This vernacular cottage in Noank was built in phases (and likely added onto from other historic buildings) since 1860. While the building dates to the 1860s, its significance derives from a later owner, Ms. Katherine Forrest. Katherine Forrest (1883-1952) was a graphic designer and part of the Arts & Crafts movement of the early 1900s. She specialized in textile design and printmaking. Forrest came to Noank in 1914 and purchased her house in 1926. She was locally known by the nickname ‘Speedy’ and was remembered for dying textiles in a bathtub outside the house. The building’s vernacular character and its significance as a locally historic site as part of the village’s rebirth as an artist colony in the 20th century showcases how even smaller, unpretentious buildings in New England can tell a story.
Arts and Crafts
Talitha Cumi Home // 1912
One thing I love about Boston is that nearly every old building has such a rich history that takes so much time to compile and write up (this account keeps me busy)! Located on Forest Hills Street in Jamaica Plain, this stucco building caught my attention when driving by, so much so, that I had to stop and go back. The building was constructed in 1912 as a home for unwed mothers called Talitha Cumi Home (a phrase from the Bible meaning “Arise, young woman”). The charitable organization outgrew their space in the South End and sought greener pastures and open space in Jamaica Plain. The group had been organized in 1836 by “earnest Christian women” who longed to open a “door of hope” to “those hopeless and helpless girls who found themselves facing the sadness and shame and wrong of unwed motherhood.” The Talitha Cumi Home allowed pregnant women to reside and birth their children before their pregnancy began to show. The site originally included an administration building and a hospital with both structures connected by a covered breezeway. The home closed in the 1950s and the former home for unwed mothers has since been converted to a middle school.
Oliver Johnson House // 1905
Prairie style architecture is not nearly as common in New England as it is in the Mid-western United States. The style was almost always seen in early 20th century residential designs and is characterized by horizontality, low slope roofs, overhanging eaves, and open interior floor plans. This New England vernacular version of the Prairie style employs some Arts and Crafts influence with Tuscan columned porch and wood frame construction, rather than the more bulky and bold use of brick and stone. This residence sits on a busy state route in the sleepy town of Franklin, Connecticut. This house appears to have been built for Oliver Johnson who was about seventy by the time the house was built. Do you know of any other Prairie Style houses in New England?
Wilkinson House // 1908
Waban Village in Newton, Massachusetts has dozens of amazing examples of early 20th century residential architecture, possibly the best collection in the Boston area! This Arts and Crafts style residence was built around 1908 for William and Delia Wilkinson the former of the two owned the William H. Wilkinson Company, which manufactured oiling devices and oil cups for steam engines. Delia, his wife, owned their family home under her name. The home is an excellent example of the Craftsman style, with stucco siding, thick rounded column supporting the inset porch, oh and that catslide roof!!
Bauckman House // 1915
The Arts & Crafts movement in architecture provided some of the most stunning and well-designed properties of the early 20th century but sadly, there are not too many examples here in New England. When I find some, I always get excited and pull over to snap a photo! This home on busy Beacon Street in Waban, Newton, was built in 1915 for Harry W. Bauckman a salesman in Boston. The designs are credited to architect James G. Hutchinson, who specialized in Arts & Crafts and Tudor style buildings in the area. The Bauckman House is Foursquare in form which basically segments the house into four, large rooms on each floor with a stairhall in the center. The home is clad with banded shingles which extend to the piers at the porch, a subtle nod to Shingle style architecture. SWOON! I was later informed by a follower that this was also the home of landscape historian and author Judith Tankard for some time.
James H. Gardner House // 1923
My favorite part about the Boston suburbs is the sheer number of well-preserved early 20th century residences. The collection of Colonial Revival, Tudor, and Arts and Crafts style houses found in Waban Village, Newton, are among my favorites. This two-story stucco-clad house enclosed by a slate gable roof with exposed rafter ends was built in 1923 from designs by architect Harry Morton Ramsay. Ramsay was hired to design dozens of middle-upper class houses in Newton during its period of rapid development in the early 20th century. The original owner was James H. Gardner, who lived here with his family and a maid for a couple decades.
Harry Gregg House // c.1910
Harry A. Gregg, was the son of David Gregg, a lumber dealer and wooden goods manufacturer who built a mansion in Wilton’s East Village. Harry followed in his father’s footsteps, running the day-to-day business out of their Nashua, NH offices. With a lot of spare money, Gregg purchased pastoral land in Wilton Center and built a summer residence which may have also served as a gentleman’s farm. The Arts and Crafts style home showcases the best in the style with rubblestone, shingles, organic forms and exposed rafters. The house is pretty perfect!
East Freetown Grange // 1916
The East Freetown Grange is a community organization founded in 1912, as a meeting place for the local chapter of The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. Granges have been the heart of rural American communities for generations. The home of local chapters of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, Grange Halls are where farmers have traditionally gathered to learn new agricultural practices, develop strategic business partnerships, and barter for goods and services. Grange Halls also serve as a gathering place for community celebrations and annual agricultural fairs. These social halls can be found in agricultural towns and villages all over New England, and historically have been as important (or more) to farming communities as churches in those areas. Within years of the East Freetown forming an organization, they gathered enough funding to erect this Arts and Crafts style building, with rustic fieldstone piers, likely from stone pulled off farmland nearby. The hall is still used today for everything from agriculture fairs to Girl Scout meetings!
Union Church of Waban // 1912
In 1904, residents of the newly established village of Waban in Newton, Mass., began meeting with the hope to establish a non-denominational church there. As the population of the village grew rapidly in the first decade of the 20th century, funding surged and it was determined that a place of worship was necessary. William C. Strong, a Waban resident and well-known horticulturist, donated the land from his large holdings, many of which was already being developed for house lots. The church building, designed by Boston architect James H. Ritchie, had its cornerstone laid in November 1911. Construction followed rapidly and the building was formally dedicated in September, 1912. The building follows the Arts and Crafts movement, especially Ralph Adams Cram’s revival of the English parish church.
William C. Strong House // 1907
In 1875, William C. Strong, a nurseryman from Brighton, MA, purchased the 93-acre Staples-Craft farm in Newton. He established a large nursery on the grounds and promoted construction of the Circuit Railroad, which connected the rural section of Newton to the Boston and Albany rail line in 1886, thus establishing the village of Waban. Due in great measure to the efforts of Strong and other developers, Newton’s youngest village grew rapidly as the once isolated farm area gave way to a vibrant suburban community. He built commercial structures and people began to flock to the village, for the new housing and easy-access into Boston by rail. Strong had a house built by architect Herbert Langford Warren in 1896 and lived there for years before having this house built in 1907, when William was 83 years old. The house was occupied by Strong for just a couple years until he moved away to Manhattan. The Arts and Crafts style home was purchased by Esther Saville Davis.