The most visible of all the structures on the complex is the huge water tower located 600 feet north of the mansion. The tower and the utilitarian buildings that surround it, such as the carriage house, pump house, laundry and stables, were so well-screened that only the top of the tower could be seen without careful scrutiny. The tower is a square hip-roofed fieldstone building with a very attractive enclosed observation deck that could be reached by climbing 124 stairs. The tower housed a massive 80,000-gallon copper water tank and is atop an artesian well that is 500 feet deep. The well was dug in 1901 and water was elevated, first to the basement and then to the tower by compressed air. From this cluster of buildings there was a supply tunnel with a hand-operated railroad that led to the mansion. This was built so that the nuisance created by tradesmen delivering supplies would not disturb the serenity of those at the mansion house.
There are two gatehouses to the northeast and the northwest of the mansion house. Both are irregularly shaped with hipped roofs. The northwest gatehouse is now a private dwelling that covers approximately 24 x 30 feet. It has two floors and a full basement. It is similar to the other structures in that it is made of stone with wood on the interior. Aldrich had this building designed with an open single staircase to the second floor. It was built with three rooms on the first floor with paneled ceilings in both the dining and living rooms. The bedrooms on the second story had slanted ceilings and semicircular windows.
One of the most charming of all the buildings on the estate was the tea house, which no longer exists. It was built as a family playhouse around 1902. The eight Aldrich children used this as a place for themselves and to entertain friends. It was northeast of the boathouse along the shore. Like the other buildings, it was made with massive stone walls. The tea house had balconies, porches and its own wharf. On the lower level it contained a large billiard room and two completely equipped kitchens.
On the upper level was a huge room with an enormous fireplace. This room was used for dances and parties and was often the most visited building on the estate.
One of the finest buildings on the Aldrich estate is the caretaker’s cottage at 946 Warwick Neck Ave. This was originally a wooden building that was altered in 1899 to conform with the others on the estate. It is a 2 ½-story hip- and gable-roofed dwelling. Here, the chief caretaker resided. The building is a mansion in its own right, and fittingly so, as the caretaker wielded a great deal of power in the supervision of the hundreds of servants and working men who were kept busy building and maintaining the property.
All of these buildings served to enhance the most outstanding and splendid structure at Indian Oaks, the large, beautiful mansion house.
The completion of this lovely structure in 1912 was the culmination of the dream and plans of Senator Nelson W. Aldrich. The wealth and power generated by the estate was a reflection of the man who built it.
The story of the Aldrich Estate will be continued.