An Example of Bygone Glory

Cauffiel House stands as a stunning testament to the tastes and trends of the 1930s.

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The oil painting above the sitting room fireplace was found in a closet at nearby Bellevue Hall. Photograph by Jared CastaldiCauffiel and his family used the house as a getaway, only a short hop from Wilmington. But that didn’t mean the niceties of city life were left behind. Such amenities as five bathrooms, a butler’s pantry and a room devoted to pressing clothes kept civilization comfortably within reach.

In keeping with the vast wealth of the ’20s, the house was constructed in grand style, with a wide center hall that runs from the front of the house to the back, giving visitors at the entry a tantalizing glimpse of the river. The mantel on the sitting room fireplace is opulently carved with a central fruit basket medallion and reeded detailing.

“This house has all the beautiful features it had when Daniel Cauffiel built the house—the dentil moldings, the plaster walls, the elegant staircase,” Jeffers says.

The facade is red brick in a Flemish bond pattern. A small portico is supported by Greek Doric columns, topped with a wrought-iron railing.

Solid construction was the order of the day, with the plumbing set in concrete-like mud. (That’s a problem for the current stewards of the property, as the pipes have grown colicky over the years. Plumbers eventually will have to drill through the floor to repair them, an arduous and expensive process.)

In addition to multiple bathrooms, the Cauffiels were blessed with spacious closets in every bedroom. Even casual entertaining in a summer home called for multiple courses at meals, with requisite china and glassware stored in the butler’s pantry.

That’s still the case today, though the mismatched china, pressed glass serving pieces and vintage linens didn’t belong to the Cauffiels. They were either purchased by dedicated staff members or donated by supporters of the historic home.

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