Millbury Post Office // 1940

Located in downtown Millbury, MA, the town’s local post office stands as a great example of Art Deco and Colonial Revival architecture styles, showing how well different styles can be incorporated into a single, complimentary design. The Millbury Post Office building was constructed in 1940 from plans by Louis Adolph Simon, who served as Supervising Architect in the Office of the Supervising Architect for the U.S. Treasury from 1933 until 1939, when the office was moved to the Public Works Administration / Works Progress Administration. The post office was designed at the tail end of the New Deal programs to help stimulate local economies by building infrastructure and providing jobs to locals. Inside, a mural “An Incident in the King Philip’s War, 1670” was painted by Joe Lasker and installed in 1941 and was “revivified” in 1991.

Land’s End // 1864

One of the more architecturally modest and refined Gilded Age summer cottages of Newport sits on one of the most picturesque pieces of land at the southeastern point of Aquidneck Island and is aptly named Land’s End. The cottage was built in 1864, Land’s End was designed by John Hubbard Sturgis for Boston banker, Samuel Gray Ward, his father’s business associate. The home features a refined Italianate style base with a roof comprised of a variation of the Second Empire mansard style called a “turtleback roof”. Land’s End is probably most famous as the residence of Edith Wharton (1862-1937) after she acquired the property in 1889. She worked with Boston designer Ogden Codman, Jr., to experiment with a style of subdued classical interiors and a remodel of the exterior, which was later featured in their book, “The Decoration of Houses”. Wharton was inspired to show what good taste is after the influx of Vanderbilts and other newly moneyed summer residents of Newport. The book focused on how to build and decorate houses with nobility, grace, and timelessness. It would, they hoped, lead its readers out of what Wharton called (pace the Vanderbilts) a “Thermopylae of bad taste” and into an aesthetic Promised Land. Wharton only lived at Land’s End for a decade, when the “stuffiness” of high-society there led her to move to the Berkshires in Massachusetts, where she worked with architect Ogden Codman to design her new home, The Mount. It the monstrous Lippitt Mansion, Breakwater was built at the time, just next door! did not help that Sadly, many of the interiors have been altered since Wharton’s time there, but with more recent interventions, but the book did help shift some of Newports later homes to a more refined, classical taste.

Anglesea Cottage // 1880

Imagine being a neighbor to The Breakers? This 1880 home at Ochre Point along the iconic Newport Cliff Walk was built for wealthy grocery goods merchant of Philadelphia, Walter H. Lewis. The stunning home was designed by architect Detlef Lienau, who was first trained as a carpenter and cabinetmaker in Berlin before attending architecture schools in Munich and Paris. He eventually settled in New York City and was responsible for some amazing homes and commercial buildings there. His design for Anglesea, a summer cottage for Lewis, was French inspired with Stick style detailing. Stonemasons and woodworkers from Italy, along with American craftsmen, built Anglesea, which was designed to afford views of the sea from every angle. The home was purchased and modified in the Colonial Revival style in 1896 by Frederick Pearson and wife Lesley Ayer Pearson. The couple inherited much of their wealth from Lesley’s father James Cook Ayer, who was the wealthiest patent medicine businessman of his day and inventor of Ayer’s Sasparilla. The home remained in the family and was used for high-society gatherings until it was sold out of the family in 1996. Anglesea was purchased by Alfred Carpionato, a Rhode Island developer, who expanded and renovated Anglesea from 1996-2003, with the assistance of architect Friedrich St. Florian. The building is used for events by the group.

“Seaweed” Cottage // 1860

“Seaweed” is a spectacular oceanfront estate situated on Newport’s famed Cliff Walk and overlooking Bailey’s Beach. This home is three-stories with an enormous enclosed porch that offers sweeping views of the Atlantic from all windows. The house consists of 16 rooms including an inviting foyer, nine bedrooms, seven bathrooms, dining room, and living room, all with original fireplaces, flooring, and detail throughout. Views of the sea are from nearly every room. “Seaweed” was originally built and owned by Mr. Henry Howard in 1860-61. It was altered in 1867 by renowned architect George Champlin Mason. Within a decade it was sold to Mr. C. Davis who passed it on to George T. M. Davis. In the 1880’s the property became a rental property owned by Alfred Smith, a real estate agent who lived near the center of town. In the early 1900’s it was purchased by Thomas Dolan of Philadelphia who re-baptized the home “Seaweed” after having architect Horace Trumbauer bring it to its present Colonial Revival style. The name is one of my favorites! What do you think of the name Seaweed for a home?

Canton Town Hall // 1902

Collinsville, Connecticut grew in importance and population significantly in the 19th century. The traditional, rural town center of Canton remained pastoral with dairy farms on large agricultural lots. With the population centered around Collinsville, it was decided to erect a new town hall building in Collinsville, which is actually at the far edge of town, but the village where most residents lived. In 1902, this two-story, brick building was constructed just off Main Street. The building is unique for the Colonial Revival design, but with Gothic style lancet windows at the second floor. In the second half of the 20th century, the Town of Canton purchased the larger, three-story brick building adjacent to this building and expanded for additional town offices.

Hawthorn Hill Estate // 1903

The only estate in Lancaster that can rival the Nathaniel Thayer Estate in size and grandeur is the OTHER Thayer estate, built for Bayard Thayer. Sitting on over 55 acres of forests and gentle rolling fields, Hawthorn Hill is one of the most impressive mansions in Central Massachusetts. The property is so secluded that I had to rely on real estate photos to share! The listings mention that there are over 40 bedrooms and 27 bathrooms… Bayard Thayer (1862-1916) is the grandson of Nathaniel Thayer, Unitarian minister of the First Church of Christ in Lancaster and son of Nathaniel Thayer, a banker. When his brother was willed the family estate (featured previously) after the death of their father, Bayard used the opportunity to build a modern estate high upon a hill in town. The mansion was built in 1903-1904 under the direction of Guy Lowell, a renowned Boston architect of the time. In 1907-1908, Little and Browne were commissioned for landscape alterations and in 1914-15, Ogden Codman Jr. was commissioned to renovate the interiors. Bayard died one year later, and the property remained in the family until around WWII. In 1953, the property was acquired by the Boston Cenacle Society, who added a massive dormitory addition to the building. Recent plans were unveiled to subdivide the land and build house lots on half the estate, which gives me mixed feelings.

Potter House // 1909

Murray Potter (1871-1915), a professor of Romance Languages at Harvard, purchased an older Shingle-style house at this location in Lancaster with the desire for it to become his summer residence with wife, Bessie. They deemed the 1895 house too small and decided to raze the 14 year old dwelling and construct a larger, more academic home. Bessie was born and raised in Salem, and her upbringing was likely the inspiration for their Lancaster house. This home was designed as a copy of the 1782 Pierce-Nichols House in Salem, designed by Samuel McIntire. Murray died at just 44 and Bessie lived at the homes for just a couple summers alone (they did not have children) until she sold or gifted the house in Lancaster to the Perkins School as a dwelling for the unmarried female teachers. It remains owned by the private school.

Nathaniel Thayer Estate // 1846

The largest home in Lancaster (and possibly all of Central Massachusetts) is the old Nathaniel Thayer Estate, an 1846 country house built for Nathaniel Thayer II. A house was built on this site in 1798 when Reverend Nathaniel Thayer (1769-1840) constructed his parsonage in South Lancaster. Thayer was the town’s Congregationalist minister for 47 years. His son Nathaniel, who had made a fortune in business, took down the original home and developed the estate in 1846, building the core of the present house. It was enlarged and remodeled in 1902 by the architect and interior designer Ogden Codman Jr. to 42 rooms for Nathaniel Thayer III. After being sold out of the Thayer family and having its furnishings sold at auction, the house was sold to Atlantic Union College in 1943 at a cost of $12,500. It was used as the school’s administration building between 1945 and 1951, and then as a dormitory until about 1970. From 1973 to now the Nathaniel Thayer estate is now home to Thayer Conservatory. What do you think of this home??

Lancaster Center School // 1904

Situated on the iconic Town Green of Lancaster, MA, this gorgeous Colonial Revival school building elegantly fits into the surrounding context of stately civic buildings in the small town. The Center School, (now known as the Prescott Building), was designed by architect Herbert Dudley Hale of Boston, and built in 1904 for use as the Town of Lancaster’s first high school. The building committee formed to oversee proposals and funding of the school settled quickly on the desire to see it built in the Colonial Revival style to compliment the other Town Green buildings at the time, most importantly the Charles Bulfinch-designed church at the northern end (more on that tomorrow). The Center School had been used continuously as a public school until 2001, when it outlived its utility as a modern and codified school facility. The building stood vacant for a number of years until it was restored and re-utilized as town offices next to the town hall.

Lancaster Town Hall // 1908

In 1643, Lancaster, Massachusetts, was first settled by colonists as “Nashaway” (named after the local Nashaway Native American tribe). The Nashaway’s principal settlement was a piece of land in what is now Sterling that was located between two ponds, their land occupied much of the land in north-central Massachusetts. The Nashaway Tribe comprised of an estimated 200 individuals, with was reduced in numbers by smallpox and the Mohawk Wars. The town was officially incorporated and renamed Lancaster in 1653, after Lancaster, England, where some of the earlier colonists were from. During Metacom’s War in 1676, which was fought partially in Lancaster, a group of Native Americans pillaged the entire town of Lancaster in response to English colonial brutality against them, a series of bloody raids and attacks left dozens dead. The town was abandoned until the 18th century.

Fast-forward to the 1900s… Lancaster had become a proper town, with a growing population, including some very wealthy residents. In 1906, the three living sons of Nathaniel Thayer (a Boston-area banker, who spent much of his later life in town to get away from the woes of city life) donated funds to the Town of Lancaster to erect a suitable memorial to their late father. The 1848 Town Hall was cramped and not suitable for the town, so it was decided a new town hall building would be constructed in his name. Boston architect Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow (one of my favorites) was hired to design the building, which took 13 months to complete. The Colonial Revival building was built using brick laid in Flemish bond with marble trim. A massive portico with pediment supported by four monumental Doric columns, strict symmetry, and the ocular windows with wreath and other detailing really caught my eye.