A  familiar  landmark as you travel through Smith's Parish is the tower and footbridge over Harrington Sound Road leading to the Boat House of the Old Deepdene Manor. Deepdene was built about 1929 as a winter home for Ledyard and Florence  Blair. The property has since been turned into The Manor House condominiums with the main house divided into apartments and numerous units built in the elegant grounds, but the small stone footbridge survives (despite  the constant smashing of careless truck drivers).

 

Deepdene was built on a plot of almost ten acres in 1926 by Ledyard  Blair. It is said to have cost $500,000 to build, an enormous sum at the time. Deepdene was assessed at £20,000 in the Church Vestry Records for 1929, by far the most expensive property in Smith's Parish. The  cement to build the house was said to have been brought from Mr. Blair's factory in the US, but the empty bags were shipped back for a rebate of two cents each.

 

Deepdene incorporated many expensive interior fixtures including elaborate carved oak panelling in the great living room at Deepdene said to be done by Grinling Gibbons, perhaps the most famous woodcarver in England. The coach house at Deepdene was said to contain 18 carriages, including a glass opera coach.  The tower looks as if it should belong to an ancient English Church rather than a boathouse.

 

The ironwork design at the top incorporates a crab chasing a lobster, which in turn is chasing a bee. These ironwork animals are said to have represented the initials of C. Ledyard Blair. There is an unusual copper topped stone umbrella seat on the dock which Blair is said to have called the  "wailing  tower"  since his wife wailed in anguish as she sat there watching her husband's antics with a sailboat on Harrington Sound.

 

Sadly Florence Blair died in 1931, the year the house was completed, and C. Ledyard Blair is said to have never returned to live at Deepdene. He did remarry in 1936, to Harriet Brown Tailer (widow to T. Suffern Tailer). It is said that she did not like the property. Deepdene was put up for sale but it remained unsold until 1947 when it was purchased by Dorothy Vera Hunter of Harrington House and turned into an exclusive guest house and renamed Deepdene Manor.

 

In  1958, it was acquired by Godfrey Lowell Cabot, a leading American industrialist and philanthropist. He leased Deepdene Manor to Horizons Ltd, which operated Coral Beach, Horizons, Newstead and Waterloo House. The  property changed hands again in 1964 and the hotel closed early in 1978. Meanwhile there were plans to turn it into a luxury spa but ultimately it became a condominium development.

 

The Boat House and its bridge over Harrington Sound remain relatively unchanged although the main house has been divided into apartments and the elegant grounds filled with housing units. Deepdene has lost a little of its stately air by its conversion into a guest house and then apartments. The main house and  its grounds are clustered with late 20th century additions and only its classical garden ornamentation and the Boat House remain as important examples of the  work of renowned American architect Thomas Hastings. (Historical info taken from Architectural Heritage Series - Smith's Parish 


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