Monday, September 1, 2014

"Castlewood " A Vast and Stately Building in the Georgian Style - Newport, Rhode Island

INDOORS and OUT 1906
S. W. R.

   Louis Bruguiere was the son of Josephine Frederikke Sather Bruguiere. It was her money that built "Castlewood".

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
Barr Ferree
T IS no new thing to build a palace on a vacant piece of ground—vacant in the sense of possessing no beauties of its own, vacant in its desolation, vacant in the sense of giving, as its most distinguished quality, a profound impression of unsuitableness for decorative treatment and for habitual use. There are many, and, now that they have been carried out, quite justifiable precedents for such procedure. Even in America examples of the complete transformation of site to meet the exigencies of new conditions are by no means rare; but it is not often that a site so unpromising at the outset as that chosen by Mr. Bruguiere for his villa "Castlewood", at Newport, has been selected for the erection of a vast house and all the appurtenances of a large country estate. The word large is, of course, used in a relative sense; for the Bruguiere property includes but fourteen or fifteen acres— not large literally, it is true, but quite spacious measured by the Newport standard. For Newport, while a city of great houses, gives but small space to many of the most sumptuous of them, and a property of fourteen or fifteen acres is, therefore, quite exceptional in point of size.

   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

 IAO1906 - The house is built of red brick and beautiful glazed terra cotta, nearly white in color, and is some 110 feet long by 54 feet wide. It is Georgian in style, and therein differs from other villas at Newport as it differs from them in its high and commanding isolation. In leaving the town and entering the country by way of Coddington Avenue or from boats on the Bay, it can be seen from afar, the embodiment of architectural dignity. 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 entrance front is necessarily the more formal part of the house. In this great dwelling, standing in the midst of its own grounds, there is no need for fencing and enclosures, save for the service yard. The social side of the house— the gayer and more intimate—begins immediately on the left end, with a porch reaching from front to front. Its structure is similar to that of the entrance front—that is to say, channeled Roman Doric columns upholding an entablature which carries a balustrade. The porch is built completely of terra cotta save for the piers of the crowning balustrade, which are of brick. AHAG1908

The Water Front of "Castlewood"
With its Stately Terrace reached from the Living-Room and commanding the Bay. 
   The water front is, of course, the "facade d'honneur". The treatment of the house wall is exactly identical with that of the other fronts, but the center, as has been stated, is occupied with a magnificent colonnade formed of great Corinthian columns and pilasters, rising the full height of the two stories. These form five bays, with windows in each of the two outer ones, but the central one, being occupied by the fireplace of the living-room within, is closed with brick. AHAG1908

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 IslandAHAG1908
    The whole of this front gives upon a terrace, very spacious in dimensions, very splendid in effect. The center projects into the grounds a considerable distance beyond the house wall, and flights of steps at the center and at the ends lead to the lawns below. Bay trees stand on the steps to the colonnade, and vases of gay blooming plants are disposed on the piers of the enclosing balustrade. Very beautiful it is here, with the shining waters of the bays below and in the distance; and very fine it is too, when my lady gives a tea, or her handsomely gowned guests seek respite here from the gay doings at the ball within. I have already used the word regal in referring to this house, and must do so again, and especially here; for behind and above one is its truly regal and quite superb facade; to the right and left and in front, the ample areas of the terrace; below is the beautiful new green grass; and beyond are the myriad delights, natural and human, that form so potent a part in the charm of Newport. Here, indeed, is a rare exterior, stately, ornate and splendid, a truly fitting background for the gayest sort of festivity and the most princely hospitality. AHAG1908

IAO1906 - The main entrance is on the south side and is protected by a wrought iron marquise of beautiful design hung from the walls by heavy chains. The vestibule is formed of wrought grill work, back of which is heavy plate glass. Both are confined within Doric columns which, surmounted by entablature and balustrade, form the central ornament of the facade.
   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

IAO1906 - From the vestibule the visitor enters a space, measuring 25 x 50 feet, known as " the grand hall".   This is the most costly room in the house. Eight Ionic columns of richly veined marble support a boldly panelled and ornamented ceiling. The walls are made of white cement and panelled by means of inlaid bands of verde antique marble. 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

The grand staircase is of white Italian marble up to the base of a richly wrought balustrade in which garlands of roses and leaves, done by deft strokes in iron, intertwine between the architectural scrolls of a typical French design. The stairway is formed somewhat like a flying buttress, arching from floor to wall, so that persons can pass underneath it, and permitting music to be stationed here, hid by palms, during entertainments. IAO1906

A Landing of The Grand Stairway The Walls of White Plaster inlaid with Verde Antique Marble. IAO1906
   The main doorway leads directly into the grand hall without any vestibule save the glazed external porch. This is a superb and palatial apartment, whose superficial area is perhaps twenty-five by fifty feet. The ceiling, which is decorated with great boldness and vigor in relief, is upheld by four pairs of coupled columns of richly veined marble with Ionic capitals. These are arranged somewhat toward each end, leaving a free central space. Pilasters of similar design are applied to the adjoining walls opposite to them. The walls are of white plaster, with panels formed by narrow bands of verde antique marble, while the door frames are of the same rich material as the columns. The stairway is on the right, rising without the columns at that end. It is continued to a broad landing, and then turns to the right and left; the left arm alone rises to the second floor, but a somewhat symmetrical treatment is effected by continuing the right arm to the outer wall on that side. The lower part of the stairway is supported on half arches, giving a free space below, which is available for an orchestra on occasions of entertainment. The stairs are of white Italian marble, and the handrail is a fine example of French wrought iron work. AHAG1908

Adjoining the hall is the living-room, paneled high with quartered oak in the old English style, and with a vaulted ceiling. The dining-room and library are nearly equal in size and are reached by wide doorways free of thresholds, so that when thrown together a perfectly even floor is had for dancing. 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 library is paneled throughout in French walnut, with built-in bookcases. Both the shelves and the paneling form a part of a continuous design, the salient feature of which is the pilasters, erected on a plain dado, and arranged singly or in pairs as emphasis and situation require. All around the room, and still a part of the interior woodwork, is a carved frieze of rich scroll design. The fireplace is of Caen stone, lined with brick. The panel over the mantel is cut away for the insertion of a portrait of Mrs. Bruguiere; a festooned decoration is arranged above and around it. The ceiling is plain white plaster. AHAG1908

IAO1906 -The salon, leading out of living-room and library is designed in the style of Louis XVI. Mirrors form the walls to balance windows, and all of the decorative work is composed of roses modeled in plaster. The beautiful crystal chandelier, picked up abroad, seems to grow out of a mirror cleverly set in the center of the domed ceiling. AHAG1908

The Salon
The Crystal Chandelier hung from a Mirror. IAO1906

   The salon is a beautiful apartment designed in the style of Louis XVI. The arches of the windows form the keynote of the design, for arches of less dimension are continued around the walls. Paneled piers support the frames and arches; the latter, however, are without molded frames, but are surrounded with garlands and bands of roses modeled in plaster. A similar floral treatment is given to the panels of the piers, which carry a cornice supported on small modillions. And everywhere, save where there are windows, are mirrors—mirrors in the arched openings on each side of the doorways; mirrors in similar openings on each side of the fireplace; a large mirror over the mantel shelf, and still smaller ones, rectangular in form, in the spaces between the larger panels. The ceiling is domed, with a mirror in the apex, from which descends a rich and beautiful crystal chandelier. It is a room brimful of light and gaiety, conceived in a very happy way and carried out in a thoroughly successful and charmingly playful manner. AHAG1908

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 dining-room is on the opposite side of the house, and is larger than either the library or salon, but not so large as the two together; some space is needed here for the ample service requirements, which face the entrance front, the dining-room being on the sea front. The walls are paneled in solid mahogany in plain, simple, rectangular panels that rise to about the height of the doors. The door frames are of buff Siena marble and are quite monumental in character; the richness of their material offsetting, in a measure, the sobriety of their design.  At one end is the fireplace, incased within a chimney-piece of Siena marble, a vast and elaborately designed structure that quite dominates the room. The family arms fill the central panel. The ceiling is supported by a double cove. The lower one rises immediately above the summit of the paneling, and against it are finished the crowns of the door frames and the chimney-piece. A band of foliage, behind which are concealed the electric lights which illuminate the room, separates the lower cove from the upper one, which is smaller and merges immediately into the flat surface of the central ceiling. AHAG1908 
The Fireplace of a Boudoir
 All of the bedrooms are very large, most of them being connected with private bathrooms. Some have adjoining sitting-rooms and boudoirs as well. The closets on this floor are immense in size, several being large enough to contain a single bed comfortably. 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
Josephine Frederikke Sather Bruguiere was born about 1843 to Pedar Sather and Sarah Thompson of Connecticut. Pedar Sather had been the founder of the first bank in San Francisco and was a very wealthy individual. She married Emile A. Bruguiere, a wealthy Frenchman. They had one son Louis Sather Bruguiere, born on April 6th 1882.

The Bruguiere's New York City Townhouse
    The wealthy couple lived luxuriously in a large townhouse in New York City and rented cottages in Newport. When Emile A. Bruguiere died, he left Josephine a small fortune of $1 million and he left Louis S. another $1 million. 

    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 foundJames 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".

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