Red Roof

Red Roof
Eduardo Benito

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The dining room at Red Roof.  Originally a porch but enclosed and heated.  The table folded down in sections and had vents in the back for the radiators which can be seen under the table.  Photo courtesy of Axel Jansen.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Writer and naturalist Henry Beston Sheahan was a member of SSU 2 of the American Field Service in World War I.  Sheahan's book A Volunteer Poilu was written about his experience while with the AFS.  After the war Sheahan wrote under the pen name Henry Beston.  His most famous work, The Outermost House, is pictured above, bottom left, inscribed to Andrew.  In his position as a US Congressman Andrew was able to assist Beston in his requests for "scientific studies published at Washington" while researching for this book.   Also pictured at the top left of the photo is Beston's copy of Letters Written Home From France inscribed by Andrew to Beston.  The book at the right is Andrew's copy of The Book of Gallant Vagabonds.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

North Shore Breeze," October 6, 1922:

TREASURE HOUSE OF THE UNUSUAL AND OF WAR MEMENTOS
IS "RED ROOF," THE EASTERN POINT HOME OF
CONGRESSMAN A. PIATT ANDREW
"THIS is not a house; it is a passion!" In some such phrase as this a visitor at "Red Roof," Eastern Point, East Gloucester, exclaimed when once going through the home of Congressman A. Piatt Andrew. The phrase does aptly fit the place, for everywhere you may turn there is a surprise; but the surprise always is one that adds to the interest and to the comfort of the place. Instinctively anyone would sense that "Red Roof" is a man's home, and that a man's hand guided its course, for everywhere there is the souvenir or the trophy or the memento that to man's heart carries infinite appeal. And there are ingenious creature comforts, too.
This unusual house has been written of more than once, yet there is ever something which appears new to the visitor---something that strikes so forcibly on the mind that the place once seen is not forgotten. Therein one may say that "Red Roof" is unique. There it stands, a thicket of the Eastern Point woods between its hospitable door and the avenue, its old mill-stone set as a lawn table beside the entrance door with its small ship's bell and its lantern. That door which enters upon a tiny hallway makes the visitor sure he is going into a house of the Colonial day, but that is only an impression created by Colonel Andrew, for the house has been built under his own direction---he has been his own architect.
The big living room, extending across the house from front to rear, is so comfortable in appearance that anyone would enjoy just to sit there before the open fire on cool fall days and read volume after volume from the library, not so far away. Then, sitting there in the comfort of the deep chair, the guest could study the tile used in the fireplace and extending up the side of the room. This tile is unusual, most unusual in fact. It was made especially for the house by Harry Mercer of Doylestown, Pa., and shows again something distinctive of this North Shore house.
Perhaps the Congressman will ask the visitor to see his library, and in going to it he starts for what looks like a portion of panelled wall with a cushioned wall seat along it. Up comes the seat, and the door is opened from the paneling, low, but with steps leading to a lower level. There, automatically, you will stop, for at the right is a small pocket-like place filled with trophies of the Titan struggle in Europe, where Mr. Andrew earned his title of lieutenant-colonel through his work with the Red Cross. But at the left there is a blue light, a light rightly toning the little alcove wherein stands the organ and pictures, originals, made at the front in France. This spot is called by your host his "temple of memories of war experiences," the blue light lending a solemnity, almost an atmosphere of reverence. A Napoleon death mask adds to this feeling. And then there peals forth stately measures from the instrument behind you, for quietly this most unusual man who is showing you his home has slipped to the stool and has set the organ pealing through the space and over the house through some special passages and openings With a tense of sympathetic feeling he makes the music live. There, too, is rightly placed the original of the figure now surmounting the Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage in Gloucester, given by Mr. Andrew some time ago.
Across the passage, in that little spot where you first stopped, are souvenirs, each of which sets the average imagination going at feverish speed. For instance --- the life buoy from the Lusitania; the sign from the frontier post bounding France and Alsace; ambulance panels from France; a photograph of Viviani, one time French premier, and the man whom Americans particularly remember as the wonderful orator accompanying Marshal Joffre in his war-time visit.
You hesitate, but the library has an attraction, and the room, when entered, carries out the knowledge that you already have that this Massachusetts Congressman is a student. Books, books everywhere from floor to ceiling. Here on the long side is the large globe, and also a flat, desk-like table; there may be seen one of the treasures of the place ---a gift front the Master Mariners association of Gloucester, and inscribed "Greetings," on which one sentence in particular stands out: "They have found, hold and proclaim him their friend; a friend among friends, ---a man among men." Is it any wonder that Congressman Andrew treasures this souvenir of esteem?
In another place, over in a corner on the shore side, is a smaller stand, and there is a visorless cap of a German soldier. It is hanging on something, but before it leans a photograph, one of Ambassador Jusserand, cordially inscribed and given to his friend, Mr. Andrew. Then you will be told that the cap came from the first dead soldier our host saw in France. With a whimsical smile, accompanied by a subdued twinkle, the Jusserand photo will be moved, the cap will be raised from its resting place, and the features of former Ambassador von Bernstoff, smug and self-satisfied, pop up. Irony of fate---that, too, was inscribed by the donor, back in pre- war days.
Again to the opposite end of the library your eyes may then wander, past books, leopard skins and tapestries; past the little high fireplace to the cases beneath the windows. Hundreds, probably over 1500, war posters are here assembled in one of the large private collections. Just how many there are Mr. Andrew cannot tell you. But to read some of those sheets posted by the one-time foe is to make the blood surge again, try as one will to remember that hostilities are over and that peace has been declared.
Back across the living room you will undoubtedly be invited, and a room lined with mugs of various types, pewter, old silver, with plates and such interesting things, suggests a small dining room; but pointing to the left, Mr. Andrew will mention that an outer porch- like room is where he dines, and out there you go. Two small tables are set up near the outer wall, and over them arched screened [...] hung with a profusion of vines, frame one [...] images of Gloucester harbor and the Magnolia [...] -ious arrangement these two tables may [...] accommodate some dozen or more guests in an unusual setting along one side. Dutch tiles add charm to this most interesting niche.
Many, many other things of interest there are on this floor, but there are the rooms above where guests find comfort and pleasure. Up there is tile collection of samplers, it rare one, too, and there may the guest be surprised by hearing the full-toned organ pealing forth as though in his own room. On, to the third floor; there are the quarters of Congressman Andrew, for what would have been an attic has been fitted into an attractive study open to the peak of the roof, with a suite of rooms for his private occupancy. The huge, flat- topped desk, set near the middle of the room, shows that it is a business affair, and by it the Representative from this Fifth Essex district may be imagined studying and weighing carefully the momentous matters of state ever before our national government. Here, also, is a second of the tiled fireplaces from the hand of Carl Mercer.
By this time you have had your hasty glance at this home and are curious to see what the grounds offer, assured that it will be something out of the ordinary. It is. At one spot toward the outer harbor end rise the serene features of Buddha, far from his native clime, but resting comfortably there among the greenery of this North Shore place. At the opposite end of the house there is a seat against a wall, and beside it a rough, worn door of plank. A second look, and wear and grinding from the waves shows the door to have been made from planks washed ashore whence no man knows.
The natural bushes and shrubs are all along the shore, seemingly as nature made them, but beside the walk to the Venetian post at the head of the private pier there opens surprisingly what seems a yawning cavern, for it s not visible from above. This is Colonel Andrew's bathhouse, built of concrete in among rough, low cliffs of the shore, rooted of the same material, on which grass and shrubbery grow. Figureheads of one-time ships decorate this spot here and there, while a guard rail makes a finishing touch along the outer side, close by the lapping of the waters. Here you can imagine luncheon on a hot day as having advantages of coolness and comfort far away from the rush of life, yet near enough to jump into that life at a few moments' notice.
That is the atmosphere of the entire place --- restfulness, comfort, the unusual, with here and there n delightful whimsy. This, is then, "Red Roof." the place where Congressman Andrew rests, plays and works. It is indeed "not a house;" it is more than that---"it is a passion."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Recently the Joan of Arc monument in Gloucester in front of the American Legion Post 3 was vandalized. Here is a link from the Gloucester Times  http://www.gloucestertimes.com/local/x1927833491/Desecrating-Joan-of-Arc.

The above photo shows APA at the far fight.  The French General Henri Gouraud stands next to Andrew.  Gouraud lost his arm at Gallipoli.  The photo was taken in the twenties but sometime after the actual dedication of the monument in 1921.  The statue was designed by Anna Vaughn Hyatt.  Frederick Hall designed the base.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Isaac Patch, the nephew of APA, passed away on May 31, 2014.  Patch was with Piatt Andrew when he passed away on the morning of June third, 1936 in the Garden Room at Red Roof.

Ike Patch writes of his experiences of life in Gloucester in the early 1900's and offers several glimpses of Uncle Piatt in two of his several books Closing the Circle and Growing Up In Gloucester.  Patch writes of APA's circle of friends as well as his memorable experiences with APA visiting Washington D.C. and a dramatic airplane flight from Chicago to New York.  Here is a link to "Big Ike's" obituary.


Above is a photo looking out of the doors of the Garden Room onto the upper terrace.  This is the spot where Andrew lay in a hospital bed as Ike Patch held his hand while he passed away.  This is the only room of Red Roof to survive.  Mercer tile adorns the floor.  Photo courtesy of Axel Jansen.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A. Piatt Andrew Inspector General of the American Field Service.  Photo taken in Paris after April 1917.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The English actor H. B. Warner was a frequent guest at Red Roof in 1912 and 1913.  Warner's wife was killed in a automobile accident on April 20th, 1913 and Warner fades from APA's daybook.  Another English actor was soon to enter the Eastern Point Group-Leslie Buswell.  Warner may be best known today for his appearance in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life as Old Man Gower or as himself in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard.