Cox Farmhouse // c.1835

This colorful cape house sits in rural Norway, Maine. The home appears to date to the 1830s or 1840s and was a gentleman’s farm in the early 20th century. A gentleman farmer was a landowner who would farm for pleasure rather than profit or sustenance. It was typically a role that wealthier city-dwellers took to feel more like the average Joe! A 1880 map of the town shows the owner as an F. Cox but I don’t know much more than that!

Cedarbrook Farm // 1792

Last up on our tour of Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden and now Norway) Maine, is Norway. The town of Norway centers around Pennessewasse Lake, which supported native people in the region for thousands of years. It wasn’t until after the American Revolution that European settlers established the town. By 1789, a sawmill and gristmill were established, the first road was built in 1796, and the town of Norway was officially incorporated on March 9, 1797. Before incorporation, the township adopted the name Rustfield, to recognize the contributions of prominent landowner Henry Rust of Salem, Mass and the community once petitioned the Massachusetts General Court to be named Norage, meaning “falls” in the native peoples’ language. Norway won the name, but the origin of the town’s name remains unknown. The town leaned more towards industry than Denmark and Sweden due to the stronger rivers, and its population increased as a result.

This historic farmhouse sits on the eastern edge of Pennessewasse Lake and is one of the oldest extant homes in town. It was built in 1792 just years after land here was purchased by Nathaniel Bennett in 1790. Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bennett resided in the home until they died, childless. The home was eventually purchased by Don Carlos Seitz, publisher of the New York World, who grew up and was educated in town. Seitz operated the property as a gentleman’s farm, and is responsible for naming the property “Cedarbrook Farm”. His estate sold the property to one of his hired hands in 1927. It remains very well preserved and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 as the Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bennett House.

Nevers-Bennett Farmhouse // c.1820+

In 1820, just seven years after the incorporation of Sweden Maine, a homesteader, Amos Parker purchased fifty acres of land and began to erect a two-story, Federal house with a center chimney and a detached store beside it. Plagued by debt, Parker sold the unfinished house to Samuel Nevers circa 1833–1835, who purchased the property with the store for his recently married son, Benjamin. By 1860, Benjamin Nevers had a successful store and prospering farmstead. Benjamin died in 1883, and in the next two years, their daughter Charlotte, and her husband, Charles Bennett, dramatically remodeled and modernized the farmstead, adding a connected two-story ell building outward from the main house toward the old 1840 barn, connecting the entire property. I believe that the property remains in the Nevers-Bennett Family, as recently, Steve and Judy Bennett, recently negotiated an easement with the Maine Farmland Trust to protect their hay, beef, and maple sugaring acreage as farmland into the future.

Daniel Glazier Tavern // 1815

The Daniel Glazier Tavern is located at the west end of the Willington Green, an area showcasing great vernacular examples of Federal and Greek Revival architecture. The tavern was apparently built by Daniel Glazier as a stop along the route connecting Norwich, CT to Springfield, MA, where visitors could grab a bite to eat and/or stay the night to rest. Daniel’s son Isaac was the first tavern-keeper, followed by Daniel’s son-in-law Arial Eldridge until his death in 1849. The ballroom of the tavern had long been used in the winter months for town meetings, as he basement of the Town Meetinghouse, used for town meetings, lacked any form of heat. Since 2009, the property has been owned by the Willington Historical Society, who have restored the building.

Old Baptist Meetinghouse, Willington // 1829

The Baptist Meetinghouse in Willington was built in 1829 by a local carpenter Albert Sharp, in a transitional Federal/Greek Revival style, common for the period. Its clapboarded facade has a projecting pavilion with two entrances flanking a two-story round-arched window. Four pilasters are surmounted by a wide entablature and the flushboarded pediment of the pavilion. Round-arched windows are repeated on the side elevations and the belfry, which is topped by an octagonal drum and a small dome. The Willington Baptist Church was organized in 1828, started by Rev. Hubbell Loomis, the fourth pastor of the Congregational Church across the common. Rev. Loomis was prominent both as a minister and an educator, and founder of Shurtleff College of Illinois. During his pastorate at the Willington Congregational Church, Mr. Loomis had strong tendencies toward Baptist sentiments. From this, membership of the congregational church split, some leaving for a new Baptist belief and others remained at the congregational church. The two congregations were split until 1911, when they again worshiped under the same roof, as the Federated Church of Willington, meeting in this building.

Hiram Rider House // c.1820

Located on the southern edge of Willington Connecticut’s town common, this vernacular example of the Federal style with later alterations is really appealing, mostly for its simplicity and proportions. The house was built around 1820 for Hiran Rider, who served as a judge, county sheriff, and town selectman. The Rider Family were hit by tragedy in 1851 when dysentery hit the household, killing Hiram, his wife Sarah, and their daughter. The home was altered by a later owner with 2-over-2 windows, an Italianate style door, and a door hood.

Asa Waters Mansion // 1829

In 1824, prosperous gunsmith Asa Waters II set out to build the stateliest residence in the country. It took two full years to amass the necessary materials for what is now known as the Asa Waters Mansion and Mr. Waters spared no expense. Asa Waters II (1769-1841) was born in Millbury in 1813 to Asa Sr. and Sarah Waters. Asa earned the art of gunsmithing from his father, and in 1808 the junior Asa and his brother Elijah opened the Waters & Co. Armory along the banks of the Blackstone River, in what is now Millbury Center. Following the untimely death of his brother in 1814, Asa Waters carried on the business solo and secured lucrative arms contracts with the United States government. His invention of a lathe to turn gun barrels into the first seamless barrels revolutionized the manufacture of guns throughout the world, and provided his company a stockpile of cash. As a result, he hired Boston-based architect Asher Benjamin, to design a country house suitable of his stature. The mansion features two prominent facades with the primary distinguished by a colonnade of fluted two-story columns with composite capitals. The mansion remained in the Waters Family until 1929, when it was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester, as a rectory of a local church. In 1977 the Town of Millbury acquired the Asa Waters Mansion, and with little funding to maintain the property; in 1994, the Asa Waters Mansion had fallen into quite a bit of disrepair. The town proposed to demolish the mansion for a parking lot, but a group of locals worked together as the Asa Waters Task Force and petitioned to save the house: funds were raised, tradesmen in the community donated materials and labor. Saving the architectural landmark for generations to come.

Hall-Balcom House // 1810

This historic house in West Millbury, Massachusetts, began in the end of the 18th century as a one-and-a-half-story wood-frame farmhouse. By 1810, the home was rotated 90 degrees and a more substantial, two-story brick house was constructed facing the street. The Federal style home was owned by Thaddeus Hall (1779-1855), and after his death, it was owned by his son, Orson Eddy Hall, who possibly rented the property for income while he resided in New Orleans and ran the iconic St. Charles Hotel there. The property was later acquired by Willard Balcom and remained in the family. Oh what I wouldn’t do to see the paint come off this old brick house!!

Bond Farmhouse // c.1800

This farmhouse is unreal… Located on a rural back road in Millbury, I came across this rambling old Cape house with a stone wall and everything! The home appears to have been built in the late 18th or early 19th century, possibly as a half-cape (with the door and two windows to the right) for Emery Bond, or possibly his father, Oliver Bond. The home (like many Cape houses) was added onto as the family grew and finances could necessitate a more substantial house. It likely added the two bays to the left of the front door next, then bumping out the sides by the 20th century to give it the present, elongated appearance. It’s not often that a once-modest Cape house stops me in my tracks!

Longley Farmhouse // 1819

Backroads in New England are just amazing! When driving through Millbury on my way to visit one of the finest examples of Federal style architecture in the state, I stumbled upon this gorgeous rural Federal style farmhouse, and had to snap a picture! Millbury is best-known as a mill town (hence the name), but you can find dozens of rural farms dispersed between the mill villages in the township. The Blackstone River cuts through the town, and during the Industrial Revolution, it provided much of the water power to the town’s many textile mills and factories. Like many former mill towns, the shifting of the economy away from manufacturing towards the service sector, harmed the economy of Millbury in the 20th century. Many mills were abandoned and demolished, others adaptively reused. Before we get to some industrial history, I wanted to share this charming farmhouse. This home was built for Nymphas Longley upon the time of his 1819 marriage to the love of his life, Nancy Bond. They ran a farm on over 80 acres, with Nymphas also serving as a town selectman, an overseer of the poor, and led recruitment efforts in town at the start of the Civil War. Like many farms, this one saw suburban development take some of the former land, but this home still sits on over 9 acres, not bad for being so close to Worcester!