I don’t know; I’m like a little kid, or a crow, and can easily be distracted by something shiny. If day after tomorrow you discover me writing
Fred McGillicuddy’s pigsty in West Treestump Vermont is the supreme example of American Gothic Revival Architecture
just smile and acknowledge it for what it is — a form of enthusiasm conjoined to a disorderly mind.
But it’s awesome, ain’t it?
Hey look, there’s Patsy’s port cochere. Please note that the roof shields only the persons riding in the carriage. The man driving would have to get off his perch and get rained on to walk around the coach and open the door for the swells that were visiting Mr. Bowen. My own relatives were coachman and cook for a similarly wealthy family from Boston in the 1800s. These houses are museums for the amusement of the descendants of the servants now. I love America.
It’s awesome inside, too:
Is that a Sippican Cottage Furniture catalog I see on the hall table there? Nice place to look it over. I imagine the internet connection’s a little slow. It really was a series of tubes back then, and only went from the bridge to the engine room. The stairwell is handsome too:
The furniture is appropriate for the house, which is rare. Usually the last occupants of any notable house strip the place bare before they turn the place over to some foundation or another to get out of paying taxes and painting these places. You can visit the mansions in Newport, and half of them look like Minnie Pearl was the decorator.
The heavy oak furniture and the densely printed wallpapers are perfect. The white marble tops on some of the tables were very common.
This is one of the best things in the house. That’s an oriel window. An oriel window is a window on an upper story that is built into its own projecting bay. What a lovely place to sit. And look on the right there. That dresser is the real item: Cottage Furniture:
In a way, I’m a terrible fraud. I have a business with Cottage Furniture right in the name, and I really technically don’t make cottage furniture. The original term referred to a kind of inexpensive furniture, which was painted, or painted to look like a sort of stylized woodgrain. That dresser is the real thing. Real cottage furniture is fairly rare now because it mostly fell all to pieces. I capture the essence of the concept if not the precise details of it, I hope. The falling to pieces part we can all do without.
Faux, actually. It’s painted to mimic the look of oak. Really well done too. Faux Bois, it’s called. I used to do that for a living, and it’s hard to do convincingly. It’s not really considered ersatz. The interior millwork was made of pine (they’d call it deal, back then) or poplar or some other inexpensive, easily worked wood. They’d prime it, (sugar of lead, anyone?) then paint it a sort of dull, yellow color. A slow-drying glaze would be applied, and a series of unusual brushes and combs would be dragged through the glaze to give the appearance of the desired wood. Those silvering grains were probably done with a finger wrapped in a rag, nothing more. The whole thing would get a sort of varnish stain to get the right color overall. Intact, such painted millwork is often more valuable than if it was real. Hollywood set painters are about the last place on earth where anyone’s any good at this. Everybody I’ve seen try it out in the general population makes a dog’s breakfast of it.
The place is open to the public, and you can rent it out if you’re feeling like feeling like a Gatsby for an afternoon. They don’t call it the Bowen House though, it’s called Roseland Cottage.