Touring Point O’ View

Home and Garden Tour: Point O’ View

For many, the mention of “Manchester” conjures a postcard-perfect village scene; sidewalks shaded by leafy trees, rising steeples, and turn of the century country homes with their rambling porches, rockers, and flags waving in the autumn breeze.

It was Franklin Orvis, in the 1850s, that first promoted MVT’s fresh air, mountain springs, and comfortable accommodations to city folk longing for a summer retreat. His burgeoning Equinox House became a popular destination for visitors traveling upstate from New York City, and further points like Philly, DC, and Chicago. From New York, they chugged up the Hudson via steamboat to Albany or Troy, then continued on to Vermont by train. They came to escape the heat, to play golf, make art, and enjoy country life.

Historic Main Street

Historic Main Street. Courtesy Manchester Historical Society.

Where.

Between 1850 and 1890, Manchester got its famous four miles of marble; Vermont-quarried sidewalks unfold north and south of the Equinox Hotel, past well-preserved buildings that hold the stories of town and region in their bones. Of the official historic districts, Main Street itself is one and offers an impressive, intact neighborhood of 19th Century architectural gems. At 3302 Main is Point O’ View, owned by Elise and Rob Redmond. The Redmond’s generously offered their address to Curator Shawn Harrington and the Manchester Historical Society for a benefit event. We were lucky to hop onto one of Harrington’s exclusive, ticketed tours through the house, gleaning insights and MVT anecdotes along the way.

Historic Manchester Home

When.

We learned that the original house (Breezy Bank) was built in 1900 by Henry W. Brown. Owner of a successful Philadelphia insurance firm and an early devotee of the new game of golf, Brown was a co-founder of the Ekwanok Country Club and he and his wife Alice spent their summers in Manchester. Breezy Bank was a Colonial Revival “cottage” with an elegant, south facing front façade, a generous hipped roof, and wraparound porch. In 1920, Brown sold the property to Bartlett Arkell, who renamed it Point O’ View.

Who.

Arkell was a nationally known industrialist (longtime president of the Beech Nut Packing Company), philanthropist, and art connoisseur. He and his second wife, Louise, made the home their own. They filled it with Early American furniture, three pianos, and works by renowned American painters like Winslow Homer, Frederick Remington, and Luigi Lucioni and added a second porch and entry on the westward side (above) where it faces Main Street today. Completely in love with their “Manchester life,” the Arkells welcomed friends for golf and summer soirees, and they entertained artists and musicians. They also gave generously to the community, helping to establish the Southern Vermont Arts Center, rebuilding the Ekwanok Clubhouse after a devastating fire, and stocking the Batten Kill with trout when it was needed.

mhs01

View from Ekwanok looking west toward Main Street, around 1900. Courtesy Manchester Historical Society.

Great Gatsby Dreaming

At its height, Arkell employed five full-time gardeners to keep Point O’ View looking like this! Photo Courtesy MHS.

Then and Now.

The Redmond’s recent renovations have updated Point O’ View for modern living without losing the warmth and elegance of the original plan. On the tour, we explored every floor (two livings rooms, ten bedrooms, eight baths) including the original servants and cook’s quarters at the tippy top, complete with a mercilessly tiny elevator and narrow second (servants) staircase that runs directly down to the kitchen.

home-garden-tour

private art collection

federal style

sitting room fireplace

hand stenciled walls

built in bunk beds

home-garden-tour-kitchen

Then we admired the views; from the rotunda porch, the sweeping grounds rolling out toward Ekwanok, and from the lawn, a view of the house looking west, with Mount Equinox peeking over the roofline. You could almost hear music trailing down from the porch, with the clinking of glasses and the hum of conversations well gone by. A favorite tour shot, our intrepid guide Mr. Harrington strikes a Gatsby pose. And, the sweet building at the end (a chicken coop during World War II) was transformed first into an artist studio and more recently, a space for yoga and meditation. Just behind it, you can see the original garage and chauffeur’s quarters.

mhs-tour-04

Curator Shawn Harrington

yoga studio with outdoor shower

Tips.

To learn more about the Manchester Historial Society’s work, visit their website or swing by the archive at Manchester Community Library. For a history adventure of your own, visit Hildene (the Lincoln estate) where the gardens and grounds are gorgeous and the house, filled with furniture, art, artifacts, and exhibits. While you’re there, check out the goats (amazing cheese!) and the walking paths, and Sunbeamthe finest example of a restored wooden Pullman car in the world.” Coming up: This October, tour Lonesome Pine with MHS. We’ll be there!

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