Freedom to Go Back in Time
The Mansion at Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club is an exquisite Victorian-style Mansion that houses the Ocean Terrace, Bayzo’s Pub, and gorgeous flexible wedding, meeting and public spaces. The Mansion, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, resembles an English country manor with an eclectic blend of Renaissance Revival and Gothic themes.
Though the Mansion dates from 1912, its origin dates back years earlier to the original house on the site, Fieldstone Hall, which was built in 1890 by Samuel Mayo Nickerson, a prominent local figure with deep New England roots. Born in Chatham, Massachusetts in 1830, Nickerson is a descendant of Puritan settlers who landed on the Cape in the 1600s. Nickerson left school at the age of 17, and worked his way to Chicago where, by 1858, he had established a prosperous career as a distiller of alcohol and high-wines. That same year, he married Matilda P. Crosby of Brewster, and the couple gave birth to their only child, Roland, the following year. In 1863, Samuel co-founded the First National Bank of Chicago. He became President four years later, and held the position for nearly a quarter century before retiring as a multi-millionaire by 1891.
The pull of the Atlantic coast remained strong for Samuel, who returned frequently to the Cape throughout his career. As the story goes, one morning in the late 1880s he stood on a bluff in Brewster, jabbed his gold-tipped cane into the ground, and declared that a house should be built there for his son Roland, on a 48-acre parcel overlooking Cape Cod Bay. Fieldstone Hall was erected for Roland, his wife Addie, and their three children – Roland Jr., Samuel, and Helen.Finished in 1890, the three-story home boasted four chimneys, and the property included a carriage house complete with a stone tower for taking in the expansive coastal views.
While never attaining the degree of success of his father, Roland became a very prominent person in the Town of Brewster. The estate, which was said to have been staffed by nearly two dozen servants, was the scene of frequent lavish parties thrown by the socially and politically prominent Nickersons over the years. Guests included such luminaries as President Grover Cleveland.The era of grandeur came to an abrupt end on the morning of May 10, 1906 when Fieldstone Hall inexplicably burned to the ground. A local newspaper account told that, as the house “…was licked up by flames, Hon. Roland C. Nickerson, sick from heart ache, waved farewell and circled around the scene in his automobile to safety.” In the wake of the devastating fire, some claim poor Roland drank himself to death. Along with the house, the fire also claimed the family’s wardrobe, rare old china, and a myriad of paintings and books. The financial loss was tallied at $500,000 – $497,000 more than was covered by the Nickerson’s insurance policy. Undoubtedly agitated by the event, Roland succumbed to his poor health just two weeks later.
Roland’s wife Addie was devastated by her losses but determined. By 1907, she and Samuel began construction of a new residence on Fieldstone Hall’s original foundation. Sensitive to his daughter-in-law’s understandable fear of fire, Samuel built the house with steel reinforced concrete covered by stucco to be nearly conflagration-proof. Years later, conferees in the Mansion still comment on how sound proof the rooms were. We can thank Samuel and Addie for that.
The new house was larger than Fieldstone Hall and included 16 rooms. All main bedrooms were outfitted with Italian marble fireplaces, individual bathrooms and walk-in closets. Woodworkers were brought over from Italy to create the fine woodwork carving on stairs, ceilings and interiors.
Today, the main entrance hall boasts an intricately carved oak staircase thanks to those Italian artisans, and the porte-cochere entrance (now the Mansion reception area) was a billiards room. Look at the ceiling and you’ll notice the carved busts of Shakespearean characters with their eyes toward the billiard players. It’s been said that the room also served as a roller-skating area for the Nickerson children and their friends.
Leaded glass windows and wide terraces overlooking the Bay added to the feeling of grandeur. The old carriage house was re-faced in stucco to match the new Mansion. Smaller rooms on the third floor housed the staff and an iron cage elevator was installed for ease of mobility between floors. The work was completed by 1912, the same year Samuel’s wife, Matilda died, and just two years before Samuel passed away.
The Mansion remained in the Nickerson family until 1945, when it was sold to the LaSalette religious order, which used it as a seminary. Corcoran Jennison purchased the property in 1980 and opened Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club in 1986.
Today the Mansion and Carriage house have been enhanced to befit their historic character; including period furnishings and appropriate finishes to newly restored wood. There are 12 flexible meeting rooms throughout, with recent technological updates including a new executive boardroom with state-of-the-art audio/visual electronics and ceiling-mounted equipment, plasma screen TVs, and wireless Internet access (WiFi).