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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Mirador: 1926

Mirador: 1926

1926. Albemarle County, Virginia. "Mirador, Greenwood vicinity; built 1842. Renovation architect (1920s) William Adams Delano. Home of the Langhorne family." 8x10 acetate negative by Frances Benjamin Johnston. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Pretty close

as you can see

Clampett Mansion

Yes, you just know Irene Ryan is going to pop out of that trunk.

1920s Renovation

The 1920s renovation included the curved staircase. From the 1982 application for inclusion on the National Registry of Historic Places Inventory:

The interior reflects the 1920s remodeling in such details as the central spiral stair and Georgian Revival woodwork. ... Since the 1920s renovation, the focal point of the interior has been the flying spiral staircase at the center of the house at the intersection of the hallways. The staircase is decorated with a wrought-iron handrail carried by two slender balusters per tread.

Mirador was the childhood home of Nancy Langhorne (later Lady Astor, the first woman member of the British Parliament and opponent of Winston Churchill), as well as her older sister Irene, who married Charles Dana Gibson and was the model for the Gibson Girl. The Adams renovations occurred during the ownership of Nancy and Ronald Tree -- Nancy Tree was Nancy Astor's niece.

21 steps and counting

Also reminded me of the Clampett Mansion. Through the arched doorway look at the giant spool of thread turned on the side.

A floor with direction

I love the compass rose on the floor.

Gracefully Beautiful

As a stair and handrail craftsman of the last 30 years, I find the simplicity of this design very graceful. There was a lot of work that went into its construction. The interior framework of the structure could be made of iron or steam-bent wooden stringers. The newel post and balusters look as though they are made of iron. Mainly because their slim design would be very flimsy if made of wood. The handrail itself looks to be steam-bent wood. The volute at the bottom end of the handrail was surely carved out of a block of wood. The large wood starting tread at the bottom is very inviting. The curved bottom riser was a tricky piece to make. The skirtboards along the wall could be plaster, but are more likely bent wood. All in all a simply and gracefully beautiful staircase.


Curved stairs certainly are impressive feats, but they aren't necessarily as difficult to design and construct as you may think. In many cases there will be several beams or joists cantilevered from the wall to support short sections of the stair. That way the outer beam doesn't have to be a single long serpentine affair. Even so, it would usually be a laminated beam glued up from smaller pieces that are easier to bend into such a compound curve.

Mirador Today

Just a small country home with a nice view.

Elegantly Modern

The curves give this an elegant modern look. Although at first glance, I too thought it was a "Beverly Hillbillies" soundstage shot of the Clampett home.

Awesome Carpentry

That's one impressive staircase. Imagine the design, carpentry and finishing skills required to construct a free-flying staircase with such a long complex curve. Even if added as part of the "1920's renovation" it's impressive. How would YOU design the beam that supports the outside edge?

Oddly Reminiscent

Of the Clampett Mansion staircase.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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