It’s hard to imagine so much history packed into a house Abigail Adams once called “a wren’s nest.” Yet the Old House served not only as home to John and Abigail Adams, but to their son, John Quincy Adams, and his wife as well as to two more generations. In fact, the house and its contents remained in the family until it became a museum and part of the National Park Service in 1946.
Thomas Plant’s mansion stands out, and not just because it sits high in the Ossipee Mountains, with views across to neighboring peaks and down to Lake Winnipesaukee. “Lucknow,” as Plant called the house he built in 1914, was an original from the moment its owner conceived of it.
In 1912, Chicago industrialist Richard T. Crane, Jr. built a lavish Italian Renaissance–style villa for his wife, Florence. The summer retreat sat on the highest hill in Ipswich, Massachusetts, overlooking an exquisite beach, an extensive marsh and Ipswich Bay. The Olmstead Brothers designed a landscape of terraced gardens and ornate plantings. Statuary and urns marched alongside the 160-foot-wide tree-lined “Grande Allee,” which led to the water a half-mile away.
The Wenham Museum’s antiques show took an unexpected turn in 2009, when the annual fundraiser became a juried design event with a singular theme. Calling the show “Tablescapes,” the museum gave designers an eight-by-eight-foot space and the following charge: create a tabletop vignette that reflects the culture and history of the North Shore of Massachusetts.
Walter Gropius was constantly irritated by the fact that his design ideals became a “look.” The principles of the Bauhaus constitute a philosophy, he said, not a style.
The seminal German design school he founded in 1919 held that art should meet the needs of society, be progressive and collaborative, and that the fine and applied arts are neither separate nor distinct. He hated the term “International Style,” coined to describe the millions of geometric structures built in homage to and imitation of his.
James Rundlet wasn't much of a cook. Still, as a forward-thinking man, he outfitted the kitchen of the Federal-style mansion he built in 1807 with the latest technologies. His Portsmouth, New Hampshire, house held one of the most modern kitchens in the country, and certainly the most advanced in town, equipped as it was with a Rumford Roaster and a Rumford Range. Rather than cook in one kettle over a single fire, Rundlet's staff could roast meat in the oven and cook in three separate pots on the stove.
Frank Lloyd Wright had a question for Isadore and Lucille Zimmerman when they approached him in the late 1940s about designing a house in what Isadore called “ultra-conservative New England.”
What will the neighbors think?
Three years later, the answer was in. Wright designed a Usonian-style house for the Zimmermans' three-quarter-acre corner lot in Manchester, New Hampshire. The one-story home is low and lean, 107 feet long, with only a string of small, cement windows to relieve the brick facade.
Neighbors thought it looked like a chicken coop.
It was a time of horse racing and baronesses, of high society and industry, of grand philanthropic projects and lavish parties. This was the Gilded Age at its height, late nineteenth-century America. And if royalty was measured in gold and silver, the kings and queens of them all may have been the Vanderbilts.
In 1888, William Kissam Vanderbilt threw his energy—and his money—into building “the very best living accommodations that money could buy” on the coast of Newport, Rhode Island.
To understand Hamilton House today, you have to picture it as it was in 1785, when Jonathan Hamilton, a wealthy merchant from South Berwick, Maine, decided to build himself a house on a bluff overlooking the Salmon Falls River.
Chick Austin once commented that the house he built in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1930 was “like me—all facade.” It was a typically self-deprecating remark from the man who in 1927, at just twenty-six years old, had become the head of the venerable Wadsworth Atheneum.
People might be forgiven for taking Austin's comment at face value. First there was the man himself. The only child of a mild-mannered doctor and a socially ambitious mother who fabricated a royal genealogy for herself and her son, Austin was as charming as he was handsome, and liked nothing more than a good party.
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New England Home showcases the unique architecture and superior design and building that define the luxury home in New England. From cutting edge lofts to historic dwellings, New England Home is your guide to the very best of New England style. Each issue includes beautifully produced images of our area’s most amazing homes, along with profiles of artists and artisans and all the latest resources and design trends.