YORK – The house known as Twin Cottage gives you some interesting insight into the exclusive summer community that was developing around York Harbor in the very early 20th century.

It’s a 27-room, three-story shingle-style home with a 40-foot-wide back porch. It has a fireplace in almost every room. It was built in 1904 by Henry Blanchard Dominic, president of Dominic and Haff Silversmiths in New York City, a supplier to Tiffany & Co.

Dominic built Twin Cottage next door to his own summer home, Mayfair, to host his guests, family and friends.

Essentially, it was a 27-room guest house.

The home today stands in an area crowded with other grand summer cottages near York Harbor, a reminder of the days when southern coastal Maine was fast becoming the summer playground of choice for wealthy people from all over the country.

This summer, people will get a rare glimpse inside one of York Harbor’s grand old summer homes when Twin Cottage is opened to the public as the Museums of Old York 21st annual Decorator’s Show House.

Each year, the Museums of Old York picks one historic property to be redesigned by area designers, then opens it to the public. The group runs nine historic properties in the York area, and uses the show house event as a fundraiser. The cost to see the re-decorated house is $20.

The house has an addition, but most of the rooms are original, including features such as fireplaces, giant windows with diamond-pane patterns, and gleaming wood floors.

The entryway, which is larger than most people’s living rooms, is like a river running through the house with access to four other rooms and an enormous back porch.

The fireplaces, especially in the living room and dining room, have intricately carved patterns in the mantle and around the brick or stone. The living room fireplace has two wooden columns on each side.

In the dining room, designer Nicole Yee of Kittery used a chandelier of strings of different-sized crystals to accentuate the formality of the room. But because the chandelier looks sort of like a crystal basket, it also gets the beach feeling of the place across. She also used oversized stuffed wing chairs at each end of the dining table to “play with the proportions” of the room.

“This house is so grand and formal, but being this close to the beach, you have to have elements to emphasize that, too,” said Yee.

York designer Georgie McGowan painted the back porch an ocean blue, hung a blue canvas glider, and used an oilcloth with a seascape on it as a floor covering. Porch gliders and oilcloths were used in the early 1900s on porches or verandas, so the area has an updated look based on its original use.

She used lanterns and candles for lighting, and window boxes with lots of greenery to soften the look. There’s also a dining table on the porch.

“It’s really like an outdoor living room — that’s how it would have been used,” said McGowan.

In summer, there’s no ocean view from the house because of the trees and surrounding houses. But if you sit on the lawn, you can see the ocean just past a neighboring house.

For the show house event, a firepit area was built with stone benches so people could sit and enjoy the view.

In the kitchen, York designer Anne Cowenhoven created a breakfast room with Thos. Moser furniture. The light wood has an old feel, but the angular designs are modern.

The second-floor landing is one of the areas where designers used different wall treatments. Wells designer Valerie Jorgensen hired a painter to create a treatment that looks like old, woven linen, using a glaze, paint and a comb to create an uneven grid pattern.

The designers were responsible for either buying or borrowing the furnishings for the rooms. Permanent additions, such as floors or paint on walls, will stay after the event is over. Window treatments, furniture and other things that can be moved will be offered for sale to the public.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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