Robb-Kagan House // 1939

Colonial-inspired homes on Nantucket never will go away, and that is because the entire island is a local historic district! New construction, demolitions, and alterations to existing structures all need to be reviewed and approved on Nantucket, no easy task! This home was built in the inter-war period (before the historic district), when New Englanders still harkened back to the classics, Colonial homes. The house was built in 1939 for Annie Robb, and it was later purchased by artist couple Vladimir Kagan and Erica Wilson. Vladimir had a really interesting life. A cabinetmaker’s son, Mr. Kagan came to the United States at 11 after fleeing Nazi Germany with his family. He trained at his father’s New York workshop and by the 1940s was producing his own designs. One of his first orders was a set of tables and chairs for a delegate lounge at the fledgling United Nations! Meanwhile, across the English Channel, a young woman named Erica Wilson came into the world in 1928 in the town of Tidworth, England. Her father was in the military and the family moved to Bermuda soon after Erica’s birth. A drawing prodigy, Wilson “translated her drawing techniques into needlework,” Illya said. Needlework became her artistic focus and she graduated from the Royal School of Needlework in London. The duo lived in this home as a summer respite, where they could hone their artistry and skills. Their son, Ilya Kagan (also an artist, of course) also stayed in the home and still resides on the island. Love it!

The Nantucket Hotel // 1891

In 1888, Charles F. Folger of Philadelphia purchased the former Elijah Alley house on Easton Street, just north of the main village of Nantucket. Folger hired carpenter Edwin R. Smith to design and build a new grand hotel for summer residents of Nantucket. Originally named the Point Breeze Hotel, the grand resort opened in the summer of 1891. The Queen Anne style hotel contained forty sleeping apartments in the upper floors and was dominated by a corner tower with billiards rooms and a bowling alley in the raised brick basement. Business was booming, and by the early 20th century, Folger expanded the hotel adding the east wing in the Colonial Revival style. In 1925, a fire destroyed the original Point Breeze Hotel, leaving just the East Wing. By this time, the days of the grand, wooden hotels was coming to a close. The Nantucket Institution for Savings acquired the hotel during the Great Depression, until 1936 when Gordon Folger Jr., grandson of the Point Breeze’s original proprietor, purchased the hotel and renamed it after himself, as the Gordon Folger Hotel. By the end of the 20th century, the building sat underutilized, the early 2000s when Little Gem Resorts purchased the hotel, seeking to restore this historic property back to her former glory. The original 1891 hotel was rebuilt in 2012, even down to its iconic corner tower, and the hotel was renamed The Nantucket. The hotel is open year-round and is lavish inside and out, providing you with a sense of home even when on vacation in the middle of the Atlantic!

Ellen Banning Ayer Country Estate – “Ledgebrook” // c.1905

Ellen Banning Ayer (1853-1918) of Minnesota married Frederick Ayer in 1884 and her life completely changed. Frederick Ayer was one of the richest men in New England and he was involved in the patent medicine business, but is better known for his work in the textile industry. After buying the Tremont and Suffolk mills in Lowell, Massachusetts, he bought up many textile operations in nearby Lawrence, combining them in 1899 into the American Woolen Company, of which he was the first president. The couple had at least three houses in Lowell, Boston, Pride’s Crossing and had three children (one of whom Beatrice, later married the famed general George Patton). As the Ayer Mansion on Commonwealth Avenue was being built, the family was looking for a country house near the city. One year, Frederick asked Ellen what she wanted for a gift and she said “roses”. Frederick purchased an old farmhouse on Nahanton Street in Newton and had greenhouses and a stable built immediately, followed by a Colonial Revival country house for his wife Ellen. The mansion held lavish parties for the Ayers, who loved to entertain and it was passed down to their eldest daughter Katharine Ayer Merrill. After her death in the 1980s, the large site was eyed for redevelopment. The architectural firm of Dimella Shaffer was hired, and they restored the Ayer House, and designed forty residential units on the site, all tucked into the woods gently peering out here and there.

United Church of Ware // 1926

The East Congregational Church in Ware was established in 1826, spurred by the industrial growth and subsequent immigrant population boom in the village of Ware, Massachusetts. The Ware Manufacturing Company, a major player in town, contributed $3,000 to towards the construction of a new congregational church in the village, which was matched by residents. The original church was built in 1826, following plans prepared by Isaac Damon, a noted church architect from Northampton, in the Federal style, popular at the time. In 1925, just a year before its centennial, the church burned to the ground. Plans to rebuild the church formulated immediately. Due to changes to the neighborhood since 1826 (notably the construction of tenement housing adjacent to the church), the decision was made to locate the new church setback from the street. Plans were drawn by Frohman, Robb and Little of Boston for the new building, which was to be Federal Revival, a nod to the former church building. The grounds in front were landscaped by the prominent landscape architect Arthur A. Shurtleff. After WWII, population decline and dwindling membership of some churches in town required a few congregations to consolidate, creating a union or united church here. The United Church of Ware came into being in 1969 when the East Congregational Church, United Church of Christ and the Ware Methodist Church, United Methodist Church joined together and became one federated church with ties to two denominations.

All Saints Parish House // 1893

As soon as the All Saints Church of Ware was completed, work immediately began for the parish house which was to be built nextdoor. It is not clear who was retained as the architect, but it could have been Patrick W. Ford, who designed the high-style Victorian Gothic church. The design is almost the complete opposite of the church, in that the parish house is of wood-frame construction, modestly scaled, and is Colonial Revival in style. The parish house features nice proportions with its symmetrical facade, pedimented central bay framed by pilasters and the large Palladian type window at the center.

Kistler House // 1893

In 1852, Beacon Street in Newton was extended westward from Chestnut Hill through Newton Centre. The village’s suburban development accelerated through the activities of real estate developers as the city became connected to Downtown Boston by roadways and rail. This home was built in 1893 for Andrew and Ann Kistler. Andrew Kistler worked as a leather dealer in Boston, and commuted into the city daily. The Kistler House is an excellent example of Colonial Revival with some added oomph.

‘Maplebourn’ – Dorset Colony House // 1885 & 1925

Colonial Revival perfection! This building on the Dorset Town Green was originally constructed around 1885 for Allan Bourn, the purchasing agent of the New York Central Railroad. When Bourn was told by a trusted associate that a railroad stop was going to be built near Dorset, he made the decision to acquire eight acres of pristine land just west of the Dorset Green on Church Street. Bourn, a resident of Westchester, New York, decided to build a vacation home there for his family. The house was named “Maplebourn,” after a large maple tree on the property. Annie Bourn Sheldon, Allan’s daughter, inherited his property after his death in 1925. She and her husband then added two large additional wings onto the house, just at the time that Dorset’s local theater scene was beginning to take-off. After Annie’s husband Harry died in 1942, she began to rent out rooms of her home to visiting actors to the nearby Dorset Playhouse (last post). Actor and playwright, John Nassivera purchased the property and renamed it the Dorset Colony House, converting it to a residency hall. The building has since been purchased by Adele and Herman Raspé, who lovingly have maintained and enhanced the historically and architecturally significant property.

Sheldon House – 3 Pears Gallery // c.1830

This charming vernacular property in Dorset Village was built around 1830 as a one-story cape house. By the early 20th century, the modest home was enlarged with a second story and an extra bay, all in the Colonial Revival style, mixing the functional or minimally detailed historic building with a little oomph. The addition of a doorway portico and the randomly placed windows on the facade add to the charm. The renovation was completed by owner Bernis Sheldon (1866-1941). After Sheldon’s death, the building became home to the Dorset telephone exchange, who occupied part of the building. The building is now home to the 3 Pears Gallery, who have done a FANTASTIC job mainating and highlighting this beautiful building on the Green!

Warren Dunton House // c.1890

Much of Dorset Village was built in the early-to-mid 19th century, but there are some excellent examples of Colonial Revival and Craftsman homes and buildings. This Colonial Revival house was built c.1890 seemingly by Warren Robbins Dunton (1839-1902), who served as a Captain in the American Civil War. Captain Dunton seemingly built his home after moving the older house on the site back on the lot, building this house at the street. Great house, look at those chunky shutters that actually match the window openings!

Barnstable Olde County Courthouse // 1763

This historic building was constructed in 1763 as the Barnstable County Courthouse replacing an even earlier courthouse building that was outgrown in the village. The building served primarily as a courtroom with jury deliberations carried out in one of the nearby taverns. Additionally, large town meetings were sometimes held in this building until it too was outgrown. This courthouse was the site of a mass protest on Sept. 27, 1774, after Britain revoked Massachusetts Bay’s 1691 charter — one of a series of Coercive Acts intended to punish the colonists for the Boston Tea Party the previous year. As a result of the protest, all Barnstable county officials agreed to ignore Parliament’s new rules, effectively freeing Cape Cod of British control. The significance of this building cannot be understated as the building is one of only two remaining Massachusetts colonial-era courthouses where such protests occurred. The county dedicated its new courthouse in the 1830s, consolidating all court functions in a large, granite structure closer to the present center of Barnstable Village (featured previously). This building was acquired by the Third Barnstable Baptist Church, who renovated the building at the time and again in 1905. After the church was disbanded in 1972, the building was purchased by Tales of Cape Cod, a nonprofit volunteer group committed to preserving the Cape’s history. What a building to be based out of!