House and Home: A ‘work of art’ in Dublin

  • Rosemary James, right, and her daughter, Olivia Wolpe in the blue staircase. STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS


  • The master bedroom has a dressing room and  attached bath.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

  • One of six fireplaces in the house. STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

  • Frothingham House, left, and Farnham Cottage in a historic photo.  COURTESY PHOTO

  • The window seat on the landing of the main staircase, looking toward Mount Monadnock.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS 

  • The view from the master bedroom, looking east toward the Dublin village steeple and the Wapack Range.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

  • The front of Frothingham House from the road.  COURTESY PHOTO BY ROSEMARY JAMES

  • Exterior of Frothingham House showing sleeping porches and veranda.  COURTESY PHOTO BY ROSEMARY JAMES

  • The living room with eastern light and a view toward the Wapack Range. COURTESY PHOTO BY ROSEMARY JAMES

  • The back hallway leading out to the garden.  COURTESY PHOTO BY ROSEMARY JAMES

  • One of Rosemary James’ themed walls of art.  COURTESY PHOTO BY ROSEMARY JAMES

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/20/2023 1:22:39 PM

From the road, 20 Frothingham Lane in Dublin looks like the classic Gilded Age summer cottage. Built in 1880, the house is a sprawling, shingled house with elegant woodwork, fairy-tale diamond-pane windows and deep porches where a person can imagine ladies in large hats having iced tea out of the summer sun. But inside, the house is a riot of color and art, the living history of a family.

“This house is my work of art,” says owner Rosemary James.

The first thing one notices entering the living room is the orange-yellow color on the walls. Each room is a different bright shade, all inspired by the colors of the south of France, where James and her former husband, David, had a home for many years.

“When we moved in, we had a poster of fields in bloom in France, and I looked at it and said, ‘I want every single one of those colors on the wall in this house,’” James said. James, an artist, failed to convince one paint store to mix a shade as bright as she wanted, and had to go somewhere else.

“I found out at that at WalMart, they don’t care what crazy color you mix,” she said.

“Every room has a theme,” said James’ daughter, Olivia Wolpe, the oldest of her three children, who was home from Colorado on a visit. “All the art in the living room is about motherhood and family.”

James has long roots in Dublin. Her ancestors, psychologist William James and novelist Henry James, visited the Dublin Art Colony, and her father, Alexander James, studied under artist Abbott Thayer. Alexander James, an architect, designed many of the mid-century modern houses on Dublin Lake. Rosemary James grew up just across the lake in a home her father designed, and where her mother lived until her death in 2018.

“My father always loved this house,” James said. “We always used to drive by and he would point it out. He always said it had good bones.”

Frothingham House and Farnham Cottage, just across the road, were built by two friends from New York, businessman James Harding Frothingham and physician Horace P. Farnham, in 1885. According to “Monadnock Summer: An Architectural Legacy of Dublin, NH,” the houses were noted to be “built on the ridge marking the watersheds of between the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers.” Frothingham House was designed by Cummings and Sears, Boston architects who designed Old South Church in Copley Square.

In 2001, James and her family, who were living in Washington, D.C. at the time, came back to Dublin for a skiing vacation. A friend, the late Linda Bastedo, convinced them look at the house, which had been on the market for six years. The house had never been winterized and needed significant work, but Rosemary and David knew this was was where they wanted to raise their family. In 2001, they became just the third family to own Frothingham House.

Over the next several years, Wolpe and James fully winterized and restored the old house. They blew in insulation, upgraded the electricity, put on a new roof, replaced the furnace, refinished floors and replaced the plumbing. In the kitchen, they added a wooden center island from a local sugar shack and a soapstone sink.

“The gardens are my real pride and joy, bringing them back, expanding them,” James said. “Every year, I added a little bit more.”

James and Wolpe also renovated the garage, adding a one-bedroom apartment. The house sits on over an acre just up the hill from the center of Dublin and is walking distance to the village, the Dublin School, hiking trails on Beech Mountain and Monadnock and the Women’s Club Beach on Dublin Lake.

“This house was an incredible house to raise a family in,” James said. “It’s a great party house. We hosted every party – schools, teams, birthdays. For years, we hosted the Halloween party for the entire Dublin School! All the kids would play hide-and-seek. Sometimes the little ones would tell me they were afraid to play hide-and-seek in here because they didn’t think they could ever find the front door again!”

“It’s the details of the house that make it so interesting,” Wolpe said. “The windows, the woodwork, the landings – the entire space is interesting, everywhere you look.”

The main staircase in the house has blue Dutch tile on every riser, leading up to a landing and window seat. Behind the door leading to the kitchen wing is second staircase, originally built for the household staff to go up and downstairs without being seen by the family. Upstairs, each of the five bedrooms has a sleeping porch. James, who has been the art teacher at Dublin’s Mountain Shadows School for more than 20 years, turned one of the sleeping porches into her craft room, and the entire space is lined with jars and tubs of every imaginable item. From the craft room, one can glimpse Mount Monadnock through the trees over the garage. The third level in the attic has two studio apartments, and three of the bedrooms have fireplaces. Most of the six fireplaces in the house are functional, and there are six bathrooms.

After 22 years, James, now an empty nester, is ready to downsize, and plans to put the house on the market in spring. She plans to stay in Dublin.

“It’s been a hard decision, but I’m excited for what the change will bring into my life,” James said. “This house is wonderful, but it’s consuming. There is always a project. I’m excited to have time to do other things. I’m excited about what life will bring next. It’s been a privilege to live here; it’s been the most wonderful place to raise a family. And now, it’s someone else’s turn.”

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