National Register Nomination Information:
After Augustus Saint-Gaudens' death in 1907, the house, studios and grounds where the greatest American sculptor had lived and worked during the last 22 years of his life were retained by the sculptor's widow and son. To insure the permanent maintenance of the property as a cultural landmark, Mrs. Saint-Gaudens and Homer Saint-Gaudens deeded the property to a board of trustees and on February 26, 1919, the Saint-Gaudens Memorial as incorporated and chartered by the State of New Hampshire. To provide for the operation and maintenance of the Memorial, the sum of $100,000 was raised, in great part through the Directors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and by gifts from local persons interested in the preservation of the property. Additional land was added to protect the setting, and the road which gave access to it from undesirable encroachment. The Memorial now contains a total of 33 acres.
The income from the endowment, plus membership dues, annual gifts from "guarantors," and admission fees of 50¢ per person, have enabled the Trustees to maintain the property and an annual gift from the American Academy of Arts and Letters has helped provide for the summer exhibitions of contemporary art. However, income has not been sufficient to permit needed improvements and development.
The principal features of the Memorial today are Aspet, the Saint-Gaudens home; the Little Studio which was his personal workshop, office and library; the New Studio and Art Gallery which houses casts of some of the sculptor's greatest works and provides space for the summer exhibitions; the formal gardens which are the setting for other notable reproductions, and the marble Temple with altar containing the sculptor's ashes.
The first floor of the home, with the exception of the modernized kitchen and pantries, is furnished in the period of its occupancy by the sculptor. Visitors to Aspet coming through the front door into the entrance hall may see the dining room, living room and parlor as they appeared in Saint-Gaudens' lifetime.
A spiral stairway with wide landing leads to the second floor. The second floor has been remodeled to provide living quarters for a curator during the period when the property is open to the public, May 30 to October 15. The attic contains storage rooms and servants' quarters.
Leaving the house by way of the piazza the visitor may walk through the formal gardens behind the house and enter the Little Studio. Here are displayed bronze and plaster casts of some of Saint-Gaudens' most noted works; in addition to an outstanding collection of his low-relief portraits. Here also, in a corner, are preserved the sculptor's desk and reference library. In drawers beneath the bookshelves are bundles of letters and papers saved by Saint-Gaudens. These deserve to be carefully examined and indexed to make them a useful source for research.
Displayed on the grounds during the summer are a cast of the seated Lincoln, and original base of the Farragut statue in New York's Madison Square. Strikingly displayed in an open front shelter are sections of. a plaster cast of the Shaw Memorial, donated to the Saint-Gaudens Memorial by the Albright Art Gallery of Buffalo.
There were 1,888 paid admissions to the Memorial in 1960.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site preserves the home of one of the foremost American sculptors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries,
For most of the sculptor's last 22 years, "Aspet" would be the setting for the work and place of both family and friends. The property was first used as a summer home and workshop, and finally in the development of a year-round residence.
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
An act of Congress, approved August 31, 1964, authorized the establishment of Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site.
Important historical remains within the site boundaries are:
1. Aspet: built about 1800 and once used as a tavern; remodeled by Saint-Gaudens. Some structural deterioration. Partially refurnished with Saint-Gaudens items. Prior to the transfer of Saint-Gaudens to the National Park Service, the family removed a number of the original home furnishings including books, papers, and photos relative to the place. These pieces are essential to the proper restoration of the home.
2. Little Studio: built by Saint-Gaudens about 1900 for use as his personal studio. Some deterioration; a fire hazard.
3. Swimming Tank: adjoins Little Studio outside rear door; built and used by Saint-Gaudens about 1900.
4. Gallery: built in 1944 to replace studio burned that year.
5. Stable: built prior to 1907; a fire hazard.
6. The Temple: designed by Charles Platt in 1905 for fete celebrating 20th anniversary of Saint-Gaudens' arrival at Cornish. Plaster original was copied in marble after Saint-Gaudens' death, and now contains ashes of sculptor and family; good condition.
7. Ravine Studio: built prior to 1907 (at least portion); may have been used as studio. Structure deteriorated seriously.
8. Caretaker's house: construction date (?). Good condition.
9. Base of the Farragut: the original designed by Saint-Gaudens and Stanford White is the base for the statue of David G. Farragut.
10. Grounds: Saint-Gaudens lavished much attention on landscaping and other grounds development. Existing pine and hemlock hedges, formal gardens, walkways, pools, and fountains reflect this interest. Important elements such as gold [sic] greens, and bowling green have disappeared.
MAJOR BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCES
Homer Saint-Gaudens, ed., The Reminiscences of Augustus Saint-Gaudens (New York, 1913);
William H. Child, History of the Town of Cornish, New Hampshire, With Genealogical Record, 1763-1910 (Concord, 1910).
FORM PREPARED BY: Charles E. Shedd, Jr., Historic Sites Historian, April 19, 1962 and, later, Gene Peluso, National Park Service, 26 Wall Street, New York, NY. Tel: not given. Date: February 5, 1973.
DATE ENTERED: October 15, 1966 (National Historic
Landmark). House and Studio entered November 15, 1972.
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