The village of Kennebunkport in Maine is a well-preserved enclave of Federal period houses built at the heyday of shipbuilding and maritime trade in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Many sea captains and shipbuilders erected stately homes in the village, with high-quality design and woodworking inside and out. This Federal period home was built for Asa Hutchins (1769-1860) a blacksmith who was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and settled in Kennebunkport in the late 1700s. The house exhibits a central chimney a feature more common in Colonial-era homes, with a five bay facade and projecting entrance.
Captain Nathaniel Ward – Abbott Graves House // 1812
In about 1812, Captain Nathaniel Ward Jr. of Kennebunkport purchased this home in the village from housewright and builder Samuel Davis. The Federal style house is five bays with a central entrance with pedimented fan over the door. Two end chimneys would heat the home in the winter months when Nathaniel was out at sea and his wife, Sarah, would be maintaining the home and caring for their six children. The couple’s eldest son Charles Ward, served as the second American Consul to Zanzibar in Africa. In his role, Ward bickered continuously with the Sultan, whose word of law changed with the wind and he eventually left his position and settled in Salem, Massachusetts. This house was later owned by Abbott Fuller Graves (1859–1936), a renowned painter before he built a Prairie Style house in Kennebunkport in 1905.
Benjamin Mason Store // c.1815
Across from the Luques Store in Dock Square in Kennebunkport, another 19th century commercial building serves as a visual anchor to the vibrant village, this is the Benjamin Mason Store. Built in the 1810s, the Federal style commercial block was originally owned by businessman Benjamin Mason (1777-1855) who built a house in 1812 just nextdoor (which has since been converted to commercial use). The store is three-stories with a cupola at the roof. Later porches were added as the village prospered.
Josephus Fitch House // 1809
Not far from the Pelatiah Fitch House is this charming Federal Cape house in Noank, CT, built for Pelatiah’s grandson, Josephus (there are a lot of great names in this family)! Pelatiah’s eldest son Josephus was born in 1745 and was equipped for service in the American Revolution by his father. He survived the war, but in 1778, he perished at sea aboard a whaling vessel. Josephus Fitch Jr., his mother and siblings remained in Noank and tried to re-establish a life after losing their father who was just 32 years old. He grew up and married, and eventually purchased land in town, building this cape house in 1809. The house is vernacular with modest trim surrounding the door, 12-over-12 windows, and two small dormers at the roof.
H. P. Lovecraft House // c.1823
In 1823, Samuel B. Mumford (1791-1849) purchased a lot on College Street in Providence and erected this modest Federal style home. The house’s marker reads “Samuel Mumford House”, but the most famous resident was actually Howard Phillips Lovecraft aka. H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937). Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and lived almost his entire life there besides a few years in New York. He resided in a few places in the city but eventually settled in this home which he rented a room in his final years. Sadly, Lovecraft died at just 46 years old from intestinal cancer, and was largely unrecognized during his short, impoverished life. Since his death, he’s grown in literary stature to become one of the great fantasy classic horror authors of all time. While Lovecraft only lived in this home from 1933-1937, it was the location where he wrote his most mature and final pieces. I bet he would never imagine how popular he would become (even with an HBO series based on his worlds). The house was moved in 1959 (due to Brown University’s ever-growing and expanding campus) and now sits not too far from Prospect Terrace a small square that Lovecraft visited frequently during his time in Providence.
Welcome Congdon House // c.1820
In 1820, Joseph Dorr, a trader, purchased this house lot in Providence’s East Side overlooking present-day Downtown. He had this Federal style house built with a symmetrical five-bay facade with fanlight transom over the door. He occupied the house until 1827 when he sold the property to a Charles Hadwin. In 1832, the property was acquired and soon after purchased by Welcome Congdon (1794-1874) who lived there until his death. The house was more recently added onto with a Modern addition on the side, to provide additional, private space for the owners who live directly next to a public park.
Giddings Homestead // c.1800
This old gambrel-roofed home sits on the beginning of Pautipaug Hill Road just outside the industrial village of Baltic, in Sprague, Connecticut. The house’s history is a little unclear, but it shows up on historic maps as being owned by W. Giddings. This appears to have been Walter Giddings (1788-1854). Walter may have built or inherited this property from his father Nathaniel, who died in 1809. Walter married Laura Lucretia Fillmore in 1811 and they had four children. Laura died in 1827 at just 37 years old and Walter remarried within a year to Lydia Lathrop Ladd. The property remained in the Giddings Family at least into the second half of the 19th century. It was later “Victorianized” with two-over-two windows, side and front porches, and a octagonal bay window. The home has been suffering from deferred maintenance for over 15 years (as far back as Google maps goes) and was listed for sale, so here’s to hoping this old beauty survives!
Colonel Jacob Kingsbury House // pre-1815
Jacob Kingsbury was born in Norwich, Connecticut on July 6, 1756, to Nathaniel and Sarah Hill Kingsbury.On July 11, 1775, at the age of 19, he enlisted in the 8th Connecticut Regiment, which was part of the Continental Army in the Siege of Boston. Kingsbury remained in the Continental Army when it was reorganized in 1776, and he was promoted to sergeant and then was commissioned an ensign in Webb’s Additional Continental Regiment on April 26, 1780. He served until the Continental Army was disbanded on November 3, 1783. At this time, Jacob moved back home and appears to have had this house built, or moved back into his father’s home. He would later serve with the United States military on campaigns against British allies and Native tribes. During the War of 1812, Kingsbury was appointed to command the defenses of Newport, Rhode Island. He served as Inspector General for Military District No. 2 (comprising the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island) from April 8, 1813, to October 31, 1814. He was discharged in 1815, and moved back to Franklin to live out his final days. The original vintage of this house in unclear, but it appears to have been built before or shortly after his return to Franklin in 1815. After his death in 1837, the property was inherited by his son, Col Thomas Humphrey Cushing Kingsbury, who updated the old homestead with Italianate detailing including the replacement double doorway, bracketed and dentilled cornice, tripartite window in the gable, and 2/2 windows. What a cool blending of styles here!
Dr. Ashbel Woodward House // 1835
The Ashbel Woodward House in Franklin, Connecticut was built in 1835, on land purchased by Doctor Ashbel Woodward, a prominent local physician, a year prior. Woodward, was a graduate of Bowdoin College, and he began practice in Franklin in 1829, serving as the town’s primary medical practitioner until his death in 1885. Though in his 60s at the outbreak of the Civil War, Woodward perhaps lent his greatest service to his country when he served as a battlefield surgeon and medical facilities inspector for the Union army. Besides his work in medicine, Woodward collected literature and numerous artifacts pertaining to Franklin’s past and eventually wrote a book detailing the town’s history. The Ashbel Woodward House is an excellent example of the Greek Revival architectural style in a five-bay form. Interestingly, there are semi-elliptical windows in the pediment gable ends on the side elevations, seemingly a nod to the Federal style that was waning out of style at the time. The property is in use today as a museum, documenting the life of Dr. Woodward and the people of Franklin, Connecticut.
Rev. Samuel Nott House // 1784
Reverend Samuel Nott (1754-1852) was born in Saybrook, Connecticut and did not have an easy beginning. When he was young, the family home burned, destroying all family possessions. Some years later on a business trip, he was beaten and robbed. At twelve years old, he began working for his father, later becoming a blacksmith by 16. For a while, young Nott lived with a Rev. Dr. Welsh of Mansfield. The older man had a profound religious influence on the young lad. At age 23, Nott entered Yale, but the college closed when British troops entered New Haven. In 1782, he married Lucretia Taylor and passed his examination for the ministry. A year before his marriage, he was invited to serve a parish in West Farms, now Franklin. He was apparently anxious to accept the position at the rural village, as the farmers attending the congregational church had fired their previous two pastors, he accepted the call regardless. During his tenure, he prepared more than 40 young men for college and schooled as many as 300 boys and girls in his home, some as boarding students. He was regarded as one of the most successful educators of the day. Education ran in his family as Samuel’s brother, Eliphalet Nott, would become President of Union College in Schenectady, NY for 62 years, from 1804-1866. Towards the end of Samuel’s life, in his 70s, his wife Lucretia, became an invalid, requiring care and finally passed in 1834. Three of his children also died. Nott passed away at 98 years old in this house, as a result of burns sustained from his own fireplace.