HE charm of any estate lies in its individuality. This is particularly true of the George E. Barnard house and grounds situated on County Road, in Ipswich, Massachusetts. When the estate first attracted the attention of the present owner, it consisted of an abandoned farmhouse, a dilapidated, run-down farm, with shabby old farm buildings scattered here and there around the grounds. Only a person realizing what development could do would have been attracted to such a place.
It was purchased, however, about eight years ago, and improvements were immediately undertaken by the new owner. The house, which contained only four rooms, had an ell and out-buildings added and also a veranda across the front, with shrubs and perennials massed against it.
|The country home of Mr. George E. Barnard, Ipswich, Massachusetts|
The entrance to the grounds showed wide, unoccupied spaces, an old barn being on one corner, and stony, untilled land stretching from the road to the house itself. At one side was a steep hill bare of trees and showing only an ugly summer house on its summit. This was the condition of the estate when it was bought by the present owner, whose idea in purchasing the estate and in developing it was to find expression for some favorite tendencies toward artistic ideals. Devoted to pictures, he determined that not only the grounds, but the house inside and out should advance a series of picturesque effects everywhere. It was not all done at once, but gradually, bit by bit. and new ideas developed, until now the house stands the centre of artistic gardens, carefully remodeling, making it one of the most attractive of country homes. The house has been lengthened, dormer windows introduced in the sloping roof, and wide verandas added, some of them having pergola effects. A part of the veranda facing the garden has been enclosed with glass to be used as a breakfast room and the entire enclosure is vine-draped.
From the second-story windows one walks out upon an upper veranda which has been railed in. This is used as a morning living-room, a part of it being shaded by awnings. It is a delightful place and gives a wonderful view of the picturesque gardens which are the feature of the grounds. The rear entrance and clothes-yard have been carefully screened in by a green lattice with white railing, supported by pillars of white topped with round balls. On the opposite side of the house, the entrance, lined on either side by masses of shrubbery which is carefully planted in a manner most attractive, the driveway winding to the side veranda and on to the large stables. The garden enclosure is principally on the north and west sides of the house and is so laid out that from the wide verandas, one looks out upon a wonderfully well-framed picture of trees and flowers, in gardens so minutely planned out that they contain no inharmonious note.
This picture is in reality a series of pictures, for whichever way one looks, an everchanging effect is revealed. But if the garden is beautiful and well planned, the house and interiors are as beautiful. The outside is painted white, showing a delicate yellow trim which contrasts effectively with the green of the blinds as well as the velvety green of the lawns. Long French windows allow access from almost any room in the house to the broad verandas. This gives an effect of width and depth to the house which could not be effected otherwise.
|Enclosed porch of the Barrurd houie|
The veranda, which is used during the summer season as an out-of-doors living-room, is picturesquely supplied with well-chosen willow furniture, each piece being selected to avoid repetition, so that no two articles are alike. This veranda shows a setting of ornamental evergreens in green tubs, and huge pottery vases are everywhere, filled with masses of bloom.
The hall, or morning-room, is entered directly from the veranda. Here another series of pictures is presented as one enters the door. At the left is the staircase which leads to the second floor, the low mahogany treads contrasting with the white ballisters, which are topped by a highly polished mahogany rail. Opposite the door one has the picture of a portion of the reception room with the dining-room beyond, showing in an alcove at the right a well-placed grandfathers clock, and at the left, near the stairway, a wonderful card-table of early make is shown. The landscape paper showing delicately tinted red flowers against a gray background, gives a most pleasing effect, which is heightened by the leaded glass windows of the closet at the right and the simple fireplace with its brass accessories. The furniture shows fine lines and is upholstered in green, the color of the hangings. At the right, through the wide-open French windows, one gets more glimpses of the beautiful gardens.
At the left of the entrance is a study, also green in colorscheme and showing a leaded glass closet at the far end. The hangings are tastefully draped and the windows show especially successful treatment. The desk is a block front and is a fine piece of old furniture. No crowding of pieces is evident, but a simple, dignified atmosphere pervades the room, which is refreshing to the eye and distinctly shows the good taste of the owners. It is a room such as one loves to find, quiet, restful, and "brain inspiring." These two rooms occupy the entire front of the house, and are shaded from too much light by the wide piazza. Opening out of the hall is the long reception room, done in old blue velour hangings, and furnished in mahogany. The plain tint of the walls gives an admirable background for the fine old pictures which are seen here and there. Ever," piece of furniture in the room is of old design, either genuine pieces or fine reproductions of antiques. Ionic columns outline the wide double window at the further end, which is furnished with a broad shelf for books. Light and air, which have been carefully considered elements in the remodeling of this house, are given particular attention in this room. At the opposite end of the same room one finds a deep alcoved recess which opens out into the sunparlor. Here the furniture is all following the same period as that used in the room itself. A very fine mirror over the card-table is shown to great advantage by the plain tones of the walls. Here the windows give a different effect, being a shallow bow through which one looks again upon the gardens and grounds. Like the other rooms in the house, there is no overcrowding of furniture here, every piece being carefully selected and well placed in the room.
On entering this reception-room, one is impressed with the great attention and thought given its planning. It is admirably adapted for entertaining, on account of its length and arrangement of the furniture.
The four small rooms which the house originally contained have been lost in the additions made, each one of these changes designed to bring about some particular effect which the owners desired.
The large dining-room, with its artistic painted wall panels is in keeping with the rest of the house. Simplicity, good taste, and well-selected furnishings are shown here as everywhere else. The old rug covering the polished floor is noteworthy, also the tasteful arrangement of flowers which is always a feature of this room. The furniture is of mahogany, the hangings being brown. There are no heavy, unwieldly pieces of furniture, but each is a masterpiece in itself. Here light is given through a wide, shallow alcove, which is entirely closed with double glass windows. This too, looks out upon the "Picture Garden," so that, no matter where the eye may turn, a lovely picture presents itself.
Upstairs, the rooms have been given over to suites of chambers and a sitting-room which is used as a loungingroom as well. A comfortable couch with plenty of inviting pillows is at one side, while the plain white fireplace promises cheerful wood fires on rainy nights.
There are remodeled farmhouses found all through New England, but very few which are any more carefully planned out or that represent such perfect taste. To be sure, one must remember that this is not the work of a moment, a day, or a week—it has been years in the process of development. The farmhouse and garden have been subjected to constant changes made toward betterment, so that to-day the results obtained are a handsome reward for an exhaustive study of details, and the owners are more than repaid by the finished work.
Many of those who purchase and remodel the abandoned farmhouses or the desolated old homesteads of New England are themselves collectors of antique furniture and other treasured possessions of long ago. It is but logical to suppose that their carefully trained appreciation for old china, pewter or samplers should lead to their being equally discriminating regarding old New England architecture. There is a strong appeal to many of us in the quaintness and in the straightforward directness of the old homes of Massachusetts and when, added to it, another set of sympathies are appealed to by the fact of their being so reduced in the world their pathetic conditions go far toward persuading a purchaser whose interest is easily enlisted.
The restoration of an old farmhouse is a work which involves the most delightful possibilities, particularly when its environment is a region rich in historic associations and the interest is heightened when the house so restored is to be a shrine in which are to be placed the antique objects which one may have spent years in gathering. When the structural restorations are completed and many old fireplaces long bricked up have been placed in order and heavy beams and timbers once more brought to light there comes the delight of choosing just the wall and floor coverings and the fabrics for window hangings which good taste and trained observation show to be correct. Then, with one's own collection as a nucleus for actual furnishings, there comes the added pleasure of acquiring new features and perhaps of gradually replacing certain objects with others even more desirable or true to the period or possessed of more definite or more authentic historic associations.
It is of course, frequently difficult to adhere closely to one's resolution to preserve intact the old-time atmosphere of a venerable farmhouse and yet make the concessions which due regard for present-day comfort demands. Early New England housekeepers knew nothing whatever of steam or hot water heating and their sources of light were either the candle or the most primitive of lamps for the burning of whale or "astral" oil; they were, of course, wholly without knowledge of the furnishings which are now in vogue for use upon verandas. Such heat as they had was supplied from cavernous fireplaces and any fittings or furnishings which adorned the space about the entrance to the house probably assumed the form of tall and straight-backed benches.
Good taste will readily suggest many clever ways of screening the objectionable radiator while allowing full opportunity- for the performing of its highly necessary and desirable functions. The ingenuity of the makers of lighting fixtures has made possible a wide choice of fittings in which electricity may be used without impairing in the slightest degree the simple and old-time atmosphere. Upon the veranda the use of Windsor chairs may go far toward solving the problem of out-of-door furnishings. The Windsor chair, now extensively reproduced, is, of course, itself a heritage from antiquity and therefore wholly suitable for use upon the veranda of a house where ever effort has been made to preserve consistency in furnishings and to reflect the spirit of the best in our earlier domestic architecture. By Mary H. Northend Photographs by the Author