Wilton Town Hall and Theater // 1885

Welcome to Wilton, New Hampshire! With a population less than 4,000, the tiny New England town sure packs a lot of old buildings into its borders. The town was first part of a township chartered as “Salem-Canada” in 1735, by Colonial Governor Jonathan Belcher of Massachusetts, which then claimed this area. The land here was granted to soldiers from Salem, Massachusetts, who had served in 1690 under Sir William Phips in the war against Canada. “Salem-Canada” was one of the towns on the state’s border intended to provide protection against attack from native tribes. In 1762, residents of the town petitioned New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth to incorporate the town as Wilton, likely named after Wilton, England. The town prospered as a sleepy farming town, largely concentrated around Wilton Center. By the 1860s, the village of East Wilton developed around the Souhegan River, with mills and businesses centered there. The town decided to relocate their town hall “closer to the action”. Land was acquired on a triangular piece of land in the center of the village, which was recently cleared by the destruction of Whiting House, a hotel that formerly occupied the site. The architectural firm of Merrill & Cutler of Lowell, MA, were hired to design the building, which blends Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne styles perfectly on the difficult site, opening in 1885. Silent movies were first shown in the auditorium in 1912 and by the 1930s, the auditorium was used most often as a movie theater. A large part of the building has since been occupied as a theater for the community.

Frederick E. Parlin Memorial Library // 1894

The Frederick E. Parlin Memorial Library is arguably the most architecturally significant building in the City of Everett, Massachusetts. Constructed of buff brick, sandstone and terracotta, it displays characteristics of the Richardsonian Romanesque style including the main entrance set within a recessed arch at the base of a square tower with arched openings. In 1892, Albert Norton Parlin, a local businessman, donated to the City of Everett the Pickering Estate, his birthplace and familial home, to be torn down and a library erected on the parcel in memory of his son, Frederick E. Parlin, who died in 1890 at the age of eighteen. Albert Parlin gave to the City an additional $5,000 to aid in the building of the Frederick E. Parlin Memorial Library. The original 1894 library as well as a 1911-1912 addition were designed by local architect John Calvin Spofford who positioned the building to face a small triangular park. By the 1940’s, the building was outgrown, but it wasn’t until 1982 that a plan was set in motion to renovate the original building and to construct an addition. Childs, Bertman, Tseckares was chosen to draw up the architectural plans, and ground was finally broken in the spring of 1990. With construction of the new addition, the building is almost three times its original size and handicapped accessible, all with an appropriate, Post-Modern design.

Ames Gate Lodge // 1880

In 1880, twenty years after Frederick L. Ames built his rural estate “Langwater”, he felt the need to give the property more rural character, especially given the close proximity to the Ames Shovel Works. Emulating old European estates with gatehouses, Ames hired star-chitect Henry Hobson Richardson, to design a gate lodge at the entrance to his property, fitting of one of the richest men in Massachusetts. Richardson’s design for the gate lodge was oriented longitudinally and is bisected by the arched entry to the estate. The large room on the left was intended to serve as a storeroom for flowering plants, and the two-story portion had a caretaker’s residence on the lower floor and a “bachelor hall” for men’s socializing and spill-over bedroom. The building uses glacial boulders found on the expansive grounds and older stone walls, with trim of Longmeadow brownstone. The bright red terracotta roof contrasts boldly with the rough stone walls. The building is one of the most beautiful structures I have seen, but can be difficult to photograph without trespassing. Ugh!

Hopedale Town Hall // 1886

In 1886, when the Town of Hopedale was incorporated, George Draper (who basically created the town for his company) bankrolled $40,000 for the design and construction of a town hall building for the new town. This Richardsonian Romanesque building was built of local Milford granite with brownstone trim. The town hall building was designed by architect Frederick Swasey and was intended to always house two commercial spaces at the ground floor. To the right of the storefronts is the entry to the town hall, which is framed by an entry arch with engaged colonettes. Before the building was completed, George Draper died, and the building was officially donated to the town by his heirs.

Acton Memorial Library // 1889

In 1888, William Allan Wilde, a Boston publisher who grew up in Acton, purchased land on Main Street to be used as the site for a new memorial library, in “memory of those brave and patriotic men of Acton who so freely gave Time, Strength and Health, and many of them their Lives in the war of the Rebellion, 1861-65.” The former Fletcher Homestead which was located here, was moved to a nearby street. The Richardsonian Romanesque building was designed by the Boston architectural firm of Hartwell and Richardson. The building displays traditional Romanesque materials with its brick wall surfaces, brownstone and terra cotta trim and detailing, and slate roof. The large Syrian arched entry is a hallmark in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, which works extremely well with this design.

Burnside Memorial Hall // 1883

Located on Hope Street in Bristol, the Burnside Memorial Hall stands out as an elaborate, poly-chromed, two-story Richardsonian Romanesque public building. The Town of Bristol required a new town hall, and hired Worcester-based architect Stephen C. Earle to design the new structure. Earle’s program was to combine a town hall with a memorial to Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, Civil War hero, thrice governor of Rhode Island, and later United States senator, who died in 1881. The centerpiece of Burnside Memorial Hall was to be a statue of the general on its porch, long since removed from the building. Bristol town offices were removed from the building in 1969, and shifted to a bland building attached at the rear, Burnside Hall now serves purely as a memorial. Fun Fact: Burnside was noted for his unusual beard, joining strips of hair in front of his ears to his mustache but with the chin clean-shaven; the word burnsides was coined to describe this style. The syllables were later reversed to give the name we know today as “sideburns”!

Burlington Masonic Temple // 1898

This large, imposing brick structure across from the Unitarian Church in Burlington, Vermont, was built in 1898 as the state headquarters of the Grand Lodge of Vermont, Free and Accepted Masons. Masonry, also known as Freemasonry, is the oldest and largest fraternity in the world, and they erected architectural landmarks in cities and towns all over the globe. At the end of the 19th century, the Masons in Vermont wanted a large new headquarters to host events and meetings for those visiting from all over. The building was designed by John McArthur Harris of Wilson Brothers & Company of Philadelphia at the time the firm was working on major buildings for the UVM campus. Above the retail use at the ground floor for rental income, multiple floors of meeting and banquet rooms, parlors, library, offices, and regalia spaces culminated in a fifth-floor assembly hall surrounded on three sides by a sixth-floor gallery. At the roof, the gables, along with small hipped dormers, animate a great hipped roof that evokes the symbolic Masonic pyramid. The massive roof, round arches, and a striking stair-step side elevation give the building a purely Richardsonian character, minus the carved sandstone and monumental arches.

Flour and Grain Exchange Building // 1892

One of my favorite buildings in Boston (and always dressed up with a big red ribbon for the holidays) is the Flour and Grain Exchange Building in Downtown Boston. The third Boston Chamber of Commerce was incorporated in 1884 to promote just and equitable principles of trade, solve disputes between members and acquire and disseminate information related to mercantile interests. There was, however, a feeling among the members that the organization could not attain its full stature until it had a building of its own, one that would be both an ornament to the city and a credit to itself. In 1889, a triangular site was donated to the organization by members, who then hired prominent Boston architectural firm, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, the successor to Henry Hobson Richardson‘s practice. It appears the firm was inspired by H.H. Richardson’s F. L. Ames Wholesale Store which was built nearby just years before. The steel-frame building is constructed of rough hewn Milford granite pierced with engaged columns and arched openings, both common in Richardsonian Romanesque buildings. The prominent corner at Milk and India Streets features a rounded corner tower with conical roof, surrounded by a crown of dormers. The building was restored by owners Beal Properties in the late 1980s who own it to this day.

North Easton Savings Bank and Post Office // 1904

Located across the street from the Oakes Ames Memorial Hall and the Ames Free Library, the North Easton Savings Bank and Post Office building perfectly compliments the Romanesque Revival motif seen in the village. The building was constructed in 1904 in a Richardsonian Romanesque design with rough-faced granite ashlar walls with brownstone trim. The three-bay front façade contains centered entrances recessed behind a wide brownstone arch in the signature Richardsonian manner. The building was designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, a Boston-based architectural firm which grew out of Henry Hobson Richardson’s office, where they completed many of Richardson’s unfinished works after his death.

Ames Free Library // 1883

The Ames Free Library first opened its doors in 1883. Under the terms of the will of Oliver Ames II, $50,000, in trust, was left for the construction and support of a library for the benefit of the inhabitants Easton. The library was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson in 1877 and opened in 1883, becoming one of the finest public libraries in the region. The library is built of Milford granite with the same Longmeadow trim used on his famous Trinity Church in Boston. The very low cavernous arch over the doorway was used here by Richardson for the first time and became one of the most prominent and widely imitated characteristics of his style.