21.12.09

Italian Villas on the Maine Coast: Eegonos

Eegonos, Entrance front, c. 1910  (Architectural Record)
I found an old clipping from the August 1913 issue of Country Life in America, by architect I. Howland Jones of Andrews, Jacques, & Rantoul, titled Adapting the Italian Villa to the Maine Coast.  I will be posting from that wonderful article when I have more scan time, but in the meantime, it started me thinking about how many large and interesting houses in the Italian style were built up here in the early 20th century century, and I thought it might be interesting to feature several of them over the next few weeks.
In the late 19th century, when Down East Maine became a popular summer location, promoters almost fell over themselves reaching for hyperbole to describe the scenery.  Comparisons included Lake Como, the Swiss Alps, the German Alps, Scandinavia---you get the idea.  New summer resorts were developed with names like Lucerne-in-Maine, or Sorrento, to evoke these foreign places.
Eegonos, first floor plan (American Architect & Building News)


Eegonos, first floor plan (American Architect & Building News)
One of the early villa style houses was built 1907 on Sonogee Point in Bar Harbor for the Walter  Graeme Ladds.  The She was the former Kate Everit Macy, a Standard Oil heiress and philanthropist, and he a lawyer, who apparently spent most of his time alternating gentlemanly pursuits with the management of her fortune.  The architect was Guy Lowell, who would later design a Jacobethan manor house for the Ladd's estate in New Jersey.  In a bad case of the cutes, the Bar Harbor estate was named 'Eegonos (Sonogee backwards), and the New Jersey estate, on the Raritan River, was called Natirir.

Entrance Hall (Landvest Real Estate Ad, 2004)
Eegonos was a roomy house, with large scaled proportions (14' ceilings in the enormous living room), 40 rooms on 3 floors and a service mezzanine, with elaborate iron balconies supported by equally elaborate stucco brackets.  The central pavilion was arcaded, with elaborately carved mannerist style decoration with urns and niches.  The classic Italian villa formula of arched central arcade was the most common model used in the Maine Italian villas, and in fact, both estates to the south of Eegonos on Eden Street shared variations on this form.  Until the middle villa was demolished in the sixties, and  the southernmost lost its upper floors in conversion to a nursing home,they made for a surprisingly harmonious streetscape, these three huge red tiled roof houses peeking through the pine trees with blue ocean beyond.

Billiard Room (Landvest)
 The interior of Eegonos reflected the new trend toward a less ambitious version of the Renaissance than that seen in the last century, dependent on good proportions, with tapestries and rich old textiles and furniture providing the decoration.  One entered a large marble floored gallery with apsidal ends, opening to another hall with an arched colonnade, facing huge french doors at the far end giving a direct view of the expanse of Frenchman's Bay.
Drawing Room (Landvest
Dining Room (Landvest)

Living between an Astor and a Vanderbilt, the Ladds entertained often, with musicales apparently one of their favorite forms in culturally self-conscious Bar Harbor, with some or another big bosomed diva trilling away for the delight of summer guests.  Mr. Ladd died in 1934, Mrs. Ladd in 1945.  Eegonos was purchased by Margaret Dorrance Strawbridge, heiress to the Campbell's Soup fortune, who died in 1953.  After the triple threats of the Depression, WWII, and the Bar Harbor forest fire of 1947, Bar Harbor summer real estate values were at an all time low, and after several years on the market, Eegonos and the neighboring La Selva to the North were purchased for a song by Richard Gott for use as a summer school, L'Ecole Arcadie.  The school closed in the seventies, and the contents auctioned.  The cottage, still in decent condition, was purchased by an architect from Baltimore, and more recently has been a retreat center.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The grounds are unusually simple, to the point of ordinary, with none of the elaborate and integrally designed gardens typical of Guy Lowell's work.

Eegonos.  Aerial view (Landvest)

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I spent two summers at Dr. Gott's Ecole Arcadie in the mid-1960s. I learned a good deal of french and what a freshly steamed lobster should taste like. I greatly enjoyed my time in Bar Harbor and in this mansion.

Zach said...

I'm glad you could confirm their Bar Harbor connection. There is something about Guy Lowell houses that I find rather intriguing.

Bryna said...

Thank you so much for these wonderful photos. I spent three glorious summers at this school an dit has remained an important part of my life.

real estate algarve, Lagos property said...

From the outside it looks so great but the inside is more amazing. I can't believe that are still a building like that in these days. It is so amazing how it is preserved to stay on its original looks and design.

districtreia meeting said...

Living in that kind of property will be like a king. The location is just so amazing and the lake makes it more unbelievable.

Cape Coral Properties said...

Fascinating architectural design. And the villa itself is really amazing. Thanks for sharing such an informative post.

Cape Coral Rental Management said...

Thanks for sharing the information. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Kate Macy Ladd was my great great aunt. Her sister was my great great grandmother. I have never seen Eegonos but your photographs are lovely and someday I would love to go there. I used to live near Natirar in New Jersey and I understand now that Richard Branson has a 99 year lease on it and it is just beautiful. Thank God there are some people into preserving these beautiful places.

Teri Noel Towe said...

I spent three summers at Ecole Arcadie in the early 1960s. The house, which is a masterpiece, was built by a member of the Dorrance family from the Philadelphia area (Campbell's Soup heirs) who married a member of the Strawbridge family (Strawbridge & Clothier department stores). The original name of the estate was an Italian translation of Straw Bridge: Ponte di Paglia.

I am thrilled and delighted that this magnificent house survives and survives essentially intact.

Anonymous said...

I also spent a couple of summers at the school, what a beautiful place that was...

Philippines properties said...

I really love the dining area of the house.

Andy

James Cash said...

Villas in Tuscany Italy are a great place to stay and vacation. The architecture in these structures is fantastic. I have bought from that sight multiple times with nothing but satisfaction.

Anonymous said...

At age 17 I spent four weeks in the summer of 1963 at L'Ecole Arcadie. In addition to learning French, I experienced living in the beautiful mansion, sailing, attending classical concerts, eating lobster steamed on the beach, swimming in cold water, and meeting wonderful teachers, counselors, and friends.

Luther said...

I spent four wonderful summers there but not as a student. I remained friends with Dr. Richard Gott for years after and was entertained in his beautiful Boston Mansion. Unfortunately I lost contact a number of years before his death and would treasure some information about the end of his life and family. We were friendly with his niece and nephew, so wonder about them.

Anonymous said...

I too spent an amazing summer in 1963 at Ecole Arcadie. I recently came across the 'yearbook' and, although 50 years ago, the memories of that summer in Maine came flooding back. My French was pretty amazing by the end of the summer.