Located in downtown Millbury, MA, the town’s local post office stands as a great example of Art Deco and Colonial Revival architecture styles, showing how well different styles can be incorporated into a single, complimentary design. The Millbury Post Office building was constructed in 1940 from plans by Louis Adolph Simon, who served as Supervising Architect in the Office of the Supervising Architect for the U.S. Treasury from 1933 until 1939, when the office was moved to the Public Works Administration / Works Progress Administration. The post office was designed at the tail end of the New Deal programs to help stimulate local economies by building infrastructure and providing jobs to locals. Inside, a mural “An Incident in the King Philip’s War, 1670” was painted by Joe Lasker and installed in 1941 and was “revivified” in 1991.
In western Millbury, the Grass Hill school was constructed to provide a place of learning for children in the agricultural section of town. The district school, a remnant of the system of autonomous school districts that characterized the educational system of Massachusetts in the 19th century, this is a larger example of many of them. West Millbury had many wealthy farmers and they financed a district school here as far back as 1814. After two earlier, smaller school buildings, this two-story school was erected and was one of the most substantial. At one time, students in eight grades taught there, all at the same time, with grades 1-4 downstairs and 5-8 upstairs. As there weren’t many students, each grade only took up one or two rows. The building remained as a school for the town until 1968, and the building was leased to the Millbury Historical Society long term. They just completed a massive restoration project for the building, it looks great!
This historic house in West Millbury, Massachusetts, began in the end of the 18th century as a one-and-a-half-story wood-frame farmhouse. By 1810, the home was rotated 90 degrees and a more substantial, two-story brick house was constructed facing the street. The Federal style home was owned by Thaddeus Hall (1779-1855), and after his death, it was owned by his son, Orson Eddy Hall, who possibly rented the property for income while he resided in New Orleans and ran the iconic St. Charles Hotel there. The property was later acquired by Willard Balcom and remained in the family. Oh what I wouldn’t do to see the paint come off this old brick house!!
It’s not everyday that I get a chuckle when writing about a building, but I present the Billy Bottomore House… This well-kept Federal home in Newport was apparently built pre-Revolution, but it was likely significantly altered in the early 1800s for its namesake, William “Billy” Bottomore. “Billy” was born in Bologna, Italy, and moved to Salem, MA, where he possibly met Michele Felice Cornè, a prolific painter and who is credited in making tomatoes mainstream… seriously. In early 19th century New England tomatoes were thought to be deadly poison. Cornè was accustomed to eating tomatoes in his native land of Italy and would regularly eat them without ill effect and, thus, allayed the fears of the residents of his adopted country. Cornè became friends with Bottomore and they both moved to Newport. Bottomore likely modernized this house with help from his friend and ran a confectionery store in the home.
Alfred Smith (1809-1886) was known as “Newport’s Millionaire Real Estate Agent”, working in the mid-late 19th century to get some of America’s most well-connected upper-class acquire properties to build their summer cottages. In his early days, he prospered by assisting prospective developers and buyers to purchase house lots on newly platted streets, including Bellevue Avenue. By the time of his marriage in 1843, he built this stunning Greek Revival mansion, equipped with stunning proportions and corner pilasters. Decades later, to “keep up with the Joneses”, he modernized the house by extending the eaves and adding brackets and the addition of a belvedere at the roof. He was instrumental in much of Newport’s later development, even bankrolling the erection of a stone bridge on Ocean Avenue, to allow carriages and subsequent developable lots to extend in the previously untouched land in south and west Newport. He suffered a stroke in 1886, and died a year later, two years after his late wife. He funded a monument to the family, hiring Augustus St. Gaudens to furnish a stunning memorial “Amor Caritas” which stands in Island Cemetery in Newport. Mr. Smith’s estate was mentioned in the New York Times and stated there was no will, and his four living children would each get upwards of $1 Million (nearly $30 Million a piece based on inflation today)!
Built by Benjamin Dyer for his son Thomas in 1756, this mansion is believed to be the oldest extant house in Canton, Connecticut. The most famous resident of the house was William Edgar Simonds (1842-1903) who married Sarah Jane Mills, a descendant of Dyer. Simonds was a prominent patent attorney who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroics at the Civil War battle of Irish Bend, Louisiana. After his military service, he attended Yale University, was admitted to the bar and commenced the practice of law in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1883 and 1885, he was a member of the Connecticut State Legislature. In 1889, he was elected as a Republican to the 51st US Congress served until 1891 and was a United States Commissioner of Patents (1891-93). He died at age 60 in Hartford, Connecticut.
The centerpiece of of Atlantic Union College‘s campus in Lancaster, Massachusetts, Founder’s Hall is significant not only for its architecture, but as the oldest educational building constructed for a Seventh-day Adventist school in the United States. The school was constructed in 1883 as South Lancaster Academy, the school was established Stephen N. Haskell, an elder of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church. Haskell financed the school by floating a stock issue of $75,000 among the 15,000 Adventists of the time. Wood for the building’s construction was cut locally and much of the labor to build it was donated without charge. The architectural firm of Barker and Nourse designed the Queen Anne/Stick style building. South Lancaster Academy changed names, first to Lancaster Junior College, and then to Atlantic Union College, the name which it retains today. The building is presently used as administrative offices.
The First Church of Christ in Lancaster, Massachusetts, (also known as the Bulfinch Church) is one of the finest Federal style religious buildings in America. The history of First Church goes back to the beginnings of the town of Lancaster in 1653. By Massachusetts law, a town could not be established without a church and a minister. First Church was founded as the official town church. The current building is the fifth of the congregation and was designed by Charles Bulfinch, who is regarded by many as the first native-born American to practice architecture as a profession. The church building is rectangular in plan with a projecting front section supporting a two-stage tower. At the facade, an arcaded and pedimented portico with three high openings with round-arch tops, frame three entry doors. The arches are separated by pilasters, which rise to an entablature and a fully enclosed gable pediment. The church is so pleasing to look at! To the side, the old horsesheds remain, where members would keep their horses during church services.
On the southern end of Center Village in Lancaster, MA, this gorgeous late-Federal style home holds a stately presence built into and atop a sloping hill. The home was built for Elias Danforth (1788-1868) in 1832 and has been so little-altered in the nearly 200 years since. The house features amazing full-length side porches with bold columns, an early sign of the emerging Greek Revival style. The home sold a couple years ago for just over $600,000, which is a STEAL for the location and high-quality house and interior. Wow!
Perched high on a hill, next to the Stone Church (featured previously), the old Stone School in Newmarket is one of a handful of iconic stone buildings in the town. Built in 1841, its stonework executed by William and Robert Channel, local farmers and stonemasons, who likely got their skill from building stone walls on farms. The building was used continuously as a school until 1966, when it was given to the Newmarket Historical Society, which now operates it as a local history museum.