RadioBDC Logo
| Listen Live
 
 
< Back to front page Text size +

Steward of the Manoir: How Boston designer Charles Spada rescued a 17th century Norman manse

March 30, 2012 01:26 PM  

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

  • E-mail
  • E-mail this article

    Invalid E-mail address
    Invalid E-mail address

    Sending your article

    Your article has been sent.

5.jpg

The restored country house looks straight from the pages of a fairytale.

With the ease of a host pouring the port after a relaxed dinner party with friends, Charles Spada told the bittersweet tale of his house fantasy come to life. Sweet because, the usual pitfalls of a major renovation notwithstanding, this was his dream come true writ large. Bitter because with the realities of life, i.e. an aging parent and a caretaker taken ill, morning came. There was a collective sigh from his audience, Historic New England’s Ogden Codman Design Group, when he revealed he sold the Manior du Berthouville, the 1652 one-time relais de chasse, or hunting lodge in the French Norman countryside, he bought in the mid 1990s and then devotedly restored over a three-year period.

4.jpg

The house had been long neglected when Charles Spada first set eyes on it. All the windows were replaced and the stonework underwent extensive restoration.

Lovers of great old houses, as most in the audience were, know the fantasy well: Find a neglected, but grand, house in some romantic setting, restore it to its former glory, furnish it with things you love, live well in it. Spada, Boston’s unequivocal doyen of design, did just that and lucky for the roomful of envious designers who gathered at Hampshire House on Boston’s Beacon Hill to hear the tale Wednesday night, he beautifully documented the experience.

The house appears in the January/February issue of Veranda magazine for which Spada wrote the text. “Though a bit unkempt, the old girl had lost none of her grandeur,” he writes about his first visit to the house. “She was, and remains, as elegant and timeless as a Givenchy gown.”

Indeed, but she needed more than a good cleaning and some accessories to get her ready for the ball. It took Spada’s stewardship, and an army of contractors and artisans, to breathe life into the manior, which can again take its rightfully proud place in the annals of architecture and design.

RF06_2187.jpg

The segmental pediment above front door is engraved with the year the house was built, 1652.

RF06_2192.jpg

Modern chaises complement the classic style and timeless beauty of the house. More photos of Manior du Berthouville can be viewed here.

And then, the chaumiere

The house restoration complete, Charles Spada turned his energy toward the chaumiere, a barnlike cottage on the property that had been used for many purposes over the centuries, including for blacksmithing in the early 1900s. Its façade now restored and a new thatched roof in place, it adds to the romance of the setting. The two pillars in middle of the lawn are what’s left of what was a garden wall.

3.jpg

1.jpg

A local artisan works in shorts and shirtsleeves on the installation of the new thatched roof. Tradition has it that irises are planted along the peak to help absorb moisture.

charles hi-res.jpg

Charles Spada, the Boston designer and self-avowed Francophile, says he hopes to someday purchase another, perhaps smaller, house in Normandy. We hope so, too!

  • E-mail
  • E-mail this article

    Invalid E-mail address
    Invalid E-mail address

    Sending your article

    Your article has been sent.

About this blog

An insider's look at must-have products, fresh trends, and inspired spaces from the team at Design New England magazine.

Gail Ravgiala is editor of Design New England and a fan of both the region's historic architecture and its growing inventory of modern houses and public buildings.

Courtney Kasianowicz is associate editor of Design New England who scouts the area for new design, charming products, and local artisans both innovative and daring.

Jill Connors, Design New England's editor-at-large, is an antiques maven and design scout and will post about trends and discoveries in the field.

Bruce Irving, Design New England's contributing editor for architecture & building, is a renovation specialist who will share his insights on design and construction.

Estelle Bond Guralnick, Design New England's style & interiors editor, will post about interior design and interior designers and her favorite finds.

Real Estate

Globe Home of the Week
Single floor living in Brockton

Single floor living in Brockton

Royal Barry Wills designed this home located on a cul-de-sac in Brockton's West Side.
archives