April 15, 2018

Red Roof, East Gloucester, MA. April, 2012

Years ago, when our friends Tom and Paul asked if we’d like to join them at a party at Red Roof near our Gloucester home, we leapt at the chance. The party was an annual one thrown by the multiple owners of the historic house, complete with great food from a local BBQ joint, live music, a talent show in one of the outbuildings and a relatively open house for the curious like me. (I ran right to Isabella Stewart Gardner’s room and to the secret library, filled with stacks of old French Red Cross posters and accessed by pressing a hidden button to activate the sliding bookcase.) Built in 1902 by A. Piatt Andrew (Harvard economics professor, founder of the American Field Service during WWI, director of the U.S. Mint, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Republican member of Congress and local legend -- the bridge into Gloucester bears his name), the house has a gym on the top floor accessed only by the fit via rope ladder. (It also had at one time, we were told, an underground tunnel to Beauport next door, allowing clandestine trysts at the home of Andrew’s fellow gay pal Henry Davis Sleeper.) The elaborate stonework in the back descends to the water and includes six terraces and a natural saltwater swimming pool. I recently paid another visit to Red Roof, this time to an estate sale when Andrew’s heirs put the storied home up for sale. My pieces of history: a necktie I found in a closet and book from the 1920s (inscribed in French) from Mrs. Gardner’s bookcase.

No comments:

Post a Comment