Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Head of the Wolf

The exterior of Beauport is breathtaking– the roof, a maze of intersecting planes and forms, proudly sits on top of the Tudor/Queen Anne/ Shingle-style design.  Dormers in various sizes and shapes protrude the roof line creating interesting shadow lines around the building.  And six decorative brick chimneys stand tall over the building.   

As mesmerizing as the exterior of the house may be, the interior can be just as fascinating.  It is a labyrinth of over forty rooms and approximately 14,800 square feet.  Every nook and alcove holds a composition of curiosities with nearly 5,500 objects in diverse media, including textiles, paper, paintings, iron, silver, brass, toleware, ceramic, glass, leather, bone, ivory, lacquer, and wood. 

Collections, therefore, are an important piece to the Beauport puzzle–and just as important as the exterior envelop repairs currently underway at the house.  Henry Davis Sleeper (original owner/designer) was a vast collector and did not limit the collections to the interior.  The exterior of the building and the landscape are also sprinkled with pieces–including ceramics, stone, and decorative drift wood carvings.

A (not so happy?) face 'holds' up the protruding floor to the Shelley Room on the south elevation

A decorative drift wood panel set into the masonry wall on the south elevation

A decorative bracket located on the north elevation.

Exterior collections can be just as problematic as exterior building elements as they are exposed to the same harsh conditions–and often they are more susceptible to the conditions due to their intricate designs and details.  Sometimes, collection items become too deteriorated to leave on the building for fear of complete loss.  In these cases, items can be removed and archived and a new piece can be manufactured out of a substitute material.

A jester head comprised of resin.

Beauport does already include copies– an example is this  jester head above the Sun Porch door.  It is comprised of resin made from a mold of the original.  The original is now safely stored in archives.  And currently under consideration is another potential resin candidate– the wolf’s head:

The wolf's head on the southwest corner of the building

The wolf’s head quietly rests above the Palladian window of the South Gallery.  It is carved to appear to be projecting out of the masonry wall with snarling fangs.  Due to its location and installation, the unpainted wood surface is showing severe signs of deterioration–including large checks and missing wood components.  Today the wolf sits ‘bandaged up’ in an office, awaiting his fate– will it be repaired, treated and re-installed or will a mold be created for a resin copy?  Stay tuned…

Awaiting his fate...



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