Sunday, September 2, 2012

Country House of Character - "Huntland"

"Huntland" Mr. Joseph P. Thomas's Home at Middleburg,Va.
by Peabody, Wilson & Brown, Architects.  

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.

***Below is the selection chosen by Architects Peabody, Wilson & Brown*** 

"Huntland" Mr. Joseph P. Thomas's Home at Middleburg,Va. by Peabody, Wilson & Brown, Architects.         Painted by John Vincent

THE interest that attaches to this house for Joseph B. Thomas, at Middleburg, Va., arises from the fact that, unlike so much of our modern architecture in America, it derives its precedent from the early architectural traditions of our own country. It is not an indiscriminate transplanting of foreign details and associations, but it takes its fundamental qualities from the early and native traditions of the early days of prerevolutionary Virginia. It is an attempt to carry on from early precedent, but modified to modern conditions of life, as much as possible of the only style of architecture which can be truly said to be indigenous to the soil and climate of our country.

***Front View - "Huntland" Mr. Joseph P. Thomas's Home at Middleburg,Va. by Peabody, Wilson & Brown, Architects. ***

***Black lacquer furniture, walls covered in a gay Chinese design of birds and flowers and curtains, some pale yellow edged with green and some orange and green, make an interseting bedroom in the residence of Mr. Joseph Thomas at Middleburg, Va. The bed is an old four-poster with an unusual top draping.  Behind it is an alcove, down each side of which are book shelves. The ceiling in this alcove is made up of small mirrors in panels. Caption from  House & Garden Second Book of Interiors 1920***

This is the modern outgrowth of such a house as would have been built a hundred years ago by any wealthy Virginia planter with an interest in his home surroundings and possessing the native taste which was unfortunately, more common in those days than in the present.

 First Floor Plan. 
***"Huntland" Mr. Joseph P. Thomas's Home at Middleburg, Va. 
by Peabody, Wilson & Brown, Architects.***

It is not, however, modern civilization retreating to the shelter of old customs and conditions of living, not, in other words, a step backward; but rather a carrying forward of old traditions, and a modernization of them, to bring them abreast of the modern standards of life and culture.

Click HERE to see at wikimapia.


  1. Additional posts on "Huntland" in the future. There does seem to be some discrepancy in architects - this article has PW&B - other information shows William Hagga???

  2. That more than one architect had a hand is not beyond the realm.

    Great minds think alike. I posted about the bedroom at Huntland a few months ago---extraordinary room. There's strong evidence pointing to the hand of Henry Davis Sleeper---who was best man at the Thomas's wedding---in the decoration. I too have other material saved, which I never got around to posting---I look forward to seeing yours.

    The Thomas's summer home up here in Maine is the polar opposite of Huntland, and one of the major houses of the 1930's.

    Apparently Huntland is currently for sale?

  3. Not for sale according to Redfin - from what I find - on the market in 2005 for 18.8million - sold in 2009 for 7.9. A a lady doctor restored the property.

    Coincidentally I had the H&G book from the library not knowing I was doing "Huntland"- since returned. I lifted the caption from your post - the CLIA article had none. Were there other photos of the place? Is HDSleeper known for his cat rugs?

  4. The rug is Chinese, the cat is a tiger, and is probably 18th century. Sleeper is best known for his take on early American styles---lots of hooked rugs---as in his own house 'Beauport', but in fact essayed far more cosmopolitan styles for his clients---lavishly arranged eclectic mixes were a specialty. Mrs. Thomas herself was an artist---with a specialty in murals and scenic backdrops for theater---and IF Sleeper was involved or not, would clearly have had an effect on these dramatic interiors.

  5. Looks like a kitty to me.... DED there's a story about a yacht named the Joseph B. Thomas that sank in Maine. Any details?

  6. LOL, you must not have read my post about the Thomas summer house.

    It was not a yacht, but a commercial wooden ship--a schooner, perhaps, named for Thomas's grandfather. It was wrecked off Fortune Rocks, between Kennebunkport and Biddeford Pool in southern Maine in the 19th century. The Thomas's named the Maine house Fortune Rock after the event. A mural by Mrs. Thomas, over the stairs from living room to dining room commemorated the wreck. The mural, I'm told, is now in Oregon.

  7. I cannot get past the portico, apparently the same on the front and back. The odd proportions of the portico prevent the exterior from being a success in my opinion.

  8. Enjoyed reading your information and opinions though, in my memories, I can only imagine Huntland as a "success" and a wonderland. My grandparents William (Stable Mgr.) and Teresa (Chef/House Mgr.) Anderson lived at Huntland for 28 years (ending in 1983). My sisters and I spent many, many weekends at Huntland when company of the Browns were not scheduled. I'd say we knew every "nook and cranny" of that beautiful place. Thank you for your postings. I've enjoyed them.

    1. Thanks Cyndy. Just to be clear if your talking "opinions" on this story the text is not mine. It comes from a Country Life article. Any photos are your great memories?