Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

9.09.2013

Multifaceted Callanwolde

[Archive photo via Callanwolde Fine Arts Center.]

Rich, dark beams contrasted against pale cement stucco define Callanwolde, once a 27-acre 1920s Atlanta estate designed by architect Henry Hornbostel for Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler's eldest son, Howard. Solid and bold, aesthetically it veers toward the masculine.



[The recently well-renovated 1920s pool house, now known as the Samuel Goldman Retreat, is one of my favorite places on the estate and may be rented for private parties. Image via Callanwolde.]

Maximizing the graphic punch of Gothic-Tudor-inspired half-timbering, Hornbostel also brought a modernist sensibility to the expansive main house with large, spare, completely unornamented forms.

[Detail of chinoiserie-paneled music room. Photo by Courtney Barnes.]

So it's a surprise to find the pastel-hued music room with delicate inset hand-painted chinoiserie panels.


Typical of chinoiserie-themed decoration in the 20s through the 40s, the room is quintessentially feminine. Entering it right off the cove-ceilinged, stone-arched, very Gothic-Tudor front hall, you can get a terrific sense of the divergent styles that were simultaneously in vogue during the era.

[View outside Music Room. Photo by Courtney Barnes.]
Juxtaposed with the walnut-paneled Great Hall, the airy Italian-influenced dining room provides more visual contrast. Look up to appreciate the intricate, highly decorative plasterwork.

[Photo by Courtney Barnes]

Visits to Callanwolde can be wonderfully low-key, by the way. Today the mansion, outbuildings and remaining 12 acres function as a non-profit community arts center, offering dance, music, ceramics, photography and literary classes for children and adults. Because of Callanwolde's public role, the estate is kept very accessible. Of course, it has evolved a great deal since Mrs. Howard Candler initially donated her home in 1959 (currently in the living is a barre for young ballerinas and the arcaded inner courtyard has been glassed in for special events). But the core architectural features -- massive stone fireplaces, elaborate tracery -- and gardens are there to be studied. You can pop in at your leisure, for free, on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or during the week from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

I'm still researching the use of chinoiserie in the music room, specifically the silk panels that would have been in place pre-restoration. For now, I wanted to put the house on your radar. Chinoiserie will be prevalent in Interwoven Globe and over at Treasure Hunt, Emile continues to discuss multi-layered Chinese wallpapers designed for export to the West. Check his blog for sneak peeks at the upcoming National Trust catalogue.

7 comments:

John J. Tackett said...

I'll look forward to your conclusions from your study, especially the use of silk versus paper.

Ivy Lane said...

I also look forward to the same...

ArchitectDesign™ said...

I love when old mansions are reborn as community centers like this for everyone to appreciate and enjoy. It fosters such an love in children especially for great spaces.

Style Court said...

John, Ivy -- it will be interesting to see what (or how much) I can find.

Stefan -- yes! Thought of you on a couple of my visits. You would appreciate so much about Callanwolde. After the Candler family donated it, the estate passed through various owners until becoming a publicly-owned facility.

I'm sure the architectural details have an impact on the little kids studying or performing there, even when it's a subconscious influence.

penelopebianchi said...

I agree!! What a treasure!!
Chinese wallpaper is my favorite!!!

Emile de Bruijn said...

Thanks for the mention, Courtney. Amazing to see Callanwolde, I had no idea. Fascinating mixture of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European styles, with then some Chinese thrown in as well.

And interesting to see how the Chinese scenes are set into European baroque-style frames - that seems to be how the 'Chinese wallpaper' as we know it originated: from the practice of inserting Chinese pictures and prints into baroque paneling. It seems to have been in response to that taste that the Chinese began to produce multi-drop wallpaper.

I also love how the stones in the wall of the pool house sort of 'evaporate' halfway up.

Style Court said...

Emile -- because of your posts on the subject, when I revisited, I was totally focused on how the moulding is used like a picture frame. Regarding the pool house, next time I'll try to take my own shots of the exterior and stone work. There's a fab stone fireplace and exposed beams inside that building :)

Penelope -- glad you like it!