Kragsyde 1895

Recreating An Historic Home

In my book ‘Unkindness of Ravens’, my character Madeline (Dean) Abbott inherited an historic property on the northern California coast called Black Oaks. Her parents bought the property years before, with plans to restore it just as they did their family home, Raven’s Nest.

In my current work in progress (WIP) the characters’ stories have moved forward and Madeline now faces restoring Black Oaks alone. She also faces challenges to her very right to the property itself, murder and mayhem!

In the WIP, we learn the historic mansion Black Oaks was built by Orrick Fitzhugh back in the late 1880s. It was based on a beautiful home he saw in Massachusetts called Kragsyde. At this point fiction melds delightfully with history, because Kragsyde was a home that did actually exist from 1885 until it was razed in 1929. It was built by George Nixon Black Jr., a wealthy heir to a Boston real estate fortune.

It was a quintessential example of the Shingle style, a subset of Queen Anne architecture. It was designed by architects Peabody & Stearns, well known and well respected architects of their day. The grounds were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. It was a lovely property and George Nixon Black and his sister lived in the home from May through October every year, until his death. The property was then sold and the buyers opted to raze the beautiful home.

Fortunately, in the 1980s a young couple chose to replicate this historic property.  They did the work themselves! Recreating it in every way and every detail. The new Kragsyde II as it is called, is on Swan Island, Maine. There was a great deal written about this project-Old House Journal did an extensive article on it in 1987.  You can see it here:

Link to Google Books Old House Journal Article

They obtained the original blueprints and carefully recreated the historic home. Kudos to them for in essence saving one of the premiere American architectural examples of the Shingle style.

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