Thursday, August 2, 2012

Housetour: Glencairn

Adjacent to Cairnwood and the Bryn Athyn Cathedral sits Glencairn. The other structures pale by comparison as this house dominates the nearby landscape with its main 7 story tower.Raymond Pitcairn and his wife Mildred Glenn built Glencairn (hence the name Glen - cairn) as their family home between 1928 and 1939 adjacent to Cairnwood, the family seat, where they lived during contruction. Above you can see just HOW close.As at Cairnwood, views of the cathedral are found throughout the house.
Raymond was thus not only working on his Cathedral at this time but also on his own house and the similarities are striking. Romanesque details that he couldn't accomodate on the cathedral are instead used on his own medieval house/castle.Despite its eccentrically spooky design and enormous size this was every bit a family home for his 9 children (8 are depicted as corbels on this balcony seen above). Interestingly enough, some of the children chose to share bedrooms.Here unlike at the Cathedral, Raymond was able to complete a finished cloister which makes a lovely private garden for the house.Now housing a museum of Raymond's religious artifacts, the house has changed little since his time in residence.I loved these 2 ancient benches built into the wall with a view of the valley below.High above the cloister is a porch off the master bedroom. Details such as this stair articulated on the exterior had me so excited to go inside!The front door sits basically on the back of the house under the tall tower.As at the cathedral, the details here are amazing. Notice the name etched in stone over the heavy metal doors.The entry is lavishly covered with beautiful marble mosaics. Never forget though that this is a very modern house and was a family home. The modern day conviences are nicely disguised, like this electrical outlet above (if you can even find it - that is some amazing faux painting). The stone is so beautiful and suits the collection nicely.Off of the entry is the dining room with a terrific brick, groin-vaulted ceiling.I adored the painting over the fireplace. Notice too that the lighting conduit is expertly faux-painted to blend in with the brick. The Great Hall (or living room) sits off the dining room and is certainly an awe-inspiring space.Despite the size little elements bring the room down to human scale, such as the bookcases..Or the inglenook at the fireplace. Much of this custom furniture and the wood throughout the house is from the same stock of teak wood used at the cathedral.The opening between the dining and great hall is beautifully mosaic'd as well.Notice the glass railing on the balcony above.The concrete stairs taking you up to the bedrooms in the tower is poured concrete and painstakingly decorated.The hallways upstairs are also of stone and no design detail is spared or overlooked.The cozy family chapel here is similar in size to the one next door at Cairnwood.This one is a tad more ornate of course. Mosaic'd ceiling and with Raymond's passion, beautiful stained glass windows.Localized lighting is key in warming the stone and creating intimate spaces.Down the hall from the chapel is the library or family room, probably my favorite space.
Imagine a roaring fire in here and an afternoon spent perusing the bookshelves.Off the library is the master bedroom; surprisingly intimate for such a grand house.
Much of the furniture was made specially for the house and designed by Raymond, while the rest speaks of a family home of the time period.Each bedroom features a stone niche for a bible, seen beside the gorgeous crib.I loved the detail on this door's panels - it opens to feature a dressing mirror!The master bathroom is covered with beautiful marble slabs and brass fixtures: even the shaving sink is stone.Mosaics have a place here as well. I've always loved glass towel rods.The vanity is also of teak and matches others found throughout the house. A sleeping porch is located off the bathroom (seen from the cloister below).And what is located up the tower you may wonder? A metal and glass sunroom sits neatly within a large covered terrace with amazing views of the valley below.I hope you enjoyed this tour of eccentric and wonderful Glencairn as much as I, or even half as much!