America’s ‘National Treasure’ On Sale For $ 30 Million, Invest News & Top Stories

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NYTIMES – A granite townhouse in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood was designed over 100 years ago by artist Louis Comfort Tiffany and is today considered the most comprehensive example of his residential vision .

Its pale facade, with mosaic panels set in limestone and stained glass over copper-clad double doors, is one of only two exteriors known to have been designed by Tiffany and the only one that remains intact.

Equally striking is the interior, with an oval staircase and entrance with white marble paneling and mosaic risers.

For decades the building, known as the Ayer Mansion, has been owned by non-profit organizations linked to the Roman Catholic group Opus Dei and has functioned as a cultural center and residence for women attending colleges nearby. During this time, its doors were periodically opened to the public for tours, lectures and concerts.

All of that may soon change.

The mansion was recently listed for sale – along with an adjacent building – with an asking price of US $ 22.5 million (S $ 30 million). This worries some people who have worked for years to restore what they see as a crucial monument to Tiffany’s genius.

Ms Marie Oates, spokesperson for the Trimount Foundation, owner of the mansion and adjacent building that make up the residence and cultural center, said the listing was for both properties and was prompted by the drop in tuition fees induced by the coronavirus pandemic which helps finance the operation of buildings.

“We would like to prioritize a buyer or an offer where there will be an interest in preserving what is a national treasure,” she said. “If we can find a buyer that allows public access that would be great; we would be delighted.”

Ms Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, an expert on Tiffany, said the Ayer house was remarkable in large part because almost all of its original features have been preserved.

These included the Modernist entrance hall, dramatic staircase, gold mosaic ceilings, Favrile glass vases, and a trompe-l’oeil temple on a stair landing that combine to form a unified whole.

The mansion is an “extremely important interior surviving by Louis Tiffany,” she said. “It was all designed as a work of art in its own right.” The mansion was built between 1899 and 1902 for businessman and art collector Frederick Ayer, according to the Campaign for the Ayer Mansion.

Since 1964 it has been held at different times by two separate nonprofits associated with Opus Dei, an influential group historically linked to right-wing causes based on the principle that ordinary life and daily work are paths. towards holiness and service. to the society.

The building has been used throughout this time by a third non-profit organization, the Bayridge Residence and Cultural Center. He began a restoration effort in 1997, first hiring an architectural firm to study the mansion and prepare a preservation plan. Since 1998, the restoration has been organized by the Campaign for Ayer Mansion and a predecessor group of the same name, which has received grants from the City of Boston, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and the federal Save America’s Treasures program, as well as private foundations and donors.

With the cooperation of Trimount and Bayridge, the Ayer Mansion campaign undertook interior and exterior work worth nearly US $ 3 million, including the restoration of mosaic panels on the facade and the repair of stained glass screens in the manor library.

He also restored a 6m long Tiffany laylight above a set of marble stairs, using the existing glass and replacing the missing pieces with rare surviving glasses from the Neustadt collection of Tiffany glass.



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