There are about forty-six rooms of Beauport and no two are the same. Beauport, also known as the Sleeper-McCann house, is a brilliant display of architecture and interior design. The house was built by one of America’s first interior designers, Henry David Sleeper.
Sleeper’s good friend, A. Piatt Anderw introduced Sleeper to the Eastern Point area in 1906. The area comprises the southern half of the peninsula between the eastern side of Gloucester Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. Sleeper purchased a plot of land in the area in August of 1907 right down the road from Andrew’s summer mansion, Red Roof. In the fall of that same year Sleeper began construction. By May of 1908 Sleeper was moved in, but the house was nowhere near complete. Sleeper added room after room to the house for the next twenty years. He used the home to showcase his skill in interior design and architecture. Sleeper replicated Jacobean American, Colonial American and various styles of French décor throughout the process of bringing his vision to life. Prominent clients from around the country had the option to replicate elements or entire rooms of Beauport in their own homes. He did this in an effort to preserve styles of design and orientation that may have otherwise been lost. This is partially what makes the house so unique. Each room is influenced by a different era and style of architecture with a twist that Sleeper applies in the form of masterful skill in the orientation of art and glass decoration.
Charles and Helena Woolworth McCann purchased the property after sleeper’s death in 1934. The family made a few minor changes, but kept most of the house exactly as Sleeper left it. In 1947 the heirs of Charles and Helena donated the house to the Society for the Protection of New England Antiquities, now known as Historic New England. To this day the organization operates the property as a house museum.
Visitors can go and see the mansion nearly exactly as Sleeper left it. The outside of the house is almost as impressive as the inside. The gardens, the highlight of the grounds, are complimented by a breathtaking ocean view. Currently there are three tours to choose from at Beauport. The standard tour is an hour long and it consists of 26 rooms. Though it is the shortest, it is still packed with plenty of info on the history and design of the mansion. By the end it is hard to believe that there are still twenty more rooms. The Nooks and Crannies tour undoubtedly lives up to its name. This tour consists of all 46 rooms and is about three hours long. If you are looking for a fun and informative activity that will fill up an afternoon than this is the one for you. The tour gives visitors plenty of time to explore each room and it is filled with seemingly endless info on various pieces in the house, as well as stories about Beauport’s original owners. Designing Beauport is the newest tour offered at the house and it is about two hours long. The tour takes visitors through rooms in the exact order that they were added by Sleeper. This tour focuses on the style of design, decoration and orientation that Sleeper used, as well as what events in his life inspired the home. There are no self-guided tours but the guides at Beauport are pleasant, personable and quite professional. The staff at Beauport is full of energy and enthusiasm. The amount of information they have to offer about any given element of the house is quite impressive.
Open May though October (Closed July 4th)
Tours on the hour 10am to 4pm, Last tour at 4pm
Location: 75 Eastern Point Boulevard, Gloucester, MA, 01930
Historic New England Members: Free
students and children: $8.00
Article and Photos by Joe Codrington