Naulakha, the home built for Rudyard Kipling in Dummerston, Vermont, is one of the finer examples of the Shingle style in the state. Located on eleven acres off a town road, at the edge of a meadow with a hillside behind, the estate is ideally situated in its naturalistic setting, with its view of mountains and valleys which spread before it to the east. Kipling often referred to the view of the Wantastiquet mountain range and Mount Monadnock peaking through the clouds and rising “like a giant thumb-nail pointing heavenward”. Naulakha came to symbolize all the positive qualities of rural Vermont, with its peacefulness and solitude, which have attracted writers and artists to the state for years.
The shingled house is stained a gray color and originally had olive green louvered shutters. A flared course of shingles is at the first floor window head level and saw tooth bands of shingles is at the second floor window sill level and at the meeting rail level of the second floor windows. These horizontal bands, besides giving Naulakha architectural detailing, accent the horizontal massing of the structure.
Many of the original Kipling furnishings remain, although the more personal items were removed before 1903 when the house was sold to their friend, Miss Mary Cabot of Brattleboro. Remaining are the plaster statuettes of Bagherra and Grey Brother which were presented to Kipling by William Chandler Harris, the author of the Uncle Remus stories; Kipling’s golf clubs; bedroom, dining room and study furniture including the desk at which Kipling wrote the Jungle Books; and an interesting handcarved teakwood sideboard from India. Among the more interesting interior architectural features are a teakwood carved valance in Kipling’s study and the plaster relief work by his father, John Lockwood Kipling, a professor in the British School of Art in India and director of the Lahore Museum. The elder Kipling made an interesting leaf detail in the plaster around the call bell in Mrs. Kipling’s study and a bird and animal plaster relief in Rudyard Kipling’s bedroom. The most noted however, is the applied script on the brick of the fireplace in Kipling’s study: “The night cometh when no man can work”.
The Holbrook family have added possessions of their own, both from their travels in the Orient and historic family pieces. Frederick Holbrook II, who purchased Naulakha from his sister-in-law (who had purchased the estate from Kipling for them) was the grandson of Vermont Governor Frederick Holbrook (1813-1909) and many of the Governor’s possessions are here. The Holbrook items are mingled with the original Kipling possessions and furnishings and, for the most part, are undistinguishable from them.
Naulakha, its furnishings, the related buildings, and the landscaped grounds create an image of an upper class rural estate from the turn of the Century. Vermont had many private estates during this period; Naulakha is one of the few remaining and one of the best preserved from this pre-Colonial Revival period.
The eleven-acre site being nominated is the same tract purchased by Kipling at the time he was planning Naulakha. The entire parcel retains its significance in architecture and literature, as the grounds are substantially as originally designed and conveys the same feeling as when Kipling was living and working here.
Come over and get a bit of the Djunglebook fever…