Mr. and Mrs. Mackay's house was called Harbor Hill. The exterior mimicked a French castle; the interior was extremely lavishly decorated by McKim, Mead, and White.
During the Great Depression, the property fell on hard times; in 1939 the house was "stripped . . . [leaving] . . . gaunt marble walls standing, guarding an interior of nothingness." (Gene Coughlin, "Bonanzo! The Comstock," The Sunday Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, November 9, 1947) The house burned in the 1940's. (Constance M. Grieff, Lost America: From the Atlantic to the Mississippi, The Pyne Press, Princeton, 1971.)
MacKay House Staircase.
The stairway was panelled in oak, with a heavily carved railing. A bronze lamp hung from the ceiling.
Second view of staircase.
This picture comes from Harry W. Desmond and Herbert Croly, Stately Homes in America: From Colonial Times to the Present Day, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1903 and is there identified as a picture of the Drawing Room. However, it matches more closely the description of one end of the hall -- "The chimneypiece, a fine old spoil from a European palace, is so huge that the wood of a single tree can be burned within it." -- in Barr Ferree, American Estates and Gardens, Munn and Company, New York, 1904.
This room was also identified as a Drawing Room in Harry W. Desmond and Herbert Croly, Stately Homes in America: From Colonial Times to the Present Day, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1903, but it appears that it also may be of the hall (compare the ceiling viewed in the first picture of the hall, above).
White Drawing Room.
Barr Ferree wrote, "The white drawing-room is cool and beautiful in color, all in white. Panels of mirrors fill spaces not occupied by doors; and of windows there are none at all, for it opens into an enclosed porch, or conservatory, to which, in a sense, it is an antechamber. The furniture is white, with caned seats and backs, covered with tapestried cushions; two great jardinieres with caned sides stand before the doors to the conservatory. Over a console, filling one of the great panes, is a portrait of the mistress of the mansion, a lovely, speaking figure."
Sarah E. Mitchell: A polar bear rug also picks up on the white emphasis in the room.
A Billiard Room.
Sarah E. Mitchell: Someone must have loved to hunt, as well as play billiards! This picture also comes from Harry W. Desmond and Herbert Croly, Stately Homes in America: From Colonial Times to the Present Day, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1903.
The second floor was described as containing the apartments of Mr. and Mrs. Mackay (they had separate areas). Guests rooms were also on this floor, and were described as more elegant than the guest rooms on the third floor.
Mr. Mackay's Rooms. Not pictured
Mr. McKay's rooms consisted of his bedroom, finished in a cool shade of green, and a sitting-room transformed at times into a place for exercise.
Mrs. Mackay's Apartment.
Barr Ferree waxed eloquent about Mrs. Mackays' rooms: "A separate hall leads to my lady's [Mrs. Mackay] apartments. Here, at least, is the queen's chamber, the intimate home of the active mind that dominated the creation of this palatial residence and the vast estate connected with it. A great curtain hangs across the hall, the farther end of which is enclosed as an anteroom. Like the other rooms of this suite, it is carpeted, curtained, paneled, and finished in mauve, a beautiful, gentle hue."
Mrs. Mackay's Boudoir.
"The boudoir, or sitting-room, opens immediately from the anteroom; it is large, thronged with furniture, curtained and walled with my lady's color, and richly decked with the thousand and one articles -- choice pieces of furniture, vases, lamps, pictures, bric-a-brac, books, and, above all, plants -- which every great lady find comforting to existence. Opposite the doorway is a canopied couch, over which hangs a rich ermine robe -- a truly royal throne for the queen that rules here.
"Mrs. Mackay's bedroom comes next, and the the bathroom with its famous bath, chiseled out of a single piece of rich marble and let into the floor -- a room unlike any bathroom, with rich furnishings, lamps, easy-chairs, tables, and plants."
Mrs. Mackay's Bedroom.
Sarah E. Mitchell: If you look closely, you may be able to make out the many electric cords hanging from the bedside table on the left. Perhaps Mrs. Mackay was very proud of having electricity in her bedroom, and showed off the wires?
Mrs. Mackay's Bathroom.
Sarah E. Mitchell: Note the electric wires running from the small lamp, located in the picture on the right. I have not identified the toilet in this room; either it was well hidden, or the toilet is not shown in this photograph.
In addition to these rooms, Mrs. Mackay had her own "rustic little cottage" on the property, for times when she needed to get away from the big house.
There was an electric elevator used to get to the third floor (presumably stairs also led up). According to Barr Ferree, "Nearly half of the top floor is given up to nurseries, with separate rooms for the children and their attendants. Very pleasant these rooms are, in cool, quiet colors and fine furnishings, in which the quality of appropriateness has been very happily caught. All these apartments are communicating, and can, at the same time, be completely isolated from the rest of the house. Guest rooms, arranged in pairs, with a common bathroom, fill up much of the remainder of this floor, although some space for servants is found here, together with storage closets. Mrs. Mackay's cedar room has special interest."
Pictures from Barr Ferree, American Estates and Gardens, Munn and Company, New York, 1904, unless otherwise noted in text as being from Harry W. Desmond and Herbert Croly, Stately Homes in America: From Colonial Times to the Present Day, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1903. Digital editing of images by Sarah E. Mitchell. Description of rooms derived from Barr Ferree, American Estates and Gardens, Munn and Company, New York, 1904, unless otherwise noted.
Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2014 Sarah E. Mitchell