In 1832, Portballintrae consisted of only a few houses, chiefly occupied by maritime pilots, but ‘near this to the west side of the bay is Seaport House, the summer residence of James Leslie Esquire.’
Seaport Lodge was built about 1790 and although its situation was ‘exposed and unprotected, [the location] was admirably calculated for that of a bathing lodge’.
By 1859, the Lodge had passed in the family from James Leslie (1768-1847) to his younger son Henry Leslie (1803-64), who was recorded as both occupant and owner of the site.
Henry Leslie continued to reside at Seaport Lodge until his death in 1864, at which time the property passed to his widow, Harriet Ann Leslie.
In 1882, Lieutenant-Colonel Edmund Douglas Leslie came into possession of the site.
Colonel Leslie resided at Seaport Lodge until his death, unmarried, in 1904 when his nephew, James Graham Leslie, took possession.
Despite the change in ownership during this period, Seaport Lodge remained sporadically occupied as a summer residence.
James Graham Leslie continued to be recorded as the occupant of Seaport Lodge until 1929.
SEAPORT LODGE is a fine example of a mid-to-late-Georgian seaside dwelling built for purposes of leisure over the past concerns of defence and security.
Both Brett and Girvan give the construction date of Seaport Lodge as ca 1770, despite the Ordnance Survey documents claiming a later date of ca 1790.
Sir Charles Brett states that the dwelling was constructed by James Leslie, soon after the completion of his other main residence, Leslie Hill, in 1772.
James Leslie’s ability to erect two major houses within such a short period led Brett to suggest that Leslie ‘much overstrained the family finances’ to realise his ambition of possessing a grand country house with a leisurely seaside retreat.
Local tradition states that Seaport Lodge was constructed gradually over a period of many years, originally designed solely for summer use.
The house did not possess fireplaces or servants quarters.
However, at an unknown date chimneys and fireplaces were installed as the dwelling came to be occupied outside of the summer months.
Seaport Lodge’s main domestic block was the first section of the building to be constructed.
Brett states that the two-storey western service wing was added later, most likely in 1827 as that date is inscribed on many of the later wing’s wall-plates.
An early painting of Seaport Lodge depicts rounded Gothic glazing to the ground floor; however the original glazing bars were replaced at the turn of the century when Colonel Leslie came into possession.
The dwelling also possessed a number of outbuildings, the most significant of which, its coaching stables, still survive and have been converted into a public house and restaurant (Bartali).
Seaport Lodge remained in the possession of the Leslie family until the mid-20th century.
The house has a round-headed entrance door in bow and the ground-floor windows are round-headed.
There are single-storey bows in the end elevations, with similar windows; and a conspicuous balustraded roof parapet.
The interior oval hall has a Classical plasterwork ceiling.
Seaport is presently white, though it is thought that it was originally grey in colour.
During the 1970s and 80s it was owned by Alexander Wyndham Hume Stewart-Moore, a senior director of Gallaher tobacco at that time.
The surrounding field has a curious structure built into the hill, now roofless.
Could it have been an ice-house?
There was formerly a pair of delightful, Gothic gate lodges which faced each other at the main entrance to Seaport Lodge.
They stood at the present entrance into Bartali restaurant, off the main road.
First published in May, 2012.