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A Look at Lilliothea

by habituallychic

10 . 29 . 21

I’ve just returned from Boston so I thought it was a good time to post this historic house outside the city in Manchester-by-the Sea that has recently been featured in Architectural Digest. Lilliothea which means “place with a view from a hill” was a Shingle-style house before architects Bigelow & Wadsworth wrapped the building within a larger structure clad in tapestry brick and limestone which turned it into an 11-bedroom daydream of a French château for Mr. George R. White, philanthropist and owner of Potter Drug & Chemical Corporation, in 1912.

According to the blog Half Pudding Half Sauce, “At the time of construction, the estate with its barrel-vaulted loggia, stone balustrades, and turrets rivaled the era’s grand seasonal “cottages” in Newport, Rhode Island. Built using the finest materials available, the exterior consists of tapestry brick, imported barrel by barrel from France and carved Indiana limestone. Twenty-eight stone carvers were brought to the site to ensure the elaborate carving was done with absolute authenticity, and they worked 24 hours a day.” 

According to my research, Lilliothea had been on the market for years and was last sold in 2010. It may have actually stayed in the family which might be why the current owners tapped architect Peter Pennoyer and interior designer Max Rollitt to give it a refresh that kept the architectural integrity of the historic house.

I’ve found the old floorplans for the first and second floors. I really appreciate seeing how rooms sit in relation to one another and flow from one to another.

There are also some slightly blurry photos from the old real estate listings that show that not much was done to the architectural details except perhaps a little paint touch up. “They didn’t want to change the house, the spirit of the house, or the fundamentals of the layout,” said Peter Pennoyer.

This is an old photo of the entrance hall.

A round table made from antique timber by Max Rollitt stands in the entrance foyer. You can see that the gilt pier mirrors with marble topped console tables have remained with the house.

The living room as it appeared in the real estate listing.

A circa 1690 lacquered chest stands in the living room. Its lower half is a later replacement.

The reception room which is now known as the sitting room.

A set of Fauteuils clad in Watts of Westminster and Pierre Frey fabrics cluster around a mahogany table in the sitting room.

The sun room as it appeared in the real estate listing. It was not included in Architectural Digest.

An old view of the den which is called the lounging room on the plans and which is the same dimensions as the sun room.

A circa 1870 octagonal library table stands in the window of the winter room. The table lamp is a converted 17th-century Italian altar stick while bespoke sofas sit on an antique carpet.

The breakfast room as it previously looked in the real estate listing.

The breakfast room is now referred to as the music room. Max Rollitt restored an existing table and updated the chairs with purple cushions of Claremont fabric.

The dining room from the real estate listing.

A William IV dining table is surrounded by bespoke chairs in the dining room.

A Farrow & Ball yellow frames the windows of the kitchen, which Rollitt outfitted with a mix of antiques. The kitchen was kept in the lower basement level where it was originally located. “They also added a big marble-topped wood island that Rollitt modeled after the hefty worktables found in the kitchens of English country houses. Even the appliances had to comply: The new range is fit within a custom cast-iron surround that also includes the existing stove that stands alongside it.”

From Peter Pennoyer on Instagram, “The original cast iron stove was salvaged in an historic New England house we restored, rebuilding much of the interior (including this kitchen) and exterior and working with Max Rollitt. A steel embrasure frames the stove, which was was restored to working condition, and now includes a new European range. On the wall at right, traditional ice box hardware was applied to panels concealing the refrigerators. All of the finishes are new, including the glazed bricks, which emulate the historic bricks of the original ‘cold room’ which we salvaged and recreated with the crackled glazing and aging patina of the historic ones. The reclaimed limestone slabs in the floor were imported from France.” 

An old view up the main staircase.

The second floor plan.

A not great photo of the master bedroom from the real estate listing.

In the primary bedroom, a Regency mahogany daybed is draped with Claremont fabric and the 18th-century French fauteuils are upholstered in antique hand-dyed linen.

An Adelphi wallpaper envelops a guest room.

Rollitt assembled a guest-room bed using antique components. The room also includes a regency bench and antique Aubusson carpet.

The original landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. 

After White died in the 1920s, a second owner inhabited the home until 1944 when the Reeves purchased it for their year-round residence. “Lilliothea” was listed in 2004 for $23.5 million. In 2007 the estate was then offered as two separate properties, the main estate at $14.75 million and a three-bedroom carriage house with a six-car garage on 2 acres listed at $2.75 million.

Peter Pennoyer had to design a service and delivery entrance with a new eight-car stone carriage house which was built by The Lagasse Group in 2019. The two firms worked together on a handful of projects around the property including the carriage house, tennis court and adjacent pavilion, and a custom Pebble Tec pool and pool house. 

The pool was designed to look like it emerges from the nearby stone ruins.

To read the entire story of the renovation, please check out the latest issue of Architectural Digest or online.