Bunny Williams Opens Her House for Historic Holiday Tour
Bunny Williams is used to greeting hundreds of people in a single day as they troop through her famous Falls Village garden that she opens for charity events several times every summer. The New York-based interior designer lets visitors poke their noses inside her Adirondack-style pool house as well as her oft-photographed entertaining barn and adjacent conservatory, but her primary abode is strictly off limits. Indeed, even her closest friends are rarely invited into Manor House, as the main residence is called, because the entertaining barn, which has its own kitchen, is where she and her husband, John Rosselli, host their frequent dinner parties. Thus, it’s a coup for the Falls Village-Canaan Historical Society to have gotten Williams to open up her residence for its second annual Holiday House Tour. “It’s incredibly gracious and very classy of her,” says historical society treasurer Judy Jacobs. “It’s truly an honor.”
Williams’s 19th century Greek Revival home was the subject of her best-selling 2005 book, An Affair With a House. Purchased more than 30 years ago when it was in derelict condition, the house now has the comfortable feel of a home that’s belonged to the same family for generations, layered with antiques, books, objets d’art, well-worn textiles and memories. While it looks imposing from the road, it is actually quite a cozy and modest house. It exudes a timeless warmth that makes it abundantly clear why Williams is considered the doyenne of classic American decorating, the 21st century’s Sister Parish.
The three other houses on the holiday tour aren’t as grand, but they offered a glimpse into the diversity of historic Falls Village, which was settled in 1739. At 82 Main Street, there’s a 19th century Victorian Italianate house that is primarily used as an art studio by John Hodgson who frequently exhibits his works locally. At 24 Beebe Hill Road, there is the 1915 deconsecrated Roman Catholic church (left above) that has been converted into a home and studio by muralist Clifton Jaeger. At 35 Beebe Hill Road, there’s a pre-Revolutionary house (left below) that is being restored by a young couple—Amber Cameron and Luke Miller—who will be on hand to share their saga of historic preservation. While all four houses are within walking distance of one another, the Historical Society has arranged for two horse-drawn carriages from Angel Mist Farm in Chester, MA, to ply the route between the houses on Saturday. Indeed, the whole town will take on a festive air with children making holiday cards at the David M. Hunt Library while adults shop at the famous first-Saturday-of-the-month book sale. There will be a wreath-making workshop on the Town Green in preparation for the tree lighting at 5 p.m. and the arrival of Santa Claus at 5:30.
But the big gift for decorating buffs is the opportunity to see the living room where Williams and Rosselli read the Sunday papers, the dining room where they have lunch by the fireplace, and the cozy library where they have cocktails by the fire before going out for the evening. The photos below are a look into what visitors were able to see.
The library at Manor House; the wood-burning fireplace in the library, and dining room .
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