic New England 141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702 (617) 227-3956 HISTORIC NEW ENGLAND magazine is a benefit of membership. To join Historic New England, please visit our website, HistoricNew England.org or call (617) 227-3957, ext.273. Comments? Please call Nancy Curtis, editor at (617) 227-3957, ext.235. Historic New England is funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Executive Editor Diane Viera

Editor Nancy Curtis

R E C R E AT I O N

MUSEUM SHOP

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The Historic New England Book Store N E W S : N E W E N G L A N D & B E YO N D AC Q U I S I T I O N S

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Research Zigzag

Design DeFrancis Carbone

COVER The view from the Strawberry Hill Room into the Belfry Chamber creates drama with contrasting colors at Beauport, Sleeper-McCann House, in Gloucester, Mass. Photography by David Carmack.

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Golf Tees Off in Massachusetts

Except where noted, all historic photographs and ephemera are from Historic New England’s Library and Archives.

V I S I T U S O N L I N E AT

w w w. H i s t o r i c N ew E n g l a n d . o r g


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S P O T L I G H T

Michael Dwyer

Festive Fundraising

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he second Historic New England Benefit Auction Gala was held on January 5 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston. With the enthusiastic encouragement of guest auctioneers, Leigh and Leslie Keno, the 250 guests bid on items such as a week in the English countryside, lunch with Martha Stewart, fine vintage wines, private dinners in exclusive places, and special getaways. The gala raised more than $270,000 to support educational and outreach programs in the greater Boston area, such as those serving more than six thousand inner-city students through the Pierce House Program in Dorchester. A historical footnote to the occasion was the fact that this was the last event held in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel ballroom prior to the hotel’s new incarnation as The Taj.

Sarah Gilbert

Michael Dwyer

Michael Dwyer

Sarah Gilbert

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ABOVE RIGHT Historic New England President Carl R. Nold welcomes guests. ABOVE LEFT Robert Radloff and Ann M. Beha. BELOW LEFT Auctioneers Leigh Keno and Leslie Keno with gala co-chairs Victoria DiStefano and Susan Sloan. BELOW CENTER Jenny Seeman and Barbara Alfond. BELOW RIGHT Martha Hamilton, Sally Miller, Catha Hesse, and Anne Kilguss. Summer 2007 Historic New England

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Henry Sleeper’s

Adventure with Color

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David Bohl

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Celebrating its hundredth anniversary this year,

this magical seaside home continues to glow with carefully arranged color.

B

eauport, Henry Davis Sleeper’s masterful creation in Gloucester, Massachusetts, is awash in an

eye-popping array of antique objects—the decorating medium he preferred—and brilliantly arranged with a designer’s flare for volume and space. In every room, Sleeper’s imaginative palette dazzles the senses. In the 1920s and early 1930s, admiring articles in decorating magazines helped put Beauport on the map and propel Sleeper's professional career as a much sought-after interior designer. Nancy McClelland, a leading New York decorator at the time, trumpeted his style in both picture and print, calling Beauport “one of the loveliest Colonial houses that I know” and a work created “with the keenest appreciation of color.” What was the secret of Sleeper’s success? Behind the riot of hues, he manipulated color with a gifted eye and an artist’s precision. He understood the color wheel and the prism-like

relationship between primary and secondary colors. His skillful use of harmonious and complementary hues underpins everything at Beauport. Monochromatic collections of glassware, pewter, silver, and ceramics make for spectacular displays and add wide brushstrokes of color to rooms fitted out in harmonizing wallpapers, painted paneling, and furniture. Hooked rugs, fabric treatments, and upholstery in complementary tones provide contrast and texture. Decorative ceramic doorknobs, tooled leather bookbindings, polychromed prints, and tinted light fixtures punctuate Sleeper’s rooms with subtle dabs of color that lock the arrangements into an artistic whole. Once complete, these arrangements In the Belfry Chamber, wallpaper, paneling, rugs, textiles, and glassware in shades of green and red form strong color contrasts. Sleeper used similar tones of red and green to create dramatic transitions between rooms (see cover). ABOVE Beauport grew with its interiors, evolving from simple cottage to rambling castle over the course of twenty-seven years. The cornerstone was laid on October 12, 1907. FACING PAGE

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A blue lambrequin contrasts with pumpkin pine woodwork in the Master Mariner’s Room. Shades of brown carry through many of Beauport’s rooms. BELOW Primary colors —red, blue, ABOVE LEFT

rarely changed, and when they did, the alterations preserved or enhanced the established color scheme. Sleeper assembled his rooms around dominant colors. The Chapel Chamber, created in 1911, uses forest green woodwork, celery- and olive-tinted wallpaper, and apple-green glassware to establish a single dominant tone. Subtle colors in bed hangings, upholstery, and rugs, some no longer extant, add pattern and warmth along with contrasting tones of red—the hue opposite green on the color wheel. A chair’s mulberry-tinted covering, a cupboard’s magenta-pink lining, and a vase’s display of apple blossoms or pink dogwood help electrify the air. Sleeper gave special attention to the relationships between adjacent rooms. Pine floors, stained to a rich dark walnut and waxed to a high gloss, predominate. A few of the earliest rooms dating from 1908 feature a continuous run of warm brick pavers originally finished in a soft powder rose with mortar joints stained to match. Waxed now to a dark brown, these bricks unify the space, while contrasting subtly with sage-green paneling and wallpaper motifs. Other wood-work painted in various shades of brown estab4

Historic New England Summer 2007

and yellow— are evenly distributed around the color wheel. Harmonious colors lie adjacent; complementary colors fall opposite. ABOVE RIGHT This 1928 view of the Chapel Chamber by

lishes logical progressions between rooms and provides neutral backgrounds for many of the collections. Shades of milk chocolate provide natural foils for harmonizing reds, yellows, and greens or contrasting tones of periwinkle and blue. Later rooms done in pumpkin pine paneling, such as the Master Mariner’s Room, continue the brown theme. Bold contrasts between adjoining rooms create some of Beauport’s most exciting effects. Sleeper’s second wave of building between 1910 and 1915 transformed the exterior and introduced many of these striking contrasts. His “color combinations,” as he called them, use hues from opposite sides of the color wheel to create “some logical relation to the rooms as to color, and perhaps make them a little more cheerful.” Orange taffy tones in the original South Gallery contrast with aqua-blue wallpaper and glassware in the room next door. In another pairing, straw-yellow bookcases set off pale lilac wallpaper. Vermilion and black lacquered wallpaper in the Strawberry Hill Room, awash in ruddy tones from strategically placed colored lampshades, frame apple-green woodwork in the adjoining Belfry Chamber. The theme of


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William B.E. Rankin, England’s master of interior illustration, preserves the room’s original color scheme. Varying shades of green contrast perfectly with soft pink. ABOVE Rankin’s view

contrasting red and green was one of Sleeper’s favorites, and it pervades Beauport. In building a room, Sleeper would choose a dominant color from among the materials he collected, which could include objects, historic wallpapers, and salvaged woodwork. During World War I, while working in France with the American Ambulance Field Service, which he helped create, Sleeper acquired a cache of red toleware, around which he designed the Octagon Room. “I am planning to make a new room at Gloucester,” he wrote to his Boston friend and kindred spirit Isabella Stewart Gardner of Fenway Court. “The new room will be octagonal in shape (22 feet square) & all my red painted tin in it—that I brought back from France— of course I have all the details visualized & am enjoying it accordingly.” A second collection of amethyst-colored glassware, assembled at the same time, introduces the adjacent hue on the color wheel. To this mix, Sleeper added a floral print fabric of crimson peonies on a ground of deep maroon, repeating the red-purple combination while introducing various accent colors. Aubergine walls (now faded to a lustrous charcoal) provide a contrasting backdrop for yellow-hued maple furniture. Reddish light, cast from crimson awnings by day and purple silk lampshades by night, reflects off vermilion

of the Octagon Room captures its original palette of crimson, maroon, plum, and violet.

toleware and leather-bound books to amplify the lacquered effect. To move from this Aladdin’s cave into the brightly lit Golden Step Room, with its tones of white, emerald, and seafoam green, is to experience Sleeper’s love affair with red and green at its most dramatic. Sleeper chose shades of color that added the patina of age to his house and its arrangement of antiques. The rooms he created were neither new interiors nor period rooms; they evoke rather than recreate earlier times. Nancy McClelland, who wrote extensively about Beauport, described the way Sleeper collected “old paneling from everywhere and studied with great care the various layers of colors that were revealed as the paint was lifted off.” Chocolate brown, robin’s egg blue, sage green, apple green, cream, golden brown, pale primrose, pumpkin yellow, dull dark rusty red, gray—these were discovered on salvaged woodwork that found its way to Beauport. The colors, McClelland gushed, “are used in this great rambling house so intelligently that they produce effects that never existed in old houses, although all the elements were there and nothing has been added except taste and knowledge of how best to use it.” In many ways, Sleeper’s approach to decorating fits squarely into the larger canon of interior design sweeping Summer 2007 Historic New England

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Europe, England, and America at this time. Taking his cue from eighteenth-century English antiquarians like Horace Walpole and late nineteenth-century taste makers like Oscar Wilde, Sleeper joined others in discovering a new sort of beauty in objects plucked from the past. With this came a freedom to collect whatever delighted the eye. Engravings, kitchen pewter, redware, glassware, and countless other goods from everyday life rose to the level of art and provided fresh design ideas. Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman’s collaborative work, The Decoration of Houses (1897), argued persuasively for a new, simpler aesthetic, which emphasized past precedent, architectural restraint, intrinsic beauty, and clarity of arrangement not seen since the 1830s. Although Codman and Wharton’s penchant for all things French contrasted starkly with Sleeper’s preference for Americana, the three of them nevertheless believed in the quality and decorating potential of antique things. Changing fashion, which also drove the decorating marketplace into which Sleeper ventured in the 1920s and 1930s, imposed its own tastes. The phrase “pleasing decay,” notes English design historian Stephen Calloway, describes an early version of shabby chic. This style, which favored pickled furniture and stripped woodwork similar to Beauport’s pinepaneled rooms, found wide appeal among Sleeper’s clients. Similarly, the early twentieth-century craze for red lacquer and everything Chinese explains much about the creation of the Octagon Room and the China Trade Room at Beauport. By 1931, one noted decorating magazine reported that dark colors were “the latest thing, to be seriously considered if new work is to be done,” and drove home the point with a photograph of the plum-colored Octagon Room. In the age of coal, taste makers also cautioned against light interiors, calling white rooms “an extravagance” and warning that most white paint “turns yellow in sunlight.” Notwithstanding the problems with white paint, technical advances in paint and dye manufacturing at the turn of the twentieth century had begun to make possible an astonishing array of colors in paints, textiles, and wallpapers, which allowed designers to experiment as never before. If the correct shade could not be found off the shelf, Sleeper had it mixed to match. For client Caroline Sinkler, he delivered a weather-beaten shingle to Samuel Cabot’s of Boston, with instructions to match the color precisely. His most important paint-matching jobs were entrusted to the American Painting & Decorating Company, also of Boston, with whom Sleeper maintained a long and fruitful relationship. When he failed to find the exact fabric he needed, he often sent a comparable article to the shop of Wood, Edey, and Slayter of New York City, who, “from long and intelligent business adventure,” Sleeper explained, knew “pretty well what can and what cannot be done as far as dyeing or other such matters are concerned.” 6

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David Bohl

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The exceptionally well-preserved painted wallpaper provided Sleeper with inspiration for the China Trade Room. The Chippendale-style mirror was one of the few McCann family changes to Sleeper’s interiors. CENTER Purple lampshades harmoABOVE LEFT

In late-Victorian and Edwardian society, colors were also freighted with meaning, and these associations were widely understood. Black meant mourning, of course, and white signified purity and life. Green, the color of leaves and often used in conservatories and garden rooms, represented nature. Blue, the color of the sky and the sea, suggested refreshment and purification, and was a natural choice for rooms overlooking the shore. Sleeper’s original scheme for his terrace furniture included Windsor chairs and tables painted robin’s egg blue. Purple was linked to royalty and imperial power, while violet meant love and truth. The Octagon Room, at once the most formal and the most intimate of spaces, derives some of its effect from the meanings behind these tones. Brighter colors also suggested daylight activities, appropriate for breakfast rooms or salons. The easterly facing entrance hall, with its cream-colored walls, was designed originally as a breakfast space. The Golden Step Room, the only white-walled room in the house, became the morning room of choice in later years. Light-colored rooms also carried feminine associations; a tiny music room with pale wallpaper that Sleeper designed for his mother corresponded to the Victorian ideal of the woman’s domestic sphere. Darker hues suggested evening, restfulness, or thoughtful contemplation.


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nize with plum tones in the Octagon Room. FAR RIGHT Light from the huge sliding window in the Golden Step Room fills the dining hall with a cool aqua glow that contrasts starkly with the darker tones of the adjoining Octagon Room. BELOW Henry Sleeper,

c.1930. His short professional career from 1920 until his death in 1934 included some fifty-two known commissions, representing experiments in color well beyond those at Beauport.

A green-walled room, facing west and overlooking the harbor, was Beauport’s original location for evening meals. Darker rooms were also often associated with masculine pursuits. Beauport was, after all, intended as a retreat for Harry and his two older brothers, as well as for his mother. “Dark walls,” wrote one Sleeper admirer, “especially in blue or green, are the most restful backgrounds known. Men nearly always like them. They have a certain richness and stability, appealing to the mind that distrusts femininity and fragility even in color.” Beauport continues to project the passion of its creator. An exchange of letters between Sleeper and Henry Francis du Pont makes apparent the breathless, almost giddy pleasure with which Sleeper approached his work. Du Pont admired Beauport and engaged Sleeper to do design work for him. The correspondence describes Sleeper’s encounter with a rug. “By fantastic chance,” he wrote, “the colors seem to be extraordinarily like our scheme— which in an old oriental rug does not often happen…Day light is pretty poor in Tiffany’s rug room, but I gave it, by daylight and artificial light, the best test I could by taking pieces of the curtain, lambrequin, and paint color, with me. If the rug does go, as I believe it will, it will ‘make’ the room…I hope from my

instinct and adventure with color that I have hit the mark.” After Henry Sleeper’s death in 1934, Beauport was purchased by Charles and Helena Woolworth McCann, who preserved the house virtually intact before their children donated it to Historic New England in 1942. When Henry du Pont learned of the McCann purchase, he wrote Helena offering his congratulations. He described the house as “a succession of fascinating pictures and color schemes,” and cautioned her against changing the designs. “Naturally the minute you take things out of the house,” he wrote, “or change them about, the value of the collection does not exist, as really the arrangement is 90%.” Thanks to this advice and the McCann family’s generosity, Beauport begins its second century much as it did its first: as an inspiration to others. —Philip A. Hayden Mr. Hayden, a history consultant, has studied Beauport and Sleeper extensively.

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Y E S T E R D A Y ’ S

H I S T O R Y

“Patience was at last rewarded when Sunday morning the Herring-Burgess bi-plane made three flights from the aviation field at High Sandy Beach, Plum Island…it was demonstrated by Messrs. A.M. Herring and W. Starling Burgess that success had been scored and it was possible to soar high when it was desired.” —Newburyport Daily News,

Courtesy of the Plum Island Aerodrome

Newburyport, Massachusetts, April 18, 1910

Preserving Aviation History t was only six years and four months after Orville and Wilbur Wright made their historic first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, that Herring and Burgess brought aviation to Plum Island, a small barrier island north of Boston. The fields along the Plum Island Turnpike have been used by pilots ever since. Today, the nonprofit Plum Island Aerodrome, Inc., operates a small airfield on thirty-four acres of land owned by Historic New England at the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury, Massachusetts. The area’s significance in the history of New England aviation is relatively unknown, as are the pioneering roles played by Augustus Moore Herring and W. Starling Burgess. Truly an innovator, Herring began experimenting with gliders in the 1890s. In 1896 he collaborated with the “Father of Aviation”

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Octave Chanute on a biplane glider that was among the first pre-Wright aircrafts to leave the ground. Eventually, Herring teamed up with Burgess, who owned a shipyard in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and had studied engineering and architecture at Harvard, bringing both technical knowledge and boat-building skills to the partnership. At the first Boston Aero Show in February 1910, the duo introduced their first product, the Herring-Burgess Model A biplane. On February 28, with Herring as pilot, the Model A took off from frozen Chebacco Lake in Essex, Massachusetts, and flew 360 feet at an altitude of about thirty feet—the first known airplane flight in New England. Herring and Burgess sold their original Model A immediately following the

flight and began work on an improved version. The revised HerringBurgess Model A was taken by ferry from the Burgess shipyard in Marblehead to nearby Plum Island for its early morning inaugural flight on April 17, 1910, which was reported the next day in the Newburyport Daily TOP RIGHT The Massachusetts North Shore boasts a little-known but important aviation history. Here, the Herring-Burgess Model A biplane takes flight over Plum Island in April 1910. ABOVE CENTER Aviation pioneer W. Starling Burgess, a contemporary of the Wright brothers, received the prestigious Collier Trophy in 1915 recognizing the role he played in the growth of U.S. aviation.


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News. By 1911, the Model A was sold to Joseph C. Shoemaker, who continued refining its design until it was capable of flights as far as nine miles. In 1961, the Herring-Burgess biplane was donated to the Smithsonian Institution. After several partnerships, Burgess operated his business on his own, eventually attracting the Wright brothers’ attention, who licensed the company to build Burgess-Wright aeroplanes. In 1915, Burgess was awarded the prestigious Collier Trophy for the greatest progress in aviation in the preceding year. Use of the Plum Island airfield for private flights and aviation exhibitions continued sporadically through the early 1900s. The first documented use of the airport at its present site on the Plum Island Turnpike occurred in 1926, the same year that the United States Army Air Service reportedly designated it an emergency landing field. Activity at the site quickly grew. In the mid1930s, Johnnie Polando began offering passenger service, airmail flights, and pilot training at the Plum Island airport. Polando and his colleague Russell Boardman were well known by fellow aviators as the team who held the longdistance flight record for their non-stop New York-to-Istanbul trip in 1931.

The airport was used extensively by the Civilian Pilot Training Program until 1942 when all civilian airports within 25 miles of the coast were ordered to close. During World War II, the Coast Guard and a small Civil Air Patrol unit began using the Plum Island airport. Polando left to serve in the Army Air Force, but his partner Warren Frothingham remained to operate the airport for the next two dozen years. The Plum Island airport operation changed hands again in 1966, and continued to offer pilot training, aircraft maintenance, parcel delivery, tie-down services, and scenic flights. In August 2006, local resident Stephen Noyes fulfilled a childhood dream and became operator of the Plum Island airport, under a lease from Historic New England. Noyes, who has been flying since he was fifteen years old and holds a degree in airport management, grew up down the street from the airport. As president of Plum Island Aerodrome, Inc., he is working closely with Historic New England and the community to share the airfield’s rich local history with the public.

Courtesy of Lawrence Frothingham

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Collecting twentieth-century objects and properties is an important component of Historic New England’s ability to fulfill its mission—preserving and presenting New England’s heritage from the seventeenth century to the present. To effectively tell the region’s stories to future generations, we must have the foresight to care for and document history as it is being made. Early twentieth-century automobile advertisements in Historic New England’s Library and Archives speak to such foresight. They were collected when new by founder William Sumner Appleton, who never learned to drive but understood their historical significance. Recording the aviation stories of the Plum Island airport is another example of preserving and sharing our twentieth-century heritage, as is welcoming visitors to Walter Gropius’s 1938 home in Lincoln, Massachusetts, one of Historic New England’s most visited properties. Mid-twentieth century architecture is threatened by tear-downs. Landscapes evolve and change, and designs from the recent past fade away from neglect or lack of understanding. Historic New England’s commitment to preserving twentieth-century buildings, landscapes and collections will ensure that the stories of all eras of New England heritage can be told to future generations.

—Diane Viera Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Long-time Plum Island airport manager Warren Frothingham and his son Everett in a Piper J-2 Cub, late 1930s. LEFT

ABOVE

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Plum Island Aerodrome president Stephen Noyes and a volunteer crew recently repaired the asphalt surfaces and repainted the Plum Island runway designation. Summer 2007 Historic New England

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M A K I N G

F U N

O F

H I S T O R Y

Do you like to m ? ake c k r o tw o r l a o e a l l r r f u s n ' about Let the history of some of our favo rite e s i l ! art supp

 



Colors 1780

Around 1820

1841

1885

1893

Watercolor pigments, compressed into small, hard blocks, make coloring more accessible

Colored pencils introduced

Metal paint tubes invented

An early coloring book, The Little Folks Painting Book, is published

Toy company founder Milton Bradley writes a series of popular children’s books about colors

do you know 

Can you guess h ow this is used?

This is a palette, used for mixing colors. You squeeze watercolor paints into the round compartments, then mix the paints with water on the flat surfaces to get the exact hue you want. This palette is about one hundred years old and is made of porcelain. Ones just like it are still being made today.

Did you kno w th 10

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at you can make every color in the rainbow blue, and white? st red, yellow, u j h t i w


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fun color facts

• Human beings have been making pictures since before recorded history. Prehistoric people drew pictures on cave walls using pigments they made from red, yellow, and brown earth. The cave pictures are the oldest paintings in the world. Artists used to have to get their colors from natural sources— animals, vegetables, and minerals. Here are some materials they used to make bright colors: Red—cochineal beetles from Central and South America Yellow—cow urine, from cows fed entirely on mango leaves (from India) Blue—lapis lazuli, a valuable blue stone, crushed into a powder Purple—snails (from the Mediterranean Sea) White—lead



• By the nineteenth century, scientists discovered ways to make colors using chemicals rather than natural sources. One of the first man-made colors was mauve, a shade of purple, invented by eighteenyear-old William Henry Perkin. • Finger paints were invented in 1931. Elementary school teacher Ruth Faison Shaw got the idea when she sent a student to put iodine on a cut and later found him painting with iodine on the bathroom walls. • According to a study on smell by a Yale University scientist, the scent of a Crayola crayon is one of twenty smells most easily recognized by American adults.

d wnloa o d o t s r Visit www.HistoricNewEngland.org/kids/colo oloring book. pictures to color or to order our c

1903

1950s

1953

1967

1980s

Crayons invented and sold by Binney & Smith

Paint-by-number kits become popular

First felt-tipped markers sold

Lite Brite, a toy that makes pictures with glowing colored plastic pegs, introduced

First drawing software for computers developed

color sudoku Color the empty squares so that each row, column, and six-square section contains all the colors of the rainbow—red, yellow, orange, green, blue, and purple.

Answers can be found on page 23. Summer 2007 Historic New England

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P R E S E R V A T I O N

In one form or another, there has been a porch at the eastern end of Historic New England’s Lyman Estate, The Vale, in Waltham, Massachusetts, since the early nineteenth century.

David Carmack

RIGHT

The Porch in New England ecollections of summers past in New England evoke memories of time spent on a porch enjoying the breeze, a pleasant view, and good conversation. In seventeenth-century New England, only the ambitious home of a prominent citizen would feature a porch—usually a simple, enclosed entrance projecting from the main façade, with an unheated chamber above. When a leisured merchant class emerged in the eighteenth century, it became common for homes of the elite to include a summerhouse — a room covered by a roof, screened with louvers, latticework, and vines, and sited a short distance from the house as a cool retreat. These detached structures were the precursors of the nineteenthcentury porch or outdoor living room.

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Architectural historian Hugh Morrison suggests that the open-air attached porch first appeared in the Boston area just before the American Revolution. In 1771, John Singleton Copley commented that he planned to add a “peazer” (piazza) to his house on Beacon Hill to provide a cool escape in the summer months and protection from storms in the winter. At the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, the formal columned entry portico, which recalled the temples of antiquity and reflected the status of the homeowner, became a defining feature of Federal and Greek Revival architecture. In New England, these porticoes were used predominantly as embellished entryways rather than as places to sit. It was the writings of the landscape designer and taste maker Andrew

Jackson Downing that spurred the widespread popularity of the porch as an outdoor living space. In books written between 1841 and 1850 containing plans for homes in the Gothic Revival and Italianate styles, Downing wrote about the importance of the porch as an extension of the home into its natural surroundings. He and other writers promoted the medicinal benefits of fresh air for good health. Porches remained popular throughout the rest of the nineteenth century and were added to older houses as well as included in the designs for new homes, hotels, hospitals, and sanitariums. Advances in millwork production made possible wide varieties of turnings for railings, brackets, and other fanciful adornments. Many late nineteenth and early twentieth-century homes also included second-story


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sleeping porches, which were often used year round. Gradually the porch came to resemble a Victorian parlor, furnished with an array of furniture and accessories ranging from straw mats, castiron plant stands, swings, rockers, wicker suites of furniture, shades made of cloth and reeds, and canvas awnings. Wood elements were painted to complement the exterior of the house; decking was usually gray and ceilings a light sky blue. Trellises, window boxes, and potted plants completed the porch’s decoration. In the years following World War II, living habits changed. Television drew people off the porch and into the living room; the noise and exhaust of passing automobiles caused families to retreat to backyards and patios. As porches came to be seen as unnecessary

appendages in need of paint and upkeep, they were frequently removed to simplify home maintenance, or, in some cases, to restore a home back to an earlier appearance. It is important to perform routine maintenance on porches to prevent the need for costly future repairs. Carefully inspect the roofing material and flashings at the juncture of the porch and the house and secure or replace failing elements to prevent water from entering the building and damaging the framing members. Clean and inspect gutters and downspouts at least twice a year to ensure roof water is being directed away from the porch and house. Structural and decorative wood elements, including decking and stairs, should be kept painted. Replace damaged elements with new parts that match the wood species, dimensions,

and profiles of the originals. Monitor the framing and footings below the porch for movement or decay, and repair or replace them in-kind as necessary. Regular preventive maintenance can ensure protection of this important feature of your home’s history and character. —Joseph Cornish Senior Stewardship Manager

A twentieth-century screened porch overlooking the Annisquam River in Gloucester, Massachusetts. LEFT Porch furnishings at the Codman Estate, Lincoln, Massachusetts, in the early twentieth century. BELOW At the c. 1675 Ross Tavern in Ipswich, Massachusetts, a two-story entrance porch projects from the front façade at right. ABOVE RIGHT

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O P E N

H O U S E

The battle between the USS Constitution and the HMS Guerrière was an early success for the United States in the War of 1812. During the mêlée, the Constitution earned her nickname “Old Ironsides.” This depiction of the fight is one of a series of prints, all with their original frames and glass, purchased by James Rundlet after the war to decorate his new home.

LEFT

Two Ports in a Storm n the spring of 1807, James Rundlet of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Captain William Nickels of Wiscasset, Maine, each began construction of a fine mansion. Nickels started by moving an older house to a back street to make room on a small lot in the center of town for his imposing house with its elegant façade. Rundlet built his somewhat less ornate mansion on the outskirts of Portsmouth, on a sizeable plot featuring a terraced rise above the street and impressive gardens, an orchard, and open land behind. As work on the two structures progressed during the summer of that year, neither man suspected the financial turn of fate that would soon be dealt to New England. In the early nineteenth century, Europe’s Napoleonic wars tempted New England merchants willing to provide goods and ships to both England and France with risky but potentially lucrative trade opportunities.

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As hostilities progressed, both England and France began to seize American vessels in order to pressure the young United States to join the conflict. This practice, coupled with the British habit of impressing American sailors into the Royal Navy, enraged New Englanders, who were heavily invested in transAtlantic trade. President Jefferson, loath to involve the New Republic in the European conflict, looked to preserve America’s neutrality. Finally, in response to New England’s outrage at the super powers’ disregard of American sovereignty, Jefferson pushed for an embargo. Passed into law on December 22, the Embargo Act of 1807 prohibited American exports to all foreign ports. The embargo was a devastating blow to the New England economy and a new source of outrage for the merchants it crippled. Nickels, then treasurer for the town of Wiscasset, was one of six men chosen by the town to draft an official anti-embargo petition

to Jefferson, which stated “the advantages of Active Commerce would forever overbalance all the losses to which it is exposed,” a statement that reflected the feelings of most New England merchants after the act was passed. Resulting financial hardships pushed Nickels into a series of legal battles to recoup pre-embargo shipping losses; the last of these cases was finally settled in 1906 with a payment to his heirs. In 1812, war broke out with England. That same year brought personal tragedy to Nickels with the deaths of his wife and daughter. In later years, the family blamed the expense of the house, which drained Nickels’ capital during these troubled times, for his financial downfall. Nickels’ son reflected that his father “was not prepared to withstand the gale, his Barque was stranded on the shores of misfortune and folly, and its crew had to leave the wreck and seek shelter in an unfriendly world.” In 1815, Captain Nickels died


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of consumption. His estate was auctioned off to pay his debts, leaving his children dependent on the merciful charity of family and friends. Many Portsmouth merchants were likewise harmed by the embargo and the war, but not James Rundlet. As an importer, Rundlet specialized in manufactured English fabrics, which he sold at his store on Market Street. His business relied on the profits earned in retail and wholesale sales, with little dependence on risky exports and shipping ventures. The dearth of imported goods during the embargo allowed Rundlet to take advantage of the inflated values of the stock he had on hand. During the War of 1812, he invested profitably in privateering and managed to secure government contracts to supply woolen uniforms. Like the Lowells and the Cabots of Boston, he was able to diversify by investing in

the domestic textile industry. The war was thus a financial boon to Rundlet; he purchased a series of prints depicting its major battles and hung them in the house. The elegant dining room was hung with imported English paper and furnished with a dining set possibly purchased at the estate sale of Samuel Ham, a Portsmouth merchant whose ruined finances drove him to suicide in 1813. Rundlet’s wise investments sustained his lifestyle and helped his children live comfortably through the nineteenth century. The 1807 embargo was repealed in 1809, days before the end of Jefferson’s term, and replaced by the Non-Intercourse Act, which restricted trade only with England and France. Neither act had the desired effect of crippling the British economy and maintaining America’s neutrality, merely devastating New England’s

economy and forestalling war with England. For many merchants, the early nineteenth century was the end of a golden age. For others like Rundlet, who learned to ride the wave of disaster, it was the opening of a new chapter in New England’s economic history. —Peter Michaud Special Projects Director, New Hampshire Division of Historical Resourcess

Rundlet-May and Nickels-Sortwell houses are open for tours on the first and third Saturdays of the month, 11 am to 4 pm, June 1 through October 15. Admission free to members of Historic New England.

David Bohl

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David Bohl

The ornate façade of the Nickels-Sortwell House, inspired by the pattern books of Asher Benjamin, sits prominently in the village of Wiscasset, Maine. ABOVE RIGHT The Rundlet-May House stands on

ABOVE LEFT

what was once the edge of downtown Portsmouth. The substantial landholdings around the house extended not only to the two acres of surviving gardens but also to a sizable lot of land across the street, giving the house the air of a country manor. RIGHT The dining room of the Rundlet-May House.

David Bohl

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Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman Co-authors, Comrades, and Connoisseurs —Eleanor Dwight

E d it h

Wha

r to n

R e s to

r a ti o

n A rc

h ive s

, The

Mou

nt

A teacher and biographer, Ms. Dwight is author of Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life.

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PAGE Ogden Codman, Jr., c. 1887, and Edith Wharton, c. 1904. THIS PAGE Frontispiece by Henry Hutt from Newport, Our Social Capitol, by Mrs. John King van Rensselaer, 1905. FACING

Friendship became a catalyst for creativity as Codman and Wharton began their professional lives in the mid-1890s.

orrespondence between Ogden Codman, Jr., and Edith Wharton, and between Codman and his mother—much of it preserved in Historic New England’s Library and Archives—trace the arc of friendship between two creative people. When Codman and Wharton met in the mid-1890s, Ogden, or “Coddy,” scion of an old Boston family who had grown up in France, had recently returned to Boston to study architecture. Talented and foppish, he was determined to make his way as an architect for the rich. Edith, a society woman in a loveless marriage, was then in her early forties and had recently published a handful of stories. They were each coming into their own and took delight in their shared passions for architecture, house decoration, and travel. They also found that they shared attitudes toward the sumptuous lifestyles of the rich in the Gilded Age. It was in Newport, Rhode Island, that Ogden Codman and Edith and Teddy Wharton began to see each other. Codman had been visiting there since 1884 and had opened an office in 1891. When Edith and Teddy were moving into their new place, Land’s End, Ogden helped Edith decorate it.

C

Fond of the same eighteenth-century European styles as she was, he became a regular, and with Teddy made up a threesome. With his talent and his familiarity with France, Ogden saw things differently from the elite of Boston, Newport, and New York. His family was no longer as wealthy as they had once been, but their social position was secure, and he viewed their country house in Lincoln, Massachusetts, Historic New England’s Codman Estate, as a touchstone of good taste. He cared very much for social position—who people were, and where they came from. Aware that he needed to make a living, he assessed all his clients’ fortunes and knew everyone’s incomes. But he was also a gifted, hardworking man, keen to use his ideas to design beautiful houses. Edith had spent summers in Newport since she was ten, after her family returned from a six-year sojourn in Europe. She was already “in” with the socially prominent families from New York and Boston who spent the hot months by the ocean in their rambling houses in the 1870s and 1880s. When she and Teddy set up housekeeping there in the late 1880s, the town was changing, fast becoming the showy resort of the super rich. She knew the Vanderbilts, the Astors, and other wealthy families with both “old and new money” who were transforming the town; she observed what they were doing and recorded it in her fiction. Her prodigious reading and interest in European travel set her apart from other Newport socialites. Her view of society was similar to Ogden’s—they saw themselves

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both inside and outside at the same time, commenting on society and feeling slightly superior to it, being talented professionals as well as social players. The social scene was indispensable to their work, but they regarded it with irony. In redoing the Whartons’ new place, Codman put his love of French decoration to work. The house was large and ugly. (It had been designed in 1864 by Codman’s uncle, John Hubbard Sturgis, for Samuel G. Ward.) Dark and over decorated, it presented a challenge to the couple, who stripped it down and filled it with handsome furniture that Wharton brought back from Italy. The architect and aspiring writer created tasteful rooms with walls painted in light colors so that the lines of the rooms, the views, and the new furniture could be appreciated. Codman continued to help Wharton with Land’s End for several years and later with her little house on Park Avenue in New York. She wrote him from Milan in 1895 telling him that she was bringing back glass panels and furniture for the new house. “I do hope you will be an angel and have the room ready and the paint dry when we arrive.” In 1897 she exulted, “The library is a real pleasure to us both & we consider it a perfect success.” And she teased him and regaled him with in jokes in a letter from Paris, “We shall be in Newport on June 9th, & oh, won’t you catch it if the glass verandah isn’t ready…. All I can say is that if on the 9th of June, I stumble over paint pots and carpenter’s benches in stepping into my glass verandah for afternoon tea, the W. Starr Millers will be merciful in their comments on you compared to what I shall say. I shall give out that you design all Vernon’s furniture for him, that you built Mrs. Admiral Baldwin’s house, & that it was you who inspired the F. Vanderbilt hall & billiard room!! & if that doesn’t blast you, I’ll withhold from you all the Mantua photographs and give them to Father Newton!!!!” Even before Land’s End was completed, Edith Wharton helped Ogden get the commission for two floors of bedrooms at The Breakers, where he used his ideas about eighteenthcentury architecture to tone down the lavish ambiance of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s great palace. He was thrilled to get this commission. As he reported to his mother, “Who do you suppose I have for a client? Teddy Wharton told me today that Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt wants to see me at his office at 11:30 tomorrow to talk about his Newport house and he wants me to do part! Just think what a client!! The richest and nicest of them all… I am going to thank Mrs. Wharton who brought this about.” Although Ogden was working for the Vanderbilts, he and Edith were not above criticizing them. She wrote to “Coddy” on May 1, 1897, that “Teddy hasn’t yet rallied from the effect of the

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Whitney house. It must indeed be a ghoul’s lair. I wish the Vanderbilts didn’t retard culture so very thoroughly. They are entrenched in a sort of Thermopylae of bad taste, from which apparently no force on earth can dislodge them.” And while the Vanderbilts were clients for Codman, they were also material for Wharton’s fiction. As she reported to her friend Sally Norton, another Europeanized American who shunned extravagance, in the late 1890s, “The Vanderbilt entertainment was what you say—but for a novelist gathering documents for an American novel it was all the more valuable, alas! Daisy Chanler summed it up when she said that she doubted if ‘so much money had ever been spent on a fête without producing one single effect of beauty.’” While Wharton was writing about the lavish but empty life and the fortunes and the greed they generated, Codman was experiencing some conflicts about money himself. He told his mother that everyone was nice to him “because CV is backing me but it is pleasant all the same.” He recognized that the Vanderbilts were like the nobility in Europe and could open many doors for him. “Mr. V. drove me down to look at my office yesterday (It is much the same as dining with the Prince of Wales or a very good Duke).” Codman described a telling incident in his rooms in New York City, when his best client came to talk business, “I have just had a very successful day. The Vanderbilts came this morning—My scrub woman did not and Mr. V. came before his time & found me making my bed, which looked frugal. Mrs. V. came later and we decided lots of things.” Although Codman was always rating his acquaintances as to how common or tasteless or how nice and rich they were, his feelings toward Edith Wharton were genuine, “I wish she would come home, she is not easy to replace. Certainly she is the cleverest and best friend I have ever made—and I owe all this to her—I must say I think I have profited by her advice and it must be a pleasure to her to see it.” He was always grateful for Wharton's help in getting him “in” with the sort


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he admired—the rich who could profit by his taste, and whom he could profit from. Codman and Wharton both felt that being useful to each other was part of friendship. Besides introducing him to her friends, Wharton advised him on how to handle clients, at one time cautioning him, “I don't want you to get into the way of shirking small jobs for big ones. If you only would believe me when I tell you it’s bad policy! The people who give you small jobs are always the ones who are on the lookout for being shirked, & they require to be ménagés much more carefully than the millionaires—witness the Millers & Lispenard Stewart. It’s no use to say—oh, but such poor clients aren’t worth while. People who are not worth while directly may be so indirectly, & you can never tell, till afterwards, what a small job may bring you in the way of big jobs, nor, on the other hand, what incalculable harm the dictum of a dissatisfied client may do you behind your back. I shall always preach this at you, as long as we are on speaking terms; for I know that success lies in this direction.” While Codman was grateful for Wharton’s advice, he was very frank in describing her to his mother, noting her dominating personality and frequent ailments. Wharton, for her part, was grateful for what Codman gave her—he was a kindred intelligence, a partner in projects, and someone who could understand and appreciate the way she saw the world. Wharton’s letters to Codman often have an insistent, bossy quality to them which suggests her need for his advice and attention. Sorry that he can’t come to Land’s End on a Saturday in early summer, she coaxes him “Can’t you take the late train from here to Boston, dine there, & reach Lincoln late? or why not go to Lincoln on Sunday? or Monday? or Tuesday? Perhaps this may not have occurred to you?” In addition to sharing her interests in architecture and decorating, and talking about their schemes to get him clients, Codman could also appreciate Wharton’s love of travel, which served as an antidote for her general dislike of the Newport social season. A wonderful letter of June 1896 records her delight, “We have just come from Turin, where we found some of the richest ‘pickings’ of the whole trip, & where we made an expedition out to Stupinigi, the royal hunting lodge built by Juvara during every moment of which I simply groaned for you—I wish I could give you an idea of it. Outside it is a charming small palace, with a central dome (like Vaux-le-Vicomte) surmounted by a splendid bronze stag. In the center under the dome is an immense ballroom, four stories high, with music galleries entirely decorated in very bold frescoes, in the style of the Villa Rotonda at

Vicenza.” They walked through at least thirty rooms, and she found that “The Louis rooms are especially splendid; a whole suite with walls hung in delicate embroidered silk, with screens, furniture coverings & bed-curtains to match, & such mirrors, & such consoles!” And she finished, “In short you can picture nothing more gay, pimpant & charming than the whole suite of rooms—Versailles, though of course much grander does not compare with it, to my view, in charm & suggestiveness.” She knew that he would enjoy the description, and she ended the letter, “I don't apologize for this long story for I think it will interest you.” They did see each other in Europe too, and that same year were in France together, at Versailles. He wrote to his mother how he liked to spend all his time observing architecture, the wonderful châteaux, and houses, and he spent even more time in the museums than Wharton did. While Wharton oversaw Codman’s career and described European sights, Codman watched her evolving taste, noting that it had improved since the decorating of Land's End. He wrote to his mother in 1897, “Her New York house will be a great success… Just what I have always wanted to do myself. I never saw anyone learn so quickly as she has, she gets very different things from what she did when I first knew her.” So much did these two see eye to eye on matters of style that they decided to write a book together. The result was The Decoration of Houses, written because they felt that good taste was missing in America. Wharton, with her strong personality, took charge of the project, but since she respected Codman, and he was very fussy, she presented his ideas and her own clearly. She often scolded and prodded him to keep things moving along; she did the writing, putting the principles into her graceful literary style. She also managed tedious matters, like indexing, contacting the publisher, and worrying about reviews and advertising. Codman reported on their writing the book in early 1897, “We have now written about 100 pages. Mrs. Wharton is a great help, and is very much interested. She takes my notes and puts them into literary form, and adds a good deal out of her own head. I think it will be a very interesting book and much easier reading than most of the books in my library. It is so very amusing to see my ideas in a literary shape.”

Cornelius Vanderbilt’s house,The Breakers, Newport, R.I. Postcard, early twentieth century. ABOVE Frontispiece designed by Daniel Berkeley Updike for the first edition of The Decoration of Houses by Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman, Jr., 1897. FACING PAGE

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The book’s thesis is that beautiful interiors are the result of architectural decorating. Total remodeling of rooms is often necessary, for superficial cosmetics—merely changing the furniture or curtains—seldom suffice. Since the inside of the house is as much a part of its organic structure as the outside, its treatment should be based on proportion and balance. Rooms should be useful as well as beautiful. They wrote the book to counteract accepted decorating practices. As Wharton said later, architects considered interior decoration “a branch of dressmaking” and “left the field to upholsterers, who crammed every room with curtains, lambrequins, jardinieres of artificial plants, wobbly velvet-covered tables littered with silver gew-gaws, and festoons of lace on mantelpieces and dressing tables.” Since childhood, Edith had been dismayed by the taste of her class. Instead of learning good principles during their European tours, New York matrons returned home with cheap imitations of “old masters” and “a few monsters in the way of modern Venetian furniture” for their narrow brownstone rooms, in which “Salvator Rosas and Domenichinos gloomed so incongruously.” In The Decoration of Houses, the writers point out that Italian Renaissance architecture was ideally suited for court spectacles, but that the style perfected by the French is more appropriate to the way we live now. The anti-American, antinouveau riche sentiments that Wharton and Codman express arose out of their contempt for the architecture of the Gilded Age. Codman wrote about the work of Richard Morris Hunt, with whom he had worked on The Breakers, “The Gerry House is too vulgar. Really, New Yorkers have the most marvellous bad taste. Yet I see great improvement. Now old Hunt is dead, one great source of rank vulgarity is dried up—for he really was an awful old Vulgarian—.” The authors felt too that if the rich demanded good architecture,

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the poor would eventually get it as well: “Every good moulding, every carefully studied detail, exacted by those who can afford to indulge their taste, will in time find its way to the carpenter-built cottage.” In several of the stories Edith Wharton wrote in the 1890s, she described the kind of experiences she loved to share with Codman—the great joy she had in seeing truly beautiful houses, palaces, rooms, and churches in France and Italy, and her ambivalence about society. In “The Fullness of Life,” the central character is a young woman who loves art, architecture, poetry and painting and longs to share her interests with a soul mate. Her husband is completely unsympathetic. Wharton admitted that the story was autobiographical, and it suggests the sadness and loneliness she was feeling in her marriage to Teddy Wharton. The year after The Decoration of Houses was published, Wharton began The Valley of Decision, and in this novel her love of the art and culture of the eighteenth century that she shared with Codman saturates the book. While writing it, she was becoming increasingly disenchanted with Newport and began to visit Lenox, Massachusetts, the fashionable resort in the Berkshires. She soon bought 155 acres of land, where she could use all her ideas on rooms, spatial relations, and beautiful interiors in building a house from scratch. But in the process of working with Codman on the design, the two had a falling out. Codman had raised his rates from fifteen to twenty-five percent, and Teddy refused to pay this fee. This started a fight, the details of which Codman reported to his mother, “Teddy announced that he did not want to pay the regular commission!! & when I declined to work for less said I was impossible to get on with! When I told him he was not easy to get on with he said I was very unpopular.” Years later, in 1914, Codman was still fuming over the rift, “I think on the whole it was a great blessing that they took their house from me, although I did not think so at the time…Really, it is no use trying to work for people who are trying to make one dollars worth look like five dollars worth…” The Whartons hired another architect, Francis L.V. Hoppin, but nonetheless asked Codman to do the interiors. Another falling out ensued, which led to a legal proceeding over payment for the painted panels in Edith’s boudoir. The friendship broke off in 1905—ostensibly over the bill for the boudoir panels—but Wharton was moving on. When Codman became engaged to be married to Leila Webb, he wrote to Wharton, and she never responded. He bore a grudge; their lives ran parallel but did not cross again until just before World War I, when they were both living in Paris. Codman’s letters to his mother often reported “Wharton news” during these years—gossip about Teddy’s sickness, the affairs of Teddy and Edith’s brothers, Harry and Freddy, and jokes at Edith Wharton’s expense.


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social activity, that it will be very hard for her to keep really quiet and rest.” A week before Wharton died in August, he reported that “she was so very ill, much worse than she had been, and not expected to live, it is too sad.” As a testimony to their friendship, their book is still in print.

In the 1920s and ‘30s, Codman and Wharton began to see each other again, visiting one another’s country houses in France and sharing advice on gardening. She had gone on to write many novels and volumes of stories. He had designed some twenty-one houses and remodeled others. After his wife died in 1910, he lived in France and in New York. In 1929–31, he finally built himself a villa, La Léopolda, in the south of France, where he created the house of his dreams and applied many of the concepts he and Edith had discussed so many years before. On April 18, 1937, Ogden Codman wrote Edith Wharton about the possibility of a second edition of The Decoration of Houses, “Of course there has been very great progress in taste since 1896, but from my own personal experience, there is a great deal more of what I might call ‘The Eternal Verities’ in the book, than the mere ousting of the House dressmaker. I read it over again very carefully when I was planning ‘La Léopolda’ with the result that I built the Italian Saloon, a cube of Thirty Feet, cutting out what seemed to me like a not very necessary bedroom and bath room on the first floor, and giving me the most magnificent room to decorate of my whole architectural career. This I owe entirely to re-reading that book for which I am extremely grateful. It still seems to me a book that most architects, and all their clients should buy,—‘To read, mark, learn, inwardly digest and profit thereby.’ As the book is entirely out of print, I want a second edition to put it within everybody’s reach.” Always enthusiastic about another project, she replied, “Your arguments in favor of a new edition of ‘The Decoration of Houses’ seem to me very convincing, especially if Batsford thinks it a good idea. I willingly fall in with your suggestions which seem to me excellent.” But on her way to visit him, she fell ill and had to be transported home in an ambulance. Codman wrote to a friend some weeks later, “The news from Mrs. Wharton is more encouraging, if she can only rest and take life easier, but she is so accustomed to

Historic New England’s Codman Estate is open the first and third Saturdays of the month through October 6. For more information, please call (781) 259-8843 or visit our web site at www.HistoricNewEngland.org. Admission free to members of Historic New England. The photograph of Edith Wharton and her letters illustrated on page 16, as well as quotations from her correspondence, are reprinted by permission of the Edith Wharton Estate and the Watkins/Loomis Agency.

Interior at Land’s End, Edith and Teddy Wharton’s house in Newport. ABOVE Edith Wharton’s house, The Mount, in Lenox, Massachusetts. Postcard, early twentieth century. BELOW Ogden Codman’s estate, La Léopolda, in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France, 1929-31. FACING PAGE

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R E C R E A T I O N

Golf Tees off in Massachusetts RIGHT All a beginning golfer needed to participate in this popular new sport were four to five clubs and a putter. FAR RIGHT The Country Club’s elegant clubhouse in Brookline, Massachusetts, provided a home away from home where members and their families could dine and entertain.

olf took some time to catch on in the United States, but once it did, its devotees pursued the sport with passion. Played in Scotland as early as the 1400s, golf made brief appearances in this country in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries without gaining many supporters. In the 1880s, however, the game exploded in popularity. In 1890, a Boston paper reported, “The royal game of golf was played on local grounds yesterday, for it is believed, the first time in the history of the city.” These early swings were taken at Franklin Park, which six years later became the site of the second public course in the country. Although the St. Andrews Golf Club of Yonkers, New York, is generally recognized as the site of the nation’s first golf course, New England, and greater Boston in

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particular, quickly embraced the sport. By 1902, Massachusetts had more golf courses than any other state. While most country clubs today have golf courses, this was not the case for the earliest clubs, the first of which was The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, organized in 1882. Country clubs in the late nineteenth century typically offered an escape from city life, providing an oasis of green space where members could enjoy outdoor sports such as horseback riding, racing, and polo. The Brookline Country Club emphasized coaching excursions and horse racing. The club was well-established as a haven for equestrian sports, when in 1892 it laid out the first nine holes of a golf course, resulting in conflict between golfers and riders. From

the golfer’s perspective, according to Outing Magazine, “the necessity of maintaining a race-track and steeplechase course over parts of which the golfers must play has hitherto kept The Country Club from having ideal links.” Ultimately, coaching and horseracing gave way to golf at the club, and in 1899 the course expanded to a full eighteen holes. In 1913, the club was the site of amateur Francis Ouimet’s dramatic U.S. Open win over the sport’s legendary British masters Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. The Country Club in Brookline served as the home course for many Boston residents, but enthusiasm for the sport led to the founding of many golf clubs in surrounding towns and along the coast. In 1899 Outing Magazine chronicled the explosive popularity of golf in Boston by describing twenty-nine courses within a twelve-


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mile radius of the city. Newton was home to six courses, including the Brae Burn Golf Club, described as having “an excellent variety of hazards, the natural features being admirably utilized.” Golf clubs multiplied on the north and south shores of Massachusetts to serve wealthy Bostonians who left the city in favor of coastal areas in the summer. Since the North Shore became accessible by steamboat and rail service in the early nineteenth century, golf courses were later additions to wellestablished summer communities. Golf enthusiasts loudly touted the sport’s contribution to physical fitness and overall good health, benefits that were widely embraced by early twentieth-century women. In the era of the “new woman,” it became more common to find young society women attending college, taking more active roles outside of the home, and spending leisure hours on the links. Wellesley College promoted women’s participation in outdoor sports by making athletics a required activity. The Curtis sisters, Margaret and Harriot, (cousins of Historic New England founder William Sumner Appleton) were among the best known of New England’s

women golfers. As women of means, they could afford the time and expense to devote to such pursuits. Their tournament exploits were regularly reported in The Boston Globe. Harriot won the U.S. Women’s Amateur tournament in 1906. The next year, she faced her sister head-to-head, eventually losing the title to her. Margaret Curtis was the U.S. Women’s Amateur championship again in 1911 and 1912. Long after leaving competitive tournament play, the Curtis sisters continued to enjoy and promote golf. Their interest in and love of golf parallels its beginnings and tremendous growth in the United States. As members of two of the earliest golf clubs in Massachusetts, The Country Club and the Essex County Club, they were among the first generation to celebrate golf and solidify its popularity in New England.

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Turn-of-the-century golf equipment, although recognizable by twenty-first century players, featured different materials and colorful names. The first golf clubs had handmade wood shafts, usually of hickory. Woods were known as the driver, brassie, and spoon, and a set of irons typically included a mashie and a niblick. The steelshafted club was introduced by 1910 but was not approved for use by the USGA until 1924. Golf balls were originally made of gutta-percha, a hard but easily molded substance derived from the sap of a Malaysian tree. They were replaced by the wound rubber core ball in the early twentieth century. The Massachusetts Ploughman and New England Journal of Agriculture featured regular knitting projects for golf stockings, hats, and gloves.

— Jennifer Pustz Museum Historian Part of golf’s appeal was that men and women could play the game together. BELOW Sheep performed groundskeeping tasks at many early golf courses. Here, they graze at the Essex County Club, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, the oldest North Shore golf club, which opened in 1893. ABOVE

Answer to color sudoku puzzle on page 11.

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M U S E U M

S H O P

The Historic New England Book Store Books related to stories in this issue Beauport: The Sleeper-McCann House Text by Nancy Curtis and Richard Nylander, essays by Joseph Garland and Paul Hollister. Second edition. Beauport, hailed in its time as “the most beautiful house in America,” is the surviving masterpiece of one of America’s most talented interior designers, Henry Davis Sleeper. Filled with dramatic contrasts, rich color, and playful compositions of decorative art objects, it launched Sleeper’s career as a designer. More than seventy-five color photographs capture the magical effects he created; the engaging text places his creation in the context of his time. SC $29.95, Special Member price $24

The Decoration of Houses Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman, Jr. New edition. This is an expanded edition of the original text of The Decoration of Houses. Its carefully reasoned chapters on fireplaces, ceilings and floors, and halls and stairs are of great value to professionals and amateurs interested in interior design. Additions to the album of renderings and photographs in the tradition of Wharton and Codman include a number of recent works and a portfolio of color plates new to the expanded edition. SC $25, Special Member price $20

The Complete Guide to Collecting Hooked Rugs: Unrolling the Secrets Jesse A. Turbayne. HC $39.95, Special Member price $35

Redware: America’s Folk Art Pottery Kevin McConnell. 3rd edition, revised. SC $12.95, Special Member price $11

Fabrics and Wallpapers for Historic Buildings Jane C. Nylander and Richard C. Nylander. New edition. HC $45, Special Member price $40

Toile: The Storied Fabrics of Europe and America Michele Palmer. HC $34.95, Special Member price $31

To order, please call 617-227-3957, ext. 237. Shipping charges and applicable taxes apply. HC = hard cover SC = soft cover

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News

New England & Beyond

Open hours for study properties We hope you will find time to visit Historic New England’s study properties, many of which are open for extended hours this season. They include ten houses dating from the first period of European settlement and an eighteenth-century meeting house, rare survivors of early building types that were once common in the region. Admission is free to members of Historic New England. Please visit www.HistoricNewEngland.org for additional information. Massachusetts Rocky Hill Meeting House, Amesbury Sunday, May 20, 12–4 pm Saturday, June 30, 12–4 pm Cooper Frost Austin House, Cambridge Sunday, May 20, 12–4 pm Sunday, August 12, 12–4 pm Pierce House, Dorchester Sunday, June 24, 1–4 pm Wednesday, October 17, 1– 4 pm Saturday, October 20, 1– 4 pm Dole-Little House, Newbury Sunday, May 20, 12– 4 pm Saturday, July 28, 1–5 pm Swett-Ilsley House, Newbury First Saturdays, June–October, 11 am–3 pm Quincy House, Quincy Saturday, June 9, 1– 4 pm Saturday, August 18, 1– 4 pm Boardman House, Salem First Saturdays, June– October, 11 am–3 pm

Gedney House, Salem First Saturdays, June–October, 11 am–3 pm Merwin House, Stockbridge Saturday, June 2, 11 am–4 pm Saturday, December 1, 11 am– 4 pm Browne House, Watertown Saturday, June 2, 12–4 pm Saturday, September 29, 12– 4 pm New Hampshire Gilman Garrison Saturday, June 2, 11 am– 4 pm Saturday, August 18, 11 am– 4 pm

Reclad The 1693 Arnold House in Lincoln, Rhode Island, recently underwent clapboard restoration and window conservation. Historic New England’s property care team paid special attention to documenting the earlier 1952 renovations and were able to reuse some of the salvaged nails. They chose quartersawn clapboards made of white oak as the most durable and historically accurate material for the clapboards. This photograph shows the Arnold House last fall while the project was under way. The paler clapboards on the lower section were installed several months earlier and had time to weather. The windows were replaced after the photograph was taken. (Please see chart at left for open hours this season.)

Rhode Island Arnold House, Lincoln Saturday, June 2, 10 am–3 pm Saturday, September 15, 10 am–5 pm Sunday, September 16, 10 am–3 pm Sunday, October 14, 12–4 pm Clemence–Irons House, Johnston Sunday, October 7, 11 am– 4 pm

The Southwick-Daniels Farm in Blackstone, Massachusetts, is the seventy-fourth property to be accepted into Historic New England’s Stewardship Program, which protects privatelyowned properties. One of the most intact farmsteads in the area, the farm is a significant historic landmark within the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. The farmhouse and its outbuildings, which maintain their original character, are important examples of nineteenth-century vernacular architecture and workmanship. The structures include the original farmhouse, the oldest part of which dates to 1791; the main barn, dating between 1850 and 1875; a c.1830 corn crib; a c. 1860 carriage shed; an 1870 cider mill; and an early twentieth-century hen house.

David Bohl

Preserving a historic farmstead

Summer 2007 Historic New England

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A C Q U I S I T I O N S

Research Zigzag

T

his large colored drawing signed “Eleanor Pratt” caught my eye immediately when I saw it at a recent antique show. In addition to its sophisticated design, the work spoke to so many of Historic New England’s collecting interests—twentieth-century design, advertising, furnishings— that I immediately purchased it for the Library and Archives. Next, I embarked upon a process of investigation. I began by contacting the Paine Furniture Company, only to learn that the company’s archive was no longer intact. A Google search produced a reference to an obituary for an artist by the name of Eleanor (Pratt) Humphrey in the Lowell Sun. The Lowell Public Library retrieved the clipping, where I found the names of Mrs. Humphrey’s survivors. Returning to the Internet for phone numbers, I located Carolyn Humphrey Brown in New Hampshire, who confirmed that her mother was the creator of the drawing we had acquired.

Mrs. Brown and her sister, Jane Adams, were both thrilled to learn that their mother’s drawing would be published and preserved for posterity in the Library and Archives. They have generously supplied us with biographical information and other documentation about their mother’s career. Thus, in a somewhat roundabout manner, sleuthing, the Internet, and good luck have come together to provide a lasting record of a talented artist. —Lorna Condon Curator of Library and Archives

Design for an advertisement for the Paine Furniture Company, Boston, by Eleanor Pratt (1908–2002). After attending Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, and the Vesper George School of Art, Pratt worked as a freelance commercial artist in Boston in the 1930s. Her other work included etchings, portrait drawings, fabric designs, and decorative painting. RIGHT

141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702 Presented by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities

Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Boston, Massachusetts Permit No. 58621

Historic New England Summer 2007  
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