Hawthorn Hill Estate // 1903

The only estate in Lancaster that can rival the Nathaniel Thayer Estate in size and grandeur is the OTHER Thayer estate, built for Bayard Thayer. Sitting on over 55 acres of forests and gentle rolling fields, Hawthorn Hill is one of the most impressive mansions in Central Massachusetts. The property is so secluded that I had to rely on real estate photos to share! The listings mention that there are over 40 bedrooms and 27 bathrooms… Bayard Thayer (1862-1916) is the grandson of Nathaniel Thayer, Unitarian minister of the First Church of Christ in Lancaster and son of Nathaniel Thayer, a banker. When his brother was willed the family estate (featured previously) after the death of their father, Bayard used the opportunity to build a modern estate high upon a hill in town. The mansion was built in 1903-1904 under the direction of Guy Lowell, a renowned Boston architect of the time. In 1907-1908, Little and Browne were commissioned for landscape alterations and in 1914-15, Ogden Codman Jr. was commissioned to renovate the interiors. Bayard died one year later, and the property remained in the family until around WWII. In 1953, the property was acquired by the Boston Cenacle Society, who added a massive dormitory addition to the building. Recent plans were unveiled to subdivide the land and build house lots on half the estate, which gives me mixed feelings.

Hampshire House // 1911

Built in 1911 as a single-family home for Bayard and Ruth Thayer, this building on Beacon Street is one of the most visited in the city (I will get to that later). The four-story home replaced two large townhomes across from the Public Garden and was designed by New York based architect, Ogden Codman, Jr., who was born in Boston into the esteemed Codman family. Bayard Thayer died within five years of the completion of the house, and his widow, Ruth, and their children continued to occupy the massive residence into the 1930s. By 1944, the home was being used as a lodging house, a violation, and it was sold two years later to a realty company who operated apartment houses. From this time the house functioned as a residential hotel known as the Hampshire House. In 1969, Thomas Kershaw acquired the property and kept its name, which it retains today. In the same year they opened the Bull & Finch Pub in the basement, which in 1982 became famous world-wide as the locale for the bar in the television sitcom Cheers, one of the most-watched programs in television history. Pictures of the exterior of the building were used in the show’s credits and scene changes, and the interior was faithfully replicated in a set used in Hollywood. The building is now habitually swarmed by locals trying to get to drink in a piece of cultural history.