Edwin Cummings House // 1908

This two-and-a-half story mansion sits on a steep hillside overlooking Downtown Norway, Maine. The home was built in 1908 for Edwin Cummings, who appears to have been a son of Charles B. Cummings, who ran a profitable woodworking and carpentry firm in the village. Charles Cummings was the owner of the Evans-Cummings House (featured previously) and updated it to show off his carpentry skills. The house here is a great example of Neo-Classical architecture with the monumental columns to create a prominent portico. The home retains the original windows which really complete the facade!

“Beachmound” Mansion // 1897

Beachmound, a unique summer residence in Newport, was built in 1897 by architect Henry Ives Cobb for Benjamin Thaw Sr., (1859-1933) a Pittsburgh banker and philanthropist. The mansion is Neo-Classical in style, taking cues from Classical architecture, specifically Greek Revival, with the monumental columns, pediments, and pilasters. Benjamin Thaw was the half-brother of Harry Kendall Thaw (known for the 1906 murder of architect Stanford White). The murder took over the press as one of the more salacious scandals of the gilded era. Harry Thaw’s wife, the actress/model Evelyn Nesbit was said to have been raped by Stanford White while 16 year old (White was 47). She later married Harry K. Thaw. Thaw shot and killed White, the internationally famous architect, in front of hundreds of witnesses in a theater during a performance in New York. Following two trials, he was acquitted based on the insanity defense, a stint in an asylum from which he escaped, and eventual court-ordered freedom, Thaw was a celebrity. A comical piece of the story is that when Thaw later visited “Mar-a-Lago”, the Post Mansion in Palm Beach, Florida (now best known as Donald Trump’s home), he gasped, “My God, I shot the wrong architect!” Beachmound remains as a stunning, refined summer estate in Newport, and is comprised of condo units.

Redwood Library & Athenaeum // 1750

The Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport was built in 1750 and was the first purposely built library in the United States! This highly significant building is possibly the oldest neo-Classical building in the country and it was designed by British-born architect Peter Harrison, who is credited with bringing the Palladian architectural movement to the colonies. Harrison also designed the iconic Touro Synagogue in town (featured previously). The Redwood Library was established in 1747 by Abraham Redwood and 45 other wealthy residents with the goal of making written knowledge more widely available to the Newport community. The Redwood family had a large sugar plantation in Antigua. Abraham Redwood, Jr. was born in 1709 and he was active in the family sugar business from his teenage years. When his father died, the plantation – along with the over 200 enslaved people that worked it – were signed over to Abraham Redwood jr.

Rhode Island’s ties to slavery lasted much longer than other New England states. Many of the state’s wealthiest owned plantations in the Caribbean, where the conditions were comparable to that of the deep south. Once trafficked across the Atlantic arrived in the Caribbean islands, the Africans were prepared for sale. They were washed and their skin was oiled to be sold to local buyers. Often parents were separated from children, and husbands from wives. Upon his death in 1788, Redwood left his slaves in Newport and Antigua to his children and grandchildren, an inventory taken 22 years prior to his death listed 238 enslaved people in Antigua. I bring this history up because America was built on slavery, and I bet thousands walk by this architecturally beautiful building every year, with no idea about its namesake.

Hopedale Community House // 1923

Hopedale in the 1920s oversaw a civic building campaign led by George A. Draper (1855-1923), then treasurer of the Draper Corporation. Draper often talked about the need for a community center in Hopedale for his workers, and in 1919 decided to build one at his own expense. He commissioned architect Edwin J. Lewis, Jr. of Boston to design the Hopedale Community House which was intended to serve as a social and civic center for all Hopedale residents, as well as Draper Corporation employees residing in other towns. The building was opened in 1923, but sadly George Draper died before he could see it used. The Community House included an assembly hall, a banquet hall that doubled as a gymnasium, a kitchen, rooms for smoking and cards and billiards, a ladies’ social room, the Knights of Pythias club room, and candlepin bowling lanes in the basement, all of which exist to this day.

Susan Lord House // 1913

This home was built in 1913 and is a high-style Neo-Classical example of a “beach cottage”. The home is located in the fashionable Rye Beach colony in New Hampshire, which developed in the mid 19th century through the first half of the 20th century as an exclusive enclave for vacationing elite. The home was purchased by Susan Bailey Lord just years after its completion as a summer retreat from her home in Malden, MA, just outside Boston. She purchased the home just years after the death of her husband, who was thirty years her senior. It’s safe to say that Susan let loose up on the beach and had a “hot girl summer”.

Harvard Medical School – Administration Building // 1905

Founded in 1782, the Harvard Medical School is one of the oldest medical schools in the United States. Lectures were first held in the basement of Harvard Hall and then later in Holden Chapel. Since then, they were located at five other locations in Cambridge and Boston, before Harvard purchased land in the sparsely developed Longwood section of Boston. Planning was underway by 1900 for the design and construction of the “Great White Quadrangle”, of five interconnected Medical School buildings of marble framing three sides of a quadrangle to emulate the plan of a modern German medical school. At the end of the quad would be an administration building, with laboratory buildings housing the various departments of the medical school running down the sides. The Administration Building, designed by the Boston architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge, is Neo-Classical in design with monumental Ionic columns and a high, dentilated entablature with prominent cornice molding, all in a white marble shell. For you architecture nerds, I suggest you check out this campus, its a hidden, yet stunning composition of buildings!

Tewksbury Center School // 1934-2021

Built in 1934 as the fourth high school for the town of Tewksbury, this Neo-Classical school building has seen better days. The Center School was designed by Miller and Beal architects of Portland, Maine, and likely funded with assistance of New Deal program funding during the Great Depression. The next year, Tewksbury Stadium was dedicated in 1938, which was a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. The Tewksbury Center School retains many of the details that characterize its Neo-Classical Style including: the front gable entry portico supported by two-story Corinthian columns and pilasters, the wide frieze band with the band of dentil molding, the decoratively clad end bays framed by Corinthian pilasters, the broken pediment of the door surround, and keystones in the brick lintels. The town needed to expand at the end of the 20th century, and hired Architectural Resources Cambridge to design the John F. Ryan Elementary School, located behind this building. The Ryan Elemetary School is a pleasing design which is Post-Modern in style. The Center School has been used as offices for the School Department and was recently proposed to be demolished for surface parking, and a new school constructed elsewhere on the site. This seems very wasteful, and epitomizes the lack of regard for environmental or historical conservation in many cities and towns.

Gilbert A. Davis Memorial Library // 1899

Reading Vermont’s public library building was built in 1899, by local resident Gilbert A. Davis (1835-1919). The building’s funds were furnished by Mr. Davis in his life, likely inspired by Andrew Carnegie’s fund which had libraries built in towns all over the United States. Gilbert Davis worked as a lawyer in Woodstock before moving back to Reading, Vermont to run his own practice. The library he funded is Neo-Classical in design in the form of a Greek Cross with intersecting gable roofs and with a monumental portico in the Ionic Order on the front facade. The charming library building is well-preseved and an excellent example of Vermonts beautiful small-town libraries.

Cape Cottage Casino and Theater // 1899

The Cape Cottage Casino and Theater was one of several amusement parks developed in the late 1890s by Portland’s electric railways in order to increase business on their trolley lines. Residents of Portland would be able to take a surface trolley to the outskirts of the city in record time, and soak up the sun at luxurious summer communities. The Cape Cottage Casino and Theater was designed by iconic Maine architect John Calvin Stevens, completed in 1899. The casino represents the best in Neo-Classical design, with a full-height, projecting classical pediment supported by bold ionic columns. A wide entablature is accentuated with dentils and modillions; and at the entry, the main front door has a fanlight and is flanked by two small windows, creating a Palladian motif. In 1922, due to the demise in the trolley ridership, partly caused by the rise in personal automobile, the casino was sold off and the Cape Cottage Park Company then hired E.C. Jordan & Company, civil engineers, to subdivide the land and retained John Calvin Stevens and his son as consulting architects. Roughly 50 house lots were platted, resulted that were arranged around the former casino, which was extensively downsized and remodeled as a private residence. While the side wings were removed, the building does retain much of its architectural integrity, while its sheer size has been severely diminished.

First Stockbridge Town Hall // 1840

The Town of Stockbridge, MA was incorporated on June 22, 1739. After that time the town held meetings and conducted business in the First Congregational Meeting House until 1840 when this Greek Revival town hall building was erected on the church’s property as a gift. A stipulation was made that if the Town government constructed or moved to a new town hall building, the property ownership would revert to the Church. The town outgrew the building and constructed a new building toward the center of town, but named it Town Offices, a cheeky way to retain ownership of this building. Eventually, that building too was outgrown, and the town hired Pittsfield-based architect Harry E. Weeks to modify and enlarge the building in 1903, in the Neo-Classical style to compliment the original Greek detailing. As expected, the town moved again in the 2000s to a former school, on Main Street, but again retained the building.