AAA Editor Notes
Victoria Mansion, 109 Danforth St. between State and High sts., is a stunning Italianate-style house designed by distinguished New Haven architect Henry Austin. Built 1858-60 as an opulent summer home for hotelier Ruggles Sylvester Morse and his wife, the brownstone mansion boasts a four-story tower, several porches and such conveniences as running water, a gas lighting system and central heating.
An extensive collection of furniture by interior designer Gustave Herter complements the original painted trompe l'oeil walls and ceilings. Elaborate wood carvings and drapery; carpets; glassware; porcelain; and silver are some of the other treasures within. A whopping 90 percent of the home's original furnishings have been preserved.
The Turkish smoking room (believed to have been the first smoking room incorporated into a private American residence), the billiard room and the master bedroom's attached washroom are frills characteristic of mid-19th-century luxury hotels. Also noteworthy are the spectacular displays of stained glass, including the three-story stair hall's dazzling 6-by-25-foot skylight. From late November to early January holiday festivities showcase the house in Christmas splendor.
Guided tours are available. Time: Allow 1 hour minimum.