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Visit of a vast coastal getaway in Maine

Visit of a vast coastal getaway in Maine


Both lush and rugged, the coast of Maine, USA, hides a discreet gem. This secret, city escape, private retreat rich in history, spectacularly restored and modernized by New York studio SPAN Architecture. The estate of four properties nestled in a breathtaking forest landscape spans 200 acres and offers incredible views of Western Bay and the picturesque town of Blue Hill.

The hunting grounds, which once housed a Chinese-inspired guesthouse and tea house designed by architect Robert Patterson in the 1960s, belonged to American socialite Brooke Astor, who was interested in China during her childhood travels. The current owners commissioned Karen Stonely and Peter Pelsinski of SPAN Architecture to build a family and guest house from scratch and restore the existing tea pavilion and pool house/guest cottage. The aim was for the estate to blend seamlessly into the site, and to imitate original structures to complement the spectacular landscape. The new residence spans four levels and is located to the north. It is inspired by the rocks, waterfront, trees and topography of the site, and pays homage to the original structure. The master suite sits at the top, like a glass hut hovering above the rocky coastline. The living and dining room, with its impressive “cathedral ceiling”, extends to the next floor, with the large kitchen below. Five unique and surprising bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and a games room can be found in a subterranean section of the property, almost invisible from the green lawn-like roof overlooking the water. The palette is limited to natural local materials: cedar, Douglas fir and stone, with an insulated zinc-coated copper roof that blends into the sky. The shape of the new roof unfolds to reflect that of the hills. In the final phase of the design, a two-bedroom guest house is imagined, with a garage space below opening onto the gardens. The furnishings and objets d’art are mostly designed by SPAN and crafted by local artisans, with mid-century Chinese influences. The dining room’s cut-glass chandeliers, by David Weisman, use leaves, twigs and customer-favorite flowers, reinterpreted in cast metal and porcelain. Maps, historical books, pen-and-ink drawings of the flora, fauna and natural phenomena of Acadia National Park and Mont-Désert Island are found, for added authenticity. The estate will remain a haven of privacy and serenity for generations to come.

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