Rocky Pastures: Designer Show House in the News – Wrap Up

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve last posted due to a busier summer than expected.  During the course of my absence on the web was the Design Show House at Rocky Pastures.  Based upon the feedback I received, the show was phenomenal and well-done.  So, kudos to Paula Robinson Rossouw and other designers on a tribute to a great author in Kenneth Roberts!

If you follow the Design Show House on Facebook, take time to view their posts in which the Design Show House is the focus of various media outlets.  If you are not connected to this Facebook page, go to this link.  It’s exciting to see how well received the show was!

On another note, as my Ph. D. seminar winds down, I will begin posting with more regularity again.  In the meantime, feel free to share any stories you have about Kenneth Roberts, whether it be his works, his home, or whatever related to our favorite author!

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Rocky Pastures: Paula Robinson Rossouw Highlighed in York County Coast Star

It’s hard to believe that the Design Show House (by the Kennebunkport Historical Society) is almost upon us!  This past month has been a whirlwind of work and school for me, and as I sit here grading, I am floored by the realization that the Show House begins this Friday!

Back at the end of May, Paula Robinson Rossouw, friend of this blog and a great resource, was interviewed by the York County Coast Star in their series on the various designers for the Design Show House at Rocky Pastures (click here for the article, “Design With an Author in Mind”).  The article highlights Paula’s inspiration for her design and some unique artifacts that will be a part of the design.

While this is a great read (the whole series has been a great read; it’ll be interesting to see photos of the finished product), Paula provided me further insight into her design concept that helps to clarify the article:

Kenneth Roberts once said of his historical novels: I wanted to give the people of Maine an honest, detailed and easily understood account of how their forebears got along.” 

Paula Robinson Rossouw wanted to do the same for Kenneth Roberts: the living room and terrace at Rocky Pastures have been designed as a tribute to the famous author’s life, interests and keen sense of humor.

To represent his love of nature and his abiding belief in the advantages of dowsing, the living room has been transformed into a garden room! Plants, trees and lichen-covered stone from the estate form the backdrop to period furnishings that echo the layout of the living room during Kenneth Roberts’s lifetime.

As a historical reference point, an oil on canvas by Parisian artist Stéphanie Lecomte depicts the room as it once was. The bookshelves hold many of Kenneth Roberts’s favorite titles, thanks to William T. Graves Memorial Library. Two books from the author’s personal collection and several magazines from the Thirties featuring his articles are just some of the many treasures on display. Most items are for sale – except for certain library books and two original photographs on loan from the Brick Store Museum.

Paula Robinson Rossouw is an international interior designer. Her private and corporate clients have included Sir Richard Branson and Virgin. She is a published author and a former columnist for the Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph in London. She has contributed articles to numerous publications over the years, including a Master Class for Move or Improve magazine.*

One thing that I’ve been impressed about with Paula is her love of Kenneth Roberts and her drive to know Roberts not just as an author (though a great author he was!), but Roberts the man, for he was curmudgeonly but humorous, intensely private but a loyal friend, and so much more. With this in mind, the title of the article in the York County Coast Star is much more than a catchy title – it’s the heart of Paula’s motivation and purpose of her design.

Again, if you’re in Kennebunkport between June 23 and July 14, take time to stop by Rocky Pastures to see the Design Show House.  Also stop by the Kennebunkport Historical Society, the Brick Store Museum, and other great local establishments devoted to the history of Kennebunkport and the great state of Maine.

Rocky Pastures: Design Show House Events

The Design Show House, sponsored by the Kennebunkport Historical Society, is only a month and a half away!  The Show House runs from June 23 – July 14 and is open to the public at $20 per ticket.  This is a great opportunity to see the estate of a great historian and author, so if you’re in the area, be sure to visit!

In addition to taking in the beauty of Roberts’ estate and viewing the various design rooms of New England-area designers, KHS is putting on several events related to Kenneth Roberts (note that the locations for these events are not at Rocky Pastures).  Below are the events as listed on the Design Show House website:

  • Monday, June 25 – The Colony Hotel – Lunch and Learn – Featured speaker is Joyce Butler, historian, archivist/curator, and writer. The topic is “Kenneth Roberts: The Man.” Guests will look at the talents and colorful personality of one of America’s most loved writers of historical fiction. Butler will chronicle his life at rocky Pastures and tell anecdotes of his family and friends. This intimate portrait is sure to delight all.  Tickets to the show house are included. $45 per person.
  • Monday, July 2 – The Colony Hotel – Lunch and Learn – Featured speaker is Sandy Oliver, renowned food historian and writer. The topic is “Kenneth Roberts’ chapter on food in his book, Trending into Maine. This chapter unleashed a torrent of reader response that intiated the cookbook, Good Maine Food, authored by his neice and secretary, Marjorie Mosser.  Tickets to the show house are included. $45 per person.
  • Monday, July 9 – The Nonantum Resort – Lunch and Learn – Featured speaker is etiquette specialist Andrea Pastore. The topic is “Navigating a Place Setting.” Andrea will present ettiquette situations and thoughtful, fun and useful solutions. For more information about Andrea, visit http://etiquettesolutionsbyandrea.com/.  Tickets to the show house are included. $45 per person.

I find Joyce Butler’s Lunch and Learn rather intriguing!  If you have a chance to visit any of these events, feel free to let me know how they went and what you took away from these events.

Keep your eyes open for forthcoming posts on Rocky Pastures as we lead up to KHS’s Design Show House.

Get to Know the History of Maine

Kenneth Roberts was unashamedly loyal to the state of Maine, particularly to the areas in which his family originated.  Roberts even exerted his energies in writing books on the virtues of Maine in Trending Into Maine and Good Maine Food.  If Maine was of great importance to Kenneth Roberts, then I felt it would behoove me – a Louisiana native now living in Kentucky – to get to know Maine.  But besides my own selfish reasons, I feel that any Kenneth Roberts fan that does not reside in Maine would get to know Roberts better by knowing the great state in which he lived and worked.

Two great places to visit are:

  1. Kennebunkport Historical Society. You can read their newletter The Log here and follow them on Facebook here.
  2. Maine Historical Society.  You can join the society and have great access to resources to study up on Maine history.  You can also follow their blog Maine Historical Society Blog and follow them on Facebook here.

Take a moment to visit these sites!  I will be adding these links to my blogroll for easier access in the future.  For those of us who do not live in Maine, this is one way in which we can feel a part of the great state of Maine that Kenneth Roberts loved.

***Postscript: I had visited Maine back in 2009 for only two days (I had to help a friend move things out of storage in Maine to bring to Louisville, KY).  We didn’t get to see much, but what I did see made me fall in love with Maine.  I long to go back one day and spend more time visiting and getting to know this beautiful state!***

Rocky Pastures: Before There Was the Walled Garden, Part I

Walled Garden with the water feature (missing the statue). One can only imagine the greenery and flowers that filled this garden. Photo courtesy of Paula Robinson Rossouw.

***The following is part of a series to promote Rocky Pastures and the Design Show House the Kennebunkport Historical Society is sponsoring at the estate on June 23 – July 14. You can visit the KHS site here. One of the designers, a friend of this blog, can be visited here.***

In his biography, I Wanted to Write, Kenneth Roberts tells of his search for a quiet place in which to do his research and writing undisturbed.  The genesis of this long search for solitude is difficult for me to pin down (in I Wanted to Write, page 143, in the midst of retelling his travels in Europe as a foreign correspondent on immigration [I believe this is correct], which is roughly around 1919 if my reading is correct), but what can be said is that Robert searched high and low in both Europe and America for his ideal spot in which to write in peace. 

Roberts’ first attempt was an old stable he converted into a home and named Stall Hall (the subject of Part II of this post).  Though he spent several years at this place, his wish for complete solitude was not fully realized due to the nearby golf course and the encroaching neighbors.  In his essay “The Little Home in the Country,” Roberts says of Stall Hall: 

No subtle premonition warned me that the local golf club might build a practice tee beneath my workroom windows: no ominous portent indicated that neighbors would feel an urge to place garages in my front and rear.

One method Roberts pursued to gain privacy from his neighbors and the seasonal golfers utilized his love of nature.  In “The Little Home in the Country,” Roberts provides a humorous account of his trials and errors when trying to plant bushes and vines that were to serve as a barrier to the outside world.

The focus of Roberts’ wit and sarcasm are those “persons who write whimsical pieces for the papers, giving readers the idea that a farmhouse can be remodeled as cheaply and as easily as one can buy a second-hand automobile.”  The implicit target of his humor and sarcasm, though, is himself and his sometimes futile attempts at growing greenery with the ease promised by the experts in the nurserymen’s annuals.  Roberts tells of his battle with unruly hedges (the Laurel-leaf Willow), stout snout beetles that were to ants as cows are to humans, and fruitless fruit trees.  Roberts most trying battle was with the bittersweet vines. 

In the case of my vines…the tip of each bittersweet tendril acts as a summer resort for innumerable aphids; and when these tips rest against a painted surface, the aphids leave unsightly smudges on it – smudges that can be obliterated only with two coats of paint.

The tendrils are long and springy.  When pruned, they sway convulsively, slapping the pruner across the mouth with tips heavily populated with aphids. As a result, for every five minutes spent by the pruner on bittersweet vines, he spends five hours removing aphids from himself…

Roberts search for solitude, then, seemed elusive while at Stall Hall considering his battles with encroaching golfers and neighbors, and the endless pursuit for the perfectly behaving greenery.

Roberts' study opened into the walled garden. These two spots best encapsulate Roberts and his passions. Photo courtesy of Paula Robinson Rossouw.

When Roberts built Rocky Pastures, though, he succeeded in finding his long sought-for solitude by having his study surrounded by a walled garden.  Though the walled garden is now more of a walled courtyard, one can only imagine the greenery and flowers adording the walled garden, easily viewable from Roberts’ study.  In my opinion, these two spots – more than any other at Rocky Pastures (except the duck pond) – encapsulate Kenneth Roberts the man, especially his passions.

Roberts’ hard-earned solitude was not easily gained though, as recounted above.  In addition to his yearly battle with nature, Roberts had to fight yearly with Stall Hall itself…

Rocky Pastures: Design Show House Info

On June 23-July 14, the Kennebunkport Historical Society will be hosting a Design Show House at Kenneth Roberts’ estate, Rocky Pastures.  According to the website for the show, this is the first time the estate has been opened to the public.  Various designers will be designing the rooms of Roberts’ house.  The cost per person to view the estate is $20.  The tickets are available through the Society, the Kennebunk /Kennebunkport Chamber of Commerce and the Nonantum Resort. 

If you’re up to an evening gala on the grounds of Rocky Pastures, then join the Society on Friday evening, June 22 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $75 per person and $60 per person for Society members. For tickets, call the Society at 967-2751 or email kporths@roadrunner.com All gala tickets must be pre-purchased (information from the Designer Show House website).

There wil also be guest speakers during the public viewing (see the Designer Show House website for dates and speakers).

All in all, this is a great opportunity for not only Kenneth Roberts fans, but history buffs as well.  The house, though for sale, is currently privately owned and went through a major renovation in 2006, so the estate is in great condition and looks very much like when Roberts lived there.   Though built in 1938, the house has an old-world feel to it and is located in a beautiful, wooded area near a duck pond.  Visiting Rocky Pastures, then, will be like a step back in time for history buffs and an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of Maine for any who appreciate natural beauty.

Take the opportunity to visit the Facebook page for the Design Show House at: https://www.facebook.com/DesignerShowHouse.  And while you’re at it, join the Kenneth Roberts fan page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/76921638924/

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