Once in an era, a truly iconic residence becomes available that can be said to have set the standard in its time and to have continued to do so throughout its existence. Houses of this stature are multi-faceted works of art, beginning with the inspiration that coalesces between client and architect, made whole through the craftsmanship and artistry that it takes to create them, and culminating in the unequalled atmosphere and presence that can only evolve through generations of passionate and dedicated stewardship. Such a home exists in The Highlands, one of the world’s most beautiful and rarified enclaves, situated on a bluff above Puget Sound.
Designed by Elizabeth Ayer and constructed between 1927 and 1928 for railway heir Langdon C. Henry, the estate at 166 Boundary Lane is considered one of the grande dames of The Highlands. It comprises 8 bedrooms and 8 baths, artfully arranged throughout over 11,000 square feet of opulent living space, and it occupies over 4 acres of exquisitely integrated formal gardens set amidst unspoiled old-growth forest.
The residence is recognized for its perfectly proportioned beauty and elegance in a private community already internationally known for its exceptional historic architecture, and is further enhanced by the stage-setting drama of its landscaping. A private drive winds through groomed lawns and forest to arrive at a formal pond with a fountain in front of the magnificent main house. A stunning example of the refined Colonial revivalism for which Ayer is known, 166 Boundary Lane presents a perfectly symmetrical façade that hugs its ground and announces its majesty without pretense. Rows of shuttered double hung windows define two stories on either side of the center entry, while matched, hipped wings complete the house’s outer extremities and allow it to gently wrap around its circular drive.
This is the rare home that has always been maintained and incrementally improved throughout its storied life, and it thus offers a continuum of originality and evolution that acts as a living history – both of the opulent era of its inception and of the many generations hence. Of particular note is the estate’s long association with the renowned design firm of Parish Hadley and protégé Brian Murphy. Its interiors are works of the decorator’s art and stand as masterpieces of meticulous craftsmanship and brilliant, yet playful curation, offering an impeccable mix of traditional forms and exquisite antiques with brilliant colors and whimsical patterns to create rooms that electrify their inhabitants and conquer the Northwest’s gray overcast.
The gardens were originally established in 1929, by designers Fredrick Dawson and Noble Hoggson, in a collaboration that sought to incorporate the overall Highlands design aesthetic that was originally established by the Olmsted Brothers. Through the 1940s, the gardens were continuously evolved toward the goal of creating a grand specimen in the formal European tradition. In 1977, Seattle landscape designer R. David Adams was tasked with restoring and further developing the grounds with formal rose gardens and an ivy festooned wall that contrast brilliantly against the backdrop of nearly 400-year-old Douglas fir forest. Each designer over the years played with the ideas of surprise and juxtaposition, creating a living library of thousands of plants, grouped into formal arrangements, but set off by the density and naturalism of the surrounding old-growth forest.
166 Boundary Lane is among the most heralded and meticulously maintained estates in the country, featured in national and international magazines as a paragon of discerning taste and a triumph of classic design in the high style.