Goddard Mansion // 1859-1981

This shell of a former mansion was built in 1859 for Colonel John Goddard (1811-1870), a Civil War Union Army Officer. Goddard was a “lumberman” who amassed substantial wealth before the outbreak of the Civil War, and he hired architect Charles A. Alexander, to design an estate house for him and his family. The home appears to have been constructed of local stone with white granite trim and featured a prominent tower, emulating an Italian Villa. The home was purchased in 1898 by Judge Joseph W. Symonds, who presided over the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Just two years later in 1900, during the expansion of Fort Williams, the estate was acquired by the Federal government. The home was used for housing married enlisted men and their families while stationed at Fort Williams. The basement was converted into the fort’s Non-Commissioned Officers’ Club. At the time of the town’s purchase of the Fort in 1964, the mansion was already in serious disrepair and its future was uncertain. People routinely broke in and damaged the interior, which suffered numerous small fires over the years, until the town decided in 1981 to hold a controlled burn of the home, leaving the shell. The shell remains a significant architectural landmark and a massive opportunity for the town.

“Cliffside”// c.1858

SAVE THIS HOUSE!

Located adjacent to the former H.H. Richardson House (also threatened with demolition), this home in Brookline may eventually face the wrecking ball… The rear ell of the building appears to have been constructed prior to 1844, possibly as an outbuilding or the main house as part of Samuel Perkins’ estate. The property was later subdivided and had numerous owners who bought and sold it in quick succession until 1858, when it was purchased by Francis A. White (1825-1910) a partner of Frederick Guild (1826- ) in the Boston tanning firm of Guild & White, Co., until 1871, when White retired to devote full time to his real-estate investments in the Boston area. It is likely that White updated and enlarged the home in the 1870s, with the massive corner tower, as a testament to his proficiency in real estate development and design. Francis lived in the home with his wife and four children until his death in 1910, when the home was willed to his late wife Caroline. After her death, the home was owned by their daughter Sophia, who had married John Charles Olmsted (1852-1920), a prominent landscape architect and nephew of Frederick Law Olmsted, who lived just down the street. John and Sophia lived in the home, renovating and enlarging the home at least once, and John would walk down the street to his office, now the Olmsted National Historic Site. John was the first president of the American Society of Landscape Architects, founded in 1899, and was active in the formation of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects. Sadly, a demolition permit has been applied for to raze this home, the Richardson House and a Techbuilt house by a developer. It is likely a demolition delay will be enacted, but advocacy on the two older houses preservation should be the first and only option for the site.

Likely original structure, viewed from next door.

Charles Loomis House // 1862

This home was built for Charles Loomis of the Loomis Family, who made their fortune in the tobacco farming and rolling industry in Suffield, Connecticut. Charles F. Loomis used his tobacco money to have this asymmetrical Italianate Villa constructed in 1862. The home features a prominent three-story tower capped with iron cresting, broad overhanging eaves with brackets and some stickwork, and a gorgeous door with arched transom and sidelights. There are almost too many architectural details to list. What is your favorite?

Arnold Fenner Mansion // 1855

Considered to be one of the best-preserved Italian Villas in the state of Connecticut, the Fenner Mansion on Main Street in Plainfield, CT, is a head-turner! The home was built for Arnold Fenner (1794-1871), a mill-owner in Plainfield, who lived in sight of his business. The Italian Villa with the characteristic box-like form, flat roof, veranda, belvedere, arched shapes, and bay windows; the plethora of brackets, quoins, canopies, balustrades, and jigsaw scalloped decoration epitomizes the Victorian taste for abundant architectural detail at the time.

Bella Vista Villa // 1908 //

Designed to resemble the stone houses of Italy, this home in Chester, Connecticut stands out among Colonial-era homes in the region. The home was designed by the owner, Ila Howard Stone (1870-1931), known to many as “Madame Pierre”. Although she was the ex-wife of a reverend, and not a trained architect, she designed this massive estate to house her lavish parties and many suitors.

After her divorce (which was almost unheard of for a reverend and his wife), Ila recreated herself as Eila Pierre “Madame”. She was viewed as promiscuous and a modern day feminist, who affronted small town sensibilities in her modern Italian Villa mansion.

The home was constructed by at least five masons and laborers who immigrated from Italy. Some of the laborers even constructed the Gillette Castle across the Connecticut River.