As historic homes go, this – the last of the Gilded Age mansions of Maine – is a prime and peerless example.
Coinciding with France’s Belle Epoque period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, America’s Gilded Age represented an era of social, cultural and economic growth, with the state of Maine playing summer house to the super-rich. The Bar Harbor area, originally known as Eden, was particularly popular, and welcomed John D Rockefeller Jr, J P Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, the Astor family and former president William Taft, all of whom regularly summered there. In 1947, though, a great fire raged through the town, destroying nearly all of the Gilded Age mansions, except East of Eden.
The villa was originally named Eegonos by Walter G Ladd, a lawyer and trustee to American philanthropist Josiah W Macy Jr. The word pays tribute to and reverses the spelling of the name of the first house built on this plot, Sonogee. The Ladds approached Guy Lowell to design the 1909 property. The Boston architect was known to favour the Beaux-Arts style, characterised by sculptural but linear decorative features; arched windows and doors; the use of then-modern materials such as iron and glass; and a hierarchy of spaces – leading from grand entrances and staircases to smaller, more utilitarian areas.
There is, however, nothing small-scale about this estate on Frenchman’s Bay; it comes with 15,000 square feet of living space vertically spread along three storeys, with nine acres of waterfront. This includes a deepwater docking station.
The H-shaped structure is flanked by a porch supported by paired Ionic-style columns and topped by a red tile roof. Within, fireplaces are finished in marble and wood, walls are hand-painted and covered with murals, and the 14-foot ceilings are decorated with friezes and medallions.
East of Eden was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Although it’s remained in good shape over the decades and comes with most of the furniture selected by Lowell, the main house underwent a 10-year renovation in 2006. The original detailing was refreshed, bathrooms upgraded and an eight-bay garage constructed for the antique automobiles of the current owner, who also acquired an additional four acres from the adjacent estate.
Entry is via a vaulted marble-laid vestibule leading to a reception room, which further branches out into what used be a music room overlooking the bay, a card room, library, and separate living and dining rooms. The kitchen has been updated to include a pantry and laundry nook. A grand staircase just off the entry hall goes up to the second-floor landing, which is decorated with hand-painted Chinese wallpaper with birds, butterflies and flowers. The master suite is located on the southeast corner of this floor, and has a separate sitting room. All but one of the seven bedrooms come with decorative-iron balconies overlooking the water.
The third floor was originally the staff quarters and has 11 bedrooms, currently used for storage, plus two bathrooms. The main terrace on this level takes in views across the bay, to Hancock Point, Sorrento and the Porcupine Islands, all the way to the Schoodic Peninsula – where the Acadia National Park is located – on a clear day. For more information, visit TopTenRealEstateDeals.com.
Dubai architect Lulie Fisher to design luxury villas in Zanzibar
Inside an aspiring abode in the redeveloped Battersea Power Station - in pictures
Five pieces of furniture we're loving from Haitch For Handmade