Saturday, January 22, 2011

On The Market--Bougemont

There's another house on the market that has a bit of a spot in my history, Bougemont, a turn of the century mansion in the hills of Charleston, WV, overlooking the state capitol.
It's a gorgeous, classical house that would border on stodgy if not for the pea gravel driveway and the sort of manicured but not overly formal grounds that might be expected in a gentleman's farm.

According to Wikipedia:  "Bougemont Complex is a historic home located at Charleston, West Virginia. It was the home of two prominent families in Charleston's business development. It was built about 1916 by Harrison Brooks Smith, an attorney, who served as president of Kanawha Banking and Trust and various companies in Kanawha County. Smith died in 1942, and in 1959, Horace Hamilton Smallridge, another leading Charleston businessman, purchased the property. Bougemont is symmetrically arranged with a two and a half story central block and two single story side wings. The entrance facade features a pedimented portico with Corinthian columns. Also on the property are a cottage, stable, and barn."  For more information on the estate, CLICK HERE to read the "Historic Properties Inventory Form" from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. (It even includes a rudimentary floor plan!)

As a college intern, I had the pleasure of visiting Bougemont in a professional capacity. The widow who called Bougemont home was an ongoing client of the designer I worked for that summer.  As I think befits a house like this, the extent of the work the firm did on the estate was limited to small spruce-ups here and there as upholstery wore out, drapes faded, and paint needed to be touched up. The place was never, in recent history at least, given a wholesale makeover.

On the day I went to Bougemont, we were suggesting upholstery choices for a pair of Martha Washington chairs the owner needed recovered. I shall never forget being led in by a uniformed maid (something I wasn't sure still existed ANYWHERE, let alone in Charleston, WV), and then greeted by the matron of the house--all 70-some years of her, dressed in a leotard, tights, and aerobic shoes. At her side was a standard poodle that kept sticking it's head between my legs, practically forcing me to ride it like a horse through the mansion.

When my colleague introduced me as a summer intern, the lady of the house clucked and with a dismissive wave of her hand, exclaimed, "Hmmmph...well I don't know why you brought him here! Nothing to learn from a bunch of old junk like I have!" 

The Dining Room at Bougemont
The Main Stair
The Living Room

The Study

I'd give my eye teeth for "old junk" like that! The house has such a wonderful "collected" air about it--effortlessly elegant and timeless.

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