Thursday, August 18, 2016

THE CINTRA ESTATE

One week when I was in New Hope,  and like everyday when going to work, I pass this dilapidating estate called Cintra, but have never really heard anything about it, and if anyone even lives in it. In New Hope, if wouldn't surprise me, as there are a couple of "Grey Gardens." So I went back, over time and took a few snaps to share, but held on to them. Between the interwebs, and some of the older gents I know, I have found out the skinny!
 
From the Antiques Magazine
 
Inspired by a palace outside Lisbon, William Maris, a local builder and entrepreneur in New Hope, began building Cintra around 1816. Among the distinctive features of the 2 ½-story fieldstone house are its floorplan—a central octagonal entrance with symmetrical flanking wings—its rear piazza and sunken garden, and its distinctive yellow pebble-dash exterior. Plagued by financial troubles, Maris remained there only until 1827. After changing hands several times, the estate was purchased in 1834 by the Ruth Ely family, prominent Quakers in Bucks County, who kept it for more than a hundred years.Henry Lee worked there for many years as a servant. Henry was a fugitive who arrived in the area in the 1830s. He first appeared in the US Census in 1840. He did not admit to his true birthplace of Maryland until 1840. He worked for many local families and as the town crier.  Then gay couple Bill Stanley and his partner Dewey Curtis were enthralled by its unusual design, stately interiors, and rich historical significance, and bought it in 1973.
 
Stanley and Curtis had met several years earlier while studying art and architecture at the University of Virginia. Both have been described as charming, flirtatious, and wonderfully entertaining—they hosted many, lavish and huge parties at Cintra—and absolutely voracious in their collecting. Curtis, who for a time was the curator of Pennsbury Manor in New Hope, worked side by side in Stanley's antiques business. Each was keenly knowledgeable and had a wonderful eye—developing a particular taste for 18th-century English furniture and decorative art.They used the first floor at Cintra as a showroom, and the mansion was quickly filled with art and antiques purchased on buying trips abroad—fueled by annual tours of English country houses that they organized for women's groups and other enthusiasts. Through the contacts they made over many years in Britain and Europe, they amassed a remarkable quantity of 18th- and early 19th-century household furnishings.

When Curtis died in 1986, Stanley continued to acquire antiques, but made little effort to sell them, and around that time closed his business to the public. The vast inventory of Sheraton-style furniture, Persian rugs, porcelain dishes, wooden and tortoiseshell boxes, and stacks of oil paintings and other artwork overtook portions of the house—in some parts, furniture was stacked nearly to the 12-foot-high ceilings. After Stanley's death in 2008, Rago Antique specialists here in New Hope, Tom Martin and Kristina Wilson spent several months virtually in residence at Cintra, organizing and cataloguing the contents, half of which, were sold at an earlier auction. A virtual time capsule was preserved in Stanley's antiques collection—accentuated by the endless stacks of old Country Life magazines strewn among the rooms. Today it remains empty decaying waiting for new life. While Cintra's decaying elegance adds a new chapter to the mansion's fabled history, the property, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places, will soon be on the market, and as with its contents, will hopefully find a third life.

25 comments:

  1. It looks (and sounds) like a marvelous place. I hope someone buys it, repairs it, and opens it up once more to the lifestyle it deserves: Weekend parties filled with happy laughter.
    Hmmm... That would be right up your alley!
    Hugs!!!

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  2. A new place for the Mistress? I can see the grandeur it must once have had.

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  3. Just another reason William and I love New Hope so much. There is always something interesting to see or learn about this very historic place with its fabled fabulous and campy and haunting past. I been past this place many times and have wondered it's history. Even in it's condition, it's still grand. Lovely post.

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  4. Fascinating report! Love those stairs.

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  5. That is definitely my kind of place - - I have a "Grey Gardens" soul. I wonder if it's haunted?

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    1. Again, you and I have a lot in common. And I don't know if it's haunted, but I would venture to say yes, since New Hope is one of the most haunted towns. When just outside I got vibes from the house, but not necessary bad ones.

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    2. Oh, of course it is haunted... Though, not to fear - most ghostly folks are simply pranksters enjoying the goose-pimples and screams they induce in the living.

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  6. I would love to get a glimpse of the inside of that place. New Hope certainly is a very interesting place. Murphy needs to set a season of American Horror Story there I say.

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    1. I have LONG thought the same thing. With the list of residents past and present...it would be a real show for sure.

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  7. I'm really surprised I don't live somewhere in that area, it is the richest area for history, and so beautiful from your post you do. This place looks fantastic. Maybe my next move will be Bucks County, who knows!

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    1. The history and things to see around here is endless it seems.

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  8. Fascinating! I wonder who their heirs were? Nieces/nephews probably.

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  9. I love old abandoned places like this. Great picture and history to the place. I can only imagine the lavish parties those guys had! Top notch no doubt. Thank goodness it is also saved on the National Historical Register.

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  10. What another wonderful piece from New Hope! Such a rich area, in more ways than one. The house is beautiful, can you just imagine with a refurb? Im surprised not more tv and movies use this area for filming. Let alone a whole movie around the famous residents of this town.

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  11. That's going to be a beautiful home once it's repaired. I hope someone gives it the TLC it deserves.

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  12. The house has a great design. And what history to it. Loving the back gardens. Talk about over grown.

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  13. What a nice and interesting read! The place is certainly a grade dame. That area has such colorful history. One of these days.......

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  14. Why if that home had been located in Savannah it possibly could have been the setting for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
    I was brought out by a number of 1970s antique shop queens living in several big beautiful mansions back in the day circa 1980. All of which seemed to meet either sudden tragic deaths or agonizingly long AIDS deaths in the mid to late 1980s. The 1970s somehow embraced the prominent gays but imprisoned them at the same time. A product of the era he imprisoned himself in this grand old home as it obviously deteriorated around him.

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    1. When I talk to the older generation of queens at the Raven, the stories there are pretty much the same alas. But I always enjoy talking to them, Shame some of the younger ones don't take the time to learn of their history and surroundings. Yes, some of these queens aren't playing with a full deck and live in the past, but I love to spend time with them , even if I have to put up with an advance or two!!!! Just shows they are still feeling their oats.

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  15. They sure don't make home like they used too. Yeah they are nice to look at, but the craftsmanship sure isn't there. Very nice post. I have seen this house before there, but never thought to ask it's history

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  16. perhaps it cam be made over into a B&B?

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    1. It would be very popular. I don't know why no one as thought of that yet.

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  17. I picture you lounging on the lawn in a headscarf.

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    1. And to think, I usually reserve my Little Edie look for cleaning day.

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  18. Haunting beautiful....like the rest of New Hope.

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Go ahead darling, tell me something fabulous!

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