The front entrance to Castle Hill Inn in Newport, Rhode Island.
I do hope Castle Hill Inn will not be disturbed by approaching Hurricane Sandy. It has weathered many severe storms in its 138 years and even lost its turret back in the early 1900s. An exact replica of the original turret has recently been built, and it would be a darn shame if Frankenstorm were to destroy it.
Castle Hill Inn was built as a summer residence in 1874 for the renowned scientist and explorer, Alexander Agassiz. There’s not much information about the house’s architecture history, but there’s plenty of information on Agassiz. From what I learned touring the earlier Newport mansions, I would say this building’s design is a good example of shingle style architecture with the interiors influenced by the English Aesthetic style which was very much in vogue during the mid to late 1800s. I’ve had to do some homework since I’ve returned to understand these movements. The Aesthetic Movement in the decorative arts could be considered a sub category of the Arts and Crafts movement. My explanation may be a bit over simplified, but researching and understanding all the nuances gave me a major case of tired head.
Agassiz decorated his house with the best of Chinese and Japanese art and furnishings—all of which were elements of the Aesthetic style. Today Castle Hill Inn’s interiors still adhere to this style with elements such as William Morris wallpaper and fabrics; ebonized wood with gilt highlights; far Eastern influence; a prominent use of nature, especially flowers, birds, ginkgo leaves, and peacock feathers; and blue and white porcelain and other fine china.
Update: On Thursday, November 1, Brian Young, the General Manager, left a comment saying “Hello, and thanks for your kind words and well wishes. I’m happy to report that, although we suffered some beach erosion and landscape damage from the effects of Sandy, we had no lasting damage and are open for business as always. We look forward to welcoming you back soon.”
The entrance to the cloister of San Francesco Church in Gargnano on Lake Garda.
The San Francesco Church and Cloister in Gargnano on Lake Garda. Recently I wrote about the monks of the San Francesco Monastery introducing lemons to the Lake Garda area in northern Italy during the thirteenth century. But what I forgot to mention in that post was that their monastery and church, which were built in 1289, still exist today, and it was a happy accident when I stumbled upon them. For more photos of this peaceful sanctuary, click on the link below.
This belongs to a little restaurant in Gargnano on Lake Garda in Italy.
As an environmental graphic designer way back when, I designed elaborate sign systems for large commercial and health care architectural projects. I worked in this field before the ADA laws went into effect and when the creative possibilities were endless. I now work on mainly print graphic jobs and web design, but my old habit of checking out signage wherever I go is a habit I have yet to break.
All the photos in this post belong to my time spent on Lake Garda after exploring the historical villas and gardens of the northern Italian Lake District with the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art in 2007. Gargnano, the little town close to where I was staying, was once upon a time famous for its lemons and world-famous lemon houses. These citrus fruits had been introduced to Lake Garda during the thirteenth century by the monks of the San Francesco Monastery in Gargnano. Unfortunately the lemon industry was fatally affected by a drop in price and international competition. Despite this decline, the lemon image and its color are still prolific on Lake Garda’s east coast—a detail you won’t fail to notice in the following photos.
The Venetian room inside the palazzo on the Isola Madre, Lake Maggiore.
A collection of ceilings from old Italian villas. In 2007, I joined the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art for a two-week adventure exploring the historical villas and gardens of the northern Italian Lake District. Instead of grouping my collection by each individual villa, I thought it would be more interesting to present my photos taken on this trip by ceiling, wall, and floor treatments. This first post is all about fancy ceilings.
Oh! And if you’re wondering why I’m posting about a trip made to Europe five years ago, it’s because I needed a mental, if not physical, escape from Dallas and its summer cruelty. I do have another trip to Italy planned for late next spring, but since it’s a long ways off, I needed a little fix in the mean time.
(above) This one, purchased at Mondo Novo, is my favorite, but I have yet to wear it anywhere.
Tomorrow is the last day of Carnivale di Venezia and Mardi Gras, and it’s the perfect time to blog about my collection of gilded Venetian mementos. In 2001, I spent two weeks in Venice. One week to visit La Biennale di Venezia and one week to be the typical tourist in the old Venice. My first mask purchases were lame and touristy, but I finally discovered the real thing, Mondo Novo, in the Dorsoduro section of Venice. Several films have featured their creations with the most famous one being Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. In 2001, there was little information on the internet about the traditional Venetian mask, but if you were to do a google search today, there’s a plethora of sources. So now my little collection doesn’t seem so special anymore.