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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Downeast Destination


The house and gardens of this Maine retreat overlook one of the many inlets along Maine’s coast.

The coast of Maine is a magical place with rocky shorelines edged in evergreens. Sailboats and kayaks maneuver through the waters and the air is heavy with the sweet smell of sea grass and salt. The welcome signs to the state say it all: “Maine, the way life should be.”
Wanting to relocate so that she could be closer to one of her children, when the owner of this property first saw the house in 2006, she was hesitant about moving in. Built in 1966, the grounds were overgrown and the house was in disrepair and “practically uninhabitable, both structurally and aesthetically,” says Anne Genter of Friday & Genter Interior Design in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, with whom the owner has worked for twenty years. With Genter’s moral and professional support, the owner tackled the project, the third and most challenging house on which the duo has worked.
The grand staircase sweeps alongside a portion of the collector’s nineteenth-century dog portraits, which she began acquiring about fifteen years ago. “I prefer genre scenes to straightforward portraits,” she says. “I like them to be fun, with interactions.” The Philadelphia triple-shell side chair is from Philip Bradley & Company Antiques. The table was acquired from Lynda Willauer Antiques. The canes in the Chinese export umbrella stand are a mixture of family and acquired examples. Many feature carvings of dogs or elephants, which tie in with other decorative elements in the house, in particular, the dog portraits above the diminutive serpentine, blocked-end Massachusetts chest-of-drawers (one of Albert Sack’s “Masterpiece” examples) and Philadelphia side chair from Philip Bradley. The tall clock, signed “Spaulding/Providence,” 1740-1760, descended in the owner’s family.


Edward Willis Redfield’s (1869–1965) Monhegan Home, signed and dated 1927, is balanced on the right wall by a house portrait by Boston School artist Abbott Fuller Graves (1859–1936). The Glastonbury or Colchester, Connecticut, high chest, from Sotheby’s, is flanked by two Philadelphia side chairs purchased at Pook & Pook Auctions. Sleigh in Winter, by New Hope School impressionist Edward Willis Redfield (1869–1965), hangs above one of several mantels in the collection that were retained when the owner and Anne were renovating the interiors. Carved by local craftsmen and
pickled, they are in the manner of Samuel McIntire of Salem, Massachusetts.

The table (acquired from Israel Sack, Inc., as were the set of chairs), sideboard, and chest are set with a portion of the thirty-two pieces of the Clinton service in the collection, one of the largest in private hands. The service is named for New York governor Dewitt Clinton (1769–1824), who married Maria Franklin in 1796. The service dates to circa 1796–1810. The Audubon flatware by Tiffany & Co. is circa 1871.

A signed Severin Roesen (1815–1872) still life with berries and birds nest, directly above the sideboard, was purchased from Hirschl & Adler of New York. To the right is a signed Roesen floral still life from Godel & Company, New York.

The carved fireplace is decorated with a Chinese export porcelain garniture set. The painting is Walter Gay’s (1856–1937) Le Canapé Château Du Bréau, from Debra Force Fine Art, New York. A Philadelphia shell-carved armchair opposes a Massachusetts easy chair, both of which center a diminutive Massachusetts one-drawer table.

A painting by John Folinsbee (1892–1972) hangs above a fine card table from Taylor Williams Antiques. The colors of the Serapi carpet blend beautifully with the furniture and paintings.

The solitary Road to the Village (1868) by Edward Redfield (1869–1965) hangs above the sofa. The Baltimore card tables flanking the sofa were purchased from C. L. Prickett and Guy Bush, the latter from whom the collector also acquired the Queen Anne lolling chair. The Massachusetts serpentine chest with blocked feet is flanked by two Philadelphia side chairs, one of the owner’s early purchases from Guy Bush. Imari plates and figure of a lady, surmount the chest. Walter Gay’s (1856-1937) image of a sunlit interior at Château Du Bréau was purchased at the Philadelphia Antiques Show from Adelson Galleries, New York.

This Windsor rocking chair was purchased from Wayne Pratt, and was one of his favorite chairs. The clock dial is signed “Daniel Mulliken/Salem.” The woolies are among the sixteen in the collection.

The view extends into the porch, from which the gardens may be enjoyed while sitting in period Hayward Wakefield wicker furniture.

The rocky shoreline, painted by Walter Elmer Schofield (1867–1944), depicts a northern view from one of the Chebeague Islands in Maine, sometimes referred to as “TheCalendar Islands,” located in Casco Bay.
Because of its condition, the house needed to be entirely gutted. The owner and Anne invited the architect who had been involved in their previous renovations, Terry Pylant of Historical Concepts, to work with them. Based in Atlanta, this was his first project in Maine. Retaining the footprint of the house, they added a connecting extension to the garage, opened up the interior spaces, and moved the kitchen, which had been on the opposite side of the house, so that it faced the view enhanced by the addition of a bay window.

A conservatory and pool were removed from the grounds. The owner brought in landscape designer Lucinda Young, with whom she had worked when living on Nantucket, to help craft the garden. “I felt a sense of stewardship for the property,” she says. “It has to do with having a sense of place.” Eager to reforest the landscape, the owner arranged for eighty-five trees to be planted. For her flower garden, she says “I didn’t want anything exotic, but instead sought plants native to the area or that were zone sensitive.” Adding, “My interest was having color through the seasons.”

With a clean slate for the interior, the owner and Anne set to work on their furnishing plan, with the intention of creating elegant yet relaxed living spaces. Says Anne, “Though my specialty is American furniture and decorative arts, I’ve always appreciated the English country look, particularly that of the firm Colefax and Fowler.” She adds, “As much as I like museums [she is a trustee of several], a house shouldn’t look like a museum. There can be museum-quality pieces, but I like something warmer, more comfortable.”

The Salem, Massachusetts, elaborately carved Federal bedstead was acquired from Pook & Pook Auctions. The New York Federal looking glass surmounts a Pennsylvania Chippendale dressing table, upon which a famille rose 1760 armorial vase rests; it features the arms of Fitzroy impaling Crosby.

Each bedroom is furnished with antiques and art. Here is shown a Baltimore bow-front chest flanked by Philadelphia side chairs. The looking glass is from Massachusetts. The famille rose soup plates and charger depict two love birds kissing in a garden.

The bright yellows and blues are the perfect combination for the kitchen den, which is bathed in light from windows not visible in the photograph. The rare wooly above the fireplace depicts a ship in “full dress.” A painted fancy chair adds a complementary touch of yellow to the room. The Federal chest-of-drawers, behind the sofa, displays two more woolies above it.
Not coming from a family of collectors, the owner’s interest in antiques began soon after she was married. The young couple was living on the West Coast and needed to furnish their home. They decided they did not want the factory-made furniture available in the general marketplace and so began collecting period country and English pieces. When she and her husband moved East, her eye developed more toward formal American material. She then began collaborating with her long-time friend Anne.

The owner’s first foray into the world of brown wood was on a trip through Yardley, Pennsylvania, when she and her husband stopped by the shop of C. L. Prickett. They purchased several pieces and their collecting journey “took off,” focusing primarily
on examples from Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. In addition to working with the Pricketts, for the past few decades the collector has forged relationships with many other noteworthy firms and dealers, including Israel Sack, Inc., Bernard & S. Dean Levy, and Philip Bradley & Company Antiques. The furniture is complemented by the colors in her collection of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century carpets.

Another area on which the collector has focused is Chinese export porcelain made for European and American markets from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century. The owner was first exposed to the decorative ceramics when residing on Nantucket. There she met dealer Lynda Willauer. “Once she started,” comments Anne, “she couldn’t resist the material, and has continued to acquire CEP from Lynda as well as other dealers.” While on her visits to Willauer’s, the owner was also struck with the delightful marine scenes of mid-nineteenth-century ship portraits embroidered by American and British sailors. Referred to as “woolies,” she now owns at least sixteen of the historic textiles, having also purchased examples from Diana Bittel and Leatherwood Antiques.

Though there is a formal dining room, the owner enjoys most of her meals at this table in the kitchen overlooking the bay. Hyland Granby Antiques created the table around a nineteenth-century pond model of a Chesapeake Bay skipjack.

Anne’s great enthusiasm is art, primarily that of the Pennsylvania New Hope School and Boston School. She has worked with the owner to develop a collection that encompasses paintings by a number of artists, including Pennsylvania landscape painter John Fulton Folinsbee (1892–1972), who in the 1930s, began spending summers in Maine, a more recent connection for the owner. The largest number of works in the collection are from Folinsbee’s fellow New Hope artist, impressionist Edward Willis Redfield (1869–1965). Also in the collection are works by regional landscape artist Harry Leith-Ross (1886–1973), and Pennsylvania artist Walter Elmer Schofield (1867–1944). Paintings by Boston School artists Abbott Fuller Graves (1859–1936) and Walter Gay (1856–1937) are also represented; those by Gay depict
eighteenth-century French interiors displaying antiques that he and his wife acquired at shops in and around Paris after their move to France in 1876. Works by Severin Roesen (1815–1872), which depict bountiful fruit and floral bouquets, are displayed in the owner’s dining room.

So much of collecting is founded on relationships. Though her acquisitions have slowed, the owner and Anne continue to consult with one another and make visits to antiques shops and shows along the eastern seaboard.