Louis St. Gaudens Home & Studio.
Municipality: Cornish, NH
Location: Dingleton Hill and Whitten Roads
Site Type: House
UTMs: (Zone 18) E: 714440. N: 4819788.
National Register Nomination Information:
Present Physical Appearance:
The building was originally rectangular, five by two bays, 42x32 feet. On the long (front) facade were two doors, the left for the male members and the right for the female members of the sect. Three windows were placed between the doors and two more at each end. The lower pitch of the gambrel rood was pierced by five dormers, three on one side and two on the other. There were two chimneys at the ridge, one at each end.
The interior of the first floor in its entirety was a large meeting room where the believers conducted their service. A stairway enclosed in a building 12 x 14 feet on the east side, was built in 1815. This led to the second floor where there were four rooms for the ministry of the church. The half-floor under the ridge was finished off to provide two additional guest rooms for visiting ministries from other communities. The interior off the first floor was decorated according to the "Millenial Laws" to be of a blueish shade. This was interpreted as a dark blue-green or Prussian blue. In the first floor room there was a wooden wainscoting extending to the height of the window sills and topped with a chair rail. Above the wainscoting at a height of about five or six feet were two rows of wooden pegs set into narrow boards. The ceiling of the room consisted of boxed beams across the width of the structure supported by boxed knee braces.
The building ceased to be used by the Shakers in 1893. It remained at Enfield, N.H. until 1902, when it was purchased by Louis and his wife Annette Johnson St. Gaudens, dismantled and reerected at its present site in Cornish, N.H. in September 1902. The reerected building is somewhat altered from its original state. It was found that two of the stringers and two bents had rotted thus the reerected building is 32 feet wide and 34 feet long. In shortening the length, a porch was cut into the building on the present west side. One door was removed from what is now the south side and introduced into the center of the west side. Two windows were left out of the south side and north side and introduced on the second floor (west side). Four dormers now extend from the lower pitch of the gambrel roof on the south and one extends from the rood on the north side, in its original position in the building.
The interior of the meeting room was divided into a living room, front hallway and studio room (extending the full two floors with studio light occupying the full remainder of the lower gambrel roof. The original staircase was introduced from the hallway leading to the second floor. The remainder of the second floor was made into three bedrooms. A chimney with three internal sections was introduced into the center of the structure.
In 1904 a 1-1/2 story addition was built onto the rear (east) side of the original structure, maintaining the gambrel; roof design, containing a dining room, and kitchen and bathroom, and storage room on the second floor.
In reconstructing the building which was slated for destruction by the Shakers, the St. Gaudens attempted to preserve the intrinsic beauty and charm of the Moses Johnson structure but also adapted it to their needs as an early twentieth century home and artist's studio. Wherever possible, the original materials were used in primarily their same relationships as in the eighteenth century.
Louis (1854-1913) and his wife Annette Johnson (1869-1943) were assistants to Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907). They were recognized sculptors with major pieces in the Boston Public Library, New York City Church of the Ascension, Brearly School, NYC, Union Station, Washington, D.C., U.S. Customs House, NYC, St. Louis Art Museum, Metropolitan Art Museum, NYC, New York Life Insurance Company Building, NYC and the Joseph Francis U.S. Congressional Metal and the Benjamin Franklin Centennial Medal of 1906. The building was used as their home and studio until their deaths and later occupied by their son Paul St. Gaudens (1900-1954), a master craftsman potter and author of books on pottery. Paul St. Gaudens operated his Orchard Kiln Pottery here from about 1921 until 1954. As member of the Cornish Colony of artists, the St. Gaudens family were active during the whole period of the Colony's existence. The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site administered by the National Park Service since 1965 and designated as a Memorial since 1926 is located about a mile from the brother sculptor's home. Other significant landmarks in the area include the summer homes designed for other members of the Cornish Colony by Charles A. Platt (1861-1933) architect, as well as the Beaman Mill and Blow-me-down bridge, designs of the firm of McKim, Mead & White, architectural firm.
The St. Gaudens Home and Studio is furnished with some of the original family furniture and houses examples of their art work. It is presently (1970) being preserved and maintained as a private home, with artists studio and workshops also preserved in their original form.
Henry C. Blinn, comp., "Historical Notes Having Reference to the Believers in Enfield, N.H." (Shaker Community Archives, Canterbury, N.H.), 42-43, 301-303.
Louis Johnson, "Early History of the Home & Studios of Louis and Annette St. Gaudens" (John H. Dryfhout, Cornish, N.H.).
Letters, Dartmouth College Archives, Hanover, N.H.
Letters, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site Archives, Cornish, N.H.
"One Hundredth Anniversary of the Organization of the Shaker Church" (Enfield, N.H.: October 18, 1893, 29.
Marius B. Peladeau, "The Shaker Meetinghouses of Moses Johnson," Antiques, 98:4 (October 1970), 594-599.
DATE ENTERED: November 15, 1972.
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