by Barr Ferree - 1908
'LONG drive in the woods, through a forest, if not exactly impenetrable, at least dense enough seemingly to swallow one up; beautiful woods, such as the soil of Massachusetts seems to produce in a special abundance; woods soft and quiet, with scarce a house to indicate man's presence, and only the hard dry roads to show he has been here and at least visits here, if he does not permanently remain within these leafy shadows - all this is but a foretaste, and a most delightful one, to the pleasure that awaits one who visits Mr. Sears in his charming pine-land home.
|"The Pines" - dense woods embower the house in rich greens on all side, save where space has been cleared for the house and garden.|
Surely if one knew nothing of the house, had not seen it pictured in photograph or roughly described in words, one would pause instinctively at first sight of it. It gives one - and it certainly gave me - the same delight as the discovery of some rare flower, blooming alone in the dense dark woods.
Like a rare orchid it raises its soft yellowed walls in the center of a great tree wreath, standing all around it like sentinels to guard its simple beauty. It is a house to be seen to be appreciated to the full, seen with the odor of the pine needles in one's nostrils, and with the soft green of the trees decking it in the near-by distance.
Let me say at once that this is a lovely and exquisite house. It is a house of absolute simplicity and perfect directness. Take, if you will, the entrance front, the front by which it may be judged, although the house is so sequestered that each front belongs to the owner alone. There is not a single bit of ornament on this whole front.
|The entrance doorway, with its glazed and curved Tympanum, is the most striking feature of the exterior.|
|The studied simplicity of the entrance front is apparent in the quiet refinement of the detail.|
Everything else is plain, simple and severe. Everything else is solid walls, straight lines, plain rectangular windows. The lines are wholly structural, and are formed by the changes in the surface of the walls; by projecting the central bay somewhat forward, and bringing the end portions still further forward, swelling out their inner walls at the base, and building a seat within the recess thus formed. And over all is the roof, sloping down from the ridge over the center and end wings in a continuous slope, without other crown to the walls than its eaves, which are projected still further forward over the uppermost window toward each end.
Structurally this is all. Of horizontal lines there are none at all; of breaks of any sort, of imaginary ornamental detail, of unnecessary features, of the thousand and one details with which architecture is so often supposed to be concerned - of these, none. It is all so simple and quiet that the very leaders act as decorative features, as it is quite right they should.
There is nothing else save the color. And this is so supremely important that more than a passing word must be given to it. The house is built of stucco, colored an exquisite buff. The wood trim is painted white; the shutters are green, the door French gray, the iron work black, the roof shingles left to weather finish. The dominant color is, of course, that of the walls. One need not wonder if any other color would have answered as well; it is sufficient that it is exactly the right color to have used.
Hence there is no somberness to this house. It is alive with light and brightness, with gentle soft color that, after all, is the crowning beauty of the house. A word as to the shutters. In a design which bears so much testimony to the exceeding care its architect - Mr. H. F. Bigelow, of Boston - has given it, no ordinary shutter would suffice. These have been carefully designed for the house, and are of two general types. The small shutters of both lower stories have solid panels, marked within by a narrow band swelled to a curve at the top. In the larger windows these panels have been confined to the lower parts of the shutters, the upper sections having blinds of the usual type. The point is of interest as evidence of the intense individuality of the design.
So striking is the exterior of this house that one enters the entrance doorway with many pleasurable anticipations of what it has to show within. And one is not disappointed. The door opens immediately into a vestibule-hall, covered with a groined vault. The walls are covered with light buff plaster, and have a low wainscot of wood, painted white. The door frames are simply molded and are also painted white. This entrance passageway—for it is scarce more than that—adjoins a longer passage to the right, where the stairs rise against the entrance wall. The stairs have white risers and oak treads, covered with a green carpet, and have a wrought iron hand rail. The window on the stairs has green curtains with white sash curtains.
|The library fireplace is built of Caen stone.|
|The library is lined with shelves and plain rectangle panels of wood.|
|The mantel of the billiard room is brick : the walls and curtains are green.|
|The dining room is papered in soft grays; the rug is deep blue; the window curtains are pale blue silk.|
|The porch on the terrace is furnished as an outdoor living space.|
|The terrace front has three-stories, with simple dormers in the sloping roof.|
|The inner porch overlooks a terrace supported by walls of stone.|
|The side portal stands a-top a semicircle pyramid of steps leading to the garden.|
But one does not need a flower garden to give beauty to the house, albeit so charming an addition detracts nothing from it. It is a house well able to stand alone, although designed for this precise spot, and of a form and coloring nowhere else yielding such delightful results. This, in truth, is its exceeding merit: that every aspect of it is interesting. Every part of it counts in the final result, because such a result was anticipated from the beginning. Yet, after all, its loveliness is the greater because hidden in the midst of these Massachusetts woods, watched perpetually by the pine trees that have given their name to it.
The quiet gentleness of the woods has been well matched by the simple repose of the dwelling. It fits into its surroundings and belongs with them.'
***Click HERE to see "The Pines" at wikimapia. HERE for a post on his home in Brookline.***