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Wilson Castle (Johnson Castle)
John G. Johnson, a New York and London medical practitioner, married a wealthy British patient and set about spending her fortune building a gentlemen's stock farm near his brother's West Rutland marble interests. After purchasing lands on both sides of Otter Creek, he commissioned Boston architect Wentworth to build a complex of brick and iron Flemish Renaissance barns around a stable yard for breeding imported Guernsey and Aldernay cattle and Percheron horses. Overlooking them were a private stable, carriage house, and house set against the backdrop of a deer park.
Johnson's brick house trimmed with blue marble and terra-cotta shows Wentworth making bold use of the sculptural Queen Anne forms and Richardsonian round arches of contemporary Boston. Its asymmetrical massing is animated with cylindrical towers under steep, conical slate caps, bay windows, balconies, and a stair-landing oriel filled with stained glass in a modified Palladian motif. The most distinctive elements are the stepped and curved Flemish gables and the massive round arches on the porte-cochere, gable windows, and the porch of an attached art gallery. The gallery extends north from the house in four great arches beneath a broad hipped roof, through which rises the skylit gabled block with shaped parapets where Johnson displayed his collection of European art. The interiors of the house are even richer than the exteriors, confections of elaborate woodwork, tile, stained glass, and Renaissance Revival decoration executed on walls and ceilings in fresco by Bolognese decorative painter Giuseppe Chiapini. Johnson's wife's family brought his spending binge to a halt in 1889. Paintings and Percherons went on the block, and the house passed through numerous hands until Herbert Wilson acquired it in 1936, opening it to the public in the 1960s.
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