Historic Details of the Great Room
The Great Room, built in 1902, is the grandest room of the whole mansion, thus the name. The large archway that leads into the Conservatory suggests that this room was once a carriage house before being converted to a ballroom in 1915, a purpose of which it is still used for today.
The overall house is inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement. This room’s design is based on a romanticized idea of a medieval hall. It adapts the philosophy of Gothic Revival to combat the threatening machinations of the Industrial Revolution. The orchestra balcony includes hand crafted carvings of natural themes like floral and arboreal ornaments, along with cherubim and human figures. This heightened, almost fairytale-esque, grandeur hall would not be complete without the burnished silver chandelier from the early 20th century.
Right Photo: Mark Spooner Photography
One of more prominent pieces in this room is the Italian marble, classical fireplace with the Latin inscription “Respice, Prospice, Hodie Vive.” This translates to “Look to the Past, Look to the Future, Live for Today.” A moral message as the focal point of a room chiefly used for entertaining the wealthy elite of the North Shore would have reinforced Palmer’s intention for Willow Dale to be a moral home, rather than a center for opulence.
Bradley Palmer used this room to entertain for elegant dinner parties with music and dancing, as well as, daytime picnic events that utilized his 721 acres. He particularly enjoyed hosting for the Myopia Hunt Club and his Harvard class reunions. A band or orchestra would have gone in the balcony, while games of croquet and baseball were played on the lawn. Nowadays, this room is at the center of our mansion season weddings, birthday celebrations, baby showers, bridal showers, corporate meetings, and cocktail hours.
Left Middle: Nina Westervelt Photography
Right Middle: Annmarie Swift Photography
Center Middle & Featured Image: Shane Godfrey
Bottom: Erica Ferrone Photography