Amenities: Walk to Salt Water,Walk To Water
"Harold Brown Villa" - The longtime residence of Eileen Slocum, noted political hostess, and John Slocum, a diplomat and bibliophile whose James Joyce collection formed part of Yale University’s holding of rare books, this iconic Bellevue Avenue estate was designed by Dudley Newton with interiors by Ogden Codman.
In the late 19th century, Harold Brown, whose relative was the namesake of Brown University, commissioned architect Dudley Newton to design a summer villa on the estate adjacent to his parents’ home on Bellevue Avenue. The family of Harold’s brother, John Nicholas Brown, would later build Harbour Court, a Renaissance Norman-style house completed in 1906 which is now New York Yacht Club’s Newport clubhouse. While honeymooning in France, Harold and Georgette Sherman Brown began purchasing Napoleonic decorative art. In order to house their growing collection, they asked Ogden Codman to design the home’s interiors in an Empire style. Years later, Eileen G. Slocum and John J. Slocum purchased the estate from Eileen’s aunt, Georgette Sherman Brown. This is its first public offering.
A PRIVATE ESTATE ON BELLEVUE
Sited on Bellevue Avenue on 4.85 acres, Harold Brown Villa is approached via a gated estate drive. Landscape architecture firm Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot filled the land on the eastern side of the walled property with specimen butternut, beech, oak and maple trees, effectively screening the home from the avenue. The grounds are in the style of an English romantic-themed picturesque park, with serpentine gravel paths, a bosquet , a towering London Planetree, specimen trees and beautiful flowering rhododendrons, azaleas and hydrangeas. Georgette Sherman Brown was President of the Newport Garden Club, and views of the landscape she created are preserved in slides owned by the Garden Club of America. The greenhouse, which formerly housed orchids, now provides ample space for storage.
Harold Brown Villa’s magnificent stone facade is made of local granite from Rocky Farm, with brownstone trim and a slate roof. While the exterior is in the style of an Anglo-Norman manor house, the home’s interiors are Empire, inspired by the Browns’ growing collection of Napoleonic items, later bequeathed to the Museum of Art at RISD. The interior was one of Ogden Codman’s rst commissions and the only one in which he used the Empire style. A number of Codman’s watercolors for the house are held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A porte-cochere marks 459 Bellevue’s entry. Large wooden doors open to a beautiful vestibule with patterned Hauteville marble floors, columns and pilasters, and caen stone walls with classical decorative elements. The 11’ x 21’ space demonstrates principles of symmetry and balance. To the right are a Reception Room with a laurel wreath design and a ladies’ powder room with a terrazzo mosaic floor. A second recess holds the hydraulically powered lift, with cage and Colonial Revival millwork by Dudley Newton. The staircase adjacent to the lift is one of three to the second floor. An arched entry frames the stately 24’ x 38’ Stair Hall beyond, with its dark green scagliola columns, marble mantel from F.X. Parfonry in Paris, Empire sconces, and curved staircase with delicate Empire railing. Ross & Roach of Boston was responsible for the interior carpentry and plaster work as well as the cornice run casts. The hardware for the doors throughout the residence was designed by Bricard of Paris from Empire models. Entrances to the Enclosed Conservatory, Libraries, Morning Room and hallway leading to the formal Dining Room and Kitchen radiate from this space.
On the southeastern side of the house, a 28’ x 21’ Morning Room features walls with exquisite architectural detail designed by Codman. The elegant light fixtures are a gas and electric mix. The vitrines have a lovely aged finish, and pocket shutters flank each window. Beyond the Morning Room is the Library, with its built-in mahogany bookshelves with gilt bronze accents on the eastern and western walls. The northern wall features a marble mantel, and opposite, southern-facing glass doors lead out to the veranda. The Library leads into the Dining Room, with its intricately detailed cream and green walls. Codman incorporated faux doors in this room to achieve symmetry. A southern alcove houses a marble fireplace. Beautiful sconces illuminate the room, and concealed doors allow for hallway access and storage space. Doors along the western wall lead to the more intimate Breakfast Room. The hallway just beyond spans the distance from the Stair Hall to the mudroom, which has a lavette, and features early sconces and Fleur-de-Lys wallpaper. The 20’ x 19’ kitchen is full of light, with cross ventilation and Perth Amboy glazed terracotta tiles. Off the kitchen is a small laundry area, formerly a staff sitting room. A Flour Pantry and Scullery across the hall provide additional storage and gathering space. The service side of the house has an oil cloth linoleum floor, and a wooden service stair leads up to the second floor, with the entrance to the basement below.
On the northern side of the Stair Hall is the Enclosed Conservatory, with its beautiful glass doors overlooking the park-like grounds.
Beneath the Empire staircase in the Stair Hall is the entry to the former Men’s Smoking room with its numbered bookshelves . Through this room is a light-filled Library with more space for books and a lavette beyond.
There are eight principal bedrooms on the second floor, including a Master Suite with a marble mantel and substantial closet space and an antechamber for privacy. Another large, light-filled Bedroom in gray has a marble mantel, an owl for wisdom and a lamp of the seven lamps of architecture on the walls. Down the hall, which features original built-in cabinets, is a beautiful en suite Bedroom with curved walls. There are an additional four guest/staff bedrooms.
Miles of scenic coastline and a deep natural harbor have attracted seekers of a quality lifestyle to Newport since the beginning of American history. A major seaport in colonial times, the "Queen of Resorts" in the nineteenth century, and New England's premiere summer playground as well as a thriving year-round community today, Newport has much to offer. World-class yachting. Outstanding tennis, golf and polo. Music and art festivals. A treasure trove of historic houses. A selection of fine private schools. A variety of restaurants and private clubs, including the New York Yacht Club. Convenient to major cities: 32 miles from Providence, 70 miles from Boston, three and a half hours by car from New York City. Available travel facilities: Quonset State Airport, Newport State Airport, T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Amtrak train service in Kingston, and major highways.