When completed at the end of 1919, Armstrong House was one of the finest examples of the Italian Renaissance style in America. Designed by Beaux Arts architect Henrik Wallin for shipping magnate George Armstrong, the mansion boasts a magnificent main hall, a grand cantilevered staircase with solid marble steps, Romanesque plasterwork detail, cast bronze hardware, Italian marble mantlepieces and floors, and hand-filigreed woodwork. The outside is equally impressive.
Armstrong’s widow Lucy deeded the nearly 25,000-square-foot mansion to Armstrong Junior College in 1935, and the landmark building went through two more ownership changes before Savannah-born luxury hotelier, entrepreneur, and patron of the arts Richard Kessler purchased it in 2017. Kessler ordered a complete restoration of the building to its original magnificence.
Kessler, also contracted with Savannah-based AV firm Stage Front to design and install a new AV-over-IP system for background music and video in the three-story mansion and full basement. The audio system also covers a new two-story carriage house with a full glass sunroom and new Italianate gardens with a 55-foot-long pool, sculptures, and a large event lawn. Stage Front Systems Consultant Adam Durden and his engineering team specified Attero Tech unBT2A network-enabled Bluetooth audio wall plates to enable playing music from mobile devices.
The project was completed in March 2019, and Kessler has moved in. He will live in the mansion a few months of the year. The rest of the time, the building will be a destination for weddings, executive retreats, and other special events. It also can serve as a guest house for the stars who entertain at Kessler’s new $250 million Plant Riverside Hotel.
Stage Front designed a Dante audio system managed by a QSC Q-SYS Core 110f processor, located in an equipment rack in the basement. CAT6 cable distributes Dante audio throughout the building. “We installed Attero Tech unBT2A Bluetooth plates in the first floor music room, the basement spa and gym, the trophy room, the library, Mr. Kessler’s second-floor master bedroom, the carriage house sun room, and the music conservatory,” relates Durden. “The unBT2A’s extended Bluetooth range is important because this is a 25,000 square foot mansion, and the rooms are very large. Mr. Kessler doesn’t want any issue with phones disconnecting or not working for guests. The carriage house sun room has large windows that face the sculpture garden, and the sun room’s unBT2A has sufficient Bluetooth range to reach the outdoor areas by the pool and the sculpture garden.”
The Attero Tech unBT2A offers a simple, one-button pairing/connect process for standalone operation, with LED indication of connection status. The interface can be programmed to remember previously paired devices and automatically re-pair, or to require re-pairing each time. “The re-pairing options are very useful,” asserts Durden. “In the rooms where Mr. Kessler will spend most of his time, we set the Bluetooth to remember his devices. In the rooms that are for public use and live events, it’s programmed to forget previous connections, forcing the user to re-pair.”