Sunday, November 18, 2012

Country Houses of Character

Seven Homes Selected by Their Architects as Containing 
The Essential Characteristics of the Good Country House 

Illustrations in Color by John Vincent

 WHAT constitutes the ideal country home? Is it primarily beauty? Is it convenience? Or is it rather the home spirit that it radiates? Possibly it is the combination of the three. Country living to-day plays a large part in the life of the nation, and country estates of all sorts and sizes are scattered throughout the width and breadth of the land. Some of these homes seem slightly better architecturally than others. Some have qualities that others lack. Few, if any, are perfect.

What constitutes the perfect country house? Country Life asked this question of several of the leading architects in New York, and asked them to indicate some country houses which they had designed and which, in their opinion, made them distinctive from other houses. It was to make no difference whether the house were a marble palace at some fashionable watering place or a tiny bungalow in the foothills of the mountains. So long as the architect considered it a good example of a country house and, in his opinion it had character, that was all that we asked.

 It is interesting to note the range of character in the seven country homes chosen by the architects and reproduced in color herewith.

 Messrs. Delano & Aldrich selected their most recent achievement— Mr. Bertram G. Work's residence at Oyster Bay, Long Island—as an essentially good country home, while Messrs. McKim, Mead & White considered Mr. E. D. Morgan's house at Newport, R. I., erected by them more than twenty-five years ago, to represent still the best qualities of the country home.

 In "Bonnycrest," the home of Mr. Stuart Duncan at Newport, R. I., Mr. John Russell Pope has successfully achieved his object in designing a house which contains the charm of cottage, and yet has sufficient spaciousness to fit in with the neighboring estates.

 The contribution of one architect, Mr. Aymar Embury, II., to say the least was original. He sent as his selection a "dream" house, a house which has not yet been built, though it exists in his own imagination as the most perfect type of country home possible.

 Some of the features of these houses could be easily combined with the features of others. One house may have something that another lacks. But from the entire number, we can form a fairly accurate composite picture of what our country house should be like when we determine to build it.

Click HERE to view all seven.


  1. Hard choice to pick favorite out of the seven! For location it would have to be Beacon Rock with its perch overlooking the ocean. The view from Bonnycrest's stained glass windows I'm sure are memorable. Oak Knoll with its gardens would probably end up being my pick.

  2. I'm with you on Oak Knoll, but Bonnycrest looks great in these photos!

  3. I am partial to Oak Knoll having had the pleasure of growing up there . Many commercials as well as The Godfather part III and the B rated flick
    The Sentinel were shot on the premises
    Here is a link..the site is not finished...2 series of photos some from 1980 others from 1994..Have aerials and others to be posted..enjoy

  4. Well Beacon Rock has its jaw dropping waterfront setting and Bonnycrest is palatial in scale but Oak Knoll has to be about as close to design perfection as one could hope for. With its exceptional architectural design, wonderful proportions, surrounding formal gardens, hilltop setting and magnificent gated entry court, Oak Knoll is in a league of its own.


  5. A country house is always expected to be that refreshing and comfortable place to stay in. It is that one spot, where people get the chance to be away from all the uproar caused by the urban and just feel completely relaxed. That said, I think it is important to prioritize the calmness of the environment for your chosen country house location.

    Rodger Ciliberto