Thursday, August 16, 2012

Housetour: Cairncrest

Adjacent to the Bryn Athyn Cathedral, Cairnwood and Glencairn is another unusual house also designed in part by Raymond Pitcairn. Cairncrest was the home of Harold Pitcairn, arguably the most well known of the Pitcairn children, along with his wife Clara and their 9 children.Harold had been interested in aviation since childhood and is known for developing the Autogiro (an early helicopter). His occupation with aviation turned Cairncrest into a guest house for the who's who of the early 20th century: Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart all came to stay.Since 1964, the house has been home to the administrative offices for the "New Church" and is not open to the public.Harold had his brother, Raymond, work on the initial design for the house which was then carried out by the Philadelphia architects Llewellyn Price and Wetherill Trout. The interiors were decorated by Anne Renner from New York. Local crafts and materials were employed such as nearby Mercer Tile. As in the other properties, there is no real 'front' to the house. Rather, one drives up to the side of the house, through a porte cochere and into a motor court where the front door is located, seen here. Notice the 2nd floor terrace or possible sleeping porch above the front door which has been enclosed.The links to religious architecture are obvious. The cloister above leads to a charming Palm Court.I wonder how this loggia was originally roofed; Open trellis or metal roofing?I loved the door hardware to the Palm Court. As in the other properties, the house is full of interesting details. This 'barn' off the loggia has a stair... ...which leads to this charming juliet balcony.The back terrace looks out over the valley and the nearby Cathedral.The garage is housed under the rear terraceThese stairs lead up to the kitchen and service entrances from the lower garage court.The grounds were designed by Arthur Westcott Cowell and were once magnificent, holding a number of gardens, terraces and out buildings.This charming gazebo is in great shape; notice the beautiful art deco metal railings.Stone structures house a number of different functions: this one seems to hold a gardening shed and the former kitchen gardens.The greenhouse has been replaced by a much more useful parking lot but the stone storage shed is still in place.Sadly, the swimming pool has been filled in, a feature I'm sure the employees miss all summer long!