Less than a dozen wood-frame buildings exist on Beacon Hill in Boston, and this curious building is one of them, and also happens to be one of the oldest structures in the neighborhood! Built by 1800, this structure was constructed as an ell/addition to the Glapion-Middleton House at 5 Pinckney Street in Boston. The Glapion-Middleton House (previously featured) was constructed in 1787 after two Black men, George Middleton and Louis Glapion and their wives, built a small double house in the abolitionist center of Boston, Beacon Hill. In recent years, some have speculated that due to this living arrangement and other accounts, that Glapion and Middleton were in-fact gay men, but this is unsubstantiated. After the home was constructed, a two-story, five-bay ell was constructed which connected the home to Joy Street at the corner. The ell served as additional space for the two families and they appear to have had a workshop or store in part of the building. In 1855, owners demolished the center bay of the ell and erected a brick townhouse, similar to others in the neighborhood. The ell in this building was occupied as a store for the majority of its life and became an Italian restaurant and soon after a “Boyer’s Creamery Luncheon”. The property has since been converted to a residence.
Tobias H. Ten Eyck was born in 1717 to a wealthy family from Albany, New York. He lived in Schenectady as a child and met his wife, Rachel De Peyster. The year he married Ms. De Peyster, he had this brick Georgian mansion built, which at the time, had a gambrel roof. Tobias was counted among Schenectady’s wealthiest businessmen, dealing in trade here until his death in 1774. The house was purchased next by James Ellice, who lived in the home with his wife Ann. While on a business trip to Montreal as an “Indian fur trader”, Ellice died at the young age of 33. His widow Ann remarried Joseph C. Yates, a lawyer. The couple occupied this home and Joseph built the one story law office to the side of the building to run his firm out of. He also had this home “modernized in the early 1800s, boxing off the third story and adding the Federal period detailing. He served as the mayor of Schenectady (beginning in 1798), being appointed successively to twelve one-year terms. In 1805 he was elected as a state senator, in 1808 as a State Supreme Court justice, and in 1823, as the seventh governor of New York (1823–1824).
This gorgeous house in Schenectady’s Stockade neighborhood was built in 1792 for Jacob A. Swits. Swits was a descendant of the first settlers of Schenectady and served in the local militia upon the start of the American Revolution. He later, worked in town as a merchant and was involved with local affairs. He became Major General of the regional militia during the War of 1812. Between these two wars, he had this home built, which was likely a asymmetrical three-bay Federal home. Sometime later, the rightmost bay was added and much of the ornate detailing was added.
The Parsons Homestead in Rye, contains some of the most interesting early Federal-style design elements in the coastal towns of New Hampshire outside of the principal towns of Portsmouth and Exeter. When the Parsons House assumed its present appearance at the turn of the nineteenth century, Rye was a coastal farming community, but despite its rural character, the town developed distinctive preferences within the Federal style. There is no architect listed for the home, but it is highly likely a housewright took cues from William Pain’s “The Practical Builder” (1774, published in Boston in 1792). This book, inspired directly by the designs of British architect Robert Adam, allowed carpenters to take plans from one of the earliest “do-it-yourself” manuals ever published. The builders’ manuals and pattern book offered carpenters and other construction workers important resources for designs and techniques in house design and construction. Those unable to afford an architect’s services could feel confident in the good taste of their residence by selecting designs from a pattern book style in southeastern New Hampshire. Records show the land here was purchased in 1757 by Samuel Parsons (1707-1789). The property was acquired by his son Captain Joseph Parsons (1746-1832), who was a Doctor and Captain in the Revolutionary War. It is likely that he or his own son built this “modern” Federal home, and incorporated some of the old features of the family home inside.
Located on Odiorne Point in Rye, New Hampshire, this old farmhouse has overlooked the Atlantic Ocean for over 200 years. Before that, this land was Pannaway Plantation, the first European settlement in what is now currently the state of New Hampshire. By 1630, the plantation was abandoned, and the settlers moved to Strawbery Banke in what is now Portsmouth. John and Phillip Odiorne (likely brothers) arrived to Portsmouth in 1657 from England, and some of their descendants moved south to modern-day Rye. This home was built by a descendant around 1800, and although built as a farm house, not as a city mansion, it is quite large. The house is a Federal period farmhouse with later alterations and additions, but has deteriorated since the property was acquired by the State of New Hampshire from the Odiorne Family in 1942. More on the property next!
In 1794, four men from Acton, Abel Conant, Dr. Abraham Skinner, John Robbins and Horace Tuttle, jointly purchased a $5.00 ticket in a lottery run by Harvard College to raise funds for the construction of Stoughton Hall in Harvard Yard. This house, built for Dr. Abraham Skinner, is one of the four, and is the most grand of the four. Dr. Skinner was the third physician to practice in Acton and the first to arrive from out of town. He came to Acton in 1781 from Woodstock, Connecticut, and continued in practice until his death in 1810. The Federal style home is nearly square with five bays on all sides, with the facade and rear being slightly less crowded. The main entry includes a pediment with dentils, 4-pane side lights and a 4-panel, wooden door with elongated, rectangular, top panels. A similar entry, without sidelights, centers the south elevation. Time to buy some lottery tickets!
Government-sanctioned lotteries originated in Massachusetts as an alternative to taxation, but soon expanded as a fundraising tool to help fund building projects and support charities. In 1765, the General Court passed the first legislation allowing Harvard College to run a lottery to support dormitory building projects. Before Harvard University accepted multi-million dollar donations, they drew lotteries between 1794 and 1797 to build the second Stoughton Hall and in the early 1800s, for the building of Holworthy Hall. In Harvard’s lottery of 1794-1796 which John Robbins, a farmer and Revolutionary War veteran, entered, together with three friends, each of whom purchased a quarter-share in one ticket. They won! This Federal style home with hipped roof and symmetrical facade is one of four built in Acton.
In 1912, a group of under twenty young mothers of Acton, Massachusetts, formed a club to provide a space to discuss issues ranging from child-rearing to larger topics like prohibition and women’s right to vote. The women began meeting at their homes before it was determined that they would need a permanent home. In 1915, the Acton Women’s Club acquired the old Dr. Cowdrey House (last post) next door occupying it and the attached barn. The 1829 Chapel for the Evangelical Society in Acton was part of the property and deteriorating. The Acton Women’s Club decided to sell the historic Cowdrey Home and use those funds to restore and occupy the old brick-end chapel. In 1940, the Club ceremoniously held a Mortgage Burning Party, having proudly paid off its debt. Today, the Acton Woman’s Club is the oldest and last standing brick- ended Federal structure in town.
Lexington Farm was built by Elisha Wright Watkins (1805-1886) in around 1835, and was operated as a dairy farm until the 1980’s. Today, the property consists of a snecked ashlar stone farmhouse, cow barn, horse barn and tractor barn, grouped together at the southern extremity of the village of Felchville (also known as Reading). The farmhouse and barns are situated next to a waterfall on a tributary of the Black River, and are surrounded by pastures, hayfields and extensive woodland. A couple decades after Watkins’ death, the property was purchased by Alonzo Goddard. It stayed in that family and was eventually willed to Errol Locke in 1923. Errol, by trade, wasn’t a farmer. He was a Harvard-educated man who graduated there in 1913. Eventually, he went to work for a company called General Radio, which was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1915. He started as a clerk, and 37 years later, he retired as president. The company, by that time, had moved to Concord, Massachusetts, which we know, thanks to the important events of April 19, 1775, is not too far from Lexington, where Locke lived. He renamed the Watkins Farm, Lexington Farm, seemingly as a tribute to his home town in the Bay State. In 2009, the Hall Art Foundation began the process of converting Lexington Farm to museum-quality galleries. The former dairy farm’s location and existing structures were ideally suited for this purpose. After approximately three years of restoration, renovation and refitting, Lexington Farm was transformed to approximately 6,000 sq. feet of exhibition space.
At the base of Ragged Mountain, on a winding dirt road lined by towering pine trees, I came across the New Hampshire Mountain Inn. The original Cape block of the house was built in the late 18th century and operated as a farm for a family in the rural town of Wilmot, New Hampshire. By the mid-19th century, the construction of the Northern Railroad through New Hampshire, created a housing demand for railroad workers who spent long days laying rail lines, thus the beginning of this farm becoming a short-term boarding house began. The railroad line was officially abandoned by the 1990s, and later converted to a linear park with biking, walking, and snowmobile trails in various sections. After the railroad’s construction, the farm saw visitors beginning in the 1930s, drawn to the area due to the skiing opportunities in the area. Subsequent owners added onto the farmhouse numerous times, to accommodate growing flocks of skiers every season. The house features telescoping additions, similar to many historic farms in New England, but on three sides, which expanded the once small farmhouse to a modern inn. The siting of the property on a hill overlooks the distant mountains with fresh country air blowing across the sloping fields.