Pavillion of Splendor

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Nick Churton of Lila Delman’s London, UK office delights in a Newport, Rhode Island house that took him completely by surprise.

Broker: Lila Delman

Agent: Kristin Parella

I was dumbfounded. What had begun as a visit to a pleasant enough looking single storey pavillion called South Wind – in one of the even-better parts of Newport, Rhode Island – became a fantastic voyage through someone else’s sophisticated imagination. It was another world. Inside was a Gustavian interior – or a neat dacha – with painted floors, enchanting enfilade and beautifully proportioned rooms set round a grand garden-facing hall.

I would love to have met the cultivated, urbane man who envisioned and then executed this polished interior. His name was Robert Hill. He was from Boston, a gentleman designer and protégé of Billy Baldwin. Baldwin, otherwise known as the dean of interior decorators and America’s best dressed man, designed for John F Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Barbara Hutton, Cole Porter and Paul Mellon among many noted others. It was from this tradition and creative lineage that Hill produced his little piece of interior heaven in Newport. Goodness knows what it would have looked like when tastefully filled with wonderful and appropriate antique furniture, exquisite pictures and delightful and interesting objet d’art. It must have been breathtaking. Mr Hill had the eye.

I hope that whoever buys this treasure also has the eye – or at least knows someone who does. For this is a rare opportunity to re-create an architectural gem in a town of architectural gems. It is not large. But that is its charm. Here is the chance to re-awaken one of Newport’s secret delights, situated as it is behind a disarming facade. That is its secret. We all love to go through doors that take us to some unexpected and enchanting place. It is sleight of hand. It is surprise. It is theatre.

One is in good company in this part of town. Over the years some of America’s leading families have made their homes here or have at least been frequent visitors. Long before The Hamptons attracted a new set the old money came here to be close to their ilk, the highly-exclusive Bailey’s Beach and the New York Yacht Club.

Of course no house is quite complete without its garden. Otherwise it would be like a jewel without its setting or a fine painting without a frame. Here a series of garden ‘rooms’ complement each of the house’s elevations.

What a house. What an opportunity. I envy the buyer. But he, she or they will have to get this house twice over. They will have to understand it and they will have to purchase it. Only then will the full magic of this house again be truly realised.

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