Located next door to the Frederick Colony House (last post), the George Whiting House in Wilton, New Hampshire perfectly compliments the Victorian house lined street. George Whiting was the son of David Whiting, a businessman and developer in town. George worked in his family business, as a milk dealer and “contractor” for the family farm. The house he built in Wilton is a blending of Stick and Queen Anne styles, with SOOO much detail.
David Whiting (1810-1892) was one of the most prominent men in Wilton, NH in the 19th century. He was involved in local business and politics, eventually using his prominent land at a convergence on Main Street to erect the Whiting House, a large hotel. The building burned down in 1874, along with his other buildings nearby. He donated some of the land to the town, who built the present Town Hall, and he built a new home on another part of the site. This house was likely built for David Whiting as his own residence, shortly after the fire. The house was designed in the fashionable Stick style and represents the best in Victorian-era architecture.
Sumner Hill in Jamaica Plain, Boston, is home to the most amazing Victorian-era homes in Boston. This elaborate house was built in 1884 for Walter Herbert Miller, a piano dealer and his wife, Mary Alice. The home exhibits asymmetry, porches with turned posts, a brick chimney facing the street, and the use of wood clapboards and shingle siding, adding intrigue. Starting around 1919, the home was rented by Judith Winsor Smith (1821-1921) a women’s suffrage activist, social reformer, and abolitionist until her death two years later. She was involved in the suffrage movement until the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920, when she voted for the first time at 99. Judith’s daughter Zilpha Smith also lived at the home with her mother until her own death in 1926. In her twenties, Zilpha volunteered alongside her mother, in relief efforts to care for victims of the Great Boston Fire of 1872; the experience led her towards a career in social work. Smith joined the Associated Charities of Boston as Head of the Office Staff in 1879 and later became its General Secretary. At that organization, she applied new theories about “charity organization.” The charity organization movement aimed to coordinate private agencies in order to use their resources efficiently to ameliorate urban poverty.
Tucked behind the St. John Episcopal Church in Sumner Hill, Boston, the Thomas Sherwin House sits atop the peak of the hill, and likely has views of downtown Boston from its upper floor. The house was built in 1883 for Thomas Sherwin, an auditor, and possibly the man of the same name who was a Brigadier General in the American Civil War. The home was designed by the powerhouse architectural firm of Ware & Van Brunt and spans two major architectural styles of the period; Stick style and Queen Anne. The home is one of the best examples in the neighborhood and is very well preserved!
Eli Longley (1762-1839) came to Waterford, Maine by way of Bolton, Mass., in 1789 and erected a log cabin in town. As the first settler to build in this part of town, he owned a substantial piece of property, which was frequently travelled through as the area was being developed. Seeing a need for lodging, he built a one-story tavern in the location of this building, which was added onto and modified as demand and the area’s population grew. Longley would also subdivide some of his land for house lots along the new town common, selling to new settlers as they arrived. Longley sold the tavern in 1817, which was acquired later in 1847 by Dr. Calvin Farrar. Taking advantage of a nearby mineral spring, Dr. Farrar opened a successful hydropathic spa, which used natural waters to cure patients of their ailments. The spa was taken over by Dr. William P. Shattuck, who expanded the site as the “Maine Hygienic Institute”, a hospital exclusively for lady patients employing eclectic treatment. This business and the tourism it generated helped shift the town from a sleepy village to a tourist destination by the late 19th century, where city-dwellers would flock to view the natural scenery and breathe in the clean air. In the 1860s-70s, Shattuck “modernized” the Lake House Hotel with the two-story Victorian-era porch and sawn decorative trim.
In 1870, the Annisquam Cotton Mill in Rockport, Massachusetts was sold at auction and acquired by a group of local investors and businessmen. One of those men was G. P. Whitman, who served as a local agent for the reorganized firm. Whitman built this home just a short walk to the mill, which stands prominently in the village. The home is a great example of the Stick style, using some Italianate forms and detailing. The Annisquam Mill saw less than ideal revenue as in 1877, it was announced that the workers would get a cut in pay to avoid closing the mill. G. P. Whitman realized the threat of fire to woolen mills, and operated a fire station nearby. Sadly, in 1883, a fire destroyed much of the mill, even with local fire companies doing their best. A portion of the mill and the old Whitman House stand as lasting remnants of the Annisquam Cotton Mill Company in Rockport.
One thing about Victorian-era houses that I love so much is the fact that it’s so rare to find two houses that are the same! The uniqueness and detail is just amazing and stalking these homes never gets old! This 1886 beauty was built as a double-house for Stephen Cummings of Norway, Maine. Cummings was a member of the family which built many of the grand homes in town as they ran a woodworking and carpentry company. Architect John B. Hazen designed the Stick style home with a octagonal bay at the facade, capped by a tower, giving the home a sort of pagoda effect.
TOOT TOOT! Next stop, Willington, Connecticut. Historically, all of central Connecticut was occupied by various Algonquin tribes which for thousands of years inhabited the region, the larger Pequot and Mohegan, and the smaller Nipmuck, Podunk, Shenipset and Skunkamaug all sharing a common-lineage, and language. In 1720, a party of eight men, originally from England, bought 16,000 acres of the region and called it Wellington after the town in England. Willington was incorporated in 1727. Like many early towns, Willington began as a farming community with modest industry until the 19th century, when the American Industrial Revolution saw mills and factories sprouting up all along the river towns in the region. Villages spouted up in town, mostly following their geographic location in relation to the town center (South Willington, West Willington, etc.) and each had their own industry and character. By the 20th century with industry in decline, many of the former mills and villages closed up and residents moved to “greener pastures”. The town is today mostly rural and serves as a suburb to larger towns nearby.
This train depot is located in West Willington just over the town line of Tolland. Due to this, the depot was originally named Tolland Station. Rail service began here in 1850, when the New London, Willimantic and Palmer Railroad Company built a freight and passenger station near this location. The rail line was later absorbed into the larger Central Vermont Railway in 1871. The original depot burned down in 1894, and was replaced that same year by this structure. The line, and this station, were in use for passenger service until 1947, when it closed. The depot has luckily been occupied by businesses ever-since, preserving this building typology in America that we are losing every year.
John Noble Alsop Griswold (1822-1909) was born into wealth, with his family business involved in land speculation in New York as well as the N. L. & G. Griswold Company, which imported sugar and rum from the Caribbean on clipper ships. In his 20s, John traveled to China for a trade and within a year of that trip, was appointed United States consul at Shanghai, serving in that role until 1854. Upon his return to America, he helped develop several prominent railroads, serving as president of the Illinois Central Railroad and chairman of the board of directors of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. He eventually settled in Newport and helped shape the sleepy town into a summer resort town for high-society. His statement-piece in town was his own mansion on Bellevue Avenue, built in 1863 from designs by Richard Morris Hunt, and completed that next year. It was the first of Hunt’s many notable works in Newport, and is considered a prototype work of the Stick style of architecture in America. Hunt would go on to design Ochre Court, The Breakers, and other Gilded Age mansions in Newport and all over the northeast. Griswold died in the house in 1909; it remained vacant until 1915, when it was acquired by the Art Association of Newport, which now uses it as a museum gallery. I really want to see the inside of this beauty!
Bellevue Avenue in Newport is best-known for its massive summer cottages, many of which are built of stone and look more like art museums than a house. “Rest Haven” is one of the most stunning summer cottages in Newport and can stand toe-to-toe with the later mansions which neighbor it. The Stick style cottage was built in 1870 as a spec. house for merchant and financier John N.A. Griswold, who had his own cottage farther up the street (last post). Similar to his own house, he hired world-renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt to design the house, which was to be sold soon after completion for a profit to Anna Gilbert of New York, a wealthy widow who wanted to keep up with high-society in Newport. Anna Gilbert’s son, Charles Pierrepont Gilbert, was a New York architect who trained at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. He and his wife, Clara, summered at Resthaven until 1916. The home was likely renamed “Le Chalet” by a subsequent owner. The cottage was altered over the years, but restored a number of years ago by Newport Collaborative Architects and Behan Bros, and looks stunning!