Monday, March 28, 2016

Villa Albicini



One of Georgia's more architecturally-intriguing houses is Villa Albicini, the Philip Shutze-designed Italianate house located in the city of Macon. Built in 1927, the house was not originally named Villa Albicini. That moniker came about much later when Macon native Betty Hay Curtis purchased the house in the mid-1960s. Hoping to restore the then-faded house to its former glory, Curtis enlisted the help of her decorator friend, Charles Townsend, who found an exquisite pair of embroidered panels for the home's dining room.  (I believe these panels date to the late-seventeenth or early-eighteenth century.)  The panels had been stitched by French female embroiderers who, at the invitation of Maria Theresa, Marchesa Albicini, traveled to Italy to practice their craft at the Albicini Palace in Forli, Italy. It was the panels' lineage that inspired Curtis to refer to her new house as "Villa Albicini."

What strikes me about this house is that it is not particularly large. (Don't we wish that some homeowners and their architects would follow in Shutze's footsteps by building houses in smaller yet architecturally-meaningful ways.) Upon entering the house's entrance gallery, you'll find a dining room to the left and a drawing room to the right. Walk straight ahead through  a small rotunda and down a few steps, you'll discover a light-filled morning room, which looks out onto the gardens. Off of the rotunda are a kitchen, breakfast room, and (I believe) two bedrooms and baths, while an additional bedroom and bath, which was a later addition, is located upstairs, above the morning room.

A few things to note while looking at these circa-1979 photos: Above both doors leading to the dining and drawing rooms are trompe l'oeil-painted overdoor moldings. The dining room's Venetian chandelier was made for the house, while hand-painted Chinese wallpaper graces the morning room's walls. And it should be mentioned that decorator David Byers also worked on the home's interiors. I assume that one of his contributions was the set of red-lacquered dining chairs with seats upholstered in a Chinese-medallion silk fabric. Byers sold my parents another set of these chairs covered in the same fabric, although in a robin's egg blue colorway. We still dine in these chairs today.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Villa Albicini, whose current homeowner is breathing new life into the home. While much about the house remains the same (with the exception of the Albicini panels, which live elsewhere these days,) a sense of renewal permeates the house.  With a sensitive homeowner at the helm, Villa Albicini is poised once again to delight future generations. 

The Drawing Room.  The hand-screened, damask-print wallpaper was one of the first decorations selected for the house.



The door leading from the Entrance Gallery into the Dining Room.  The trompe l'oeil molding can be seen above the door.  You can also see the pair of Albicini panels, which flank the painting beyond.



The Dining Room



The rotunda leading to the Morning Room



The Morning Room



The Morning Room



The Upstairs Bedroom





Photos from Southern Accents, Spring 1979, Sutlive/Warren photographer

12 comments:

  1. It's clear the photos weren't taken yesterday, but I didn't expect 1979!!! The decor has aged very well! There are few places from 1979 that would look as stylish today.

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  2. Classic never goes out of style, does it? Wouldn't change a thing.

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  3. Love this house. A little piece of Italy reproduced right in Macon.

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  4. A lovely home, and you are spot on about the need for more thoughtfully designed smaller homes. This shows that small can still be grand, luxe, impressive and elegant. A more manageable-sized home frees one to enjoy the home rather than becoming a slave to it. This house can hold its own against many a chateau, schloss and manor home, and certainly it puts the new McMansions, where refinement of detail is sacrificed to size, completely in the shade...

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  5. Quatorze has spoken the truth, it's a joy to see this and love the journey your took me on! Wishing I could see it today...what became of the Albicini panels? Museum? Is this the same architect as Swan house?

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    1. Yes, Shutze designed both this house as well as the Swan House. I've been told that the panels remain in the Curtis family.

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    2. Neel Reid I've just found out is the architect of this beautiful jewel of architecture...thank you so much for seeing aspects of Shutze designs, for the similarities were all to striking...who influenced who is the question burning for a answer.

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    3. There are some sources that list Reid as the architect, but in fact, it was Shutze.

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    4. Then your the last word! I go with you

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  6. Timeless perfection, a joy to see!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Featuring Artist Scott McBee

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  7. Barnabus Collins9:27 AM

    Wow !! How have I managed to allow this one to get by me all these years? And you're quite right -- this is true grandeur on a small scale. So grateful to you for pulling these stunning pics out of the crypt, Jennifer!

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  8. Jennifer,
    What a treat you have given us! I noticed you credited Carey Sutlive for some of the photography- he taught at the Art Institute while I was there, and I very much enjoyed knowing him- as he was a friend of my room-mate Robert (Bob) Shatzer, who later worked for Albert Hadley and Mrs. Parish in the drafting department of Parish-Hadley.
    Dean

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