Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's All Greek To Me

Yes, it's time for yet another post on Greek Keys. I'm sorry, but I can't help myself. I've never met a Greek Key that I didn't like. (And now that I think of it, I've never met a Greek person that I didn't like either.) The twist this time is that all of these examples show the motif used as part of the architecture, both interior and exterior. And to start it off is the image at top, a room at Pitzhanger Manor near London. It's a room after my own heart. Why limit the motif to the ceiling when you can repeat it on the floor as well?

I can't find any information on this house, so unfortunately I don't know who the architect was nor where this house was located. Not only do I fancy the Greek Key detail on the facade, I also like the house's symmetry.

The house of Mrs. Charles Harrington Chadwick in Palm Beach; Treanor & Fatio architects. The bonus to this exuberant use of Greek Keys was the single star that capped the door.

One of my very favorite architectural uses of the Greek Key: carved into a niche to allow for indirect lighting. In the dining room of the Richardson-Owens-Thomas house in Savannah; William Jay, architect; c. 1816-1819.

The drawing room ceiling at Port Eliot, Cornwall, England; Sir John Soane created this circular room in 1804.

Hefty Greek Keys crown the bookshelves in this McMillen designed room from the 1930s.

A St. Louis dress shop, c. 1930s, as decorated by McMillen.

Lucky for me that I get my Greek Key fix on a daily basis by driving by this Lewis Crook designed house everyday.

(Image #1 from Regency Style by Steve Parissien; image #4 from Landmark Homes of Georgia 1733-1983 by Van Jones Martin and William Mitchell, Jr.; image #5 from The Regency Country House: From the Archives of Country Life by John Martin Robinson; image #6 and #7 from Sixty Years of Interior Design: The World of McMillen by Erica Brown; last image from Crossleys.org)


  1. Anonymous7:32 AM

    I believe your mystery photo #2 is the playhouse of "Sunken Orchard" the Charles E. F. McCann estate in Oyster Bay, Long Island designed by James W O'Connor. It later became the home of William Woodward who was infamously murdered in the house by his wife Ann, a story later adapted by Truman Capote in "Answered Prayers". Today the building is a church if I'm not mistaken.

  2. Anonymous7:53 AM

    Picture # 2 was designed by James O'Connor as an indoor Tennis-Swimming pool Pavilion and gardens at "Sunken Orchard" the estate of Charles McCann in Oyster Bay LI. Later it was the weekend house of Mr and Mrs. William Woodward -- this is where Ann Woodward shot her husband Billy in 1955 as fictionalized in the "The Two Mrs Grenvilles". Today it is owned by the Order of St. Pius who maintain the site as a private chapel and administrative offices.

    Link to more pix of the whole playhouse below.


  3. Anonymous8:26 AM

    I really enjoyed your post!

  4. Anon and Anon- Many thanks for letting me know. I knew that someone would be able to identify it. The fact that this was the site of the Woodward murder makes it even more intriguing- at least to someone like me with a nose for scandal.

  5. Greek Key's! You know I swoon over them. Each and every time I see them. I have limited myself in my house- as I don't want to get carried away!

  6. I love the way that McMillen used the Greek key motif above the doors. Wish I could get away with that.

  7. No apologies please, keep the Greek Keys coming -- I love them!

  8. I'm with you....Greek Key, 24/7...

    Some things are too good to become cliche

    And oh how I've always loved that grill in the Owens house...

  9. A totally understandable addiction for which there is no cure. Thanks for sharing such wonderful examples. Love the round ceiling and McMillen dress shop.



  10. I am so in the same sorority Greek Key tented room with you.

  11. You have unearthed some tremendous examples of using Greek Key in the terrific ways. I too am a GK fanatic. So glad I am not alone in my fixation.

    Great post, thank you.

  12. Anonymous10:16 AM

    This article reminds me of one of my earliest memories as a toddler-- staring at a Greek key design that decorated my mother's bakelite radio and tracing its fascinating shape with my tiny (drooly) fingers. I am inspired to work the design somewhere in my current house--hopefully, up high, out of the reach of babes!

  13. Thomas11:26 AM

    I too drive past the Lewis Crook house everyday-It is my favorite house in Atlanta -Speaking of greek key (or meander)I am an estate jeweler and have handled some extraordinary greek key designed jewels- a pearl collar with a large sapphire and greek key diamond clasp from Princess Bibesco- and my favorite, a Cartier "meander" tiara that made a necklace-Spectacular

  14. Thomas- Honk if you see me by the Crook house sometime! That Cartier tiara/necklace sounds divine!

  15. One of the many reasons I love watching the PBS Bertie Wooster and Jeeves series is Bertie's fabulous between-the-wars apt. You can see some of it here Unfortunately, there are no pictures of some fabulous sconces in the apt.