Who in the world meticulously creates an English style house, guilded in yellowed limestone, and never lives in it? Well, for starters, an American couple with English heritage, Nathan and Jessie Paine. Although the head of a wood products company, Nathan’s intention, with the building suitable for nobility, was to share his interests with the city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
I guess I can sum up the reason for constructing such a place best in one word, as my companion commends a museum staffer for this particular trait-Passion. Pride in one’s heritage also comes to mind. However, the passion one has, not only for his work, but family and community seem to be on display in this house.
The groundbreaking took place in 1927, however, the great depression and WWII created obstacles. The house was finally finished in 1948, although it feels as if this place has had generations of inhabitants. It had always been intended that this house would be for the community, and it still is.
As I enter, I feel as a boy reaching the entrance of my childhood church. There’s nothing finely ornate, as the wood paneling and small coat room greet me with casual formality. Off to the left I find a counter, manned by some of the most knowledgeable receptionists I’ve come across. They collect my $9.00, as they offer information on the house and some of the art work displayed.
To start off with culture, we find a room of crimson, full of brilliant paintings. My favorite is set over a mammoth fireplace. I’m told, by a knowledgeable woman, that the piece, titled ‘Wallachian Pack Train’, is a scene from the Crimean War.(usually its home is in the Great Hall)
We Move from the beautiful art gallery to a more stunning room, its not even a room, the limestone foyer is stunning, as the first floor is brilliantly laid out. On my right lies the library, created to represent those of the Jacobean period.
As a matter of fact, although I confess I forgot most of the periods, the rooms were made to replicate an authentic Tudor country manor. Since most of the old world estates had many additions, the rooms of the Paine House represent different periods of English design.
As I stand on the polished limestone floor of the foyer, peering into the library, I’m captivated by the finite details. They give this place more than an authentic resonance. I’m wrapped in the inspiring tones of superior craftsmanship and artistry, one only the well to do could afford. I feel, at any given moment, an English chap sporting 19th century apparel and a well groomed mustache will greet me.
As I survey the walnut paneled room, I notice the panels have a design that appears as flowing drapes, carved into each. What is more impressive about this very artistic endeavor, displayed on over three hundred panels throughout the house, no two are exactly alike. As I also notice the ornate ceiling, I’m impressed by the immense skill and labor it took to finish one room. The woodwork is outstanding.
I tread over the limestone tile to the ladies reception room, as the library would have been the men’s. I love the tea set next to a large window as, with seemingly every room, there is a fireplace ready to make visitors feel cozy. I try to Imagine the proper tones and pleasantries that would be exchanged by wives of men with means.
Beyond the reception areas lie the rooms where gatherings would commence. A dining room, very similar to those portrayed on shows, delights me. My thoughts of Sherlock Holmes stories stir in such places, being just the setting of many scenes. The dining room is a stately sight, a long table, littered with silver and china, before a monster of a window.
A breakfast room, reminding me of a conservatory, would be the perfect place to allow the suns rays to dance on one’s face, while starting the day off right with a hearty meal.
At the end of the foyer,on the east side of the house, lies an enormous room known as the Grand Hall. This room was common in English homes and was the predecessor to today’s living room. Such a room was intended to entertain guests, this room is normally furnished, however, due to an event the furnishings are absent.
Tucked away in the corner, lies one of the largest oriental rugs in the world, the pure silk floor piece is rolled against a wall. On our left, arched doors open to a patio which overlooks the gardens of the estate. I picture this place in summer with doors open to the outdoors- fairytale perfect.
As we follow the stairs to the second floor, we find bedrooms equipped with canopy beds. There is the guest bedroom, laid out with its own bathroom and dressing room. There is also a magnificent master bedroom. Of course, the bedrooms are accompanied with their own fireplace.
Also on this floor, a beautiful sitting room, a testament to the style of home Nathan grew up in, is amongst the bedrooms. In addition to the private rooms, a space, once intended to be the echo chamber for the pipe organ of the grand hall, known as the Gothic Gallery is left to wow a visitor. However, this addition was completed in the 1980’s.
Its early spring, and the tour of the house is definitely the highlight today. Yet, I can’t wait till the beginning of may, when flowers will sprout from bulbs- already planted in the formal floral gardens of the estate. Today, I walk the grounds, trying to imagine the gardens just over a month from now.
This destination is worth revisiting. There are events such as their holiday ‘Nutcracker’ in December, not to mention ones coming much sooner. There is also a building known as the conservatory, used for private events. I imagine a wedding in such a place as a marvelous affair.
I loved this place. As I mentioned, it touched that same part of me that loves to curl up with my collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. I barely touched on the artwork, as it is an equal delight. If you’re intrigued with classic art or, much more to the point, old world architecture and design, I do suggest this place.
$9.00 adult Children are $5.00 Wednesdays seniors are admitted for $5.00