One of the most stunning and monumental buildings in Providence is this building, a church which pretty closely resembles the Rhode Island State House! Christian Scientists in Providence began to hold informal services in 1889 and received a charter from the state legislature in 1895. Construction started on this church, the First Church of Christ, Scientist in 1906 from plans by local architect Howard Hoppin who roughly modeled the building after the congregation’s Mother Church in Boston. The Classical Revival building is capped by a copper hemispherical dome supported by a colonnade of Corinthian columns. The main block of the structure at the street is fairly modest, possibly due to the residential character of its surroundings.
buildings of new england
Portland Custom House // 1868
Probably my favorite building in Portland, Maine is the former Custom House building, an imposing granite building located a stone’s throw from the Portland Harbor. It was built to accommodate the city’s growing customs business, which, by 1866, was collecting $900,000 annually in customs duties—making Portland one of the most significant seaports in the country. The building is typical of the notable designs completed under the direction of Alfred B. Mullett, Supervising Architect of the Treasury from 1865 to 1874. Constructed between 1867 and 1872 (due to delays in obtaining granite for the upper stories) the U.S. Custom House combines elements of the Second Empire and Renaissance Revival styles and is one of the best preserved custom houses in New England. The interior custom hall is especially remarkable.
Leonard Proctor House // c.1810
In the early 1780s, Leonard Proctor and Salmon Dutton and their families, moved from Massachusetts and settled in present-day Cavendish, Vermont and gave their names to the two major settlements on the Black River, Proctorsville and Duttonsville. Leonard Proctor was born in Westford, Massachusetts and fought in the Revolutionary War at a young age. He settled in Cavendish in 1782 and built a modest house/tavern, and underwent developing the village in his name, Proctorsville. By the early 1800s, Leonard was a highly esteemed member of town and had the funds to erect the finest Federal style manse in the village, to showcase the stability and wealth of his community. The home exhibits scalloped cornice moldings and the carved wood flowering vines springing from urns on the upper pilasters that have a folk/Federal quality that stands out as a very unique design detail. Carved Adamesque bell flowers that flank the door suggest Asher Benjamin’s Windsor influence. Elliptical sunbursts above the pilasters, elaborate guilloche friezes, and the broad semielliptical attic light have a later Federal character. It is possible that Leonard had this house built, and it was “modernized” by one of his heirs.
Church House // c.1840
When you think of the quintessential New England Village, what do you think of? These villages of white houses around a town green, usually anchored by a congregational church with a tall, white steeple, have been the subject of myriad photographs and memories for decades. Why are so many like this? Well, historically, the bright white we know of as a common house color was not available until the 1920s. Before the early 1900s, “white” paint was more cream or off-white as we would describe it. Many such villages started seeing white paint proliferate as Titanium Dioxide was mixed with pigments to generate the bright white, about at the same time Colonial Revival style homes saw a second resurgence in popularity. The bright-white paint was more expensive and represented stability and prestige. Publications like Yankee Magazine showed photographs of these charming villages blending into the freshly fallen snow or fall foliage and the romanticization of New England truly began. Newfane, Vermont is one of these villages, which are dominated by the bright white paint. It is an obvious choice, especially due to the number of classically inspired Greek Revival style houses.
Freetown Town Hall // 1888
Welcome to Freetown, Massachusetts, a town I had not really heard about until recently (don’t come after me)! The land here was originally occupied by the Wampanoag Tribe, who lived off the earth well before colonization. In 1659, twenty-six Plymouth Bay settlers bought from the local native leaders the large tract of upland meadow thereafter called the Freeman’s Purchase, which includes much of Freetown and parts of adjacent towns. The land was divided into lots the following year, but settlement did not occur in earnest until the 1680s. Fall River used to once be a part of Freetown until it separated in the early 19th century, believe it or not! Freetown today is divided into two villages, which historically developed almost entirely independent from one another: Assonet and East Freetown. Assonet became the major “downtown” or populated area of the town and it is named after the River upon which is straddles. East Freetown was always more rural and today retains that charm. Due to Assonet’s location, a new town hall building was proposed in the last decades of the 19th century there. This structure was built and designed in 1888 by Charles C. Marble from Fall River, who combined the Queen Anne style with elements of the Colonial Revival style. The building contained the town offices as well as the fire station. Its wide double doors originally opened onto North Main Street have been replaced with windows, with flared eaves.
Elijah Waters House // 1845
Elijah Waters (1773-1846), a hardscrabble farmer in West Millbury inherited his father’s large farm and resided there for over thirty years before wanting something more his style. Unmarried and without children, Elijah (who was 72 at the time), had this impressive Greek Revival farmhouse constructed near his old family homestead. He was possibly looking to spend money saved up and without a wife or heirs to will it to. The massive temple-front Greek Revival mansion has a stunning doorway and six columns supporting a projecting pediment. Within a year after the home was built, Elijah died. The home was willed to his nephew, Jonathan Waters. The house is for sale for $384,000 which is a STEAL!
Collinsville Stores // c.1880
These two Italianate-style stores sit on Collinsville’s Main Street, a walkable main street village along the banks of the Farmington River. Each structure has a central, recessed entry with storefront windows meeting the sidewalk. One structure is two stories with a very shallow gable roof and the other is 1 1/2 stories with a false front. These false front facades remind me of old frontier towns in western movies, they are great!
North Canton Methodist Church // 1871
This modest country church in North Canton Village, CT is a fine example of a restrained Stick style church building. The simple plan, steeply pitched roof, adorned woodwork trim to resemble the bracing underneath, and the central spire all work together to create such a beautiful architectural composition. The building was constructed in 1871, and formally opened for its first service one year later.
Breeze Cottage // 1896
The marriage of Anna Perkins Pingree to Joseph Peabody in 1866 was a merging of two of the most influential and wealthy families of Salem, Massachusetts. The marriage however did not meet the mark, as the couple eventually had a large falling-out after purchasing a mansion in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood in 1877. In her time away from her estranged husband, Anna became heavily involved in the arts, collecting hundreds of paintings and decorating her homes in Boston, Ipswich, and her new summer cottage in Bar Harbor. In 1896, she had her Bar Harbor cottage built on West Street, a road of substantial summer homes right next to downtown. The Colonial Revival “cottage” sits on the waterfront of Frenchman Bay and has only 12 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms, in 12,500 square feet.
Hopedale Community House // 1923
Hopedale in the 1920s oversaw a civic building campaign led by George A. Draper (1855-1923), then treasurer of the Draper Corporation. Draper often talked about the need for a community center in Hopedale for his workers, and in 1919 decided to build one at his own expense. He commissioned architect Edwin J. Lewis, Jr. of Boston to design the Hopedale Community House which was intended to serve as a social and civic center for all Hopedale residents, as well as Draper Corporation employees residing in other towns. The building was opened in 1923, but sadly George Draper died before he could see it used. The Community House included an assembly hall, a banquet hall that doubled as a gymnasium, a kitchen, rooms for smoking and cards and billiards, a ladies’ social room, the Knights of Pythias club room, and candlepin bowling lanes in the basement, all of which exist to this day.