Located near the banks of Leach Pond in Borderlands State Park, this handsome stone structure set the style for one of the most iconic and beautiful buildings in Easton, the Ames Mansion. The one-story concrete and stone structure was designed and constructed under the supervision of Blanche Ames, and may have been a prototype for the construction technique used in the Ames Mansion, built just years later. Blanche was an amazing woman. She was an artist, political activist, inventor, writer, and prominent supporter of women’s suffrage and birth control. In 1900, she married Harvard University botany professor Oakes Ames (no relation). She took the married name Blanche Ames Ames. She illustrated her husband’s botanical research on orchids, and later got involved in designing the family’s country retreat. Originally designed as a warming hut during hunting season, this lodge was originally minimally designed with exposed stone walls. In the 1930s, the lodge was renovated to contain a living space, a kitchen, and a bedroom. When the Commonwealth of Massachusetts acquired the Ames Estate in the 1970s for a state park, the Lodge was restored to its original condition. The hunting lodge is open to the elements and the public, who can warm themselves in one of the two six-foot fireplaces.
Lancaster isn’t known as a town of summer retreats, but there are a handful of gorgeous historic summer houses built for urban residents of Boston and Worcester to escape the hustle-and-bustle of city life and to take in the natural Massachusetts scenery. One of these houses is the Mary Johnson House, built in 1910. When Mary E. Johnson mapped plans for her summer mansion to be built in 1909, her husband had been dead for 14 years.The Norwegian-born Iver Johnson was a successful businessman. He made guns, bicycles and motorcycles for many years in Worcester and Fitchburg. Iver Johnson firearms gained some notoriety when they were used in assassinations in the United States of President William McKinley and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and in an attempt on the life of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Johnson firearms were also issued to all the Moscow mounted police in Russia in 1907 – 10 years before the Russian Revolution. The Arts and Crafts mansion built for Iver’s widow was designed by Herbert Langford Warren, founder of the School of Architecture at Harvard University. She died in 1915 and the property was taken over by the McAlister-Hawk School, a prestigious preparatory school for boys. In 1934, the school was sold to Dr. Franklin Perkins, who moved what was originally known as the Hillbrow School in Newton to Lancaster. The school, renamed in Dr. Perkins’ honor, occupied the 120-acre Johnson estate, serving children with developmental disabilities and emotional and mental health needs.
The Grange, officially named The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, is a social organization that encourages families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture. Grange Halls can be found in rural towns and villages all over New England, and historically served as a gathering place to discuss agriculture-based business, crops, trade, and issues faced in the community. The Rochester Grange Hall was constructed in 1924 to the designs of architects Brown and Poole of New Bedford, MA and is of the Craftsman style. The National Grange has sharply declined in membership since the late 19th century. In 2013, the Grange signed on to a letter to Congress calling for the doubling of legal immigration and legalization for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. The Grange now emphasizes an expansion in the H-2A visa program to increase legal immigration and address the crisis-level labor shortage in agriculture.
Craftsman bungalows are a rarity in New England. The Craftsman style surged in the early 1900s, which coincided with the ever-popular Colonial Revival styles reign as most commonly built house style. Many of the Craftsmans that were built are less “ornate” than the West Coast counterparts, lacking deep exposed rafters, sweeping porches, and low-pitched roofs, but they are out there. This bungalow in Rochester was built around 1910 and has some Colonial qualities, including the Tuscan columns, boxed eaves, and shingle siding. I do love that full-length porch and hipped roof with a cute centered dormer! Do you wish we had more Craftsmans in New England?
The Sippican Tennis Club in Marion, Massachusetts, was established in 1908 for the purpose of athletic exercise and a place for social gatherings in town. Historically, the town’s population surged in the summer months when wealthy city residents would flock here and stay in their waterfront mansions for a few months a year. The large hipped roof rectangular building was constructed just before the club opened in 1908, and it is flanked by eight tennis courts. Charles Allerton Coolidge, a principal in the well known firm, Shepley Rutan and Coolidge, was one of the original shareholders as well as the architect for the building. He also was a summer resident himself (his home was previously featured). The building is constructed of concrete and features paired, tapered columns which run the perimeter of the structure, supporting a deep porch. The broad elliptical arch and exposed rafters add to the Craftsman style flair of the building.
A Roman Catholic parish was established in the South Coast/Cape Cod area by 1830 in Sandwich, where a large glass company employed a number of Irish immigrants. Over the course of the 19th century, several mission churches were established, and eventually a second parish, St. Patrick’s, was established in Wareham in 1911. Soon after, a mission was established in nearby Marion to serve the summertime Catholic community there. A parcel of land was acquired by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Fall River and they hired architect Matthew Sullivan to furnish plans for the small church. Matthew Sullivan (1868–1948) trained in the office of Edmund M. Wheelwright, Boston City Architect (1891-1894). Sullivan succeeded Wheelwright as City Architect and served in that position from 1895 to 1901, when he became a junior partner in the firm of Maginnis, Walsh and Sullivan, which was widely known for its ecclesiastical work, where he too specialized in religious buildings. St. Rita’s Roman Catholic Church is an example of an early 20th century chapel in the Craftsman style, characterized by eaves marked by long projecting rafter tails and a bold entry framed by Tuscan columns.
The Rye Beach Club is located right on Rye Beach, one of New Hampshire’s most upscale seaside communities, one whose history as a fashionable summer resort dates back to the 1840s. The Beach Club was established in 1925 in the decade after the First World War as the nation was experiencing a social transformation fueled by the postwar boom of the “Roaring Twenties”. As automobile ownership rates increased by the 1920s, the average motorist was no longer dependent upon schedules and the fixed routes of streetcars, railroads and steamboats. As one early historian of American recreation noted tongue-in-cheek, “The wealthy could make the fashionable tour in 1825, the well-to-do built up summer resorts of the 1890s, but every Tom, Dick and Harry toured the country in the 1930s.” As a result, many wealthy communities created private, exclusive recreation and social clubs where they would not be forced to mingle with the “average” American. Rye Beach residents formed the Rye Beach Club in 1925, which comprises of a rubblestone building with various wood-frame additions.
Echoing some design motifs from the nearby Gahm House (last post), this home showcases the Tudor Revival style, but mixed with Arts and Crafts and Colonial Revival details. Adapted from a house built in the 1850s, the home was enlarged in 1906, from plans by Andrews, Jaques and Rantoul an architectural firm of wide acclaim. Adolph Ehrlich (1868-1952) and Marion Ratchesky Ehrlich (1877-1966) had the home built as a refuge from the hustle-and-bustle of busy Boston. Adolph was born in Boston and at the age of 11, began work in the textile business. He climbed the ranks and became a partner in a clothing company before becoming director of the Jordan Marsh Department Store Company from 1925 until his death in 1952. His wife Marion was heavily involved in social causes until her death, including the Louisa May Alcott Club, a settlement house in Boston for young, predominantly immigrant girls.
On a busy road in Oak Hill Village in Newton, Massachusetts, I saw this house which appeared as if it was built for a different use. After searching historic maps, I found it was originally home to the Oak Hill Evangelical Society, as a rural chapel. The chapel served as a local religious gathering place for the handful of families who lived around this section of Oak Hill and did not desire to travel to nearby villages to worship. The practitioners had money, and hired the Boston architectural firm of Cooper and Bailey, who designed many stunning civic and institutional buildings in New England. With the proliferation of the personal automobile, locals would later be able to travel to nearby churches easier, and this building was sold to a member, who converted it to residential use, which it has been used as to this day. The building is an excellent example of the Arts and Crafts architectural style with the raised rubblestone foundation, flared eaves with exposed rafters, and shingle siding which flares where it meets the foundation.
The Curtis School for Boys was founded in 1875 in Bethlehem, Connecticut by Frederick S. Curtis as a private school for young men aged 9-13. Curtis moved the school to Brookfield Center in 1883 and began constructing a campus. Buildings for the 30 pupils and five instructors included a dormitory, President’s residence, schoolhouse, caretaker’s cottage, and gymnasium on 50 acres. The school never expanded beyond a few dozen students, likely under Frederick Curtis’ supervision. The school closed in 1943, at the onset of America’s involvement in WWII, and it never re-opened. The campus sat in the village center for over a decade, with many of the buildings falling to the wrecking ball for safety reasons. Possibly the only building remaining is the 1907 gymnasium, constructed of rubblestone. The building was purchased by the Brookfield Country Players in 1959 and remodeled as a community theater. The theater group was founded two years prior, and it required its own theater space after a school complained about an actor appearing on stage without a shirt, the horror! The group remains a regional institution in the arts and is a great caretaker of their historic Arts and Crafts style building.