Quabbin Park Cemetery Building // 1940

By the early 1900s, metropolitan Boston’s demands for freshwater began exceed its supply, causing the state legislature to look for other sources of water to supply the metro’s population growth. A 1922 study endorsed the Swift River Valley (Quabbin area) as the best location for a new reservoir that could supply Massachusetts with fresh water, but there was one issue, there were towns and people living there. To create the Quabbin Reservoir, the depressed land would need to be flooded, this required over 80,000 acres of land to be purchased or seized by eminent domain by 1938. Four towns: Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott were disincorporated and their excess land not flooded was added to surrounding municipalities. In total, an estimated 2,500 residents lost their homes as part of the flooding. Not all elements of the towns were destroyed, however. Town memorials and cemeteries in the four towns were moved to Quabbin Park Cemetery, in Ware, a short distance from the Quabbin Reservoir. Many other public buildings were moved intact to other locations (like those in Dorset, Vermont featured previously). In the over 80,000 acres that were flooded, the Commonwealth had to relocate an estimated 7,500 burials in over 35 cemeteries in these flooded towns. Bodies were removed from their respective locations, and intered in the new Quabbin Park Cemetery, built by the Commission in 1932 with grounds designed by landscape architect Arthur A. Shurcliff. An area for unknown graves and a memorial area at the entrance to the cemetery also contains public war monuments from the abandoned towns. This service building was added to the cemetery from designs by architect Frederick Kingsbury who died during its construction.

Unitarian Church of Barnstable // 1907

Early in the 17th century, the Rev. John Lothrop and his followers left England for these shores seeking religious independence. They settled first in Scituate and a few years later came to Barnstable, arriving in 1639. They constructed their first meetinghouse in 1646 on Coggins Pond, about a mile west of this church. Lothrop’s second dwelling in Barnstable is the current Public Library in town (featured previously). In the early 19th century there was considerable theological debate in the “churches of the standing order” in New England. Many churches actually split over this debate, the traditionalists becoming Congregationalists and the liberals becoming Unitarians. The Eastern Parish in town was thus occupied by the Unitarians. In 1836 the original meeting house was removed and a new, larger one was constructed. It was destroyed by fire in 1905, and planning began for a new church. The present edifice was dedicated in 1907, and was designed by architect Guy Lowell, the architect of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the New York County Courthouse. His traditional, Classical designs were featured in publications all over the country. This church in the Classical Revival style is one of the finest on Cape Cod.

Woodstock Town Hall and Police Station // 1936

Buildings of New England hits the road! Occasionally, I like to explore and learn about towns and villages in places outside of New England, and one place that has always piqued my interest is Ulster County, NY. One of the more well-known towns in Ulster County is Woodstock, an absolutely vibrant and charming village in the mountains. The first European settlers in the Town of Woodstock were Dutch, along with a few Palatine Germans, who established farms on the fertile land. The town saw some industrial development along Sawkill Creek, but experienced substantial building growth in the early 20th century after the area attracted artists of all types to the area. The village saw population growth which necessitated new city facilities like a town hall and police station. In 1936, construction began on a combined town hall office and police station for the village, in the midst of the Great Depression (possibly using New Deal funds?) The Colonial Revival style building exhibits brick construction with corner quoins, Classical elements like the pediment and columned portico, and a cupola. The only notable alteration since its construction is the infill of the former fire station doors.

Lounsbury House // 1896

One of the (many) stately homes on Ridgefield’s Main Street, this massive Neo-Classical mansion is also among the most visited in Fairfield County. Lounsbury House was built in 1896 by former Connecticut Governor Phineas C. Lounsbury. While attending the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Governor Lounsbury was so taken by the Connecticut State Building that he built a replica to serve as his family home. The Connecticut State Building was designed by Waterbury-based architect, Warren R. Briggs at a cost of $112,000! Gov. Lounsbury loved this house, which he named “Grovelawn” until his death in 1925. After his death, his heirs were unable to maintain the massive home, and it started to decay. The Town of Ridgefield did not want to see the mansion demolished, and in an early example of historic preservation, the town purchased Lounsbury House in 1945. A school was built behind and nearly ten years later, the home was leased to the The Ridgefield Veterans’ Memorial Community Association. The home is now managed by a board and rented for weddings and community events.

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!