|INDOORS and OUT 1906|
S. W. R.
|Dominating the highest point of land at Coddington Point, this white-trimmed brick Neoclassical style villa was visible from all of southern Narragansett Bay. The interior featured high-style French reception rooms in Renaissance and Louis XV taste. AHAG1908 = Photo |
FAR-FAMED Newport, adorned as it is by many sumptuous homes, still offers to new comers plenty of undeveloped land. Back into the Rhode Island peninsula one may go to build and still be within easy automobile reach of all the gayeties of the summer village. And these hitherto undeveloped sites are not lacking in the glorious water views one associates with Newport; they have also a bit of rural charm. Text - IAO1906
|Birds Eye View of Newport circa 1878 - Golt & Hoy|
To save money, Josephine chose a site on the outskirts of the city, far from the fashionable districts.
Bellevue Avenue is the first road from the bottom running longitudinally down the center of the map. Coddington Point and Sunset Hill are located at the top tight corner. "Fairholme" and the original "Breakers" are at the center bottom.
Converting a formless pasture into a beautiful estate is an undertaking that has been carried out in two years on the land known as Sunset Hill overlooking the bay of Newport and the hillsides that partially enclose it. A few years ago Mrs. Emeile Bruguiere of California searched for a site upon which to build, and found none to equal this. Here she has reared her palace, for such it must be called, although in Newport all residences whether costing thousands or millions, are called " villas." Friends discouraged her selection of the spot, but her artistic eyes saw possibilities theirs could not; and now that stubble and wild brambles have given place to velvety lawns, ornamental trees and Italian gardens, her perspicacity has been proved.
The rough pasture was ploughed as soon as it was purchased, and the sod allowed to decay with exposure. Roads were laid out and the entire fourteen or fifteen acres staked out in a systematic way to set the residence off to the best advantage. The lack of large trees, which had been a drawback to the site, was met at once. Beautiful specimens of larch, beech and maple — some with trunks fifteen inches in diameter — were selected in the neighboring country, taken up in winter with large balls of earth about their roots and planted at points which would preserve views for the house and yet provide an elegant setting. Vegetable gardens were started and flowers planted. IAO1906
|"Castlewood " A Vast and Stately Building in the Georgian Style|
|American Homes and Gardens 1908|
This, however, is far from being the chief merit of "Castlewood". That originally the site possessed few natural advantages, save the outlook it afforded over the sea, has already been hinted. The knowledge of its previous condition is now immaterial. Where once were neglected and vacant fields are now spacious lawns, full-grown trees, and smiling gardens, while as the crown of the whole is the spacious and palatial dwelling that, in accordance with the local nomenclature, is designated a "villa". To the historian it may be a matter of some interest to know that the whole of this property is new—very new indeed—though the superb lawns and even the stately trees—brought here expressly for the beautification of the grounds—give no hint of recent origin. Very elaborate, and, it must be admitted, most costly, have been the works carried out here, although the result, even now at the beginning of its new growth, has fully justified every expenditure made.
The house is, of course, the chief object of interest on the estate, which was created to give it an appropriate setting, and for no other purpose. It is a vast and stately building designed in the Georgian style by Mr. E. P. Whitman, architect, of Boston, and being placed on an eminence, and being quite isolated, having—for Newport—an individuality almost wholly its own. It is a rectangular structure, twice as long as it is wide, and with the longer front overlooking the sea. The dimensions are quite regal—one hundred and ten by fifty-four feet—and the opportunity thus presented to the architect to design a house at once stately and ornate has been availed of in a very handsome manner. The result is so fine that it must be a source of constant satisfaction to the owner and the designer.
Stately and ornate are qualities not always the complement of the other. This is particularly true of the ornamental qualities of a design, which may be ornate in the most elaborate sense of the word, while the result may be anything but stately. The Georgian, fortunately, is a style that permits few liberties, and it is difficult, unless refinement of detail is neglected, to go astray in it. On the contrary, its own inherent qualities are so fine and good that stateliness may almost be considered as inseparable from it. In any event it affords fine opportunities for the designer who looks to the creation of ornateness and stateliness. And both these qualities are finely and very amply illustrated in Mr. Bruguiere's house.
Long, strong, firm lines dominate the structure. It is almost a perfect rectangle, a slight extension of the service wing being quite subordinate to the main lines of the house. The bringing forward of the center of the entrance front is a thoroughly legitimate architectural device for breaking up the long lines of a facade, and the addition to the bulk of the house thus made is slight enough and is actually compensated for by the recessing of the center of the water front, where the opening thus created is filled with a stately colonnade.
Symmetry and sobriety thus characterize this design as fundamentals; it is true one end has a covered porch, the other a one-story addition to the service rooms, as well as an enclosed service yard. These features, however, are subordinate to the real structure of the house itself, and in no way detract from the general symmetry of the design. AHAG1908
The house is built of red brick, with details and trimmings in glazed terra cotta, so nearly white as to practically approximate that color. These materials imposed no difficulty in their use, for they fit quite naturally into the chosen style. Great square pilasters, deeply channeled, and with rich Corinthian capitals, stand at each angle; on the corners of the house, at the angles of the central projection, at the opening of the recess on the water front—pilasters of generous size, quite ample to perform their apparent task of buttressing the walls between them. They support the cornice, which is carried uninterruptedly around the building on them, and which is also of terra cotta, save the space technically known as the frieze, in which the red brick of the lower wall reappears. The whole is crowned by a fine balustrade, very beautifully proportioned to the structure it surmounts, in which brick piers, with terra cotta bases and cornices, alternate with terra cotta balusters.
These features form the framework of the design, within which are disposed the walls and window openings. The windows in the first floor throughout the house are round arched, spacious windows, admitting ample light within, and strong, well marked features without. They are without side frames, but their sills rest on slightly recessed pieces of walls, built of plain brick; a string course, which is continued across the intervening space, serves as the base for the arch moldings, which extend beyond the main wall, as do the high and somewhat narrow keystones which rise above the crown of the arches. Above each keystone, and midway between the windows of the first and second floor, is a circular terra cotta relief. The windows of the second floor are rectangular, without external frames, but with sills supported on simple consoles. A third story is completely hidden within the cornice and balustrade. AHAG1908
|The Entrance Facade|
With Glazed Vestibule and Richly Wrought Marquise. IAO1906
|The Water Front of "Castlewood" |
With its Stately Terrace reached from the Living-Room and commanding the Bay. IAO1906
|IAO1906 - On the north side, facing the water, extends a terrace. It is accessible by means of graceful steps or from the French windows of the living room. Here the four hundred of Newport will pass to sip afternoon tea or promenade after a dance, and the lounger on antique benches can scan, under sun or moon, the Middle and West Passages of Narragansett Bay, Mt. Hope Bay in the distance, and in front of him the low bulwark of Conanicut Island. AHAG1908|
Such are the chief items of the exterior, but there still remain some important matters to be noted. The porch of the entrance front is a small rectangular structure applied to the main doorway. It is, in truth, an outer vestibule, its roof supported by Roman Doric channeled columns and its side and front enclosed within elaborate screens of wrought ironwork lined with plate glass. A marquise hangs before the porch, covering the steps and a portion of the driveway and fulfilling the function of a porte cochere. This porch constitutes the single ornamental feature of the entrance front. Mention should, however, be made of the wall enclosing the service yard which is placed to the right; it is divided into rather narrow bays by piers, each of which carries a ball above the crowning cornice. The bays on the front contain oval openings, with heavily blocked frames. AHAG1908
But although the terrace is, in a sense, the culmination of the house, there is much within to see of interest before its supreme attractiveness will be learned. AHAG1908
|A Landing of The Grand Stairway The Walls of White Plaster inlaid with Verde Antique Marble. IAO1906|
The living-room immediately adjoins the hall and occupies the other half of the center of the house. The walls are paneled throughout in quartered oak. The spaces over the door openings are arched, to correspond with the form of the windows, the main doorway, for its greater size, being necessarily surmounted with an elliptical arch. Four great windows in the opposite wall open to the floor and give upon the terrace. In the center is the chimney fireplace, arranged in a structure that projects well into the room. The ceiling has the form of a low elliptical arch, and from it depend two rich bronze chandeliers.
There are two rooms in the left wing: the library, which faces the entrance front, and the salon, which looks out upon the water. AHAG1908
|The Library at "Castlewood". IAO1906|
The panel over the mantel is cut away for the insertion of a portrait of Mrs. Bruguiere.
|The Library Is Finished in French Walnut, Beautifully Carved and Paneled. AHAG1908|
|Bookcases, skilfully included in the architectural scheme, extend from floor to ceiling, and there is a stately fireplace giving cheer. IAO1906|
The Crystal Chandelier hung from a Mirror. IAO1906
|The huge mantel, 16 feet high and 17 wide, of this material dominates the entire room by its contrast of color and carving in high relief. In the central panel are the arms of the family. IAO1906|
|IAO1906 - The ceiling is double vaulted; and at the junction of the two curves is a garland of fruit done in plaster, behind which are the electric fixtures. AHAG1908|
|The dining-room is paneled with solid mahogany finished dark but the door trims are of the rich buff marble from Siena. IAO1906|
The main hall on the second floor is one hundred feet long and twelve feet wide and has Doric columns and pilasters its entire length, between which is paneling five feet high.
In the basement are the kitchen, the servants' dining-room, scullery, ice chest room, laundry and drying-room, wine-rooms, gas plant and heating plant. On the third floor, hidden from the grounds by the balustrade on the roof, are the commodious servants' quarters and baths. As a whole,the house is extremely beautiful and convenient, a model for entertaining and a pleasure to look at, largely on account of its lack of "ginger-bread work". IAO1906
|Incorporated into the gardens were the remnants of an eighteenth-century battery thought to have been erected by the Comte de Rochambeau. AHAG1908|
|Plan de la ville, port, et rade de Newport, avec une partie de Rhode-Island occupée par l'armée française aux ordres de Mr. Le comte de Rochambeau, et de l'escadre française commandée - 1780|
A Louis XV-style paneled room was removed and incorporated into a contemporary French house on Ocean Avenue. Which room or Ocean Avenue house I do not know???
THIS LINK shows the house still standing in 1938.
|Josephine Frederikke Sather Bruguiere|
|The Bruguiere's New York City Townhouse|
Upon inheriting her fortune, Mrs. Bruguiere decided she wanted a cottage in Newport, RI, where she and her son could reside in the summers with the rest of society, so she turned to architect Edward Whitman. Whitman would be working with a somewhat restrained budget of $200,000, with $75,000 of that going toward furniture. To save money, Josephine chose a site on the outskirts of the city, far from the fashionable districts. While construction was underway on her $125,000 chateau, Mrs. Bruguiere and Louis traveled the world collecting furniture, paintings, artwork, tapestries and valuable objects to furnish the home, they ran over their $75,000 furniture budget by $20,000.
The budget of "Castlewood" had run over by $75,000 making the total cost of the house $200,000 and another $95,000 for furniture. Nevertheless it didn't matter to Josephine, who could not manage her finances very well, and she moved in promptly after it was finished. She opened the house with a lavish ball, costing $50,000. Guests marveled at the beautiful interiors and decorative details. Whitman had designed the interiors and the floor plan of the first floor around entertaining. The first floor housed the main rooms and the upstairs held the bedrooms.
Within 2 years of moving in Mrs. Bruguiere became deep in arrears with her Newport accounts. She was spending more than her annual income monthly and was constantly renovating her two homes. By 1913 all she had left was less than $150,000 and she was silently selling her husband's art collection and statuary off to raise money to pay the bills. Her bills were astronomical and included, $15,000 on taxes for her New York City residence and $38,000 on "Castlewood"'s taxes, she spent $30,000 on her yearly wardrobe, $25,000 for staff payments and to upkeep both of her home, $7,000 yearly for the yacht she was renting and almost $100,000 on the yearly renovations she did to both of her homes. Her son, trying to help, married the enormously wealthy widow, Margaret "Daisy" Post Van Alen, and tried to use her fortune to help his mother.
In 1913,"Castlewood" was taken by the bank and they auctioned off it's contents for a total of $100,000. Josephine had attended the auction and had bought a few of her things, such as the tapestry that hung at the top of the staircase and the rug in the salon. Josephine sold her New York City townhouse and sold most of it's furniture for a total of $350,000. Since she also sold a small part of her jewelry collection for some $100,000, Josephine was able to retain her apartment in Paris, but cut her the original staff that had attended her at her three homes from 27 to 6. She moved into a suite of rooms at the Sherry Hotel and continued to live in Newport, renting various homes and their contents for the seasons. Mrs. Bruguiere only did this for 2 more years, because on August 19, 1915, while traveling back from Europe, Josephine and Louis were on the ocean line "The Arabic" when it was torpedoed and sank. The Bruguieres were in their first class suite when it happened. Louis was dressing when he felt it hit, he ran to the closet, grabbed the lifebelts and ran into his mother's room. He strapped it on to Josephine, who was having breakfast in bed, and threw a fur coat on her. He did the same with her french maid and then they rushed to the boat deck. When they reached the boat deck, it had been 4 minutes since Louis had rushed into his mother's room but they were too late, all the boats were gone.
|Sinking of the S S Arabic|
Josephine began to go back to retrieve her jewels but Louis made her stay. They were finally thrown from the ship into the water. Josephine's maid was thrown to her grave because as soon as she hit the water she was sucked under. Louis and Josephine stayed together, with Louis carrying his mother on his back, but he lost her when she was sucked under. Louis survived but Josephine was never found. James Seidelman Her body later washed ashore September 24th in Ireland.
By the terms of her will, she left "Castlewood" to Louis, but it had been seized the year before.
Arnold Watson Essex then purchased the house from the Savings Bank of Newport. He was reported to be "a man of large means who does not care for society", making its distant location from the hubbub of Newport ideal . Mrs. John H. Hanan, who occupied the house as late as 1918, was its final private owner. "Castlewood" was subsequently converted into an orphanage, The Mercy Home and School, and demolished by the U.S. Government for World War II public housing for workers of the Newport torpedo and naval ordinance factories.
|"Fairholme" and "The Breakers". Where "Ochre Court" now stands was located "Edgewater", the J. Frederick Kenochan "villa". Said to be one of the most elaborately decorated houses on the Cliff Walk. Next to Kenochan is "Cave Cliff". Between would be built "Vinlind".|