Windward House: Come and Stay In Traditional New England Bed & Breakfast
A guest from Norway dropped in. “Ahh!” he exclaimed, “This is it!”
I said, this is what? He said that Windward House was what people from his country and Europe think of when they imagine visiting New England, and the Maine coast. It struck me because the last three guests had the same reaction. They had been traveling up the coast, and just stopped by when they spotted the vacancy sign. We have tried, as have the past owners of Windward House, to keep as much of the original house as possible. The moldings and trim, the essentially Greek revival style of this circa 1850’s everyman’s house. After Greek Revival there is a period of what is called Victorian, and more specifically Queen Anne Victorian. These houses are fairly easy to spot. They are designed for outward appearances and reflect a more affluent period of American history – a boom time – with money for frivolities like spandrels, mansard roofs, and turrets that don’t accommodate any living space. But the Greek Revival says something different. It says elegance in simplicity, it communicates egalitarianism, speaks to a more sincere time before the Country became so seduced by wealth for wealth’s sake. It is often called a Temple Style house because Greek Revival style architecture resembles a Greek temple more than any residential dwelling in ancient Greece. But how did that come about? Why might people think of the style of Windward House as being typically New England?
During the period of time between statehood in 1820 and 1861 the state of Maine enjoyed what has something of a zenith of its stature in this nation. Timber, farming, textiles, importing, and shipbuilding all flourished and combined to make Maine a force to be reckoned with. Suddenly in around 400 spread out towns and villages people could afford to build their own houses. The young nation was struggling to articulate an identity separate from the culture derived from Europe. On the forefront of that self-conscious endeavor was Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson wished to create a domestic style of architecture that reflected the optimism and idealism of a new nation governed by the principles that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” That brief phrase packs a lot of implications. It implies that all should be treated equal under the law. That the law should be blind to status or skin color or gender. In seeking for a symbol for this new but ancient system of government Jefferson looked to that first remarkable democratic experiment – the Greeks of Athens.
With a ratio of around 10 architects to 1500 builders, local carpenters shaped architecture and many of them used the same pattern book to style the decorated front doors. With a pediment above the front door, and stylized patterns of windows or pilasters, these houses typically express much in their entryways. Take a walk around Camden and look at the front doors of the historic houses. You’ll notice some patterns emerge, as well as some commonalities.
The original temples were not meant to be lived in, but the forms were aesthetically pleasing, and adaptation was possible. In the 1820s steam planes made boards and jointed trim easier and less expensive to make. So the Greek revival was stylish for the ordinary citizen.
Staying at Windward House is more than a lodging, but an experience. You can get an idea of what it felt like for those people in 1850’s American New England. Step back in time with the surroundings, the décor, the Greek Revival house.
So, if you agree with our guests, that the Greek Revival is the most traditional New England Bed & Breakfast, which rooms are the most in keeping with the original design and decor? The most traditional New England Bed & Breakfast rooms are probably Chart Room Suite, Windrose Suite, Elijah Glover Room and Brass Room. The Windrose Suite was actually Captain Elijah Glover’s business office when the house was first built.