In the summer of 1912, ground was broken on a residence palatial in its proportions; an enormous Gloucester estate quarried from the ledge and set down on it so close to the harbor’s edge that high tide slapped against the foundation.
The residence, dubbed “Stoneacre” was the monumental project of famed North Shore building J.T. Wilson and Boston designers Bellows and Aldrich. The whole was highly striking, reminiscentof the grandiose architectural monuments created by Henry Hobson Richardson for his patrons, the Ames Family, to bestow upon North Easton.
Stoneacre was the summer home of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Garrison Hall. Everlyn Hall was the eldest daughter of Governor Oliver Ames, politican, capitalist, and, in his retirement, patron of the Boston arts. Evelyn was related, through the marriage of her brother, to Blanche Ames, granddaughter of General Adelbert Ames and great-granddaughter of Ben Butler, proprietor of the Ames Estate at Bay View.
The grounds were the picturesque setting for upscale events, highlighted by courtyards and loggias and porticos arched with intricate carvings, an abundance of classical sculptures, stone walls embracing stone walls, exotic landscaping with pines and other flora rarely seen on the Point, and a studio for the master.
Evelyn and Frederick Hall were among Eastern Point’s most interesting personalities for nearly twenty-five years. Evelyn was said to be one of the finest amateur pianists in Boston, accomplished enough but much too shy to appear professionally. Frederick was a portraitist who was best known for his etchings of French city scenes. He collected jade and oriental art and was a devotee of carved wood, which adorns Stoneacre at every turn.
Not long after they moved into Stoneacre, the Halls gave a dance for their niece Pauline, Oakes Ames’s daughter and the future Mrs. T.P. Plimpton of New York. She recalled how her aunt’s spacious music room, said to be an acoustic tour de force, was the romantic setting for her property, opening onto the terrace that sits over the harbor like a castle on the Rhine.
The “Sea Room” resounded to many memorable musicales. The Halls frequently invited more than a hundred guests, including Harpo Marx, a close friend and often house guests. Remembering her aunt, Mrs. Plimpton reflects, “She was an extraordinary musician, extremely shy about her playing, that she never did play professionally, but when the mood to play came to her, there was no one equal the romantic bravura of her touch.”
The mood might come at any hour – in the middle of the night, perhaps, when Evelyn, suddenly overcome by a desire to play, would fill the house with her delicate melodies. Neighbor Helen Patch Gray remembered her uncle hurrying over to Stoneacre in his pajamas: “Doors were opened to the harbor and the music poured out. He always treasured those memories.”
Floor plans for Stoneacre are available upon request.