Dayspring

Oppenheimer-Prager Museum, St. Andrews

Dayspring

Dayspring on Champlain Road in St. Andrews was originally constructed in 1927 as the private residence of American business executive Lewis Egerton Smoot, who was the president of the Smoot Sand and Gravel Corporation until 1960. Mr. Smoot achieved significant success throughout his career, including securing the contract for the first filtration plant in Washington, which brought him substantial financial gains at the young age of 24. He also provided materials for various prestigious projects, such as the Statler Hotel, the British Embassy, and the Potomac River Bridge at Morgantown, Maryland, and contributed over 2 million tons of materials towards the construction of the Pentagon. As a notable philanthropist, Mr. Smoot and his estate made significant donations towards the development of schools, parkland, and libraries.

After the death of his first wife in 1943, Mr. Smoot sold Dayspring to the Cannelton Coal and Coke Company of West Virginia. Sir James Dunn and Lady Dunn later occupied the property while the coal company owned it from 1947 until Mr. Dunn passed away there on New Year’s Day in 1956. Following Mr. Dunn’s death, Lady Dunn purchased the home from the coal company and continued to use it as a private residence until the 1990s. Sir James Dunn, a prominent Canadian financier and industrialist, had a 9-foot fence built around the property to maintain his privacy. He also had a theater constructed within the home and had the latest movies delivered to him via his private plane from New York.

Dayspring Oppenheimer-Prager Museum

The name Dayspring represents the rising sun, and it features a solid brass starburst emblem throughout the house on the main fireplace and every door handle. Its name is derived from a biblical passage: 

“Thou shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; and to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the DAYSPRING from on high has visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:76-79). 

Dayspring Oppenheimer-Prager Museum
Oppenheimer-Prager Museum at Dayspring, St. Andrews

Today, Dayspring is the home of the Oppenheimer-Prager Museum, which celebrates the building’s historical significance as an architecturally interesting structure and the former home of renowned individuals. The walls of the house are constructed with ¾” thick knot-free B.C. fir, while the floors are made of ¾” thick white English oak. The property includes a cathedral ceilinged Great Room, an octagonal dining room, two defense turrets, a large oval copper sink, cupboards within cupboards, a functioning inter-room bell system for calling staff, 1960s period pastel-colored bathrooms, and a working wood-burning stove, among other unique features. In addition, the property offers beautiful grounds and scenic ocean views, making it a popular destination for visitors.

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