The Manor on Golden Pond, 1907

Visiting and Revisiting New England Craftsman Architecture

Perched on a hill in central New Hampshire, the "English Country" Manor on Golden Pond is an architectural gem surrounded by scenic views and popular tourist destinations. When you go, be sure to leave time to linger over the craftsman details. Every room is unique.

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Holderness, New Hampshire, 1903 -1907

A Craftsman-like interior at The Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness, New Hampshire
A Craftsman-like interior at The Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness, New Hampshire. Photo © Jackie Craven

In an era when wealthy industrialists were building ostentatious summer homes, Isaac Van Horn, a prosperous Englishman, decided to create a stately and dignified retreat that would reflect his heritage. Unlike the showy Gilded Age homes of Newport, Rhode Island, Van Horn's New Hampshire manor expressed refinement, restraint, and reverence for nature—all elements of the English Arts and Crafts Movement.

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Yellow Stucco and Shingle

The Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness, New Hampshire
The Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness, New Hampshire. Photo © Jackie Craven

The exterior of the home atop Shepherd’s Hill is unassuming. Sided in stucco and painted shingles, the house blends gracefully with the surrounding pines, gently rounded White Mountains, and sweeping lake views. A hipped roof and and wide eaves accentuate the long, low profile of the home. In the early 1900s, this style was very popular with designers. The First Prairie Houses of Frank Lloyd Wright were becoming known, and Gustav Stickley's The Craftsman magazine was popularizing the natural elements of design.

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The Arts and Crafts Influence

Carved newel post at The Manor on Golden Pond
Carved newel post at The Manor on Golden Pond. Photo © Jackie Craven

In a flowing floor plan, rooms, windows, and balconies are placed to capitalize on the beauty of the New England landscape. It's as though a traditional English Manor (usually a Tudor Revival without the half-timbering) merged with the popular Arts and Crafts style. Gustav Stickley called the style Craftsman, popularized between 1901 and 1916 in his magazine, The Craftsman. The British Isaac Van Horn seems to have been, like Stickley, heavily influenced by the British-born John Ruskin (1819-1900) and William Morris (1834-1896) of the British Arts and Crafts Movement. The Manor on Golden Pond was being built about the same time as Stickley's Craftsman Farms in New Jersey.

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Craftsmanship in New England

Oak corbel at ceiling beam, The Manor on Golden Pond
Oak corbel at ceiling beam, The Manor on Golden Pond. Photo © Jackie Craven

Van Horn hired more than a hundred artisans from around the world to work on his summer home. Golden oak corbels support gleaming beams along the ceilings in the grand reception area, the library, and the billiard room (now an intimate dining room.) Imported tiles surround the fireplaces. Intricately carved banisters lead to the story.

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Staying at the Manor

Bedroom at The Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness, New Hampshire
Bedroom at The Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness, New Hampshire. Photo © Jackie Craven

The Manor remained a private summer home until the 1940s, when an editor for Life Magazine converted it into a colony for photographers. In the 1950s, the Manor became an inn, and for the next fifty years it passed through a succession on owners and a series of remodelings.

 

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Modern Conveniences in a 1904 Manor House

Tile and ceramic bathroom at The Manor on Golden Pond
Bathroom at The Manor on Golden Pond. Photo © Jackie Craven

Annexes were built; whirlpool tubs and other luxuries were installed. Nevertheless, the original design was preserved. Today, The Manor on Golden Pond (named after the Katherine Hepburn-Henry Fonda movie filmed nearby) has seventeen uniquely decorated guest quarters in the main house. Additional suites are located in the Carriage House, the Annex Chamber, and two adjacent cottages.

 

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Shepard Hill on Squam Lake

Landscaping at The Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness, New Hampshire
Landscaping at The Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness, New Hampshire. Photo © Jackie Craven

As with any old, historic home, restoration and preservation continue. Innkeepers have had plans to create formal English gardens on the hillside leading down to Squam Lake. Getaway and Spa packages entice the well-healed to party in the mountains of New Hampshire. Isaac The original owner and builder, Van Horn, would heartily approve.