Sunday, March 18, 2012

Twin Cities' Governor's Mansion Celebrates 100 Years


First built as a lumber baron's private home,  the state-owned house at 1006 Summit Avenue has served as Minnesota's official governor's residence for almost five decades. The current tenant of the of the $2.9 million mansion is Gov. Mark Dayton.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a great article celebrating the 100th anniversary of this notable Jacobean-Revival house, which  lived a quiet private life during the decades it was home to the Irvine family. But after it was donated to the state in 1965, it became Minnesota's version of "Upstairs, Downstairs," only in reverse. While governors and their families make their home in the second-floor living quarters, the first floor and lower level are official ones, used to host visiting dignitaries and gubernatorial staff meetings.

The home will be celebrating its 100th anniversary with expanded tours and festive events,

"We're using the whole year as a catalyst for fundraising and community outreach," said Kristin Parrish of the 1006 Summit Avenue Society, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the residence. She is co-chairing the 100th anniversary celebration.

Read More HERE.
Via Star-Tribune. Photo courtesy of Star Tribune.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Beautiful Overview of Cotswolds Architecture: Where Five Valleys Meet


The perfect thing to enjoy with your morning coffee can he found on Rosemary's Where Five Valleys Meet blog, where she shares a brief glimpse into some of the beautiful architecture to be found in the Cotswolds. Long known for its picturesque beauty, the region features many of England's finest stone houses, and one of the best -- Stanway - is featured here. I've always been particularly fond of the gatehouse, and there is a beautiful photo of that to accompany the post as well.

PHOTO CREDIT: Where Five Valleys Meet

Owned by Tewkesbury Abbey for 800 years, then for 500 years by the Tracy family and their descendants, the Earls of Wemyss, Stanway House is currently the home of Lord and Lady Neidpath.  Thanks to its location, at the foot of the Cotswold escarpment, Stanway has been protected from many changes of the 20th century, but the last decade has seen the gradual restoration to its former glory of the 18th century watergarden, probably designed by the greatest of British landscape gardeners, Charles Bridgeman.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tudor Tear-Down on Hold as McMansion Lust Continues

Although a great many of the "McMansions" that have sprung up across the landscape are to be rightly reviled for their gross and overblown designs, the problem is doubly painful when a fine old home is demolished to make way for these monstrocities. The problem has recently come to light again in Wilmette, IL - where an attractive prarie-style home with connections to Frank Lloyd Wright may fall to a wrecking ball.

In the article about that house, writer Lee Bey notes the story of another local house - a 1901 stucco and stone Tudor-revival home on Essex Road designed by Irish architect William Wallace Blair, who also lived in the house after it was completed. The home (see photo) was purchased by Heritage Luxury Builders, which last year sought permission to demolish the home and build a brand new one on the lot.

Some local residents weighed in on the proposal, and village officials held off on issuing any permits until this March. Meanwhile, the builder has been working with the village on an alternative that could save the existing home by building a large addition that would include an attached three-car garage, three powder rooms, a home theater, and six bedroom suites. The asking price on the newly-renovated home is expected to be in the range of $3,800,000.

While the compromise on this proposal is to be applauded, it is sad to think that so many "luxury" home builders (and their customers) are so quick to tear down a fine old house like this in the mistaken assumption that they can do better. All too often, we end up with a boring mish-mash of styles where sheer size has been substituted for style as a measure of taste and accomplishment.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

[TLG] Weekly Round Up of Relevant News - Houses, History and Such...

Los Angeles: Writer Pen Densham sells Windsor Square-area home for $2.75 million

The Los Angeles Times reports that Densham's English Manor-style home, built in 1906, was moved to its current location from Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. This was done by the Bullock family — popular department store owners — earning it the name Bullock House. An oversized entry with beamed ceilings leads to the living room, library, formal dining room and carved-wood staircase. There are eight bedrooms, 71/2 bathrooms and a basement.

Pricing a Critical Element in Country House Sales

According to Country Life Online, buyers are becoming much more choosy in today’s country house market, and insisting on value for money. According to Ed Sugden of buying agents Property Vision, fewer purchasers are looking to buy a country property in February 2012 than there were at the same time last year-up to 40% fewer in some areas. So, it's become critical that sellers get their pricing right if they want their property to get a second look-or even a first look.

"With second-home buyers unlikely to figure much in 2012, in my view, only three types of property will attract buyers. These are houses of exceptional quality, family homes within driving distance of a popular prep school and previously unsold houses that have had their prices reduced sufficiently for buyers to feel they're getting a really good deal," Mr Sugden says. "In fact, purchasers now expect value for money whatever they're buying." [more]

New light shed on the history of Tenby and its 16th Century boom

Once one of Wales’ busiest ports, with bustling trade being done on nearby streets, Tenby is an attractive town that has seen new light shed on cues relating to Tenby’s boom time in the 16th century after it was discovered a previously unknown silversmith was operating in the town.

Research commissioned by the National Trust about the Tudor Merchant’s House on Quay Hill led to the amazing find that a silversmith was trading in Tenby in the early 1500s, something that had not previously been suspected. The research is being conducted to discover the name of the merchant who lived and traded at the Tudor Merchant’s House, but in the process, an number of other new and significant finds about the town’s history are being made. [more]

Exhibition: Photography and the Royal Family 1840-1880

Professor John Plunkett from the University of Exeter will explore Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's interest in photography as collectors. This lecture also shows them as subjects of the photography industry which was fast becoming a commercial and popular media for disseminating the images of distinguished people and ‘celebrities'. [at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter] [more]

Letter informing Henry VIII of his longed-for son's birth is found after 469 years in stately home
A letter from Jane Seymour telling her husband Henry VIII that his longed-for son had been born has been uncovered at a stately home. The message announcing the birth of future King Edward VI was found carefully preserved on a shelf in the picture store room at Dunham Massey estate in Altrincham, Greater Manchester. It had gone unnoticed since the house was handed to the National Trust in 1976 because it was written in Old English... [more]