Rose Cottage Window - Part 2 of 6

Judi Taylor

Stowe, United States

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Continued ….. for Part I Click here

These were the years of America’s “Age of Elegance,” years before the notion of income taxes. There was unbounded money to be made, resulting in large personal fortunes; and those who made it; spent it. Some, like Andrew Carnegie, spent it on building public libraries. Others, like the DuPonts, built children’s hospitals and botanical gardens. Still others built huge palaces for themselves.

When ground was broken in 1890, an army of workmen set up camp. The men quarried white sandstone from the Welch Mountains on Potts’ land north of Honey Brook and hauled it by six mule teams to the site of the house, over five miles. It was designed as a duplex house, with one side the exact mirror image of the other, separated by a several-foot-thick wall.

One wing as to be the home of Col. Potts and his wife, Mary, and the other the home of William and Mabel. Each residence was complete with the exact same number of fireplaces, all made of alabaster, white and pink marble and onyx imported from Italy. The winding spiral staircases were made of solid brass and marble, and chandeliers and exotic stained glass window treatment abounded everywhere. The gas lighting fixtures at the bottom of the staircases resembled huge balloons covered with ornate carvings of everything from seashells to flowers. When it was finished after five years, it had 76 rooms, including 22 for the servants, and 22 fireplaces. It was heated by coal, and the floors were all covered with imported rugs on top of inlaid wood over two-foot-thick slabs of concrete. Depending on which news report was read, the total cost for this project ranged anywhere from $140,000 to over half a million dollars.

Unfortunately, Col. Potts succumbed to a stroke in December 1894, at the age of 64, never having lived in his finished mansion. However, his widow moved in, right on the other side of the mansion with Mabel and William. There were gardeners and farmers, stables and conservatories and solariums and people to fix any little thing that went wrong. Mabel didn’t need to lift a finger. She just roamed around the three floors, wandered in and out of all 76 rooms.

Continue to Part III Click here

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  • Jan Landers
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