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A Timeworn, Gilded Age Survivor Transformed

Peter W. and Victoria Chave Clement

134 pp., 9.75 x 10.25, Hardcover with 200 color illustrations


May 2014


Stonlea: A Timeworn Gilded Age Survivor Transformed documents the painstaking steps involved in the preservation and renovation of this building, and describes the renovators’ techniques. It specifically addresses the renovation of the fabric of the building—the various energy conserving strategies and the mechanical systems—as well as the whys and wherefores of the design, and is intended to serve as a model and inspiration for similar undertakings, regardless of size.

Stonlea  is a large Colonial Revival style summer house in New England, a vivid example of nineteenth-century resort architecture. It was completed in 1891 by a family from St. Louis, seeking to escape the withering summers on the Mississippi River. The house was designed by the well-known Boston architecture firm of Peabody & Stearns, who were very busy in the late nineteenth century, designing country houses that helped shape the new face of resort architecture in the northeast.

It was built to accommodate a family of five and their domestic help, as well as long-term guests, and it therefore met the requirements of Polly Guth, its new owner, who wanted to house visiting family members and make the house a gathering place for four generations.

The house is sited overlooking Dublin Lake, originally called Monadnock Lake, with picturesque Mount Monadnock beyond. The original property included the house, a barn, a cottage, and a large carriage house / garage, on approximately one hundred acres of ancient farmland. By 2009 the house’s outbuildings had been sold to Polly’s daughter, so the latest purchase reassembled a large piece of the original puzzle.

The house had survived over one hundred years of New England weather and hard summer living fairly well, but had begun to suffer from “deferred maintenance,” a circumstance familiar to all homeowners. The task of bringing the house back to its original luster was a formidable one. In addition, the owner wanted to bring to bear the latest technology to reduce its impact on the environment: She wanted a “green” house, or more specifically a “net-zero” house, referring to the balancing of energy consumed and energy produced on-site.

“Stonlea is the result of both great research and intuition. The careful attention paid to the transition of the house through its several remodels, is like peeling the layers of an onion, only in reverse. The drawings and photographs are enthralling: The house becomes a character in the reader’s life. A brilliant addition, so in tune with today’s culture. I was fascinated by the details of transforming the house to a Net-Zero structure.”
—Annie Robinson, author of Peabody & Stearns: Country Houses & Seaside Cottages

“With wings outstretched on a New Hampshire hilltop, the resurrected Stonlea embraces 100 years of history. This practical and beautiful book deftly interweaves the evolving patterns of everyday living within picturesque and grand architecture.”
—Cornelia Brooke Gilder, co-author of Houses of the Berkshires, 1870 – 1930

“I have long been troubled by how often beautiful old houses are torn down in order to build ugly new ones. I hope that Stonlea, a scrumptious blend of text and illustration that is, like the house itself, beautifully designed, may persuade people that there are other, more imaginative, possibilities.”
—George Howe Colt, author of The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home

Peter W. Clement studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. His interest in the history of the architecture of American houses was piqued by the work of Vincent Scully, Sterling Professor Emeritus at Yale University. He maintains a practice in Madison, Connecticut.

Victoria Chave Clement earned her MFA in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design, and has operated her own firm since 1986. She has taught graphic design at RISD, and designs primarily for private schools in New England and New York.