Monday, August 3, 2015

Stan Hywet -an introduction

I recently was in Akron, Ohio, and paid a visit to one of those great big old houses that were once home to industrialists and now are museums. Stan Hywet was built between 1912 and 1915 for the founder of the Goodyear Tire Company, F.A. Seiberling, by architect Charles Sumner Schneider in the popular Tudor Revival style of the time.
The estate stayed in the family even as their fortune waned and ebbed and finally opened to the public in 1957. The gardens are as magnificent as the house!
The house measures in at an astounding 65,000 SF, a not very residential number! Miles of commercial corridors line the basement and indeed the systems were the same types that fueled office buildings. To this day the house sells natural gas to the gas company from its' own wells.
This lovely leaded-glass conservatory is near the front door. Notice the cheerful orange awnings that are in place for the hot summer weather.
The details in and around the house are really beautiful - notice the eaves and brackets 3 stories in the air where they can hardly be seen. My trusty iphone had problems even capturing them!
I loved the fern-linedcovered walkway which connects the house to the garden, over the service area seen below.
The service area is large enough for a factory and indeed large country houses such as this needed an army of staff to keep it running! This lower level courtyard keeps the services hidden from the view of house and grounds.
Behind the backyard is  a sunken 'Japanese' Garden which isn't necessarily very Japanese but is a defined space that features a few 'exotic' lawn ornaments.
 The scale of the lawn matches the scale of the house: immense!
 A few trees wouldn't kill this rear facade but I have to admit it's a handsome house. This is a reflecting pool only, the swimming pool is located in the basement: more on that later.
The main living area lies at one end of the house so when guests were entertained on the terrace they wouldn't feel out of scale against such a massive building. From this view it almost looks like a normal sized house!
Join me for my next posts where I'll bring you highlights of the interiors and gardens because at 65,000 SF there is too much to share on this blog!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Details matter

Sometimes #reallife gets in the way of blogging so I've been noticeably absent even though I have many posts lined up! In lieu of a 'real' post I thought I'd share some great detail shots from my Penpal's latest trip to Great Britain.
 Details matter!  These animals on the end of each pew make church fun!
This pug makes me laugh!
The carving on these column capitals is stunningly lifelike. 
 Ancient hand-painted encaustic tiles.
 Beautiful colorful fabrics.
 And of course in Great Britain everything is heavily gilded.
If you got it flaunt it -isn't that the saying? People love to splash around coats of arms.
 The polychrome sign above is pretty amazing, no?
 A gutter collector box is always a beautiful feature -but in Great Britain they also come GILDED.
Thats not the only gilded part of these ancient buildings.....strapwork hinges! I've never seen anything like this.
 And save a bit of romance for last; together in life, together in death.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Buscot Park and gardens

As you've probably noticed my penpal, Neil, sends me a lot of fabulous photos from his travels. Once in awhile something really strikes a cord though and I fall instantly in love. That happened when he sent me his photos of Buscot Park.
A country house in Oxfordshire, west of London, the strict Georgian house was originally built in 1783. As with many old houses over the years it was changed and added onto but then something interesting happened: in 1934 the owner, the 2nd Lord Faringdon, had the additions demolished and the house restored to it's original neoclassical form.
Faringdon hired the fashionable society architect Geddes Hyslop to not only restore the house to its original form but modernize it with the usual bathrooms and amenities (including a swimming pool) and flank the house with 2 detached Palladian wings.
Hyslop was a very capable architect for he believed that his works were to blend in with their surroundings and not create brash 'statements' or compete with the original (sound familiar to many of todays 'starchitects'?)
 The stone and slate mansion is perfection, pure and simple;  above is the front entrance.
The rear features 2 bowed sections to allow more light into the interiors and connect them to the gardens.
The gardens really are the focus of this estate and I'll be getting to them in a minute, but indulge me with a few more photographs of the house itself.
Unusual to have a 1934 swimming pool meld so seamlessly with an 18th century mansion, but it works.
Here you can see one of the pavilions created by Hyslop which houses pool rooms, a theater, and other amenities.
 From outside of the hedge enclosure one would never know the pool was there.
Now lets get to the gardens which have been developed over the past century by the many owners and continues to change. The current Lord Faringdon lives on the property but has downsized to another structure on the grounds.
These Italianate water gardens down towards the lake were created by the landscape architect Harold Peto in 1904 for the first Lord Faringdon, before the renovation to the house.
 They connect the house to the lake through a series of waterways.
This lovely stone bridge is beautifully set on the other side of the lake.
The Gardens are so successful because they are designed setting up views through structure and allees. You always have something to look at.
 Even on a cloudy day such as here there is a lot to see and enjoy.
I mentioned the gardens continue to change and grow. The artist David Harber completed the skeletal pyramid seen below in the 'Egyptian Avenue'.
The pyramid is mounted over a functioning Italian wellhead and in the summer surrounded by potted citrus trees.
 The gardens closer to the house are more formal in nature.
The 'Parents Walk' seen below was planted in 1986 by renowned landscape architect Peter Coats and provides year round color to the grounds.
 I love the allium lining this allee below.

The current Lord Faringdon has turned the former walled kitchen gardens into a gorgeous walled ornamental garden seen here. I love the way the wisteria frames the view of one of the pavilions.
While not as practical as a kitchen garden, those do still exist elsewhere on the estate and since the house is no longer used as a residence why not have something pretty?
Grand estates such as these are impossible to duplicate but I feel can give us endless inspiration for our own homes and gardens.
Read more about Buscot Park on their website, find information about visiting at the National Trust, and read more about the family on Wikipedia.
Many thanks to Neil as always for the inspiration and his snapshots!