RASHOMON DOWNEAST: The Churchills visit Bar Harbor

In June of 1894, Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill, the parents of Winston Churchill, embarked on a round-the-world tour.  After landing in New York, unpleasant in full summer heat, the Churchills immediately went to Bar Harbor, traveling in a private railroad car loaned by Chauncey Depew. The Bar Harbor Season was entering full swing and the New York Times proclaimed Bar Harbor to be 'delighted' with the presence of the famous couple. Other accounts, however gave more mixed reviews.  

I searched out several accounts of the visit, including Lady Churchill's own, and find that indeed any story has many tellings.  Here, in their own words, are those of the Chicago Tribune, the Lewiston Daily Journal, and Lady Churchill herself, giving very different perspectives on the same events (and proving that Lady Churchill perhaps did not have perfect recall for the names of people and places visited).

Chicago Tribune, July 15, 1894
The West End Hotel, where the Churchills did not stay.
And the Malvern Hotel, where they did

Lord Randolph's stay at the Malvern was not without tension, as recounted by The Boston Evening Transcript of July 28, 1894


By the end of July, the bloom was off the Churchill rose, as recounted in the July 28, 1894 Lewiston Daily Journal, above. 

"The Anchorage", the Edith Babb Randolph (later Mrs. W.C. Whitney) cottage, where the Churchills dined
Thirlstane, the R.B. Scott cottage by William Ralph Emerson, leased by the Mortimers for the 1894 season, where they entertained the Churchills

Let's give Lady Churchill the last word, with her own memories, recounted in her 1908 memoir, The Reminiscences of Lady Randolph Churchill:

"ON the morning of the 27th of June 1894 I started with Lord Randolph Churchill from Euston Station for a tour round the world Quite a number of friends besides our families came to see us off among them were Lord and Lady Londonderry, Lady Jeune, Lord Rosebery, and Mr Goschen. Randolph was very pleased and touched at his old friend Lord Rosebery coming and frequently alluded to it afterward.  At Liverpool Mr Ismay met us on board the Majestic; he reminded me of the Jubilee trip on the Teutonic which already seemed in the distant past.  Rough seas and uninteresting passengers were not conducive to the time passing quickly The only incidents I remember were the inevitable concert in which I was pressed into the service and the excitement another night of nearly running down a vessel.  It was a strange sensation to awake finding our ship stopped and to feel instead of the throbbing and noise of the machinery an unwonted calm broken only by the incessant and irritating sound of fog horns We remained only two days in New York as the thermometer recorded 81 degrees in the shade Mr Chauncey Depew who was one of the few people we saw was good enough to place his private car at our disposal for the projected journey to Bar Harbor I remember asking him if it was true that he had telegraphed to Lord Rosebery when Ladas won the Derby Nothing left but Heaven He replied that it was This was my first experience of a private car which proved to be as well appointed as a small yacht and was a most enjoyable mode of traveling The colored cook prepared an excellent dinner and we slept as comfortably as we could have done in our own beds After the dust and heat of New York Bar Harbor seemed a haven of rest with its fresh sea breezes lovely drives and mountain walks As far as I could gather the life there was very much a second edition of Newport and consisted in perpetual dressing dinners and dances and that horror of horrors the leaving of cards It was very pleasant notwithstanding and we indulged in all the amusements of the place We were invited to a dance at the Kebo Valley Club a charming house thoroughly suited to the country It was a real joy to dance the Boston which only Americans know properly There we met a number of pretty girls whom I often saw driving or playing lawn tennis and who anticipating the hatless brigade of to day were invariably without hats This I was told was to bleach their hair I made the acquaintance of some delightful women with whom I found myself in that perfect sympathy which can only be felt among compatriots Mr George Vanderbilt a very cultivated young man was then unmarried he had a steam yacht in which he took us to see East Harbor where we had a fine view and a sea below. Close to his house which faced the sea was a swimming bath open to the sky through which salt water was constantly flowing Here he and his friends of both sexes disported themselves bobbing up and down diving and swimming without shyness and I must say without vanity for it must be owned that women do not look their best under such circumstances While in the water there was no hilarity or chaff everything was conducted with the greatest decorum not to say ceremony which added to the ludicrous effect upon the spectators We dined one night with Mrs Van Rensselaer Jones to meet Marion Crawford who was staying with her Mr Marion Crawford was the best of company Tall dark with piercing blue eyes a decided chin and kind mouth adorned with a small mustache I thought him the very best type of a good looking American He has a pleasant voice modulated by his constant use of the Italian language and talked most agreeably on all subjects At that time he took a very gloomy view of the political outlook in America and declared that the problem of socialism would be solved there Some one accused him of being an idle man and loving the dolce far niente Idle he exclaimed and his eyes sparkled with indignation for sixteen years I have worked and made a living by my pen and have produced twenty five novels At the same dinner I met for the first time Mr Court land Palmer a young amateur pianist who was inspired with the real feu sacre and was able then as now to hold his own with professionals During my stay at Bar Harbor we met frequently and played the piano together One of our many expeditions was a sail in the Mayflower the yacht which won the International Yacht Race against the Galatea There was a Bishop on board who was described to me as a bully Bishop but we thought his appearance somewhat disreputable and did not cultivate him Mr C commonly called the Greek god a name which suited him admirably was also there. When I told Randolph his nickname he declared he could have nothing to do with a Greek god But he did and liked him. Before leaving Bar Harbor, the Nourmahal, a big steam yacht belonging to the John Jacob Astors, came into the harbor. Mrs Astor's beauty and grace, not to mention the charming simplicity of her nature, must always command admiration, but had she been the Empress of Russia her arrival could not have caused more commotion. It was with regret that we left Bar Harbor and its bright and hospitable inhabitants and started on our Canadian journey With some difficulty we procured a private car from the Pullman Company the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway notwithstanding our letters to him proving a broken reed. The officials were persuaded to place us at the end of the train, in order that we might make use of the observation room, with which our car the Iolanthe was furnished and which proved a great boon."


It didn't quite come out the same as the Veranda cover...

Long Time, No Post

 I'm mostly on Instagram these days, but curious if anyone is still out there. 



A beautiful Greek Revival house,"Riverside" was built c.1840  on ancestral land, for the Glidden family of Newcastle, Maine, owners of an ocean sailing fleet of clipper ships.  Always a pleasure to see this level of architectural integrity---the house is maintained with perfect pitch, ever more rare as changing tastes, the current trend toward heavy-handed 'improvement', and modern building conventions slowly eat away at these beautiful structures.  This is the architectural heritage--and streetscape---of Maine at its best.

The design of the fence itself is based plate 33 in Asher Benjamin's Modern Carpenter, the source of many a 19th century New England builder's inspiration and instruction.

Street view photographs by the Dilettante via phone, portico view via Creative Commons by Taorob, whose Panoramio site of photographs of Maine Architecture is a must-visit.



My morning distraction was set in motion by an 18th century engraving of the Cabinet de Treillage at the Petite Trianon at Versailles.

I'm something of a geek (I could stop there, but do let's soldier on) about how designs travel and how they are re-invented in each iteration.

In 1799, Samuel McIntire, a self-taught carver, carpenter, and architect in Salem, Massachusetts, was engaged in his largest residential project, one of the grandest houses of its era in America, for the merchant Elias Hasket Derby.  

The program included a summer house for the garden, and this sketch by McIntire, for a Palladian-inspired garden folly, is thought to be a preliminary sketch for that structure.

Photograph of Derby-Beebe summer house by Joel Abroad, via Flickr Creative Commons

However, as built, the garden house had a flat roof with balustrade, ornamented with 8 urns carved by McIntire.  It is a charming structure, with the refined naive elegance and economy of design that typifies the architecture of New England of that era, wood standing in for the stone that would have been used in Europe.  And this is why the engraving electrified me this morning, for it appears that Mr. McIntire had got his hands upon a book of French designs, as in a departure from his usual Palladian and neo-classical inspiration, he seems to have based the design on the Cabinet de Treillage.  Or perhaps it's mere coincidence?

Cabinet de Treillage, Versailles

Coincidence or inspiration, the two buildings have unmistakable similarities of composition.  For your final consideration, I offer up this charming storefront, designed for the Pennel, Gibbs and Quiring decorating firm in Boston in the early 20th century.  By architects doubtless Beaux Arts trained, it takes the idea of the Derby-Beebe summer house and dresses it up in correct Academic orders (the treillage pavilion uses trellised pilasters of no particular order, and the summer house uses Corinthian, properly not for lower floors), but the design still appears to owe a debt to the earlier building in Salem--although a learned friend disagrees with me, I stick by this.  I leave it to the interested reader to draw his own conclusions.

When Elias Derby's great house fell to the wreckers, not many years after it was built, the summer house was moved to a family farm in Wakefield, later acquired by the Beebe family.  In the 20th century, the summer house was removed from the farm and returned to Salem, to the grounds of the Peabody-Essex Museum. Derby had another summer house designed by McIntire on his Danvers estate, which was spared demolition and traveled to his Granddaughter's "Glen Magna Farm", where it remains today..  It is one of the most exquisite buildings of the Early Republic, and spawned its own host of imitators, including wings of a cottage in Bar Harbor.  But that is a story for another day.



On a quick  outing with an observant friend to the near Down East (Winter Harbor and Gouldsboro), I particularly captivated by the textures and pattern details of many of the buildings we saw.

Above, the residence hall at the former U.S. Navy Radio and Direction Finding Station on Schoodic Point at Winter Harbor, Grosvenor Atterbury Architect, 1905, commissioned by John D. Rockefeller to replace the old Fabbri Station at Otter Cliffs in Acadia National Park.

Below, the West Gouldsboro Union Church, 1894.  The parquetry work in the ceiling is especially wonderful.

Next door, a the wonderful little Tudorbethan Gouldsboro Library, designed by Fred Savage in 1906.  One of my personal fantasies is a single room private library in the garden.  This one would do just fine.  I'm sorry I couldn't get photos of the handsome interior.

Above, stonework at the Channing Chapel, Unitarian, in Winter Harbor, built as a gift in 1887 by summer resident David Flint of Boston.  The rocks, a mixture of field stone and beach rock, were transported in winter across frozen ground, and laid by a master mason, whose name is momentarily lost in the files.  The Chapel is now the Winter Harbor Library.

Below, stonework, also a mix of old stone wall salvage and beach stones, on a 1902 private cottage.  A friend has reason to speculate that the stonework may be by the same mason as the Channing Chapel.  I think he may be right.

Stone and shingle, the classic Maine summer combination, at 'Far From the Wolf' the 1892 John Godfrey Moore cottage on Grindstone Neck, by W.W. Kent of New York, one of the finest shingle style cottages,  in a crowded competition, on this remote stretch of coast.



In the year since I last posted, there has been a veritable landslide of demand for my return (at least 3 people and a dog at last count), so I promise, there will be a new post soon---very soon.
"Will the Dilettante ever return?  He'd better bring me a treat when he does"
For those who wonder, I have been kept from writing by life's caprices, as well as other challenges and commitments---as here, where I am seen as auctioneer's assistant at a charity auction last weekend (Vanna White wasn't available).

The event in question was a fundraiser for the 200th anniversary of the Holt House, the beautiful Federal house that is now home of the local Historical Society.  The portrait I am holding is of an ancestress of the auctioneer, and came with a joke whose punchline was "And my grandmother would then alway point at that picture and say "isn't she a handsome woman".

I know there's another joke here....but I'll leave it up to the reader.

"Isn't she a handsome woman"
Inspecting the wares.  I bought the very chic chair at the left.  Never met a chair I didn't like.
This Victorian sofa, rather a fine example of its type, but in a style rarely popular in today's trend-driven markets is still available; proceeds for a good cause.
The Holt House, a grace note in the center of our village for 200 years.