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Favorite things: Gloucester Harbor views

Apr 27, 2020

This is one in a series of messages from staff about their “favorite things” at Historic New England

Say hello to Martha Van Koevering

Staff in the gatehouse at Beauport
Site Manager Martha Van Koevering (fourth from left) with the guide staff at Beauport

Martha has been a Site Manager at Historic New England since 2014. We’ll let Martha tell us why her favorite thing is the view of Gloucester Harbor from Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House.

My favorite thing

The view of Gloucester Harbor from Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House is spectacular. Every season I watch visitors walk through the gatehouse and down the path to the waterfront terraces as if they were pulled there by a magnet. The attraction is even stronger when the harbor is filled with schooners or when the sun is setting over the water.

Henry Davis Sleeper built Beauport as a summer home, a place to entertain friends and family away from the heat of Boston. He cleverly positioned the house to maximize the waterfront views from the garden and a number of rooms. Always ahead of his time, Sleeper created a series of brick and grass terraces overlooking the harbor to expand his outdoor living space, a thoroughly modern idea.

Terraces at Beauport

As an interior designer, Sleeper was known for his use of light and color. At Beauport, he deliberately placed rooms to capture natural light at different times of the day. The waterfront dining rooms are stunning in the evening sun. Beauport fans are familiar with the large window in the Golden Step Dining Room that can be lowered into the foundation, so that his dinner guests could be cooled by sea breezes. What is less commonly known is that the ceiling in the adjoining Octagon Room reflects the shimmering water at sunset every evening, creating a magical, dappled effect.

Today, we enjoy the same stunning views as Henry Sleeper and his guests. How lucky are we?!!

Learn more

Read more about Henry Davis Sleeper, his summer home, and his inspirations.