Victoria Mansion (The Morse-Libby House)
Victoria Mansion is an outstanding example of nineteenth-century American architecture and design. With remarkably intact original interiors and decorations, it survives as a unique example of the princely palaces created for America’s wealthiest citizens in the pre-Civil War era.
Also known as the Morse-Libby House, the Mansion was built between 1858 and 1860 for Ruggles Sylvester Morse and his wife, Olive Ring Merrill Morse. A native of Maine, Morse made his fortune as the proprietor of luxury hotels in New Orleans during the 1850s. His experience as a hotelier shaped his taste in design, and when the time came to build a summer home, he sought out some of the nation’s leading designers.
Morse selected Henry Austin of New Haven as the architect. Victoria Mansion is considered not only his masterpiece, but also the finest surviving Italian villa style house in America. Composed in brownstone, the powerful, asymmetrical composition is organized around a soaring four-story tower, and features deep overhanging eaves, graceful verandahs, and ornately carved window surrounds.
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