Evans-Cummings House // 1855 & 1890

The most iconic house in Norway, Maine has to be the Evans-Cummings House (also known locally as the Gingerbread House) on Main Street. The ornate Victorian era home was originally built in 1855 for Richard Evans, who was born in Portland in 1805 and after training as a carpenter, moved to Norway in 1833 for work. He and his wife, Mary Warren Hill, had eight children and they resided in the home until their death. In 1890, Charles B. Cummings bought the house in 1890 and hired local architect John B. Hazen to remodel the house. Hazen added the gingerbread adornments for which the house is now known colloquially. The home attracted a lot of attention in the region, and the later heirs continued that whimsical appeal. When the home was willed to Fred and Cora Cummings, they were said to have kept a stuffed peacock at the top of the stairs, which delighted children when they toured the home. The house eventually became used as storage by the owners of the local Advertiser Democrat newspaper, and its future was threatened. Since 2012, a local group, Friends of the Gingerbread House, have poured tens of thousands of dollars and an equal amount of time restoring the iconic home to her former glory! Preservation is important!

Wrightstone // 1925

In the early 20th century, Norway, Maine and the surrounding towns were sought-after for their natural beauty with large lakes and rivers with untouched expanses of forest. Upper-middle class residents of Portland, Boston and other larger cities in New England built more rustic summer homes, compared to the elaborate “White Elephants” in Newport, Rhode Island. This home in Norway was named Wrightstone and was built in 1925 for the Wright Family. The U-shaped home is constructed from rubblestone, likely gathered from the land on which it sits. The house blends the Arts and Crafts movement with the uncommon (in Maine) Spanish Colonial Revival style, with the terracotta roof! I bet the interior is so cozy!

Nevers Blacksmith Shop // c.1860s

While architecturally significant mansions, churches and civic buildings are great, the smaller wood-frame buildings such as this really tell the story of New England. When the town of Sweden, Maine was still in her infancy, the Nevers Family helped to establish the town and diversify its output from the typical agricultural village. Sweden supported an interesting variety of nineteenth century businesses including: general stores, saw mills, copper and cobbler shops, and a straw hat factory. The town of Sweden was distanced from major trade routes, railroads and navigable rivers, so it saw a period of decline from the late 19th to the 20th century. The town has since been a sort of “bedroom community” where people mostly live, but travel outside the town for commerce and work. This blacksmith shop shows us an example of a trade that has largely gone away, but it was a common structure and profession in early America.

Lillibridge Farmhouse // c.1770

Getting lost in New England is always fun because you can simply stumbleupon old farmhouses like this, which look like a setting of a movie! Located in northern Willington, CT, this farmhouse dates to the Revolutionary War! David Lillibridge (1744-1831) of Exeter, Rhode Island, served from 15 to 17 in the French and Indian War, and manned Fort Stanwix. In 1767, he was militia lieutenant, at the age of 25 converted, and entered the Baptist ministry. In 1777, he purchased a farm (unclear if there was a house on the land) from a Moses Holmes in modern day Willington and resided in this old saltbox Georgian home. The home remained in the Lillibridge family at least until the 1870s, when it was owned by Burnham Lillibridge. The house was moved from its previous location right on the street, and set back into the bucolic landscape, a fitting move!

Orrin Holt House // c.1840

Located on Tolland Turnpike in Willington, east of the Town Common, this temple-front Greek Revival home stands in an excellent state of preservation. The home was built for General Orrin Hatch (1792-1855) in about 1840 after his work as a member of the Connecticut State House of Representatives 1830–1832, and in the Connecticut Senate in 1835 and 1836. He was re-elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-fifth Congress, serving until 1839. After leaving Congress, he served as Inspector General of the Connecticut State Militia, until his death in 1855. He likely built this home after leaving Congress in 1839, in his hometown. There is something about a temple-front home like this, they are so stately!

Millbury Post Office // 1940

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.

Windle House // c.1912

William “Willie” Winfred Windle (yes that is a real name) was born in Millbury at the height of the town’s industrial growth and prosperity. He ran the W.W. Windle Mill just west of downtown and with his wealth, was able to buy a house lot on one of the most fashionable residential streets in town. His home was built in the early 20th century and is a stunning example of Tudor Revival architecture. In 1911, Windle traveled to England to inspect mills there and was likely inspired by some of the residential architecture he viewed on the trip. The house elegantly blends stone walls with half-timbered wood, with a prominent entry. The timber and stone entrance porch which has decorative bargeboard and corbels, has been enclosed. The home remained in the Windle family at least into the 1940s, when it was occupied by William Winfred Windle’s son, Winfred Woodward Windle. By the 1970s, the home was occupied as the Millbury Society of District Nursing.

Train Villa – Beachholm // 1869-1973

Not to be confused with The Villa, an extant mansard-roofed cottage in Newport, this beautiful example of the Second Empire style sadly is no longer around for us to gawk at. “Train Villa” was built as a summer cottage for George Francis Train (1829-1904), a nutty, attention-seeking businessman, who in 1870-1, traveled around the world in 80 days. The feat caused a sensation, but only after a writer named Jules Verne fictionalized it, naming the main character Phileas Fogg. Train was already one of the most famous men in America, but he was not happy that Verne co-opted his story. “Remember Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days?” he told English reporters. “He stole my thunder. I’m Phileas Fogg.” Train undertook a total of three trips around the world, each time attempting to beat the record of 80 days, with his final trip clocked in at just sixty days. Ironically, Amazon Prime just released the story as a new series (literally airing days ago). Before his inaugural trip around the globe, Train had this summer cottage built in Newport, where he could relax after his globetrotting. After his death, the property was renamed “Beachholm” and owned by Woodbury Blair of Washington D.C..The home was one of the most eye-catching in town and was located in front of the Seaweed Cottage (featured previously), until a fire in the early 1970s led to its demolition.

Inchiquin // 1887

Built in 1887 for John O’Brien, a direct descendant of Brian Boru, the High King Of Ireland, “Inchiquin” in Newport stands out for its bold stone exterior and proper siting. The mansion was named after Inchiquin, a barony (or state) in Ireland, likely where O’Brien’s ancestors were from. The cottage was designed by John Dixon Johnston, a well-known Newport architect, who designed the stone mansion in a sort of hodge-podge of styles, which actually work well together somehow! In 1901, Inchiquin was acquired by The Baroness Seilliere, the adopted daughter of John O’Brien. She was a daughter of Mrs. O’Brien by a former husband. After her first husband died she married the Baron de Seilliere, brother of the Princess de Sagan. Like some other massive, expensive mansions in Newport, this home was converted to condos.

“The Waves” // 1927

If anyone knows me, I absolutely LOVE Tudor and French Norman style houses, but they are much less common compared to the Colonial Revival style, which dominated residential architecture in New England for nearly a century. Located on Ledge Road, at the southeasternmost peninsula of Aquidneck Island in Newport, you’ll find this absolutely giant estate as you conclude walking Newport’s iconic Cliff Walk. “The Waves”, was built in 1927 by architect John Russell Pope (1874-1937) as his own residence. He built it over the ruins of the former Gov. Lippitt Mansion which was previously built on the site and demolished by Lippitt’s heirs. In designing The Waves, Pope wanted to focus on the natural, rocky site and build a structure that would blend in. The Tudor style mansion features stucco and stone siding, half-timbering, and a complex roof covered in slate, all in a U-shaped form. Years after completing his home in Newport, Pope would become even more well-known for designing major public buildings in Washington D.C., including the National Archives Building (1935), the West Building of the National Gallery of Art (1941), and the Jefferson Memorial (1943). After Pope’s death, the massive home became the first mansion in Newport to be converted to condos, a great preservation tool that maintains these massive mansions, and allows for them to be utilized today.