When I saw this yellow Victorian for sale in Greenwich, Connecticut, I had to know more about it. After a little digging, I found an article published in Scientific American’s Architects & Builders Edition back in 1894 — right after it had been built. It referred to the house as “Otter Cottage” and included exterior photos and floorplans.
I love learning about old houses like this, which has been designated as a Greenwich landmark.
Just look at the gleaming wood floors and ceilings on the porch (which was referred to as “the piazza” when it was built) — gorgeous.
Before you get too upset about all the painted woodwork inside the house — much of it was white to begin with, according to the article that described it in 1894: “The staircase columns, balusters, and steps are painted China White, same as trim, while the handrail is turned out of mahogany.”
The interiors were “trimmed throughout with whitewood,” SA reported at the time. “Vestibule has a hardwood floor and a paneled wainscoting. Reception hall and parlor are treated in China White. These apartments are separated by Colonial columns, extending to ceiling with an arcaded effect.”
The Dining Room, however, was “finished natural. It has an open fireplace built of brick, with an oak shelf.”
The article from the 1890s continues: “Second floor contains four bedrooms, large closets, dressing-rooms, and bath. These apartments are treated in delicate shades of green, pink, blue and white respectively. Bathroom is wainscoted and furnished replete.”
“Kitchen, servants’ hall, and pantries are finished natural, and are wainscoted with narrow beaded stuff,” the old article says. “These apartments are fitted up and furnished with the best modern improvements.”
I would love to see a photo of what the kitchen looked like in 1892. I imagine the first homeowners wouldn’t recognize this room at all if they saw it today.
Did you know that Scientific American is the oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the U.S.? It was founded in 1845.
The article also specifies that there were two bedrooms, a billiard room, and “ample storage” on third floor. “Cemented cellar contains laundry, furnace, and other necessary apartments.”
It was described at the time as “Colonial in treatment, which has been recently completed for Henry H. Adams, Esq., at Belle Haven Park, Greenwich. The principal feature of the exterior is the broad, spacious and well shaded piazza and porte-cochere.”
The exterior looked a little different then: “The under-pinning is built of local rock-faced granite of a dark blue color. The building above is of wood, and the exterior walls throughout are shingled and left to weather finish. The trimmings are painted white and the blinds are bottle green.”
Here are the first and second floor plans that the publication provided for the house:
The entry was called the “Reception Hall.” A small “Servant’s Hall” with a back staircase was off the kitchen. There was only one bathroom listed in the house at the time, on the second floor — there are seven now. (You can see read the entire SA article here.)
The magazine included “engravings made direct from photographs of the building, taken specially for the Scientific American,” and credits Mr. H. W. Howard as the architect:
It’s fun getting a glimpse at what the house was like over 100 years ago, isn’t it? You can see some of the changes that were made to the front of the house since then if you compare the upper left photo with the photo below:
Otter Cottage is on the market for $6.8 million. For more photos and information about the house today, check the Sotheby’s listing provided by agent Lyn Stevens.