Plaster Cast of Dining Room Mantel

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Plaster Cast of Dining Room Mantel, Annapolis, Maryland, 1941
PC 13 Created for Paul Mellon as a model for Brick House

While a student at St. John’s College in the early 1940s, philanthropist Paul Mellon would admire 18th century architect William Buckland’s masterpiece– the Hammond-Harwood House — on his Annapolis walks.

Mellon revered the structure so much that he would go on to model his home known as Brick House after Hammond-Harwood House and engage New York architect William Adams Delano to do the work. In order to create a replica of Hammond-Harwood House, Mellon commissioned several plaster casts of the interior details like this one of the dining room mantle’s left corner. Mellon and his horticulturalist wife, Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, mainly used the home to house their extensive art collection. Brick House, still extant in private hands, is located in Upperville, Virginia.

Mellon was far from the first or last admirer of Hammond-Harwood House to incorporate architectural details from the structure into their own home. Notably Thomas Jefferson sketched the Hammond-Harwood House in 1783 and later incorporated elements from the semi-octagonal bays from the wings into Monticello. In the early 20th century, the colonial revival movement led to a building boom of houses inspired by the mansion. This included ones in the south like the Vaughn Nixon House in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood created in 1925-6 by architect Neel Reid. In the north a home inspired by Hammond-Harwood House known as Marienruh was built by Vincent Astor, son of millionaire John Jacob Astor, for his sister Ava Alice Muriel Astor near Rhinebeck, New York. In the Midwest the Lester Armour House in Lake Bluff, Illinois, and a home known as Harwood in the prosperous Cleveland suburb Shaker Heights are both inspired by the Hammond-Harwood House. Closer to Annapolis, one can find the house at Ladew Gardens in Monkton, Maryland, whose interior architecture in the drawing room was inspired by Hammond-Harwood House’s dining room.

While the design of Hammond-Harwood House is timeless, it is also itself a copy. The house is modeled after an Italian villa—the Villa Pisani. The villa was designed by 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). Architect William Buckland carefully adapted the design to fit the climate and tastes of 18th century Maryland. Today the house continues to inspire architects, visitors, and scholars who delight in the building’s perfect proportions and classical design. If you were to incorporate elements of Hammond-Harwood House into your own home, what would you choose?


By Rachel Lovett, Curator

Hammond-Harwood House

The mission of the Hammond-Harwood House Association is to preserve and to interpret the architecturally significant Hammond-Harwood House Museum and its collection of fine and decorative arts, and to explore the diverse social history associated with its occupants, both free and enslaved, for the purposes of education and appreciation.
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