Beauport, Sleeper-McCann House
Beauport, Sleeper-McCann House, was the summer home of one of America’s first professional interior designers, Henry Davis Sleeper. Perched on a rock ledge overlooking Gloucester Harbor, Beauport became Sleeper’s retreat, backdrop for entertaining, professional showcase, and an inspiration to all who visited. After Sleeper’s death, Beauport was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Charles McCann, who left most of Sleeper’s arrangements and collections intact.
The interior and exterior of the house contain Sleeper’s lifetime collection of curiosities, colored glass, folk art, china, and silhouettes in every nook and alcove. Each of the forty rooms is distinguished by a historical or literary figure, theme, color, shape, or object. No two rooms are the same, with each more visually dazzling than the last. The house is framed by newly restored Arts and Crafts-style terraces that include intimate garden rooms with dramatic views of the harbor.
Visitors to Beauport learn about its architectural evolution, the sources of Sleeper’s inspiration, and how he influenced other designers and popular taste. Get to know Sleeper; his housekeeper, Mary Landergan Wonson; Beauport's second owners, the McCanns; and the house's many colorful guests, who became an integral part of Sleeper’s life.
Open Tuesday - Saturday, May 25 - October 19
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tours on the hour. Last tour at 4:00 p.m.
Closed July 4
The Beauport, Sleeper–McCann House is a Historic New England property.
Top photo: Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House - Beauport, the summer home of interior designer Henry Davis Sleeper, captivates the imagination not only because of its dramatic location but because of its wit. Filled with room after room of delightful objects meant to astonish and amuse, Beauport is an intellectual fun house originally designed almost a century ago to entertain such luminaries as European art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner, Harvard economics professor A. Piatt Andrew, heiress Caroline Sinkler, and Okakura Kakuzo, curator of Asian art at the Museum of Fine Arts and author of “The Book of Tea.” In modern terms, Sleeper was a master recycler, recreating America’s colonial past using doors, panels, beams, and floorboards rescued from derelict early New England homes. His ingenious use of farm-house furnishings, pottery, glassware, baskets, and tools sparked Henry Francis du Pont’s interest in Americana which culminated in the establishment of the Winterthur Museum. Even house guests as wealthy as John D. Rockefeller Jr. appreciated the atmosphere of elegance that Sleeper was able to create with materials often obtained from salvage dealers.
Bottom photo: Octagon Room - In contrast to the Pine Kitchen, the fourth dining room is European in flavor. The Octagon Room, or Souvenir de France, is on the other side of the central kitchen, but is a world away in terms of design. There are ocean views from windows in three of the eight walls and the doorway of the fourth. The theme of eight is extensively repeated in this room from the eight sides of the room, to the eight-sided table, eight-sided rug beneath the table, eight scattered rugs around the room, eight lamps, and even eight-sided glass doorknobs. The room also displays Sleeper’s collection of red tole that he acquired during his stay in France while working for the American Field Service.